Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rambling Thoughts on Calexit

This is a personal reflection on Calexit, so it reads like a journal entry. I'll do a more detached piece on it soon.

I've been somewhat bothered by the recent anti-Trump hysteria and I'm of two minds about it. First, I read the Anonymous Conservative blog regularly. He has predicted this outrage, and also that it will lead to a landslide re-election by Trump. He posted just this morning on the subject.
The President’s blitzkrieg of actions this week has hit leftists from so many directions that they are feeling wholly powerless, and beginning to break down in the way a child breaks down when they are powerless. Their brains have adapted to eight years of Obama telling conservatives that elections have consequences, as he then did whatever the left wanted. Now, every day is a new series of multiple hits to their amygdalae, by a leader who is completely immune to any demands or appeals by the opposition. They just can’t continue like this, without breaking into tears.
This is a powerful effect these leftists are enduring, and their brains will be changed by it. The brain is a funny thing. When it encounters agony, it doesn’t always make a conscious, intellectual effort to alleviate it. It may try. But if the pain is enduring then over time the brain stumbles upon actions which alleviate the pain purely by chance. It notes them, and then it drives the individual to repeat those actions, because to the brain they feel good.
Many leftists are going to tune out of politics periodically over the next few years. When they do, they are going to find amygdala relief. No longer does tuning in to politics bring the little dopamine rush it did under Obama. Now, tuning in brings a little shot of irritation and upset. As they tune out, their brain will relax, and it will note the change at the subconscious level. Once it does, it will subtly drive them to tune out more and more, because each tune out will be more enjoyable than a tune in. Once the brain learns that, it will then be a small step to getting angry when people at awards shows try to forcibly tune them back in by preaching the gospel of leftism. The effect will be magnified greatly by the hedonistic nature of leftism. 
Once that happens, liberals will be forcibly demoralized in the same way they were under Reagan, and the left in America will have begun to die back. But for this to happen, the left can have no respite, and enjoy absolutely no victory. They must be conditioned to believe that any action they take will be futile. If they enjoy even one “win” as a result of their activity, they will be back, and fueled by euphoria, their drive will be twice as strong. Fortunately, President Trump seems to only be strengthened by their opposition. 
Long story short, Trump is going to make being a liberal so painful that people will simply stop being liberal for the sake of comfort. His prediction is that in 2020 we will be quite surprise by some of the people who will be supporting Trump. We'll have to wait and see. There is some precedent, as Reagan was acutely villified by liberals and won his re-election in a 49-state sweep.

And yet, this seems different. I can't be too sure, because I wasn't born yet, but I don't think we can really compare the liberal angst now to what was happening in 1980. Were people nearly this agitated? Never mind the brownshirt tactics of liberals on the streets, or the revelations they were being funded and orchestrated by the DNC, but did the corporate media lose it's grip like this in 1980? It seems we are at an entirely new level of dissidence.

What has me worried is that practically all mainstream liberals now have a values system that is completely incompatible with the rest of America. They want open borders. They want a welfare state. They want social justice (i.e. Marxism). It's not a matter of who's right and who's wrong at this point (of course we are right), but that we have two nations living in one country. And it is being torn apart at the seams.

More than anything else I am a states' rights guy. I'm not liberal, but in a lot of ways I'm not all that conservative. Those political affiliation quizzes normally mark me as a centrist (although I've never taken one that wasn't horribly flawed). As I've mentioned here many times, I'm not against abortion, but I'm against Roe v. Wade. It should be a states' right issues. I'm fairly neutral on marijuana legalization but I support the states that have been retaking those rights back from Washington. Oregon can smoke dope if it wants to. I also find I'm more liberal the closer I get to the local. I reject national healthcare entirely, but I'd be open to state programs, even in my own state, or at the local level. I'm even fine with different states legalizing gay marriage, but I find the Supreme Court ruling forcing all 50 states to adopt it to be appalling.

States' right people are almost always conservatives. And liberals are almost always against states' rights. I'm not entirely sure why that is, except that liberals tend to want to use the state to push their views onto others. I think of how the city of Salem Missouri chose to fly its flag at half-mast after the Supreme Court ruling forcing gay marriage, and it became a national outrage! It's not enough for east coast liberals to have gay marriage on the east coast. It must be accepted into the far reaches of Greater Appalachia and any resistance must be ridiculed and shamed. But I digress.

I have been of the opinion that this country is ready for balkanization. The two nations of America need to be separate geographically while it can be done peacefully. But really this can simply be done through strong state's rights. This concept of making everything a national debate is maddening. Who cares if Kansas outlaws abortions and California doesn't? No one in either state is affected by the other.

I don't think I've met a liberal yet who would accept such a states' rights situation, so the support Calexit is getting is somewhat surprising. What is a state succession movement but the nuclear option for states' rights? Liberals don't care for states right at all unless it is of the most extreme flavor. Of course this isn't totally shocking, because we know The Left is Unprincipled. They generally react to whatever emotions they are feeling right now at this very moment.

We find ourselves at an interesting crossroads where I've been advocating for states' rights or balkanization, or there will be civil war. Until now the left has refused states' rights and largely ridiculed secession movements when they're brought up in places like Texas. But now they're pushing for a California exit! For the first time in a long time, I'm in agreement with liberals, and for the same reason! Although there was a similar sentiment late last year when BLM was calling for all blacks to move to the southeast to gain political power in those states. I was okay with that. That was balkanization. In fact it may be the only thing BLM ever said that I agreed with.

We now have a situation that is not defined by the left/right divide in America. There are various interests on both sides. Within California there may be a fair left-right divide, but outside not so much. Liberals in the other states will want to see the formation of basically a liberal state, many will move there. Other liberals will worry that US national politics will become dominated by conservatives. Meanwhile many conservatives will be happy to wave them goodbye, but others refuse to cede one inch of land to those Communists.

I support Brexit for two reasons.
  1. It is the first step of balkanization. I don't seek a US where conservatives can dictate terms to coastal liberals. I'm ready for a middle American state.
  2. I actually want liberals to have self-determination. If they want a hyper liberal state and a march towards Communism then fine, just don't drag me into it. Ideally states' rights would allow that, but that just isn't how it's been working.
For Calexit to succeed they must be able to make the case not just to Californians, but to the rest of America as well. The vast majority of Americans, probably 2/3, must agree that is in everyone's best interest for it to happen peacefully. The federal government must also be, if not convinced, at least kept in check about it. I don't know what Trump's stance on such a move would be. He seems to be a backer of states' rights, but secession is a whole other matter. I highly doubt he is willing to be seen as the failure president who caused the dissolution of the union.

If you are interested in this topic check out the Calexit subreddit.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Trudon't Tread On Me

It looks like six spots have opened up for Trudeau's valuable refugees.
One of two gunmen who shouted 'Allahu akbar!' as they opened fire at a mosque in Quebec City was of Moroccan origin, a witness and local media reported Monday, revealing the first details about the attackers in the massacre that killed six people.
The terror suspects were identified as Mohamed Khadir and Alexandre Bissonnette......
A second source confirms they were both yelling Allahu ahkbar, and that the non-Moroccan had a heavy Quebec accent.

This is a strange attack because initial reports indicate a shooting on a mosque by Muslims, one an immigrant and the other possibly a native Canadian convert. However we do have to consider Coulter's Law on this. If the other shooter was white it would likely have been plastered all over the news by now.

Either way, the race of the perpetrator's is not highly significant: that they were killing in the name of Allah is. This is abysmal timing for Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, who just recently tweeted (the second being faked):

The virtuous PM is basing his nation's immigration on the notion that all refugees are, well, refugees. Even if that was the case I would strongly condemn such a policy. If for no other reason that if you believe it is our duty to help them, you can help 12 times as many by assisting them in theater. So for every refugee you bring here you're telling 11 others to screw off. But even worse it ignores the fact that a great many aren't fleeing persecution, terror, & war, but exporting it. The German interior minister has stated there are over 500 ISIS Jihadis posed as Syrian refugees. This isn't a vague future threat. It is already happening.

