Random thoughts on #individualism, #crime, the ‪#‎police‬, and ‪#‎community‬

Rather than arming a paramilitary force in your city and calling it “the police”, why not take a fraction of those dollars and equip each resident’s home with a security system; issue the resident a permit to carry a weapon along with their driver’s license; and issue each resident a voucher to purchase one small firearm and a shotgun?

The notion that an armed paramilitary force, also known as the police, can protect you from crime was always ridiculous. The police is slightly better at protecting property (which is their original and primary mission) than they are at stopping robberies, rapes, or murders. The police cannot stop robberies, rapes, and murders because, unlike the fantasy bullshit of Minority Report, they are not at the scene of the crime when the crime starts. Only the victim and the perpetrator are there. So why not arm the potential victim?

The reason is that our social elite (politicians, the over-educated, and shamans) has a vested interest in controlling individual behavior all under the guise of the dreaded word, “community” and its close cousin, “society.” Aggregate people into a community so that their resources are easily extracted by a pied piper i.e., politician, community activist, shaman, etc., in return for protection; protection the individual can easily render for herself.

So, when you hear terms like “community policing” or calls from politicians to fund more police, you shouldn’t stand up and cheer. You need to gag…..

Posted in crime, libertarian, liberty, police | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Random thought on #JameisWinston and opportunities …. #Seminoles

By the summer of 1984 at the age of 20 I had already completed my requirements for my economics degree at The Florida State University. The problem was that I was 20. I didn’t see any opportunity for a 20-year old in the real work world so i decided to complete my requirements for a double major and a double minor in the fall and leave ‪#‎FSU‬ as a still wet-behind-the-ears but doable 21-year old. I was not the maturest person in the world, but I had the sense to better prepare for what few opportunities I had.

Fast forward exactly 30 years to another 20-year old who seemed, until earlier this week, to have more and more opportunities opening to him. With a national championship and a Heisman trophy under his belt, the red-shirt sophomore could only move up to more opportunities and accolades.

Unfortunately, ‪#‎JameisWinston‬ moved up on the silliness scale by getting up on a table in the beloved Student Union built by me and his other student predecessors and brought his reputation another couple notches down by yelling a vulgarity that reduced women to a piece of meat.

Mr. Winston fails to realize that opportunities are as fleeting as the quick steps on the football field that he is known to make. He also takes for granted something we fans of thirty plus years know about our beloved ‪#‎Seminoles‬; they are a team of great depth, which means your replacement is sitting right on the bench ready to step in and do a Charlie Ward impersonation. Yes, we take pride in “scalping” the other team on the football field, but we won’t hesitate to scalp one of our own in the interest of the team and the school.

Maybe someone should get on a table in the Union and tell Mr. Winston that

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Mr. Obama needs to be honest tonight … but I won’t hold my breath

President Obama will be making his case for military action in Syria and Iraq as part of the United State’s response to ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and Lebanon. Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, notes that the President believes military action will take three years to wipe out ISIL.

My son, whose political acumen at times exceeds his age, shared with me his annoyance with remembrances of 11 September. I’ve told him that he did not have the experience of living through it and for those of us who did, especially his family in New York, we will never forget.

Unfortunately for my son, born seven months and a week after the attack, he may be hearing talk of military action in the Middle East for quite a long time, carried out by policies directly related to our response to September 11 ….

Unfortunately, I expect the Senate and the House to fall in line with the President’s decision. The GOP simply want Mr. Obama to come to them with hat in hand seeking authorization so that they can claim some of the glory in 2016 for being the party that authorized America’s strike against the enemies of democracy. Since the narrative for invasion is being driven by America’s duty to stand up for religious minorities including Christians who find themselves victims of ISIL’s violent religious intolerance, the GOP can leverage their blessing for the action in exchange for votes from the Religious Right.

Politics and religion. Always a dangerous mix.

I don’t think the President will give an honest rationale for military action. I will not buy any narrative that says America should conduct military action for the protection of religious minorities. If these people want to escape to safer havens, then yes, provide those avenues of escape; otherwise this is an internal issue that should be addressed by the citizens of Syria and Lebanon.

