Thursday, July 30, 2009


Socialism in the US?

The Socialist Platform of 1928

Extracted from “The Conscience of a Conservative”, Barry Goldwater, Appendix A.

A brief summary of Appendix A shows that: 1) many socialist objectives had been achieved by 1972; and that 2) the ideas of the Socialist Party have not died since 1972, but are quite well and alive in the current Administration and Congress. We can expect to see these kinds of policies and legislation rearing their heads again; in fact, they already have.

1. Nationalization of natural resources…(Dams, others)
2. Public ownership of power systems…(TVA, others)
3. National ownership of railroads and other means of communication and transportation…(AMTRAC, FCC, etc)
4. A national program for flood control, reforestation, irrigation and reclamation..( US Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies)
5. Government relief of the unemployed by public works programs…(unionized wage laws for public employees)
6. Loans to states and municipalities without interest, and grants in aid…(huge grants in aid)
7. Unemployment insurance…(part of Social Security)
8. A network of public employment agencies…(US Employment Service)
9. A system of health and accident insurance and old age pensions…(Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid)
10, Shortening the workday…(wage and hours laws)
11. An anti-child labor law…(achieved in various acts)
12. Abolition of the exploitation of convicts…(partly achieved)
13. Increase of taxation on high incomes, corporations, and inheritances…(was achieved)
14. Appropriation by taxation of all lands held for speculation..(not achieved)

While a few of these programs may not be purely socialistic, in sum the direction is indeed Socialistic. It would seem that the current Administration is borrowing ideas from the Socialist Party Platform, with their control over large financial institutions, the automobile industry, heavy stimulus funding being handed out, and the general direction that was precursed in 1928.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The Anthropic Principle

The Anthropic Principle—Some Threads to Follow

The Anthropic Principle as a concept has been around since Biblical times: the account in Genesis being a prime example of it in non-scientific terms. Of late, there has been an enormous expansion of scientific facts that tend to support the idea of a man-centered universe. Over 39 physical laws and 26 physical constants have been cited as having a very narrow range of values; if any one of them was outside of the range, life as we know it would not be viable.

This has led to the more general idea of Intelligent Design and an Intelligent Designer as the origin and basis for the construction and evolution of the universe, life and man from the Big Bang till now. This concept is easily assimilated by many religions that believe in a God as the creator, but is anathema to the scientific community that is principally atheistic in outlook.

The scientific community has gone so far as to propose a Multiverse in order to avoid the possibility of an Intelligent Designer, thus immensely complicating cosmology. Instead of “God did it” we have a Multiverse within which somehow our particular universe was “selected” by a “mysterious selector” because of its life supporting properties over the infinite number of universes or pocket universes that would not support life. So it appears that we have traded off a Mysterious Designer for a Mysterious Selector, plus enormous difficulties, if not impossibilities, in establishing the bone fides of the Multiverse. Ockham would be aghast.

The many objections to God as the Prime Mover or Architect of the Universe include the memes: “who designed the designer”; and “how can something be created out of nothing (ex nihilo).”

Then, too, the old accusations of “how can a perfect entity create such an imperfect world; and “how can an omnipotent and omniscient entity exist logically?” are brought out of the kit bag to confound the situation once more.

The answer may well be simply: “we do not know how or why God has done what He has done and is doing, and we most likely do not have the mental capacity to understand Him fully.” This, despite the fact as we know it that even God must conform to certain physical rules (or so we believe).

We come then to the questions of how and why man developed consciousness. Is consciousness a logical outgrowth of man’s existence, or was it put there originally by God very early on? Why then is man the only species that exhibits a rather full blown consciousness, insofar as we know (can it become even greater in some sense?)?

In the recorded history of man, which covers perhaps 100 centuries, there is no evidence that his capacity to think cogently has grown measurably, while, of course, his knowledge of the world has expanded tremendously. Is consciousness a fluke, or an accident of cosmic proportions? Can we create consciousness in the laboratory? Some powerful thinkers believe it is possible, and are working to that end right now.

Several scientists believe that the mere aggregation of a massive number of software constructs will eventually result in conscious thought. It would seem, however, that piling layer upon layer of logic onto a program or programs would merely result in a tortuous trail of logical steps leading to some end or another, and no spark of consciousness.