I stand by the notion that the worst thing you can do to the west is bring in the refugees, the worst thing you can do for the home countries is bring in the refugees, and the worst thing you can do for the refugees is bring in the refugees.
  • It's bad for the west because it is a destabilising force. This "Diversity is our Strength" talk is utter nonsense. Has it ever been true anytime in history that diversity was strength? It could be argued that strength leads to diversity, because people want to live in the prosperous country. There is simply no evidence that diversity is strength. However there is a multitude of examples of homogeneous nations that became powerful, and then fell after they became diverse.
  • It's bad for the home countries because it drains them of their key resource: their people. Look at Syria, where men of fighting age have been allowed entry to Europe by the hundreds of thousands. Who is going to rebuild the country? This is not just a problem of Muslims. The quaint east-European nation Latvia is struggling immensely with a demographics crisis because the most talented seek employment in the west. By letting them in the western countries are draining Latvia and other nations of life. That doesn't seem very charitable, and is certainly not a wise approach for long-term continental stability.
  • It's bad for the refugees in the long-term. In the short-term it may seem charitable to allow them admittance to escape the savages of war. Except most of the refugees are not fleeing war. That vast majority are not from war-torn areas or even war-torn countries. They are opportunistic economic migrants. As the western nations lose their cultural, religious, and ethnic bonds, they largely are tied together by one force: economics. And that is precisely why the refugees come in the first place. It's only for material benefit. What happens at the next economic collapse? Surely it'll happen eventually; it always does. What happens when there are food shortages? If wide-scale violence ever descends on the west, the foreigners are going to bear the brunt of it. Groups of unassimilated foreigners will not fare well in a collapse situation. 

The great failure of democracy is that policy is now being made by feelings rather than intellect, despite the left's self-assurance that they are the defenders of science. This is not recipe for success. The decline is imminent. I never predicted Trump could save the west, but I held out some hope. As I've seen the visceral emotional reactions from the left, I'm quickly losing all faith in that. My facebook feed is insane, and it's only the more reasonable liberals that have not unfriended me over politics. I can only imagine what it would look like if I had never actively supported Trump. 

We can't have a democracy when feelings trump reason. We can't have a democracy when half the country actively pursues the demographic destruction of the founding nation. We can't have a democracy when one parties primary strategy for power is to import votes at taxpayer expense. We can't have a democracy when half the country is increasingly condoning violence in support of political objectives. (The definition of terrorism). 

Civilizations exist to solve problems. The hallmark of the left is their solutions always end up creating problems worse than what they were trying to solve in the first place. There are big problems with global capitalism but the solution of Communism is by comparison to anything else a disaster. There are two paths the US is likely to take. In one path we continue this long march to Communism. In the other the country becomes increasingly weakened to the point of dissolution of the union. I'm seeing the latter as more likely. We're already seeing a serious movement for Calexit. And if you are an intellectual or free thinker of any sort you should be hoping for the latter. Communists always start killing the intellectual dissidents first. If you care about yourself and your family you should be supporting liberal exits from the US, rather than having them drag us into an oppressive system where they control the state apparatuses of violence. And at this point I would also urge you to consider that liberal democracy does not offer long-term stability and we should be considering other forms of government.


UPDATE It's looking like the shooter was not an immigrant (he's white with a French name) and not a Muslim. However than doesn't invalidate my post. Cultural conflict is happening even if in this case it went in the other direction. Also this post was written in response to general trends, not a single isolated incident, although the incident did compel me to write on the subject.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Navy SEAL Dead in Yemen

Fox News reporting that a Navy SEAL was killed in a raid on Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

I'm somewhat confused on this matter because it had seemed to me that the US was siding with Saudi Arabia (Sunni) in a proxy war against Iran (Shia). And now we see US boots on the ground in Yemen attacking Sunni extremists. Have we changed policy so soon? It doesn't look like it, as the article says the raid has been planned for some time.

I really have few details on this, but it sounds like the same kind of foreign policy I've been busting Obama on. Why are we in Yemen? Have they invited us? I generally do not support this kind of US interventionism, and unless we are invited by their government, or have declared war against them, I don't support these actions.

Omarosa on The View

This video has been going around. Watch it if you want. I wouldn't recommend as it's pretty painful.



Some thoughts on it.
  1. This is not a conversation or an interview. It is a hit piece. It is not meant for any sort of of exchange of information or rationale or even consensus building. It is base entertainment of the lowest caliber. It is rage porn. All they're trying to do is "get" the guest so they can deliver the audience that dopamine hit they get from the combination of righteous indignation / moral validation. They constantly try to stump her and when she handles it they just interrupt to make the next attack. "That's too bad about your brother being murdered but what about...." Pathetic.
  2. The audience is primed for this as well. Look at how they erupt in applause when the tax returns are brought up, as if it means anything at all. There wasn't even an argument behind it. It was just trigger word → Pavlovian response.
  3. How they treat conservative whites and blacks is appalling. We hear over and over again that Trump is a racist and his cabinet is too white. Then when he brings any minority onto his team they assume it was for the optics only. A diversity hire, if you will. (Nevermind the leaked emails showing diversity hiring was the primary consideration of Obama's cabinet.) So there's not way for whites to win. If they don't hire minorities they are racist, and if they do they are pandering. For the first time we have a Republican that isn't even trying to please them. It's a double-loss for blacks too. Liberals have made diversity hiring so routine, affirmative action so common, that everyone assumes any minority on a team is a diversity hire. And I can empathize with how enraging it must be to have been picked by Trump for your extraordinary talents and then have that minimized because everyone assumes you were hired as an identity and not as an individual.
  4. Omarosa makes a very good point: they keep wanting to refight the election. And as annoying as it is, this is a good thing. Hopefully it lasts four year. Because Trump already won that election. And in the election the most damaging aspect for Trump (ignoring the 24/7 media slander) was his lack of government experience. No one could be completely sure that he'd handle the job. So if they want to have the same election again, but this time Trump with a much fattened resume in the government experience department, then really we couldn't ask for anything better.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Close the Pay Gap Day

Here's a meme campaign I tried to kick off. We'll see if it gets traction.







Principe Trump

An interesting paragraph from Machiavelli's The Prince:
Hence it is to be remarked that, in seizing a state, the usurper ought to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily; and thus by not unsettling men he will be able to reassure them, and win them to himself by benefits. He who does otherwise, either from timidity or evil advice, is always compelled to keep the knife in his hand; neither can he rely on his subjects, nor can they attach themselves to him, owing to their continued and repeated wrongs. For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Don't like things? Don't do them.

I see this meme bouncing around facebook.

I have to agree and I might add a few more.

Don't like guns? Don't shoot them.
Don't like Donald Trump rallies? Don't attend them.
Don't like Milo speeches on your campus? Don't watch them.
Don't like Deploraball? Don't go.
Don't like bakers who don't do gay wedding cakes? Don't buy their cake.
Don't like pipelines? Don't use gas.
Don't like religion? Don't go to church.
Don't like gendered pronouns? Don't speak with those who do.
Don't like being robbed? Don't use the state to rob others.
Don't like your rights taken away?
Don't take away someone else's.

Border Walls: Recently Racist

In the past election cycle we've learned a lot that we didn't know before. For instance, we've learned that border walls are racist. I'm not sure that this means all border walls are racist. Would a wall between white countries like the US and Canada be racist? It seems the wall would only be racist if it divided countries of generally different ethnicities. America has a fairly strong white majority, and Mexico is almost entirely Latino. So that wall is racist.

I have to wonder, when did such walls become racist? Has it always been racist for one nation to keep outsiders, well, outside. For instance was it racist for the Chinese to build a wall to keep out the Mongolians, or the Romans to keep out the Scots? Now maybe that's going back a bit to far. We live in modern times, so that is not a good comparison. Let's not count those. So when would be a good cutoff. Should we count the 1900s? Well then you have to consider the Berlin Wall and all that. Let's cut that off too. We will only consider the context of the 21st century.