I would rather the President come out and say that ISIL threatens oil flow from Iraq and that America cannot afford an oil shock resulting from rising oil prices.

By the way, have you seen the price of premium gasoline? It’s over four dollars.

Oil shocks threaten my cost of living which threatens the quality of life I and other citizens try to provide to our children. Is an economic reason good enough for loss of life that may occur from military action? No ….

….. but at least it’s honest …..

Posted in Barack Obama, foreign policy | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

1969 #Obama #Nixon #NASA #StarTrek

1969. The Charlotte Amalie High School Class of 1981 was entering the first grade. NASA put a man on the Moon. You ate real food with real silverware on a flight from St.Thomas to New York. You were introduced to Susan, Gordon, Grover the Grouch, and Big Bird. Scooby-Doo premiered on television. Star Trek went off the air after three years. Nixon, a Republican, implemented affirmative action, and the war in Vietnam was still raging.

2014. The CAHS Class of 2026 enters the first grade this week. NASA doesn’t have a shuttle program anymore and couldn’t afford to put a man or woman on the Moon if it wanted. You stand in a TSA-supervised security line where they x-ray you before getting on a plane that is always booked full only to eat pretzels or, if you’re lucky, eat a sandwich in a plastic wrap on a flight from Boston to Detroit that has to go through Atlanta because you chose to fly Delta.

Fortunately, you can still watch Sesame Street. Scooby-Doo now appears in movies on the Cartoon Network, one of five hundred channels you now have versus the three or four your grandparents watched as first graders in 1969. Star Trek morphed into four additional TV series and eleven movies. Obama, a Democrat, doesn’t talk much about affirmative action, and can’t make up his mind whether to really get out of Afghanistan and Iraq, while contemplating lighting up some fundamentalist Muslims in Syria, and wagging his finger at Russia…..

….. 1969…..

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You’re not American. It’s okay

It’s understandable to want to “belong.”  Waving your country’s flag means you’re happy to be a part of a group connected by the freedoms associated with consumer choice, political participation, and personal expression, with as little overt regulation as possible.  It’s what many living in the United States would call freedom.

Being American, however, goes beyond the baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.  Being an American is about being fully invested in the political economy of the United States.  It means being able to impact markets and influence policy makers.  It means you’re sitting at the table.  It’s a day-to-day operation to be an American because the alternative means not being able to enjoy the returns from your capital and using them as you see fit.

Being an American is more than just waiving the flag from the sidelines.  It means you own the company that manufacturers the flags; create the narrative around the flag; and get other people to buy into the narrative surrounding the flag.

Based on this view, 99% of us are not Americans.  We don’t control commerce.  We don’t control infrastructure.  We have little access to or own less than enough of capital to buffer ourselves against an economic downturn.  And after 400 years on the North American continent, blacks aren’t even looked at as American.  Other peoples of color are also looked at this way.

Nicholas Kristof argues this point on how blacks are not viewed as American in an opinion piece for The New York Times.  Citing the findings from a survey on racial attitudes, Mr. Kristof writes:

“One finding is that we unconsciously associate “American” with “white.” Thus, in 2008, some California college students — many who were supporting Barack Obama for president — unconsciously treated Obama as more foreign than Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. Likewise, Americans may be factually aware that Lucy Liu is an American actress and Kate Winslet is British, but the tests indicated that Americans considered Liu as more foreign than Winslet.”

This view of blacks in particular may be due in part to the failure of the administrative state to fully incorporate blacks into the U.S. political economy.  Social barriers taking the form of bigoted or racial attitudes were compounded by an administrative state that passed and executed laws that supported negative social attitudes.  Instead of a public policy of inclusion, the state chose exclusion.  One example stems from the almost 100 years it took for the state to incorporate the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  While the amendments were ratified in 1868 and 1870, respectively, they did not come a part of the national legal framework until passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

One irony is that the vast majority of whites are also not Americans.  Although on average whites have accumulated greater amounts of wealth than the United States’ ethnic minorities, most of their members do not wield any more influence on the political economy than people of color.

