Wendy Davis

13 Hours to Midnight: The Wendy Davis abortion filibuster, 5 years later June 25, 2018

This entry is a placeholder. A place for me to collect my random thoughts over the course of the months that followed our introduction to Wendy Davis. And when I say our I mean Texas and me, because I’m reasonably certain that most Texans had never met a woman like her before. I will be adding things that I wrote on Facebook at the time About Wendy Davis. Hopefully there will be enough to make this entry look less miniscule. From the time that she first emerged on the scene as a woman willing to stand up to Texas Christianists, to the failed campaign for governor, this article will weigh in. I hope. I know I had thoughts at the time. I talked about her incessantly to the children and the wife, they can vouch for that. I will collect those thoughts here as I stumble across them wherever I left them.

She would have been a better governor tha Abbott has proven to be, without a doubt. The publication date marked the beginning. The day she took to the floor and brought progress on this misogynistic bill to a stop.

Facebook status backdated to the blog.


Texas Tribune

I find it mildly amusing that Republican leaders can’t get enough government interference when the activity is something they don’t like; activity like women choosing to not have children, or democratic candidates who have too much money. In those cases, there just can’t be enough government interference.

Facebook status backdated to the blog.


Texas Tribune

News of Abbott’s appearance with Nugent, a Republican, generated a flurry of news stories and thousands of tweets — many of them referring to the entertainer’s smash talk and controversial past. State Democratic Party leaders criticized Abbott for campaigning with Nugent. Several of them are hosted a teleconference Tuesday prior to the campaign event to condemn Abbott and call on him to cancel the appearances, and Sen. Wendy Davis, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, said in a statement that “Greg Abbott’s embrace of Ted Nugent is an insult to every Texan — every man, woman, husband and father.”

AISD superintendent should “Form a Line”

The Superintendent of AISD issued a vaguely worded threat today;

At a speech Tuesday morning Austin schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said that she would not propose job cuts, declare a financial emergency or call an election to raise property taxes in the coming year as long as the school board and employees continue to ‘hold the line” on some of the tough decisions made this year.

The All Staff Convocation, streamed live to schools across the district from the Preas Theater at Austin High School, was the third such speech in Carstarphen’s three-year tenure – and the second virtual one. Teachers reported to their campuses this week. The first day of school is Monday.

“Hold the line” means sticking to the school closings and teacher layoffs that were proposed last year. A plan that is mapped out here;

An AISD task force of district staffers, parents and community members has identified nine schools that could be closed or revamped to help the district run more efficiently: Barton Hills, Brooke, Joslin, Oak Springs, Ortega, Pease, Sanchez and Zilker elementary schools and Pearce Middle School.

On January 25, Becker, Blackshear, Dawson and Govalle elementary schools were added to the list for consideration.

Under the proposals, the first schools could close in 2012-13.

I find it quite telling that all of the schools (but one, and that one in downtown) are in South and East Austin. As usual, Terrytown gets what it wants, and the rest of us must suffer for them.

But we’re in a budget crisis, we have to cut somewhere!? Budget crisis? Here’s my opinion on the subject.

Fire every non-teaching employee above principle. If you want to work for the school district and not teach, we’ll accept your charitable donation of time, just like the board members (this goes double for the Superintendent and her assistants) If you want to keep your job at the school district and get paid, you better find a class that you can teach. We should only be paying people to staff the schools themselves, and sell those multi-million dollar facilities that the district occupies downtown. Should more than make up the shortfall. Want to tighten belts? Tighten your own first, or face a vengeful public.

Nothing worse than a bunch of hogs, lording it over the rest of the farm animals, telling the rest of us how we need to make sacrifices. You first.

Discord Over Harmony Schools

This is an example of real harm resulting from the religious posing of Texas leaders.

Harmony schools are charter schools in Texas; they are unquestionable successes in the realm of schooling, in fact. Two of their high schools were named in Newsweek as “miracle schools” representing the best of the best to be had in education in the entire United States, much less in Texas.

But that’s not good enough for those conspiracy theorists out there who see different as threatening and Muslim as terrorist. Almost since the day they opened their doors, Harmony Schools have been the target of hate groups throughout the state.