So if I'm understanding liberals correctly, walls that separate nations (in the ethnic sense) are racist in the 21st century. So wouldn't it be awkward if those same liberals have actually themselves built such border walls, in the 21st century? Well they did, in 2006. Notable liberal heroes on the list include but are not limited to:
  • Barrack Obama
  • Joe Biden
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Barbara Boxer
  • Diane Feinstein
What is shocking is that these people who run the Democratic party were openly racist as recently as a decade ago. Surely the liberals don't realize. We must tell them immediately so they know to start attacking them for the walls they built with that legislation in the same manner they are attacking Donald Trump for building a wall using the same legislation.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Energy Regression: the Looming Apocalypse

At the end of my post on Energy-Backed Currency I mentioned that I viewed energy regression to be the fundamental existential threat to western civilization. It is worth spending time on that subject, as it is key to understanding the second problem that EBC solves. The first problem is in having a currency backed by a valuable asset that grows linearly with the economy. The second problem is in re-orienting society so that it is inherently focused on the energy situation at all times.

I regard energy regression to be the fundamental existential threat to our world. Even more than nuclear holocaust, and that is always a real danger. Even more than civil discord, and I do believe we're on a path to a clash of civilizations within the west like has never been seen. Even more than climate change or economic stagnation or disease epidemics. Because all those problems, whether they occur or not, whether they are easily solved or not, don't change the fact that energy regression is something we will face, no matter what. There is no avoiding it. It is a constant looming threat to every civilization.

Energy regression has happened repeatedly through world history. Until modern times, energy input was in food, and to some extent firewood. Societies collapsed because they deforested their environment. Societies collapsed because crops failed for a multitude of reasons: disease, drought, flood, climate change, soil exhaustion, poor management. Many of the most successful empires in history were fueled by plundering the stored reserves of those they conquered. Once they ran out of new resources to steal, they tended to collapse under their own weight.

I think most Americans, or many at least, have an overly casual relationship with energy. They view it as just another aspect of modern life, right there with having running water and paved roads and classic rock stations on the local radio. We see this taken to an extreme lately with really the entire mainstream left protesting about oil pipelines, as if they were some unnecessary evil. They are depicted as ticking times bombs that might at any time destroy the environment and livelihoods of poor and oppressed people, with the only benefit being to enrich greedy oil corporations. These people then go fill up their gas tanks without a second thought about it. Such an outlook can only be had by someone who has never lived in society without abundant and cheap energy supplies. (And yes that is basically all of us).

This is the viewpoint that having abundant energy is just the natural state of affairs in the world. Oil is greedy, why can't society just use friendlier energy like wind and solar? An abundance of energy is simply assumed. The fact that our entire civilization depends on its energy supplies is easy to lose track of. The fact that most civilizations have collapsed for that reason is not something widely understood. And the fact that we don't really have anything to replace high-density fossil fuels is often ignored.

You have to wonder where we would be if there was no such thing as fossil fuels. If coal and oil and gas weren't, by extreme luck, available to us in great quantities. Would our economy just be fueled by some other source, like solar or nuclear power instead? No, if we never had fossil fuels, it is questionable if we would have ever advanced beyond horse-drawn transportation. No modern agriculture means no modern society, means limited technological development. I harbor the somewhat spiritual notion that fossil fuels were a gift granted to us, just enough to get us boosted to the next technological level. We should use them, but use them wisely. We are not using them wisely now, and a troubling number of people are advocating that we don't use them at all.

Here is the scariest thought exercise I know of, from a civilizational viewpoint. Imagine society suffers some catastrophic setback. Economies fail, war breaks out, maybe nuclear. The power grid stops operating. Imagine a vast calamity. That's bad enough in itself, of course, but not as scary as what comes next. You're one of the survivors. The economy includes subsistence farming and scavenging from the old infrastructure. You and your tribe decide the only thing to do is to begin rebuilding society back to where it was. You know that you have to remodernize agriculture. What do you need? Machinery. You need equipment, but even more you need to fuel it.

The problem is in acquiring oil. The first time we discovered oil it was quite simple. In places like Pennsylvania it was so accessible it could sometimes be found right at the surface. (Which is why we see oil brands such as Pennzoil and Quaker State). As we used the oil to power society we were able to develop increasingly sophisticated techniques to get the less accessible oil. Now we're fracking and running deep-sea oil rigs. There is no way a primitive society can get to that oil. And there's no way a primitive society can build solar panels or nuclear plants. If society fails now, it fails forever. The next big energy regression might well be permanent.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Saturating the Media Bandwidth

Vox Day's post today called 3rd Generation Politics is relevant to my post yesterday about Trump's rapid-fire first week in office.
What I believe we're seeing is the marriage of two tactics: [Col. John Boyd's] Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (OODA) Loop and Cernovich's media cycle disruption described in MAGA Mindset, being combined into a strategic approach designed to render the media's mass firepower irrelevant.
What Trump is doing is saturating the media's bandwidth. While they're obsessing about crowd sizes he's already made numerous important executive decisions. The simply can't keep up. By barraging all the changes early on, it does 3 things.
  1. It destroys the media's OODA loop. Part of the media's loop employs co-ordination. We saw that in the election when newspapers would come out all using the same words and phrases against Trump. (And we saw some proof of this co-ordination in the leaked emails.) They engage in co-ordination to amplify the propaganda effect of their message. Trump is not giving them time to coordinate. If they do they simply get left behind. He's not giving them time to settle on a narrative. All they have time to do is report the facts. Probably with snark, but they can't engage in the normal consensus building.
  2. They can only have so much impact. Judging by my facebook feed liberals are very agitated right now, I'd say 7 or 8 out of 10. (They were 10/10 on Nov 9). Each new bit of news can't really agitate them much further. Trump is hitting them all at once. Vox thinks his actions will become increasingly radical and specific. Perhaps. I predict he'll go through waves. At the end of the waves he'll do something big that most liberals would approve of. Since they only care about identity politics, it'll be some sort of gay rights or reachout to black America or something like that. He'll slow down, let that dominate the news for a bit, before hitting with another rapid-fire session. I predict he will also give them something very controversial to run with before each new session.
  3. He's making it known that there is a new boss in town. This is a common tactic for a new CEO or general to engage in. It establishes the new authority and accelerates detractors through the stages of grief; they are aggressively presented with the new reality in a way they must accept.
Conventional wisdom would tell Trump he should slow down, not push too hard at once. Trump is not conventional, and he is a genius at these things. 3rd Generation Politics was the perfect description of what is going on. I wonder if he'll end up changing the face of politics forever.

Update: Vox's persiscope talk on this (link). He makes the same prediction I did: that there will be a cyclical aspect to Trump's blitzes. Also in light of his analogies I think my title is pretty bad. The bandwidth is not being saturated. The bandwidth is their great strength, it is analogous to the great artillery firepower of trench warfare. The bandwidth is the media's ability to barrage the public with a coordinated narrative strike. So to say their bandwidth is being overloaded is not accurate. In fact it is more likely being underutilized. To keep the computing analogy, the media is currently CPU-bound, not network-bound.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Energy-Backed Currency

Intro



What follows is a framework for a monetary system based on energy. In this system the government operates and monopolizes the entire energy sector. The government issues a fiat currency in the same way it does today, but it recollects the currency through energy sales rather than direct taxation. This approach was influenced by an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and by Joseph Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies. (video).

Societal complexity is tightly intertwined with energy consumption. Societies require additional energy to become more complex, and additional complexity can allow a society to increase its energy input. Think of the deep-sea oil rig, which requires great societal complexity, and returns great energy value.

As a society advances it must constantly be solving the energy problem. We can roughly categorize all societal functions as serving as one of the roles.
  • Economic - anything that creates wealth or productive capacity
  • Regulatory - manages societal complexity
  • Energy acquiring - provides energy to the society
In our current society the economic and regulatory functions are largely split between public and private sectors. The energy sector tends to straddle the public and private sides in an ad-hoc manner. In an energy-based monetary system, solving the energy problem becomes the foremost duty of the central government.