This may sound strange because we see the vast majority of individuals wielding political, economic, and financial power is white, specifically white male, but just because you hold a plane ticket doesn’t mean you get to sit in the cockpit and hold the stick.  License to fly is held by those with capital.

For some it may be a bit of a downer to hear that waving the flag is not that significant, but they should remember that we are still United States citizens.  As a citizen we can use the legal rights afforded to us by this jurisdiction to improve our communities.  We need not define ourselves by social nomenclature that represents a value system that treats our lives as less significant.

In the Open Country, rather than trying to occupy another’s playpen, we can build our own sand box.

 

Posted in capital, civil rights, commerce, democracy, Equality, human rights, libertarian, liberty, Political Economy, race | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does salvation have a place in public policy? #liberty #socialprograms

Is the administrative state concerned preoccupied with salvation?  On foreign policy the United States spent over a decade nation building in Afghanistan and Iraq on the premise that citizens in both countries needed to be saved from autocratic rule.  Democracy was to be the “Jesus” of Afghanistan and Iraq with a pseudo biblical narrative provided by the American constitution and injected intravenously by American politicians and the military.

On the domestic front, the majority of the U.S. federal budget is devoted to saving people.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2013, 24% of the federal budget was spent on Social Security.   Three federal health insurance programs – Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program – accounted for 22% of the federal budget.  Other safety net programs, according to the Center, accounted for 12% of federal government spending.

You may ask what is wrong with the administrative state subsidizing consumer expenditures on food, health care, and other safety nets?  The problem that government “salvation” creates is the promotion of the belief among program clients of their personal destinies. Their lives become an open window that the administrative state pries open pursuant to onerous rules that require personal and financial disclosure. Like religion, program clients are required to bare their souls; sharing information on source of income, home address, family size, marital status, criminal records, and work history.  This is dehumanizing.

The rebuttal offered by social welfare proponents is that this is the price program clients pay in order to get benefits.  But should that price include giving up privacy?  

On the flip side, why do beneficiaries of social programs feel that they must submit themselves to government salvation?  Were they unable to build and maintain the social networks necessary for sustenance during the rough patches?  If not, should government be responsible for providing substitutes for those unavailable organic social agents?

Proponents of government intervention will counter that without the administrative state’s safety nets, society will be subjected to more crime, foreclosures, and family disruptions; that the costs of these negative externalities will be borne by society at costs higher than the programs designed to mitigate them. 

If that is the case then maybe the state should focus more on being a clearinghouse of information versus a behavior regulator.  The state can leverage information capital to facilitate pointing citizens toward resources that can substitute for the lack of organic social agents.  It shouldn’t take a thousand pages of rules regulating behavior to direct a person to resources that can help them.

The risk of submitting to the administrative state as savior is following a narrative that doesn’t promote individual liberty and self-actualization.  The state can avoid being a savior by simply providing good road signs.

Posted in Equality, liberty, Political Economy, poverty, public benefits, regulation, social networks | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Export-Import Bank: What good is a government if it can’t allocate #capital?

The downside of a society that is more narrative driven versus data driven is the resulting bandwagon effect.  Someone has a problem with a policy or a program and without one iota of quantitative analysis or data they go on a rant riddled with the usual ideological verbosity and if articulated forcefully enough is able to get more narrow-minded ideologues to follow along.  Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of this as they continuously forego leadership opting instead to appease the ratchet wings of their respective parties.  It’s no wonder Congress gets low ratings.

The narrative opera is hitting high pitch as the U.S. Export-Import Bank faces its final curtain call on 30 September, the last day of Fiscal Year 2014.  Congress must vote to reauthorize the bank by that date or, according to the Bank’s supporters, the United States will lose an important role player in America’s attempts to keep the economy chugging along.

