Monday, July 25, 2016

Subject Vs Citizen

The difference between a Subject and a Citizen is that Subjects just obey the laws of their government, while Citizens make the laws of their governments (as well as obey them). 

One of the things I have noticed, particularly among the more conservative subjects (not citizens), is the tendency to say "you can't make a law that says that because their is no inherent right to...".
The thing is there is no such thing as 'inherent rights'.  Rights are things we grant each other via laws.

When we talk about making, amending, changing, or removing laws we are talking about making, amending, changing or removing rights.

We are talking about how we want people to act in the future, and how government should respond to their actions.

There is nothing that is sacrosanct except what we declare such.  If we are despicable, we could make laws requiring crimes (rape, murder, theft, torture, all the evil stuff).   That is in fact what many of the evil empires of our world have done and still do  (NAZI Germany, Stalin's USSR, the current state of Daesh).

Or we can make laws that allow crimes, but not requiring them.  This is what happens when we do not act, when we try for the laissez faire form of libertarianism.

Or we can choose to do our best to out unethical actions, encouraging and promoting ethical actions.

This is not government over-reach, it is the appropriate actions of a government.

Government over reach is when it stops and prevents ethical actions for one of three reasons:
  1. People in power are hurt by those ethical actions and dislike it (corruption)
  2. People in power are trying to stop real unethical actions, but have written a law too broadly so it catches innocent people (incompetent use of power)
  3. People in power have a personal/religious belief that certain actions are unethical, despite the general consensus disagreeing (abuse of power).
Here are some examples of this type of activity:

When certain states try to stop Tesla's 'no-dealer' business strategy because it hurts the dealers in their state, that's corruption.  It's not government's job to help one business over another.

When the government uses "civil asset forfeiture laws" to take the money of honest, law abiding citizens without any evidence of illegal activity, that's incompetent use of power.

When state legislatures try to prevent legal abortions via abusive regulatory requirements (such as requiring doctors to have admitting privileges or that abortionists meet the requirements of a surgical center) , that's abuse of power.

But when you pass a law to prevent fraudulent/cheating behavior that is designed with loopholes for ethical actions, that's not government over reach.

Citizens have the right to create appropriate laws.  If you think a law is inappropriate, then you need to show how it will either benefit those in power, catch innocent people, or  how the actions it intends to prevents are really ethical.  Simply claiming that 'people have no right to fairness' is not a valid objection.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why Donal Trump is not buying TV Ads.

I have no inner knowledge of the Trump Campaign, but I suspect I have figured out why he hasn't bought any TV ads.

I predict he won't buy any for all of July and August.

The reason is simple - it's too early. 

Yes, politicians have traditionally come out blazing.  But honestly we all know that political polls this early don't matter.  People don't make up their mind yet.  You can spend millions every month, get good polls, then lose it all in the last month.

The election is Tuesday, November 8th.   That is more than 100 days away.  A lot happens in 100 days.  People forget about the current scandals and new ones happen.  People die.  People turn 18.  

I think Trump looked at that fact and said "Hell, I can play the media via twitter and press releases, I don't need any advertisements yet."  Throw in a dash of PAC spending and all he wants to do is wait.

Till September comes along.  Sometime in September, expect to see a fusillade of pro-Trump ads.  Hopefully Hillary will still have enough cash to fight back.  

That's my theory and I am sticking by it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why poliiticans lie.

How do you tell when a politician is lying?  His lips are moving.  How do you tell when a politician is telling the truth?  When he's confessing.

All politicians lie - on both sides.   Republicans can point at Hillary and Obama etc, Democrats can point at all the Bushs, Cheney, Trump, etc.

If they lie so much, why do we keep electing them?   Because we DEMAND they do.  It's our own damn fault. Some of the more honest ones try to avoid lying simply by changing the subject.

Why do we demand they lie? Three very specific reasons.
  1.  We give them no win situations, often set it up with contradictory goals.
  2.  We punish them more for admitting they were wrong than we do for being wrong.  The worst example of this is when we punish them for changing their mind.  Lying goes unpunished, while admitting an error gets you thrown under the bus.
  3.  We demand certainty and the use of hyperbole to prove sincerity.
No win situations are a common situation, often intentionally set up as traps - that's how we get the contradictory goals in the first place.   A good example of this was the Cash for Clunkers program.  in 2009, the US set up a program to give large incentives for people to trade old older cars (25 years+) in for newer vehicles.    It was originally designed to help fight pollution and to limit oil use, as the fuel requirements were for a vehicle of >22 mph for the newer cars and <18 mph for the older ones.  That's basically a 22% improvement.  The cars were disabled to prevent them being resold/re used.

But it was sold to congress and to the American people in part as an economic boost for the car industry.  That would be the secondary goal.  Guess what - it was a lie to convince republicans (pro business, anti-pollution prevention) to vote for it.  And as it was a lie, it had no real economic benefit.   If you check the wiki page, the first thing they talk about is the economic effect - basically null.  But the environmental effect was real - average mph per clunker was 15.8, new cares averaged 25.4, a 61% improvement.  This was a clear win from the point of view of environmentalists, but from a political viewpoint it was a guaranteed no win situation.  Goal posts were ignored, and people attacked the issue on the 'goals' declared by the opponents of the bill, rather than the goals of the proponents.

Politician being punished for admitting they were wrong is very common - they get accused of being a flip-flopper.    George Bush made that wonderful, humble quality into an insult they used to great effect against Kerry.   But we never punished George Bush at all for begin wrong about weapons of Mass Destruction, for being wrong about torture, etc. etc.  The weird thing is the goal of an argument is to CONVINCE someone to change their minds.  Changing their minds is the DESIRED end result, not a bad thing.  Losing an argument does not make you a worse politician, it means you are not perfect and are not an arrogant asshole that refuses to admit you are not perfect (talking to you Trump).