Energy

Tenet 1: Energy production is not an economic activity. 
In standard economics energy production is categorized as a supplier. Suppliers provide inputs to economic activity, be it materials, capital, energy, and any other products or services necessary. Energy is unique in that it is a requirement for all economic activities, in all political systems. Energy is also a product, as it is consumed by households, which is a complexity we will ignore for the moment.

When society is viewed through Tainter's model energy can be described as external to the economy. The size of the economy is limited by amount of energy that can be supplied to it. This externally required energy does not intrinsically add wealth to the society, but it enables wealth creation to take place. Some energy is used that does not directly contribute to production, such as home heating or leisure driving.

Currency

Tenet 2: Currency is synonymous with energy.
 Currency today is a token of wealth. It represents a claim on a portion of the real economy. But as I've mentioned, energy is always an input to economic processes. So currency is already an approximation for energy. When we pay for something, we are mostly paying for the energy that went into the production of the product. New cars cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, but only have a scrap value of a few hundred. The difference between the purchase price and the material scrap price is energy.

The US dollar is especially equitable with energy because of it the reserve currency for international trade of energy commodities. (see relevant post here) Dollars traded in the petroleum markets are often dubbed the petrodollar, which is emblematic of the close association between the dollar and energy. Ultimately however the dollar is not synonymous with energy. The dollar has value because if US government taxation, and it's worth is dependent on the value of the economy and the number of dollars in circulation. The price of energy in dollars is free-floating and responsive to market forces.

Free-floating currency

The dollar is free floating. It's value is not pegged to some resource, but it is determined by the market and subject to supply and demand forces. In our free floating currency the government has three methods of altering the value of money: spending, taxing, and modifying the reserve rate for bank lending. 

Gold-backed currency

Until the 1970s the dollar was backed by gold. It had value because anyone could take their dollars and exchange them for an equivalent amount of gold, and the ratio was set by government edict. The problem with gold is this: it is finite. As the economy grows larger, the underlying money supply must grow proportionally to prevent inflation or deflation. The money supply is limited by the gold supply, thus in a growing economy the money will tend to deflate, which government desperately try to avoid to prevent currency hoarding. Ultimately governments end up ditching gold because it is the only way to loosen the money supply.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are digital currencies that rely on theoretical computer science for their validity. A Bitcoin is a solution to a factorization problem, and are generated by computers that slog through the solution space. It is designed so that early bitcoins require little processing time but as more and more solutions are found it takes increasing amount of processing (i.e. energy) to find additional solutions. These diminishing returns are reflective of what is seen in nature when extracting gold, oil, and other resources. The value of Bitcoin is that it is a limited token that can not be forged, and its transactions can be tracked while granting a some anonymity to the user. It is sort of like gold with benefits. Its value is only in its intrinsic scarcity. Ultimately it is subject to deflationary forces.

Energy-Backed Currency

In a way Bitcoin is an energy-backed currency (ECB). They are mined by the application of energy and the supply steadily increases logarithmically. But the economy grows linearly (we hope) and is subject to oscillations. The supply of Bitcoin does not reflect where we are economically, but where we have been. This is also true of commodity-backed currencies like gold. Both types of currency will exhibit deflation when the economy is growing, and inflation when the economy sinks, and since we expect economic growth in the long run, we also expect currency deflation in the long run and a tight money supply.

Logarithmic versus linear growth
Eventually the money supply can't keep up with economic growth.

What is desirable in a currency is that is backed by some valuable asset, and the quantity of that valuable scales linearly along with the size of the economy. As it turns out energy production scales very closely with economic growth.

(source)


Not only does energy production scale linearly with the economy, but it is also universally valuable as it is an input to all economic activities. Let's look for a second at what traits we need in a practical currency.

Valuable

There roughly are three reasons a currency might be valuable.
  1. Rarity. If something is rare and can't be forged, it can be used as a token of exchange. Gold, silver, and diamonds are the most common, as well as cryptocurrencies.
  2. Intrinsic value.  Gold may have once held this trait, but today there are many cheap alloys that can be substituted for gold in most of its applications. 
  3. Debt value. From Modern Money Theory (MMT), which describes modern fiat money as having value because they must be acquired to settle tax debts.
Energy would have value for all three of these reasons. Rarity because there is only so much energy production in a country. Intrinsic value because it is used as an input to all economic activities. Debt value because currency would be issued as an energy debt to be repaid. Because energy is not fungible, it would have to be represented with paper currency, just as gold-backed currencies are.

Energy-Backed Currency Lifecycle

At its simplest the lifecycle can be described in 3 steps.
  1. The government spends money into existence. If it spends a dollar, it creates an energy bond.
  2. Citizens and business trade goods and services to acquire the money.
  3. The money is used to purchase energy. A dollar spent on energy annihilates one dollar of energy bond.
Anyone who's been reading my MMT posts (click the MMT label at the bottom to see them) will see the analogy in play. Just as the concepts of energy and money have been merged, so have the concepts of energy purchases and taxation. The completely removes the need for a national tax code. The government no longer controls that side of the loop. Currently the government tinkers everywhere. Think of how chaotic it is. Every aspect of our lives is peered into by the government for purposes of taxation. Pick up a side job? The government wants its piece. Loan money to a family member? Even it was interest free, Uncle Sam demands a cut of it, under threat of physical force. Future generations will be amazed at how much meddling into our day-to-day interactions we permitted.

Tenet 3: Energy purchases and taxation are equivalent.

Spending

The government will still maintain large control on society through spending. I can already hear objection to the plan on the guise of it being a regressive tax scheme. That it unfairly targets the poor. But it is not really a tax scheme at all. There is no tax code. There is nothing for the government to tinker with on that end. If citizens feel the system is too hard on the poor, they lobby the government to shift spending in a way to make the desired changes, and in a way that is more upfront and transparent to everyone. The current system is like a two-ruddered ship. It is inherently unstable.

Temporalness

The tricky aspect to this is the temporal nature of energy production. For convenience we will think of spending in annual budgets, just as we did for the MMT thought exercises. So at the beginning of the year the government creates energy bonds equal to the amount of energy it that it will be able to generate in one year. Let's just assume it's 100 megawatt years (MWy). This means the government is expecting to generate an average of 100MW over the course of the year. 

This brings up many questions. What if the government spends too much money into existence? Is it limited to one year's supply? As we've shown before in MMT, excess government money must always be backed by bond financing, or the money will have no value. EBC does not inherently change that dynamic. Should the government expand the money supply (i.e. borrow and put the cost on future generations) to maintain status as global reserve currency? These are finances questions, and not impacted by EBC. We've not at this point talked at all about finance or the role of the central bank, and we may not need to, as they seem to be unrelated to merging of money with energy, and of the requisite political restructuring.

Tenet 4: EBC changes are orthogonal to finance and banking


Political Shifts

In addition to backing the currency with energy, the political structures would be realigned to properly balance society with the understanding of the roles of complexity and energy in the rise and fall of civilizations. As mentioned before there are now three roles within society: productive, administrative, and energy.

Productive

This what we consider to be the non-governmental sector of society, but that definition doesn't quite describe things. For instance, there is no real difference between a private clinic and a state-run clinic from an economics perspective. Much of this is due to the fact that people these days tend to believe it is the role of government to provide certain services to the people. Generally anything we consider as contributed to GDP falls into this category

Domestic Administration

This is everything to do with managing societal complexity. Policing, schools, social programs, everything that is internal. The governing structure could take several forms. In America the states would adopt almost the entirety of the role, and in fact that is pretty much how it was intended by the Founders. But other countries are meant as a collection of states, like the US, and have relatively strong federal governments. For those countries internal aspects of government would be largely separated from the rest.

Energy & International Affairs

The top level of government issues currencies, monopolizes the energy sector, and provides all the outside facing structures of government, such as the military, foreign ministry, intelligence, and so forth. Ideally the outer government would operate almost completely isolated from the domestic government. Such a division allows the outer government to primarily on its task as energy provider, and its ability to operate in the world to acquire and defend those resources. However they would be tied in one key aspect: spending, which is a topic to discuss in another post.