Just what is the Export-Import Bank?  According to 12 U.S.C. 635(a)(1), among the objects and the powers of the Bank is the financing and facilitating of the export of goods and services, imports, and the exchange of commodities between the United States, its territories, or insular territories, and foreign nations or their agencies or nationals.  The Bank can provide these services by authorizing loans, guarantees, insurance, and credits with the goal of increasing employment in the United States.  According to the Bank, they are not competing with the private sector.  They assume credit and country risks when the private sector is unwilling or unable to do so.  They also try to level the playing field particularly where other countries are subsidizing their exports to the United States.

Supporters like U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, have been repeating the policy goals provided in the law; that the Bank helps create global competitiveness and allows businesses here in the U.S. to create jobs.

Some Republicans, on the other hand, would give the impression that re-authorization of the Bank would amount to return to 18th century mercantilism.  They are not impressed with the Banks eighty-year record of supporting $600 billion in U.S. exports.  Instead, they have made claims of “crony capitalism” in their opposition to continuing the Bank.  Recently, House financial services committee chairman Jeb Hensarling took a trade group and Boeing to the woodshed for their attempts to marshal Congressional support for re-authorization.  According to The Huffington Post, Mr. Hensarling, in a letter to Boeing chairman James McNerney and Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the following:

“I respect your constitutional right to petition your government for the redress of grievances,” Hensarling wrote to Timmons and McNerney. “I just wish you had used the occasion to petition for opportunity instead of special privilege.”  

There is a historical irony here, of course.  Republicans, who are always first out of the gate to talk about the Founding Fathers and adhering to the nation’s economic traditions forget that the United States was spawned from petitions for special privilege.  Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the New World were financed by the Spanish crown.  

The British monarchy granted individuals charters permitting them to settle in North America and carve out the thirteen colonies from whence the United States came about.  

The granting of monopolies was a special privilege to communications companies and utilities that allowed the construction of railroad and communications infrastructure by private entities that needed the protection from investment destroying competition and inefficiencies that only such franchises could provide.

In this case the “special privilege” at issue isn’t keeping any firms out.  The Bank invites small and large companies to seek out its services.  Rather, the Bank is helping companies knock down barriers to capital access and international markets.

Congress has a duty to regulate commerce, but regulation doesn’t mean stifling the flow of capital necessary for commerce to achieve liftoff.  Regulation can easily mean taking the foot off the brakes and pushing the throttle forward and by re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank, the economy takes another step toward achieving full employment.   

Posted in banks, business, capital, commerce, Congress, credit, Economy, employment, globalization, labor markets | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

On #poverty, .@RepPaulRyan’s approach is too top-down

In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Representative Paul J. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, shared his thoughts on the appropriate fiscal approach for resolving the issue of poverty in the United States.  In his piece Mr. Ryan tries to clarify that in past comments on the level of social program participation that he did not intend to attack individuals who are recipients of social program benefits but wanted to point out that the current philosophy of American government erodes the American ideal.

That ideal, according to Mr. Ryan, is a society where Americans govern themselves.  Faith should not be placed in government but in the actions of a free people, says Mr. Ryan. Again, according to Mr. Ryan:

“And instead of managing poverty, we’d actually be fighting it. Today, we’re spending almost $800 billion on 92 federal antipoverty programs—and yet we have the highest poverty rate in a generation. That’s because the solution can’t be found in a federal bureaucracy; it lies within individual Americans and the community that surrounds and supports them.

As it stands, we’re not empowering people; we’re overseeing them. That’s got to change. We need to see an individual’s problems and potential. Our goal shouldn’t be to simply meet their needs; we should help them tap into their talent and achieve their goals.”

I don’t think his plan goes far enough, however.  Frankly, it is still too top-down.  To get to a more self-governing society there will have to be greater initiatives on the local level.  Local communities will have to generate and accept a more “we run this” mindset versus looking upward for manna fro the national level.  Mr. Ryan is correct that unnecessary top-down regulations from the national government will have to be eliminated so that citizens and their localities will have the flexibility to govern their commercial relationships.  