Led by the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative pro-family organization, Harmony’s critics have issued a flurry of legislative alerts in recent weeks that said the state’s $25 billion endowment for “our children’s textbooks” was imperiled by “Turkish men, of whom we know very little other than most are not American citizens.”

They gathered enough momentum that earlier this week some conservative legislators cited the concerns when they voted against a key budget bill — and almost killed it.

But one conservative protector of the endowment, the Permanent School Fund, says the criticism of Harmony is unfounded.

“There is a lot of misinformation, a certain level of fear and a small helping of bigotry that needs to go away,” said State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont.

Bradley said he would be the “first to sound the alarm” if there were anything to be alarmed about. But the board has not received substantive complaints from parents of the 16,000 children that attend any of the 33 Harmony campuses across the state, he said.

“The only thing these guys are guilty of are high scores and being Turkish,” Bradley said.

(from Austin-American Statesman)

Love the way the article soft-pedals the Texas Eagle Forum. They are a hate group, and should be rightly labeled as such. I have yet to hear of anything they support that isn’t related in some fashion to the stupid people observation I made in the last post.

So, not content to simply make themselves look like idiots, they want to incur unnecessary costs on the cash strapped school system, and the even more cash starved charter schools.

House General Investigating Committee Chairman Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, said his committee has started a preliminary look-see into Harmony “and all the other charter school operators in the state.

“It’s nothing criminal. We just want to see whether they are spending our (state) money wisely,” he said. “There have been some concerns about (Harmony) building schools without competitive bidding, and about other issues, but we are going to looking at every one of the charters.”

(from Austin-American Statesman)

Harmony schools are on record in that article as “welcoming the investigation” but I can’t imagine a group in their position daring to even suggest that the waste of time and money involved in investigating superior schools (for any other reason than to determine and duplicate their superior tactics) might not be welcome. Jack-booted fear mongers tend to not react well when their authority is questioned…

The future of Power Generation

Reposted here for information purposes only (upping the reference links. You are welcome) I posted this to a zombie thread earlier today, only discovering afterwards that the subject of the thread had be subverted in favor of brain ingestion…

…But this subject is near and dear to my heart. So having looked up these references, I felt it to be a true waste not to post them somewhere they might get noticed. Still looking for that place…

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-solar.html

“Chemical engineers are now able to take these new chemicals, like nanomaterials, and we’re trying to create the technologies that can meet the global challenge of, say, energy sustainability. We’re taking chemistry, we’re inventing new ways to actually make materials that can’t be made any other way,” he continues.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), that’s what Korgel and his team are doing to create solar cells that are light, flexible, efficient and–often the biggest obstacle–affordable.

“It’s challenging to get high efficiencies of conversion. For example, the basic single junction solar cell is fundamentally limited to an efficiency of 30 percent. So, if you made a perfect solar cell, the highest efficiency would be 30 percent,” explains Korgel at his Austin lab.

Currently, manufacturing cells with anything near that level of efficiency requires high heat, a vacuum and is very expensive. Korgel’s approach, using nanotechnology, is completely different.

“What we’re doing right now in my research group is making nanocrystals. We’re focused on ‘CIGS’–copper, indium, gallium, selenide–and we make small particles of this inorganic material that we can disperse in a solvent, creating an ink or paint,” he says.

…or perhaps…

http://inhabitat.com/oregon-wave-power/

America is getting its very first wave power farm! Ocean Power Technologies, a New Jersey-based firm, is currently installing giant buoys off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon. Once all ten buoys are in place, developers hope to use them to harness the energy of wave motion and generate power for hundreds of area homes.

Each buoy will measure about 150 feet tall by 40 feet wide and weigh in at about 200 tons. A float on each craft rises and falls with the rolling of the waves, driving an attached plunger’s up-and-down movement. A hydraulic pump then converts that movement into a spinning motion, which drives an electric generator. The electricity produced by the generator moves from sea to land via submerged cables. Right now, developers are finishing up construction on the first buoy, and it will take about 60 million big ones to finish up all ten. Once the entire system is in place, about 400 homes will derive their power from Oregon’s coastal waters.