In fact, it is quite acceptable indeed for scientists to explore the true makeup of the universe, and to postulate all the universes they want, all the Branes they need and all the brains they can fabricate. They will likely wander in those sets of constructs essentially forever, however. The morass of String Theory/Superstring Theory/M-Theory is one example. Even indirect proofs of the existence of multiple universes have been and will likely continue to be found wanting in the end. Consciousness in the lab will be a Holy Grail, too, for a long, long time. One must question the testability of these ideas.

It appears, then, that we will have to believe either in a God who architected the universe and conscious man or in a Mysterious Selector, multiple universes, and some fluke of nature resulting in consciousness that can never be fully understood.

Put your faith as and where you like it!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Obama's Two Faces

The man is popular, but his policies aren't.

This situation puzzles me no end. Obama racks up personal kudos at a blistering pace, reaching an approval rating of 57% Yet his administration racks up on the order of 48% approval, and Congress does no better than 35%. He has made all kinds of booboos, and champions a spending rate that will impovrish my great grandchildren. I simply don't see why these things aren't coupled to Obama's personal ratings. Time may take care of it, but as an impatient American, I see the jobless lines growing and the deficit growing every day. To think we will have 3 1/2 more years of this is crushing.

How can it be?

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Friday, July 03, 2009


Political Virtues

More like political vices today!

The vetting process is terribly faulty for our politicians at every level. If you can speak well, look pretty, dress well, and have money to burn, you are odds on to win something. If you have friends in high places, you can win big. If you have an issue or two that pleases the electorate, so much the better, particularly if they involve payouts to the public of some sort. Virtues? Well, these virtues seem to be all that are required.

If you tear the lid off of some of these practitioners of politics, the smell of rotting goop will overpower you. That is why they seek guides from the professional ranks of seers–to provide them with cover and polishing for their private and public sins, past and present.

We need more tearers-of-lids at an earlier point in the soddy careers of many politicians. Plus, we need a surer mechanism for shedding those who have outstayed their welcome or have committed egregious sins at citizen’s expense. Quite a few names come to mind, but I will refrain from calling them out here. Perhaps term limits will help.

Virtue is happiness! — Socrates

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Thursday, July 02, 2009


Hiding the Booty! (I)

What do you do with millions in found money?
(First installment)

If there is a way for someone with a lot of cash to hide it, I am sure that public figures making millions a year will have found it and exploited it. They can afford to hire the very best financial gurus to help them stash away their money, and never mind how they got it in the first place.

The classic idea is to open a Swiss bank account and transfer all of the money into a numbered account. I understand that this is not quite the best way to go any more, since the Swiss have given in to the US on some types of accounts that are suspected of money laundering. By Swiss law, I must provide clear evidence of the economic origin of the money so that the bank can be protected from money laundering and other scams. Besides, a numbered account must maintain a balance of $250,000.

So what is the best way now to hide it if you suddenly come into millions? Not that it is very likely, but there are some individuals, such as Madoff and Sanford (the Texas one!), that have made billions and tried to hide lots of it. They appear to have failed miserably in the end! Madoff, for instance, is being forced to come up with 170 billion dollars to pay back his victims.

Here I am, dreaming of suddenly having a huge pile of thousand-dollar bills to handle somehow. Suppose that I found a big, hard-sided suitcase lying on the side of the road, unmarked, heavy, locked, and abandoned. I throw it in the trunk of my car, drive home, force the locks, and take out four boxes, a good bit longer than shoe boxes, open them, and realize that each box is chock full of thousand dollar bills. I begin to count it.

Over four million dollars I count! Then I go into the shock of suddenly having such a stash, and the parade of wants and desires I have had all my life come rushing in to be fulfilled: autos, planes, boats, a big house, wonderful clothes, travel, and vacations in exotic places…

The dreams are rudely interrupted by my recalling the law. Found money must be reported to the police and turned over to them for safekeeping. If no one has a verifiable claim for it after a month or more, you can have it all back. The money then is a matter of record, and the IRS would be around soon to grab their share, which could be as much as HALF!

Then, too, if the money is dirty or dope money, once my name is known by police records, reporters would latch onto the story of a guy walking into the station with four million dollars in found cash. It is virtually certain that some guys with huge muscles will call on me soon to produce the money immediately! I could be in a double bind! The IRS wants its share, and the gangsters will have taken it all. I would still owe the IRS a million or so dollars and they would not believe nor care about my protestations that it was stolen back.