To facilitate the self-governance of commercial relationships, national, state, and local governments will have to streamline their roles to that of infrastructure providers and maintainers while leaving the stewardship of commerce to producers and consumers.  Roads, airports, harbors, and bridges connecting self-governing communities have to be built and maintained and using government may be a cost-effective way of sharing risks among local communities for deploying infrastructure.  The restructure of government’s role is where the real work will take place. 

Mr. Ryan, along with his other conservative colleagues may have to start taking a few more risks themselves by getting out of the rhetorical box that has “less government spending” as its mantra and offer up concrete approaches to restructuring society so that poverty is appropriately addressed through a paradigm of self-governance.

Posted in commerce, Congress, culture, democracy, Economy, free markets, government, libertarian, Paul Ryan, Political Economy, poverty, regulation, Republicans, self regulated markets | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

#Ferguson, Missouri: Why are we surprised when a snake bites?

One of the benefits of my ban on broadcast or cable news is that I am less inundated by biased coverage of news events.  I would hate to see how Fox News or MSNBC are skewing the events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the police taking the life of a teenager named Michael Brown.  As a father I again had to go through the ritual with my son where I remind him how to engage the police in order to reduce the probability of young Mr. Brown’s fate.

I, unfortunately, am becoming desensitized to these events.  They, including the acts of police and the protests that follow, no longer surprise me.  As my great friend and journalist, Barrington Salmon, noted, “Why are we surprised when a snake bites.  That’s what a snake does.”   Given Ferguson’s demographic make up and political power structure, Ferguson carries a lot of venom.

According to The New York Times, Ferguson, Missouri, a northern suburb of St. Louis, has a population of 21,000 people, two-thirds of whom are black.  In 1980, 85% of the population was white, but as blacks started to move into the city, “white flight” took hold and the racial makeup began to change.  What did not change was the political and economic power structure.  Whites still control the city council, which is made up of five whites and one Hispanic.  Of the 53 officers on the Ferguson’s police force, only three are black.  

With this imbalance of economic and political power, it should be expected that Ferguson’s administrative state would take actions to protect against any perceived threat to the structure including the use of deadly force by the agents commissioned to protect the power structure, in the case the Ferguson police force.

For the black residents of Ferguson the most effective action plan that they can take against what they have described as an abuse of the administrative state’s power would be to boycott against the city’s economic structure.  Rather than burning down stores, stop patronizing them.  Ferguson should simply be somewhere to sleep and not a place where money the rest of disposable income is spent.

Such an approach will take true leadership from the civil rights advocates that pop up out of the wood works when events like these happen.  It will take coordination and planning to get people to travel on limited budgets to other areas to shop for groceries and other items.  Boycotting takes money and time, but the decision will have to be made that the benefits of grinding it out and sending a strong message to the city’s economic and political power structure are worth it if black residents really want to create a safe environment to live in.  There is no better option but to de-fang the snake.   

Posted in black American, civil rights, crime, democracy, Equality, human rights, Political Economy | Tagged , | 2 Comments

What keeps Mitch McConnell from letting his people go?

Annie Lowery wrote a piece for The New York Times discussing the hard times faced by the residents of Eastern Kentucky.  Ms. Lowery identifies six Kentucky counties (Breathitt, Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie, and Mayoffin) that rank among the ten poorest in the United States.

Among the causes leading to poverty in these counties is a lack of infrastructure that results in isolating these counties from commercial activity and opportunity; and very low investment in education.  According to Ms. Lowery only 7.4% of Clay County residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The educated are more likely to move as a result of their higher level of personal human investment but the poor are pretty much stuck with little in capital necessary for leveraging an escape.

I wonder how persistent poverty best serves any state’s political and economic oligarchy.  As the article points out federal investment has failed to lesson the impact of poverty in Eastern Kentucky.  What kind of returns are the political and economic oligarchs expecting to gain from poverty?  

Posted in capital, culture, Economy, government, Political Economy, poverty, unemployment | Leave a comment