“wind power”, electricity from waves, energy from waves, Ocean Power Technologies, Portugal wave farm, Reedsport, wave power, wave power in Oregon

Construction of the first buoy is an encouraging development, but the system still has some challenges to overcome. For one, wave power currently costs about six times that of wind power (although once the technology is optimized it should see comparable prices, especially because waves are more predictable than wind or solar power). Secondly, keeping the buoys in place and free from damages caused by big waves can be tricky. And so far, wave power’s history doesn’t paint the most promising picture: The world’s first commercial wind farm opened in 2008 in Portugal, but power production was suspended due to financial difficulties. Moreover, two years ago, a Canadian-produced wave power device sank off Oregon’s coast.

Still, if engineers can master the art of cost-effective wind power, it would be a huge boon for the renewables field. Waves are both free and predictable, so harnessing them to generate electricity would be great. Other wind farm projects are currently underway in countries like Spain, Scotland, Western Australia and England. If all goes according to plan, Oregon’s wind farm will see completion by 2012.

….my personal favorite…

http://cleantechnica.com/2009/04/18/spa … d-solaren/


Now PG&E in California, is planning to take their ability to tap renewable energy to a whole new level: solar power in space.“Solaren says it plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E’s power grid.” ~ Next100.com

Solaren hopes to begin launching before 2016. The satellites will deploy the solar panels so they dock automatically together in orbit, resulting in an orbital power plant weighing roughly 25 tons if back here on Earth.

The advantages of space solar power include:

* energy that can be harnessed at all times, even at night or when it’s cloudy.
* baseload power delivery that makes efficient electricity possible for meeting customer demand.
* an underlying technology that is mature since it is based on communications satellite technology.

Before all this happens however, PG&E needs approval from the California State Legislature, through the California Public Utilities Commission for this Solaren Space Based Energy Contract. Currently, Solaren is preparing to launch space rockets containing the solar panels and they have been working with United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company) on such launches.Solaren Corporation, is a start-up company nearly a decade old based in southern California that:

* consists of a number of aerospace engineers.
* has headquarters located in Manhattan Beach and Los Angeles County, California.
* expects to launch four or five heavy-lift rockets containing the solar panels.

A competitor of Solaren is a company called Space Energy formed to harness solar energy from space using similar techniques. Solar energy from space has never been captured commercially, mostly because the cost was always considered too high. Daniel Kammen, professor in energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Guardian: “The ground rules are looking kind of promising … it is doable. Whether it is doable at a reasonable cost, we just don’t know.” ~Telegraph.co.uk

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/12uxE)

October 21st at the Saxon Pub

That’s the date and place that I finally got to see Tom Cochrane in person. I’ve been a fan of his for more years than I can remember, and this one set at the Saxon Pub in Austin has made all the years melt away. ready to go dig out the albums again and give them all a listen.

The bar was full, probably 30 people. Tiny little place. Nice music venue, as small clubs go. When I asked if Tom was in the house, the doorman waved me over toward the stage, where Tom was in a conversation with another fan. Tom was warm and friendly, wanted to know what I would like to hear.

I know, Life is a Highway is the song you get if you ask for Tom Cochrane at a radio station (it’s his Stairway to Heaven equivalent) but, Life is a Highway has a special place in my heart because my children demanded I play it over and over again in the car, when it was a new song. I asked for something off of Neruda too, because Neruda remains my favorite album of his. He left the table after that, and we sat down to enjoy some front row seats for the set. I started reflecting on “what I wanted to hear” at that point. Then it hit me, and I had to wander over to his manager’s table where he was waiting to take the stage, and ask if he could play Beautiful Day, the last new song of his that really spoke to me. He laughed and said something to the effect “that was four years ago, my memory doesn’t go back that far” although he said he liked Stonecutter’s Arms from the same album X-ray Sierra (another one of my favorites) I discovered he has some new material out, an album called No Stranger (same name as a local band that I used to follow, oddly enough, No Strangers) I look forward to giving it a listen soon.

When they took the stage…

Tom as lead singer/guitar, Ken Greer on steel guitar, Shawn Pander played rhythm guitar and sang backup vocals on the last three songs. I didn’t catch the drummer’s name. The Wife played percussion for years, so she probably knows. They talked for a good 10 minutes about the wooden drum that he was playing. (This looks like him, but surely not..?) Two horn players too. All part of Shawn’s band, from what I understood.