Further Topics

Other topics to explore are how the government takes control of the energy sector, a further discussion on the relationship between the inner and outer governments, how different energy forms are valued (for instance gas is cheaper than electricity) without distorting markets, and how markets might be intentionally distorted, such as by encouraging renewable energy use. As worthy of exploration are the societal impacts. Clearly the economic shifts will change incentives. Driving to work will get much more expensive, but incomes won't be taxed in half.

There are political benefits to an EBC system. It will government control of society simpler and more transparent. It will drive efficiency of energy usage, which will increase the improvement to standard of living per energy consumed. But most importantly at all, it will prolong the energy we need to power our advance civilization long enough to make the next leap forward in energy technology. Otherwise we will sink back into the valley behind us. I view this as the fundamental existential threat to modern civilization.

The Power of the Presidency

It's weird that since I've been so supportive of Trump everyone assumes I'm a lifelong Republican, with some sort of tribal attachment to the party. It's especially weird with all the liberals who unfriended me on facebook when I started posting pro-Trump material, just a very short time after I had been supportive of Bernie Sanders. Those people surely saw both sets of posts, they would have had to. But when they started seeing Trump on my timeline, they just assumed I was on "the other side" and away I went.

I'm sure they naturally assume I was a Bush supporter. The truth is I never supported Bush, I never voted for him, and in fact I spent most of the Bush era as a fervent 9/11 conspiracy theorist. I got real turned on to Alex Jones at that time, and I did believe we were seeing a mass power grab by the government (and we were), but even to the point of fearing martial law was a real possibility. Needless to say, I did not support the expansion of executive power under Bush.

At the time I heard Democrats saying, "You guys support the empowered president now, but one day there'll be a Democrat in charge and you won't like it." I agree. And lo it was soon true. When Obama came to power I was sure he would be a disappointment. I never supported him. I never voted for him. I suspected that Obama would actually curtail the excessive executive power he had inherited. I believe the standard narrative about him. That he was intelligent, thoughtful, peaceful, a Constitutional scholar. If anyone would re-balance the government it was him. I was sure he would at least not increase the excesses of his office.

So I was somewhat surprised, but not shocked, when the scope of the executive continued to explode under his watch. To the point he was making drone assassination strikes on an American citizen and unilaterally negotiating a nuclear treaty with a power labeled as a state sponsor of terrorism. And I found myself saying to Democrats: "You guys support the empowered president now, but one day there'll be a Republican in charge and you won't like it."

And here we are. Three business days in to Trump. Frankly I'm taken back at what he has already been able to do by presidential decree.
  • Ordered the completion of the controversial pipeline Obama left hanging for him.
  • Effectively crippled the individual mandate, the key aspect of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Withdrew from TPP, the most significant foreign trade project during Obama's term.
  • Froze federal hiring, suspended numerous programs, especially in the EPA.
  • Is poised to end the Syrian refugee program.
  • Will halt immigration from nation's with significant Islamic terrorism.
  • Will begin construction of the border wall.
  • Has begun motion to renegotiate NAFTA.
  • Has rallied numerous jobs and investments to return to America.
These are huge shifts in national policy. Immigration, trade, healthcare, jobs. In three days he has done this. I honestly underestimated the power of the presidency. And so did a lot of people. Think of all the people who scoffed that he could never do the things he promised. But also look at how the establishment became totally unhinged at the prospect of a President Trump. They must have known the true power he was assuming. They allowed it during Bush. They allowed it during Obama. And now Trump has it.

At this point Trump is using that power to undo the mistakes of his predecessors. Eventually he will have to start dismantling the power, and we will have to pressure him to do so.

It's Time to Stop Defunding Bass Pro Shops

  1. By defunding Bass Pro Shops, Congress is depriving Americans of their constitutional right to guncare.
  2. Defunding Bass Pro Shops disproportionately deprives the poor and minorities of access to guncare.
  3. Gun sales only make up 3% of Bass Pro Shops' business. They primarily provide needed services such as fishing gear which many Americans use to feed their families. Many children will go hungry unless we start funding Bass Pro Shops.
  4. Defunding Bass Pro Shops is sexist because most of their customers are men.
  5. If left defunded the poorest Americans who are least able to afford other methods of home defense, such as security systems, will be forced to acquire guns in shady back alley deals, which poses a serious threat to their personal health and safety.
  6. Funding Bass Pro Shops would actually lower the rate at which men would have to purchase firearms to begin with. Men are forced to make that expensive and painful decision when they are not provided with easy access to ammunition. A man provided with monthly access to bulk .223 hollow points won't be forced to undergo a .308 upgrade operation. Providing men with the ammunition that best suits their bodies and armament collections will decrease firearm purchases and keep guns off the streets.
  7. Men have a right to control their bodies and to dress without being shamed. If a man identifies as a CCW holder with a snub-nosed .38 special in a black leather chest holster then society must respect his unique identity.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trump Quibbles With the Media on Day One

A lot of people are complaining about Trump's fights with the media over the accuracy of the reported crowd size at the inauguration. I have to agree. After a year of being falsely called a racist, a misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, a child rapist, a traitor, a sexual deviant, and a Russian puppet, quibbling over crowd sizes does seem a bit pedestrian.

Absurdity Times Infinity to the Power of Infinity

I recently came across this post, which seeks to inform readers of a scientific concept that ought to be more widely known: parallel universes.

In 1957, a Princeton physics graduate student named Hugh Everett showed that the consistency of quantum mechanics required the existence of an infinity of universes parallel to our universe. That is, there has to be a person identical to you reading this identical article right now in a universe identical to ours. Further, there have to be an infinite number of universes, and thus an infinite number of people identical to you in them.

In quantum mechanics everything exists as a waveform, which is just a probability distribution. The canonical example is Schroedinger's cat, which shows that not only do we not know the exact state of a thing until we observe it, but the thing doesn't even assume an exact state until it is observed. There have been some experiments to confirm the spooky behavior.

The conclusion reached in the article (disclaimer I'm not familiar with Evertt's work) is that quantum mechanics implies there must be an infinity of universes. And not just an infinity of different universes, but also an infinity of the same universes. Yes, that sounds absurd. But don't worry, it gets worse. According to the author, at each point you make a decision, the universe splits in two. For example, one universe where you pay your taxes, and one you don't. This is alleged to show free will. At each moment you can decide which universe you switch to. You control your own destiny.

This means that at each moment in time, another infinity universes is created. But not just that, because we must consider all the other decisions being made. This introduces combinatorial complexity. So there are on order of infinity to the power of infinity universes created at each moment. Do the old universes get destroyed? The author doesn't say. Perhaps there is a single infinite set of universes and another set of infinite transitions, to make up a sort of multiverse automaton. It does hurt the head to think about this too much.

If universes are constantly created and destroyed, what does this mean? Does it make sense that at each increment in time (according to quantum physicist, the Planck time, a ridiculously small increment) we enter a freshly minted universe? If we exist on a graph in which each of the infinite states of the universe exists an infinite number of times on a graph, what does that say about the fabric of existence?

If the universe splits each time we make a decision, then almost all universes should be wildly chaotic. Think about it. You drive to work. At each increment of time, you decide how to control the wheel. You can direct it down the road, or you can run your car into the ditch. The odds that you ever make it to work are just unfathomable. There is the argument, "well you chose to enter the safe universe by free will." Well what of the universe where I wrecked my car? Clearly I didn't choose the safe universe, I just inherited it by chance. And the chaotic universes vastly outnumber the safe ones.

This simply defies all logic, it defies our understanding of existence, and if indeed quantum mechanics comes to this conclusion, then something is wrong with quantum mechanics. More likely something is wrong with the article.

Now, there is something to be said for multiple universes. The best argument I know of is this: in our world there are a great many constants, for example the gravitational constant, Boltzman's constant, the mass of the electron. It has always been the assumption that these constants fall out of the equations of the universe, just in ways we don't understand yet. As it is, the constants are determined through measurement. A few years ago, after a long search, the Higgs Boson was finally discovered at the Large Hadron particle accelerator in Europe. It was just as theory predicted, with one exception: the mass was way off. Not even close. Here was yet another constant that couldn't be predicted by theory.