This calls for thought! What are my options? I could take the suitcase full of money to the police, and risk the hoods and the IRS calling. I could take the whole thing back to where I found it, and let someone else struggle with it. I could burn it up; destroy it completely, and spread the ashes in the ocean. Or…I could hide it somewhere and use it slowly and carefully, lest someone report me to the IRS for living beyond my means. Somehow, I don’t think I could fly away with that suitcase of cash! It would very likely be opened at any border I crossed, just as those guys were caught with tons of bonds or something at the Swiss border. I am not a practiced liar or thief, so my very nervousness would tip the border agents off.

What if I simply went traveling around the US, staying here and there for a few days or weeks? Where would I keep the money, and how would I have access to it? Taking it all with me would be far too risky. Putting it into a bank lockbox is not really safe either: banks warn customers not to put cash into the boxes, and the police can get a warrant to open it if they suspect me. I could try to open substantial accounts in different banks, but that establishes a trail that can be followed. I could use different names, but then I would have to have proper identification for each name, which I really don’t have any idea how to obtain. Well, then I could feed my bank account little by little, and report it as something like gambling winnings, and pay the 30%. That falls down when the IRS audits me and finds out that I never gamble, have a relatively small salary, and cannot explain the extra cash I have fed into my account. Even if I did go gamble, they would check the payouts at the places I have been to and find out that I haven’t won a dime.

I sat in the living room staring at those boxes of bills. What can I do? I am in real trouble any way I go. My head hurt with the effort to solve the dilemma.
Oh my, what if all the bills are counterfeit? What if just one of them is! How do I decide whether any of them are bogus? I can’t take them to the bank in case they are! Nor can I spend them until I can find out if they are good or not. I will have to go get a genuine thousand-dollar bill and compare each of the bills with it in great detail. So I Google the US Secret Service, and read about how to detect counterfeits. I am on the right track.

The next day, I go to my bank and draw out a thousand-dollar bill. Back home I begin to compare each of the found bills with my genuine one. They are all old and genuine as best I can determine. Their serial numbers are apparently random also, and there isn’t any red markings on them such as a bank would arrange to paint them if they were stolen in a bank bag. So counterfeiting isn’t my problem!

What has happened to me? I am thinking like a criminal! I have done nothing wrong—yet! But, I seem to be heading towards one or more acts that are felonies! The temptation of four million dollars in cash is overwhelming me, and shoving my ethical standards out the window.

Am I so easily tempted? Admittedly, I have a very strong urge to keep the money, somehow. Then, too, I have an aversion to thugs attacking me for the money, and the IRS then making a complete pauper out of me! What can I do? Of course, there is no way I can know truly what the origin of the money is, but I can definitely suspect it is dirty as hell. The boxes of cash are sitting there as silent testimony to my weakening ethics.

First, I arrange to take a week off from my job. That gives me time to think this out and do some simple things around the house. I buy a reasonably-sized safe and install it myself in the basement, virtually buried in concrete. Then I have an elaborate alarm system installed to help prevent anyone from trying to break in. With the cash deposited in the safe, and the alarm activated, I feel a bit safer, especially after I loaded my 9mm Glock and put it on safety, but I am really no further along in solving the main problem of what to do with four million dollars in cash.

My temporary solution is to sit on the money, and let some time slide by. I pick up my usual routines, my job, and my social affairs, and quietly research what can be done, if anything, to keep the cash. I don’t want to involve anyone else, because that would be a weak point. You cannot trust people when this amount of money is involved. I am living proof of that, now! (What am I doing?)

One key would be to try to convince a Swiss banker of the truth. Their information says, however, that if there is the slightest hint that the money is not of legal origin, they will refuse to open an account and will report it to their authorities. Who would believe that I found four million dollars by the roadside, and have no idea where it came from? “It fell off a truck!” Sure it did! I just want to play “finders, keepers.” Oh, and I have already violated a US law if I take more than ten thousand dollars out of the country without formally registering it and proving its source, among other devastating details.

Wait a minute! Suppose I go to a casino and buy some chips, play for a while, then cash out my stack for a check? Do they keep records of their transactions (yes)? Would I have to prove my identity (don’t know)? This method I can test out by trying it for a few thousand at the nearest casino. Apparently, this is a well-known way to launder, so I’d be foolish to try. Casino goons are just as bad as the gangsters I might have crossed!

To keep the money, it looks like I will have to find a shady banker or lawyer and bribe him to launder the money for me.(What am I saying?) Now, how do I do that? I just walk up to a bank officer or a lawyer and lay my cards on the table. Right! Next stop is the police station 99% of the time.

I am truly stuck for an answer!

To be continued.

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