…they played Lunatic Fringe, White Hot, Northern Star, White Horse and finished up with Life is a Highway.

Shawn started his set with a unique take on Lonely People, and a quip about Tom being harder to follow than a Beatlemania band. I was there to see Tom, but Shawn’s music warrants a listen to. Hard to say what I thought of his act, since I was so psyched about getting to see Tom for the first time.

We talked for awhile between Shawn’s set and the next band’s start time. Complimented Ken on his guitar work. I never realized just what an impact his presence in the band was, until he sat in for one of Shawn’s songs. Completely changed the feel of the music. The man can make a guitar speak, in ways that very few people can come close to mastering. A true artist.

Then it was over. All too soon. Got a hug from Tom. The Wife did too. I hope to see them all again sometime, including Shawn. It was an interesting evening. One for the long term memory files, if only I can find the key to those.


Facebook

March 17, 2019. I believe that was the second time we saw him. It never made it onto the blog. The fatalism of being disabled and having no future plans had started to dig its claws in by that point, and I imagine I saw no need to record the little things that I did, like going to see an artist that I’ve followed all my life. For the second time. I still scoff at people who post pictures of their food as if anyone wants to know what they ate today and what it looked like.

We’ve since seen him a third time, I think. That was the time that he played Life is a Highway and credited Rascal Flats for creating the song. No bitterness there for Disney not being willing to pay him for the rights for the song or anything, I’m sure. Also no bitterness on my part for Meniere’s stealing my hearing and destroying music for me, either.

Sunset the SBOE. It’s the Only Viable Solution.

Textbooks from ten years ago the subject of a current resolution; and even at that, erroneous conclusions from 10 year old textbooks. Why hasn’t the SBOE been sunset yet? Clearly, they don’t have enough real work to keep them busy.

Attacking Religious Freedom: The Anti-Islam Resolution

After recklessly politicizing new social studies curriculum standards just months ago, the Texas State Board of Education wasted no time manufacturing another political controversy instead of focusing on the education of public school students. In July a failed state board candidate, Randy Rives of Odessa, asked the board to adopt a resolution condemning what he alleges are “pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias” in social studies textbooks. Here is a short clip of Rives introducing his resolution in July, comparaing the “pro-Islam” agenda in textbooks to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s declaration that he would take over America without firing a shot:

The proposed resolution, now championed by far-right members of the board, includes a variety of disingenuous claims designed to demonstrate the alleged bias in high school world history textbooks published in 1999. A Texas Freedom Network analysis shows that the resolution and its supporting materials are based on claims that are superficial and grossly misleading. Further, examples cited in the resolution come from world history books no longer used in Texas schools. Yet the board is set to consider the measure at its September 22-24 meeting in Austin.

This resolution is another example of state board members putting politics ahead of expertise and refusing to consider the advice of real scholars before doing something provocative and divisive. Indeed, the board has asked no scholars or other experts for public advice about the resolution. Moreoever, the resolution insists that the board has the authority to reject any proposed textbooks that do not deal with Christianity and Islam as board members desire. As a result, this measure represents and end-run around Texas law barring the board from editing or censoring textbooks.

The Texas Freedom Network believes textbooks should treat all religions with respect and dignity. This ill-considered resolution, however, is simply a thinly veiled attempt to generate fear and promote religious intolerance. And more than this, it involves our children in a divisive political debate that has no place in Texas classrooms.

Dee’s Annie Passes

Stumbled across this Obit The Wife wrote for our friend Ann. We’ll miss her.

Mary Ann Johnson was born October 23, 1942 in San Antonio, Texas and died July 7, 2008 in Austin, Texas. The daughter of Solomon Wilson Johnson and Betty Marie (Hutton) Johnson, she lived in many locations around the world while her father was in the air force, including Japan, Bermuda, and Alaska.
Ann overcame significant physical challenges and graduated from Southwest Texas University before completing a career as a Disability Examiner for the Social Security Administration in Austin.
Ann was an avid “Trekkie” which led her to a vast circle of friends around the country. She helped in establishing at least two Austin Star Trek Fan Clubs: IDIC and The Star Trek Austin Regulars (STAR) in the 1980’s and 1990’s. She is a current member of the Eastern Star and any donations can be made in her name to the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, Dallas, Texas.
Ann is survived by cousins and many friends. Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, July 12, 2008 at Cook Walden Funeral Home, 6100 N. Lamar, Austin (Viewing permitted one hour before services). Graveside service will follow at Live Oak Cemetery, Manchaca, Texas.
I suggest this for a poem. It is the original theme for Star Trek as written by Gene Roddenberry. If this doesn’t work for you let me know. I have other options I can come up with that would be meaningful for her.
Beyond the rim of the starlight,
my love is wandering in star flight.
I know he’ll find
In star clustered reaches
Love, strange love
A starwoman teaches.