The conclusion some physicists started coming to was that the constants are in fact totally arbitrary, which leads to some troubling philosophical suggestions. The constants must be just right for life to exist in the universe, and yet they seem to be arbitrary. If any were just a little different life wouldn't exist at all. The only two conclusions are (1) the constants are divinely set, or (2) there exists a multitude of universes with unique sets of constants. That we exist in one of the few sets that supports life is a tautology. We would have to exist in one of those universes to even ponder the question.

This a multiverse theory that is more palatable. First it only requires a countably infinite number of universes rather than the infinite exponents of the original version. Even more, it doesn't require the incessant creation of infinite universe. Each universe plays out continuously in the way we perceive ours to be.

Hypocrisy and the 4 Stages of Anti-Progressivism

The 3 Stage of Anti-Progressivism

One of the things I have been fueled by in the last year or so is in pointing out the hypocrisy of the left. I always had believed the left vs. right paradigm to be a battle of principles, but in a year that view has been shattered. The progression is something like this:
  1. I disagree with the principles of the left.
  2. The principles of the left are inconsistent.
  3. The left has no principles.
Somone in Stage 1 will point out the flaws of liberal ideology. At Stage 2 all energy will be spent showing the contradictions of the left. That is, pointing out its hypocrisy. Stage 3 will proceed the same, although with increased exasperation. Before I proceed to Stage 4, let's look at what hypocrisy is, what it isn't, and how someone could erroneously come to the conclusion of hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy

Let's look at the two different logical predicates for hypocrisy. Let B be a belief, and a and b be actions or statements. At it's most basic description hypocrisy is this
B  ∧ (a → ¬B)
This would read like "you state a belief in B, yet action a indicates no belief in B." The predicate reduces to  ∧ ¬B. But B  and ¬B cannot both be true. Thus the contradiction. In practice hypocrisy claims often look like this:
(a → B)  ∧ (b → ¬B)
This would read as "your action a implies a belief B for some principle, but your action b indicates a lack of belief B. This is used to suggest the subject only uses principles when convenient, which would make them not really principles at all, but just crude political weapons.

False hypocrisy is where a predicate of the hypocrisy formula is not actually true. This occurs because it is either false that → B or it is false that → ¬B. This is an informal logical fallacy because the predicates are logically consistent, it is the underlying assumptions that are false. The implication that the action implies some belief is at risk of hasty generalization.

Let's use an example of a false implication. I am opposed to the Roe v. Wade ruling. This is a. Almost anyone who hears that will make the assumption → B1 , where B1  is the belief that women should not have legal access to abortions. This could be the basis to make all sorts of hypocrisy claims. But in reality → B2 , where B2 is the belief that Supreme Court rulings have no right to contravene the 10th Amendment. It's really a parliamentary argument rather than a moralistic one.

Group hypocrisy is a bit more complicated than individual hypocrisy. We'll use the notation G to denote a group, and G1 to denote a subgroup of group G. We'll use G as a function, so that G(a) means "G does a" and G(B) means "G believes B". We'll also use the function P(G) to mean "the group G is principled."

The false group hypocrisy fallacy to watch out for then is this:
(G1(a)→ B)  ∧ (G2(b) ¬B) → ¬G(P)
The reason this is a fallacy is because it is entirely possible for different beliefs to exist within a larger group. For instance I am conservative but also an atheist who isn't opposed to legal abortion. At least 90% of claims of conservative hypocrisy I encounter don't even apply to me. We must be careful when making those claims too. Many people who call themselves liberals are really Classical Liberals. They fundamentally have more in common with mainstream modern conservatives than they do with modern liberals (Progressives), they just often don't realize it. There is a growing subgroup of conservatives that reject Classical Liberalism as a reaction against Progressivism. They believe Classical Liberalism naturally leads way to Progressivism, which ironically is the strongest force destroying Classical Liberalism in western civilization. (Or as Stefan Molyneux calls it, civilization.) This subgroup is generally termed the Alt-Right, or the Neoreaction. Modern mainstream conservatives are trying to figure out how to have Classical Liberalism without Progressivism. The Alt-Right is for those who have become cynical of liberalism altogether. Sorry for the tangent, but as you can see applying broad generalizations for the purpose of proving hypocrisy is prone to the error of overgeneralizing a subgroup to the larger group.

Stage 4 of anti-Progressivism

Stage 4 is the realization that modern liberals aren't entirely unprincipled, but that they have one overriding principle that supersedes all others. From this point on in my blog I will refer to it as Antidiscrimination, The Holy Principle, or just The Principle (because Antidiscrimination is a lot to type). 

I've finally stepped into Stage 4, largely thanks to this lecture filmed a decade ago. The lecture is only 30 minutes long and is highly recommended.




I won't get too much into the details of Antidiscrimination, as that video lays it out very well. But do keep in mind that each Stage of Anti-Progressivism does not invalidate the prior stages. Antidiscrimination may be the Holiest of Principles, but still they violate it whenever it is convenient. They still discriminate when it comes to gender rights movements. SJWs I argue with on facebook almost always discriminate when they make mention of the fact that I'm white, as if it invalidates the arguments I make. They discriminate when they call white student unions racist, while permitting them for every other ethnicity. In general they discriminate every time they choose victim and oppressor identities.

If they universally applied the principle it would be one thing. But Antidiscrimination translates to, "Everything I don't like is caused by discrimination, and nothing I like is discrimination." It's not really a principle because it is entirely subjective and itself subservient to Intersectionality philosophy (which is itself subservient to an identity-based culture war of which the good and evil sides have been determined beforehand).

Moving beyond Hypocrisy

My major reason for writing is to encourage others in the right and alt-right to move beyond hypocrisy. You can point out the hypocrisy of the left all day long. Frankly at this point it doesn't matter. People on the left are largely immune to these logical arguments. If pointing out their hypocrisy was effective it would have worked already. The battle is always for the middle, and I'm not sure how effective it is either. When people on forums such the r/the_donald announce they're changing sides, abandoning liberalism, it is almost never, "I read some compelling logic that changed my mind." It is more like "the left has started doing things that completely disgust me." It is always an emotional decision first, rationale comes after.

Thus pointing out leftist hypocrisy may serve no purpose other than its therapeutic value to those of us so disturbed by them. I'm not sure it gets us anywhere. If our goal is to convert those in the center, we will get more success from antagonizing the left, to make them even more extreme. Keep calm and fan the flames of their insanity.

Women's March: Proof of Privilege

The international day of women's marches held this weekend, intended to protest a lack of women's rights in America, is all the proof you need that women are the privileged gender in America.

The women's march was allegedly in favor of women's rights, although the marchers were unable to articulate any rights they lack. What normally they mention is rights to abortion (why is it always the right to kill unborn babies they fall back to?) But the thing is they do have that right. Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court ruling that opted to violate the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution just to give women that right. One liberal woman I've spoken to on the issue says that the ruling doesn't matter when getting an abortion can be so difficult. Her example was that women in rural Arkansas must sometimes drive over a hundred miles to abortion clinics. Apparently women lack the right to overcome the laws of supply & demand. How much demand do you think there is for abortion clinics in rural Arkansas? Enough to justify one in each town? Because such a practice is obviously not profitable, I suppose they're advocating that those clinics be provided by the government. As usual, the protest is for the right to have the government take money from other citizens. In this case as a matter of convenience for abortion customers.

But again abortion is a right granted by the government. What they seem to marching against is future attacks on their rights, which they are sure are imminent under President Trump. They feel the election was an attack on women, but in a vague and hypothetical sense.

It's always more insightful to judge people by their actions and not their words. In that light some of the marchers did demonstrate a number of rights they lack.

The right to light a woman's hair on fire.



The right to punch a woman in the face.




The right to stone a woman to death for traveling without a male relative escort.

The last is a tweet from the head organizer of the marches, who advocates for Sharia Law. Liberals see no contradiction in this. (Remember they are unprincipled.)