Certainty is practically a requirement.  We never accept "I don't want to raise taxes, and won't do so unless the circumstances warrant it".  Instead we demand "READ MY LIPS, NO NEW TAXES".  Then we slam the honest man for admitting that a recession hit as soon as G. H.  W.  Bush took over after Reagan, so he had to raise taxes.   He never should have had to say say that lie, we made him do it.

We get the politicians we deserve, not the ones we want.   Given our future - Hillary or Donald, that means we deserve to go to bed without dinner.   Hillary was pushed into making extreme statements about her innocence  - all of which she clearly believed, even if she was also clearly wrong.  Donald has discovered the simplest way to get votes is to ignore the truth and instead speak to what people WANT to hear in the most extreme way possible, thereby guaranteeing he will lie.   He can never admit he was wrong, whether it is about a judge or a Jewish star.

Hopefully we at least deserve someone that knows what is possible, even if she doesn't know how to get there, rather than someone that knows what he wants, and doesn't care if it is possible or not.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Tragedy in Dallas the start of a Race War.

The only question is will it continue, or will calmer heads prevail.

After a week of multiple unwarranted attacks on unarmed black men by police, two or more deranged criminals went on a killing spree and shot and killed 5 police men, wounding others. In the end, one of the criminals was blown up by a bomb that the police delivered via a robot.  Another was arrested.

The question is, is it a terrorist attack?  It was a horrendous mass shooting, a crime, a tragedy, might be considered an act of war, but it is in a gray area when it comes terrorism.

To be a terrorist attack, it requires three separate factors:

  • Attempting to kill or harm people
  • that are not combatants
  •  for political goals.
Obviously if you don't have political goals, then you are a criminal, not a terrorist.  Shooting your spouse (and her parents ) so you don't have to pay her alimony (and to get ride of witnesses)  is a horrible crime, but not an act of terror.

Merely having political goals is not enough.  If I have political goals and hold a sit in, that doesn't make me a terrorist, or if neo-nazis steal every yard sign for a black politician, that doesn't make them terrorists.  Even if some people are scared.

You have to actually try to kill or harm people, or at least threaten them.

Moreover you can't attack their their military.  Attacking a US Navy Ship (USS Cole), or bombing the Pentagon is not a terrorist attack, as you are attacking combatants.  That is called an Act of War, not an act of terrorism.

That is a very important detail, not an insignificant factor.  We WANT our enemies to attack our armed combatants, rather than attacking our children and grandparents.   Terrorists get treated with little respect, soldiers get treated with much greater respect because they play by the rules.

The question is, do policemen count as armed combatants?  They are not soldiers, so calling attacking them an Act of War may be extreme.  But this killing was also done in revenge for police killing multiple unarmed black men.  Let's face it here, our police are armed.  And not just with guns, the officers in Dallas used a drone to deliver a bomb to kill their opponent.

If this happened in England, with unarmed bobbies, that would be an act of terror.

But here on American soil where cops use drones to bomb you?  Where it is in retaliation for police killing black man?  That's an act of war.   Specifically a Race War - one the criminals did not start.

It's wrong and we need to stop it here and now in it's tracks.   We need real control of the police, real punishment for killing unarmed civilians, we can no longer look the other way, not with cameras catching the crimes and mistakes of police left and right.

We need real reform, so that police are judged by people that actually WANT to arrest police men, just as civilians are judged by prosecutors that actually want to arrest them.

As for the criminals that shot at police?  They deserve to go to jail, but have their legal rights respected, because they did not attack school civilians.
Should the cops be protected?  Yes.  But let's not dishonor them by pretending they are victims. They are defenders shot down protecting us from revenge against their own failings. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Help Superheroes Donate Organs

There are real superheroes in this world.  Real Sacrifice, with real costs, for real lives saved.  They don't wear capes or masks, but that doesn't make them any less a super hero.

They donate organs.   Doing it after death makes you a hero, in my book.   Doing it while you are still alive?   That's better than Batman or Hawkeye, in my book.  Mostly they give kidneys, but some donate part of their liver.  

First, let's do the pitch.  We need more superheroes, so join the League of Organ Donors, sign up here.

Currently (2016), there are over 120,000 men, women and children in need of organ transplants.

Every day about 144 people are added to that list, 82 people get off the list the good way - transplant, and another 22 people get off the list the hard way - death.  Notice that means the list keeps growing longer by about 40 people a day.  That's a new development, up until recently people were more likely to die, but medicine has gotten better at keeping those with failing organs alive.

Most of these people are waiting for a kidney.

Being a superhero is not easy.   The surgery to donate a kidney is painful and will take about six-eight weeks for you to recover.  During that time you can't drive.  The organ recipient's insurance pays for all the medical stuff.  But not travel or hotel costs.   Which really aren't that much (most of the time), so it isn't that important.  Organ recipients are in a similar situation, but most are just thankful to be alive.

But how many people get TWO MONTHS time off with pay?  Most people have to take time off work. It's pretty good if you get four weeks off a year.  The businesses that employ these heroes generally give them the time off, but not with pay.

So let's give them one month of Unemployment checks during that time.

I am not proposing paying for organs.  If you are an unemployed/retired superhero, you get no money.  But if you are medically unable to work because of such a heroic act, can we do no less than to give you the same payments as he jobless and/or disabled?

These people are superheros that are saving a human life.  The least we can do is recognize that for two whole months they can not work, and that they therefore deserve at the minimum a single month's worth of unemployment checks.  Have the paperwork filled out by the transplant doctor, to limit fraud.

Full Disclosure: I am intimately connected to someone that has a failing kidney.   I am not in any way impartial.