I know his journey ends never.
His Star Trek will go on forever.
But tell him while
He wanders his starry sea,
Remember,
Remember me.

An Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

I’ve been waiting for this decision ever since I heard about the case in a CATO Daily Podcast. From the CATO site:

On June 26, 2008, the Court rediscovered the Second Amendment. More than five years after six Washington, D.C. residents challenged the city’s 32-year-old ban on all functional firearms in the home, the Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the law is unconstitutional.

Here’s the pdf for the District of Columbia v. Heller decision.

I’d like to offer a thanks to Rob Balen (who was subbing for Jeff today) for alerting me to the fact that the Supreme Court finally got a decision right. Having said that, I must observe that Rob Balen the food critic is a gun-phobe. I never heard so much whining over someone being allowed to have guns since the last time I heard someone begging not to be shot in a movie.

Someone should explain the danger to this Yankee carpet-bagger, when he goes South and tries to tell Southerners that they can’t be trusted with weapons. It’s going to rile some people up.

Where is Suzanna Hupp when you need a voice?

Suzanna Hupp interview from Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!, Season 3, Gun Control

I was living in Austin when this tragedy occurred. I remember wishing, at the time, that a customer had taken the guy out. No one could wish harder than Suzanna Hupp.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Militias are the people; each individual person is a member of the militia. Guns equip the militia. Should we amend the constitution? Remove the second amendment and task government with our protection, empower the military as the only form of defense for the country?

If not, then each of us is responsible for our own defense, and the defense of our neighborhood/city/state. That is the way the founders intended for this to work. It’s about time the courts have acknowledged these facts.


There is so much that is being left unsaid in this post, I can’t imagine where to begin, even if I wanted to fix the misconceptions apparent in this piece. Here. Now. Today. (10/13/2017) Since I made a deal with myself ages ago not to erase old posts and simply make corrections through this addendum process, I’m left scratching my head just how to exactly paint the picture of my cognitive dissonance on this subject. I think I’ll start with a link to what is my latest piece on the subject as of this mea culpa review process,

The second amendment is a two-edged sword, in more ways than the one I’ve just outlined. The other argument which can be (and has been) made is the original intent of a well regulated militia; If the people tasked with keeping us safe deem that it the task is impossible with the rules now in place, they can conscript all able-bodied persons into the military for the purposes of weapons assessment. 

That is one sure-fire way to make sure we know who should and shouldn’t have a weapon. I’m as opposed as I can get to the idea of a return to the bad-old days of the draft, but if anyone can have a weapon, and if no other laws are possible to fix the problem of weapons in our midst, then the only remaining solution is the one where everyone is trained and everyone is armed to their proficiency. 

What we need to decide is, which kind of America do we really want to live in? The time for that conversation is rapidly passing us by.

The tragically escalating numbers of mass shootings in the US over the last decade has left us all pretty much scratching our heads. A good number of what I considered allies as of the writing of this 2008 piece have become conspiracy fantasists in the true meaning of the phrase and have decided that any mass shooting that can’t be explained with the label terrorism is automatically a false-flag event. Essentially turning themselves into the kinds of nutjobs that really shouldn’t be trusted with high-powered weaponry in the first place.

This development has left me without a place to call home on this subject. I do find some comfort in the writings of Jim Wright over at Stonekettlestation. Sadly he doesn’t see any end to this craziness either. Not until the US itself gets tired of the bloodshed and settles in for a good old-fashioned discussion of what an American fix for this problem might look like. Here’s hoping that self-reflection occurs sooner rather than later.

Gas at the Price Advertised

I don’t know about North Carolina, but in Texas if you advertise a price, you have to sell for that price.