To be fair I don't actually think most women in the marches were marching for those things. I don't think they were marching as political action at all. It was more of group therapy for a crowd who pulled out all the stops of Identity Politics in this election, who went completely unrestrained to get Hillary elected over Trump, and who still lost. It's just a sign that they're moving towards the bargaining stage of grief. In fact because of this I do not oppose the marches in and of themselves.

Women are permitted to march across the country, to protect women's rights from hypothetical future attacks. Women can organize for their rights. It doesn't even matter what their arguments are. Society permits it. Can you imagine an organized day of men's marches? There are actually Men's Rights activists (MRAs) in America, and they are widely shamed, ridiculed, and condemned. They are told they are sexist misogynistic bigots when they attempt to organize. Even more they are called whiny wimps who aren't "real men". They would never in this environment rally enough support to have national marches of any significance, and even if they did, they would certainly be met by leftist violence. And that violence would be met with mainstream support. Just look at how people are gloating about Richard Spencer being sucker-punched by a leftist. I don't know much about Spencer, but I don't believe that he has ever imposed violence against his political opponents, or advocated for it. Violent suppression of free political speech now has mainstream support from the left. Ridicule of MRAs has mainstream support as well. Violence against national MRA marches would be widely supported.

Women are allowed to organize for their rights. Men are not. The marches were merely a demonstration by women that they have more rights than men in this country.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Nickelbarrack

Today President Elect Trump gave a television interview and President Obama gave his final press conference. I caught a few minutes of each, and by luck I caught them each talking about the other, after having spent some time together in the transition process. Trump gave an almost glowing review of the proceedings, calling the Obamas very gracious and helpful. Obama wasn't quite as generous, but clearly his tone has changed regarding Trump. He spoke of the challenges Trump would face, and that he might end up coming to the same conclusions when finally met with the true complexities of the problem. This was a Obama being empathetic towards Trump. This is a long way from his typical speech where he depicts Trump as a buffoon or an inhumane oppressor. After months of seriously heated political battles that got quite personal and ugly, you'd almost suspect they're getting sweet on each other.

At the gym yesterday I heard an old Nickelback song, the one that was their first hit. And I got to thinking about it, since I don't have good mental focus in the gym. Nickelback got much more popular than they ever should have. They were a decent band, and a legitimate one too, as they spent 10 years as a bar band in Alberta before breaking out. They were a band that everyone could listen to. They were rock, but with simple and catchy melodies that pops fans could enjoy. They also sang about partying like rock starts so hip-hop fans might enjoy it too. The band had general appeal. Many different radio station played Nickelback because it wasn't going to drive anyone away. They soon got very big even though they weren't that good.

Soon people were hearing Nickelback everywhere. In all the bars, on many radio stations, it was all over. People started getting tired of it. They asked, what's the big deal with Nickelback anyway? There's way better music in [my favorite genre]. Hating Nickelback started to become a fad. People were shitting all over them even though maybe they weren't that bad.

Perhaps we see a similar trend with Obama who, with no real track record of success or executive leadership, became the center of a national swell of support, largely due to his promises to break from the Bush legacy and his fortune to be the first black/mulatto Presidential candidate. He was massively overhyped, and strolled into office with a large mandate and big promises. He got very big even though he wasn't that good.

Many who would naturally oppose his politics witnessed his unearned accolades and became even more irate. I have commented at length here at how frustrating it is that Obama got passes from the left to do the very things he was popular for promising he wouldn't do. Like extend the Bush Doctrine. In fact, I find myself much more angry at the establishment response than I do to Obama himself. Sure, he shouldn't have been elected, but who's going to turn the job down? He seemed to mean well, he was just largely in over his head. Obama is an idealist and a wimp, and politics is a dirty and vicious business. Maybe he fought the good side on battles that we'll never even know about. The stakes are much higher for a president than a Canadian rock band. They might put out a couple crappy albums; he might cause a couple refugee crises. So we developed a hatred for him and shit all over him, even though maybe he wasn't that bad.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Homelessness Paradox

If a city has 300 homeless people, and it provides housing for all 300 of them, how many homeless people will the city have?

In response to my post yesterday which outlined a mock housing program modeled on the Affordable Care Act (see Affordable Housing Act), someone mentioned that similar housing programs had been successful. He wasn't referring to a program that had an individual mandate, but to case studies showing that providing the homeless with housing is cheaper than letting them live on the street and consume emergency services (hereherehere, and here). The studies all show that if the most costly of the homeless are given homes, their financial burden to the city decreases.

The question that should arise is: if these more humane practices are proven to be cost-reductive, then why aren't cities jumping all over it? Almost every city is desperate for breathing room in their budgets. Are the cities adverse to more social programs? Highly doubtful, as the cities with the worst problems of homelessness tend to be the most liberal. Places like Portland, San Franciso, and Chicago. It's simply inconceivable that the cities would refuse a helpful social program that reduces expenditures.

That brings us back to the question. How many homeless people will there be after housing has been provided to the city's 300 homeless people? The answer: more than 300.

In some ways homelessness is an occupation. (Don't scoff, I've read accounts of former panhandlers who described themselves as providing a service so that people could feel better about themselves. They provide an outlet for altruism.) A city can only support so many homeless people. It only has so many shelters, soup kitchens, charity provisions, change-providing citizens, and locations for squatter camps. Springfield Missouri couldn't support the homeless population of San Francisco. The homeless people shift to fit the available resources. Many move from city to city (sometimes cities force or bribe away their homeless), and there is a bit of seasonality to it. If a city can support 300 homeless then odds are they will find themselves with 300 homeless. If they house 300 homeless then, assuming all other resources are unchanged, 300 more homeless people will eventually emerge. But probably even more than that, as people will prefer the city so they can be on the list to get the next batch of free housing. The programs give incentive for homeless people to move there.

The Housing First studies show that housing is cheaper if homelessness is reduced at a 1-for-1 rate. That is unlikely to be the case. In the one city that has adopted such a program, Salt Lake City, homelessness hasn't abated, despite city proclamations to the counter. Perhaps more telling than the article itself is this comment from an SLC citizen:
I live in Utah part of the year when not in the UK or elsewhere. The state duped all the news outlets that have reported on the drop in homelessness. The homeless population, including the chronically homeless population, has exploded here over the past three years. It is now at staggering proportions, with countless numbers of people not bothering to go to shelter at all. They sleep all over the streets, in parks and they occupy any abandoned buildings they can find their way into. They break into occupied older apartment blocks to sleep in laundry rooms, hallways and basements.
The greater downtown area of Salt Lake City has hundreds of homeless panhandlers on virtually every corner for square miles around. They also approach patrons of restaurants and shopping zones repeatedly for money, often aggressively.
The population of Salt Lake City proper is slightly above 190,000 according to 2014 figures. Police have told me that it is estimated that as many as 3,000 to 5,000 homeless filter in and out of the city at any given time depending on the season. This makes Salt Lake City one of the most chronically affected metro areas in the United States as it relates to homelessness.
Drug dealing is open and rampant on the streets. Violence is common. A man who lived in a condo adjacent to Pioneer Park downtown was stabbed to death at random walking through the park to his home by a homeless man. Another homeless man beat and stabbed a customer at a downtown McDonalds restaurant for refusing to give him money. It's a crisis.
NPR did correct its erroneous reporting once it realized it had been suckered. Utah officials at the state level are not known for their honesty on any number of levels. The state legislature is controlled by a vast Republican/Mormon white male majority that conducts its business in closed caucus. Essentially, Utah is run by a secret government that has no problem putting out blatant lies to gloss up some very serious problems.

That is exactly the eyewitness testimony I would predict. Homelessness hasn't decreased tit for tat in response to free housing, but has "exploded."

Effectively Utah is taking the burden off other locales. They've become a premiere destination for the homeless. I can hear the liberal solution already: "Well if there was a national policy then there would be no incentive for them to move to one certain city." Which will be a great argument if you hear it, because it will be them affirming the proposition, welfare benefits will attract a migration of the needy. The counterargument quickly follows. If America offers universal free housing to the homeless, what will happen? Remember these same people resolutely reject immigration control. So they will have to accept the mantra that I preach frequently:

You can't have open borders and a welfare state. You can choose one at the most. (0 also being permissible). Because most cities, even very liberal cities, are not adopting the policy of providing free housing to the homeless, they are implicitly agreeing to that claim.

Monday, January 16, 2017

3 Times Trump Statements Matched His Character

There are some occasions when Trump has made a statement that was bizarre or confused his many political detractors. I want to highlight 3 of them to illustrate how they make sense given his persona.

Uncouth Statement About Ivanka

One Trump utterance that the left loves to hound Trump for was his statement in an interview that if she wasn't his daughter he might date her. Of course his opponents take it to a very lewd place, which is frankly worse than Trump's comments were to begin with. But there's no reason to believe he had some sinister meaning behind it, or that it revealed lust for his own daughter. Donald Trump only dates the best women in the world. As a self-made billionaire and television persona he can be as choosy as anyone. His typical female companions are European supermodels. Trump said that about his daughter because to him it is the greatest compliment he could give: even he might date her. Such a statement does reveal a good deal of self-centerdness. A strong ego is to be expected of someone in his position, but it goes too far when it causes someone to make a gaffe like that. While his opponents make disgusting allusions to it, in his own way it was sweet, just so very awkward.

Failing New York Times

A favorite word of Trump's to use is failing. The failing New York Times. He called Buzzfeed a failing pile of garbage. He uses the word a lot. Trump values winning. He's a competitor. He can't stand losing and that's what drives him. For him to call his opponents failure or losers is for him to launch the worst insult he can think of.

Putin as Adversary

People are confused about Trumps recent comments about Putin, when he said there was a good chance he wouldn't even get along with him. Was he serious. Was this a change is fairly warm stance on Putin? Was this Trump making a show to prove he isn't some Russian puppet as some very delusional people with surprisingly high status seem to believe?

Trump is labeled by the media as brash, rude, offensive. But if you look back at the people he has been hostile, in most cases that person either (a) had insulted Trump first, or (b) was his direct competitor. So people knew about his insults to Rosy O'Donnell but not what she had done to provoke him. The media went on nonstop about Trump attacking a gold star family or whatever they were, but usually glossed over that Mr Kahn gave a key speech at the Democrat National Convention insulting and berating Trump throughout. People also saw him being a real asshole to other Republican candidates, and assumed that's who he is.

Trump is ruthless to his competitors. He seems to generally be kind to everyone else. When he becomes president, Putin will become his competitor. Trump wants to win. He wants America to win. He will fight Putin or anyone who stands in our way. I sense the both have great mutual respect, but they will soon be engaged in battle against one another. Will Trump become openly hostile to foreign heads of state that cross him? We'll all have to find out.

Conclusion

Trump is not an orator. He is inarticulate and often ineloquent. He was elected despite those flaws. People wanted substance over style. In some ways he is brilliant, but public speaking is not one of those. However, if you understand how he operates much of what he says makes more sense. Long dubbed a wild card or loose cannon, he is actually consistent in his own way.

Affordable Housing Act

Here's a proposal for a federal program to greatly reduce homelessness in America.
  1. All homeless Americans must rent a home from a private company.
  2. Those without housing who do not rent a home must pay a fine to the government. Unless their income is extremely low and then they may continue being homeless with no penalty.
  3. All companies with 50 employers must provide rental options to their employees who work 30 or more hours per week.
  4. The rents of poorer people will be subsidized by those with larger incomes, and all will pay fees to cover the program's overhead.
  5. The government will set minimum standards for private housing. All housing must include, among other things, wheelchair access to all levels and handicap-friendly bathrooms.
  6. Rental companies cannot refuse to rent to anyone because of their criminal record, credit history, or any other pre-existing condition.
  7. Under the program rents may rise drastically from one year to the next. A family's rent may double or even more in a year.
  8. The rent does not actually permit a person to use their home. They must pay a usage fee, usually well into the thousands of dollars. If they have a home under the program, but are unable to pay the usage fee to get into the home, they will still be considered as people who were provided homes under the program. Likewise those who previously afforded usage fees but can no longer do so because of soaring rents will not be counted as having lost housing.
  9. If you have a home and you like your home, you can keep your home at the same rent. (Except that no you can't.)
We should pass the Affordable Housing Act in an overnight session during a holiday, and if our opponents try to repeal the legislation, we'll cite the numbers of those no longer considered to be homeless as our sole justification for keeping it in place, and call them greedy and heartless for wanting to do so. Who's with me?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

False advocacy fallacy

The false advocacy fallacy occurs when an argument in support of a conclusion is taken to mean advocacy for that conclusion. I don't know if this fallacy is one that has been previously described, but I could not find a similar one.

At it's simplest it can be described as
P(c) → Q(c)
where P(c) means an argument in favor of c and Q(c) is an advocacy for c. However we can show it is really invalidated by usage of the intentionality fallacy, which is the conclusion that an argument can be invalidated based on the intentions of the speaker. It can be represented as a hasty generalization, which is
S(a) → A(a) 
Let's read this as some people do the action a, therefore all people do a. In this case the action is never allowing oneself to argue against their intended conclusion. If we reduce the some to just one, then it becomes a matter of psychological projection.
I(a) → A(a)
I do a, so everyone does a. "No one would make an argument that weakens the case for the conclusion they prefer, because I wouldn't do that." Putting that together, we get the entire propositional logic of the fallacy.
P(c) ^ ( I(a) → A(a) ) → Q(c)
Read this as "the person made an argument supporting a, and because I would never argue against a conclusion I was advocating for, thus no one does that, it means the person is advocating for c."

One thing you'll notice is that the false advocacy will often be used in conjunction with yet another intentionality fallacy in an attempt to invalidate the speaker. "If you argue in support of c, you advocate for c. If you advocate for c, then your arguments in favor of c can't be trusted, so your argument is invalid." This chain of logic I would dub something like the universal nullification fallacy, because if it was sound, it would mean that any argument for any conclusion would be inherently invalid.

Example 1

Although I am not anti-abortion, for reasons stated in previous posts, I tend to find myself arguing against pro-abortion people online because the arguments used to support abortion are usually error-riddled. Even more erroneous are their arguments used to discredit pro-lifers. Immediately I get labeled as a Bible-thumping zealot, even though I don't take an anti-abortion stance and don't practice as a Christian. 

The pro-choice crowd set up this lovely bubble around themselves. "Anyone who argues against me is a hateful religious nut, so their arguments can be easily dismissed."

Example 2

I was having a debate related to Trump on facebook with liberal friend A, who was challenging some post I had made. I stood firmly by my stance and argued in defense of it. At some point liberal friend B chimed in that while he doesn't like Trump in general, in this particular argument he believed I had the correct stance. B is one I frequency debate with on facebook and we are able to get into the weeds on things without getting upset. After he sided with me, I made a concession on the issue, with the intent of showing that I could understand why a person would take up the opposing issue.

A took that as an opportunity to leverage against me, and I went back to defending my original premise. A then got frustrated, said I was constantly changing my stance, and stopped participating.

This was the advocacy fallacy in action. To A it wasn't that I was providing nuanced argument (which I felt comfortable doing after B joined in). To A, I was actually switching my advocacy away from my original stance when I made the concession, and then when I again defended my original stance, it meant I had switched back again.

A probably never makes arguments against the preferred conclusion. In hindsight I probably should have seen it coming and could have prevented a friend from getting frustrated. A was doing what so many people do. When they make an argument that I successfully counter, they will never admit that the argument was lost, but shift the goalposts. So if they say Trump is a racist and you provide compelling evidence he isn't, they won't say, "maybe you're right." They'll say, "well he's unqualified." Basically changing the subject entirely. I encounter this over and over.

In my conversation, perhaps intuitively I knew not to make concessions with a person who was not making their own. It wasn't until B joined in that the dynamic was changed in a way that frustrated A. Something to keep in mind is that while everyone says the want people they debate with to be capable of nuanced discussion, those who fall pray to the advocacy fallacy (which is quite common) will actually become annoyed with those who can make any sort of concession without changing their conclusion.