Drivers Flood Station for 35 Cent Gas

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Traffic was backed up and police were called to control the crowd after a Wilmington gas station accidentally set the pump price at 35 cents a gallon.

The Wilmington Star-News reported Friday that hundreds of drivers flooded a BP station for the cheap gas after the price dropped around 9 a.m. Thursday.

Station employee Shane Weller said the price for premium gasoline was supposed to be $3.35 a gallon. He complained that customers paid the cheaper price all day without saying a word.

It was all the extra traffic that led station employees to the mistake around 6 p.m. They found it after calling their district manager, looking for permission to changing the price as a way of stemming the flow of customers.

Information from: The Star-News, http://starnewsonline.com

Jeff Ward, Austin’s local talk show deity…

[Deity because he was credited with being omnipotent in the same hour this discussion took place; he apparently canceled the Olympics, tax day, and a number of other things just by saying it was so. I never knew he had that kind of power]

…took calls on the subject for most of this afternoon. I especially like the caller who said he would not only fill up his car, but come back with his RV and his cigarette boat and top them off as well.

Would I fill up the tank? Sure, if I didn’t have to wait in line. Seeing the line, I would have gone somewhere else. Unlike the customers of that store, however, I would have stuck my head in after filling up and let the clerks know that the price was probably wrong on the pump. There is no crime involved in paying the advertised price for something.

That they didn’t notice the error till the end of the day speaks more to the relative intelligence of the store operators than it does to the morals of their customers.

What about the Losers?

Originally titled Austin, the Portland wannabe, this entry has morphed into an In Related News type column (with a tip of the hat to Dan Carlin) because Common Sense 113, What about the Losers asks the same questions that were being asked by Jeff Ward when he interviewed Austin Mayor Will Winn on Our Little Show a few months ago.

At the time, I was screaming at the radio “It’s because Austin desperately wants to be Portland!” but I think the answer will take more explaining than that. Probably quite a bit more.

First, let’s deal with Dan’s assertion that we live in a capitalist system. This is important because Dan’s point is quite valid; in a capitalist system the growth of the markets should be robust enough that even the least ambitious, least able to compete amongst us can be provided for charitably from the fat left on the table. The problem is, we don’t live in that system.

Ask any economist and they’ll hem and haw and finally explain that we live in a managed market system, a hybrid market managed from the top down with central controls placed there by government to ostensibly protect the investors/users/general population from the dangers of an uncontrolled market.

What those dangers are is anyones guess, because hindsight has shown that the failures of the stock market can generally be traced back to interference in the market by the Federal government, or by it’s monetary arm, the Federal Reserve (before the Federal Reserve the fluctuations in markets were probably an offshoot of the legalized theft that is Fractional Reserve Banking. I’m leaving that discussion for another time because this thing is almost a book already) Most of the other markets haven’t so much failed, as they were never allowed to fully bloom before being stifled by state and local controls placed on whatever resource or talent the market formed around.

But the controls do serve the purpose of keeping the markets in check (whether the controls are professional licensing, health inspection, zoning and planning, or just the good old Securities and Exchange Commission) Keeping the markets in check being indistinguishable from slowing growth.

So we don’t really live in a capitalist system, and it’s been getting less and less so for more than a hundred years now. We do still live in what is largely a meritocracy (which is better than the alternatives) but it’s a far cry from the kind of capitalism that most laissez-faire capitalists dream about, and the profit margins are getting leaner all the time.

If there’s limited profit (what it means to be lean) then there’s limited fat to provide for those marginal types on the fringe of society. And no amount of exhortation to buckle down and provide for them from outside is ever going to result in their getting more of what they need. Like a parent telling a child to be good and share, if there’s only one toy, the toy’s owner gets to play with it.

Globalization (Dan’s second point) was occurring whether we drafted and joined GATT, NAFTA, CAFTA, et al, or not. I would actually offer up the observation that the agreements appear to have been drafted to favor the staid multi-national corporations after the wilderness had been tracked by more nimble entrepreneurs.

[much like the stock tech bubble was burst just in time for established corporations to wade in and take over newly created tech industries. But it would be very black helicopter of me to say that, wouldn’t it?]

So blaming the state of affairs on these agreements suits me just fine. I just wouldn’t waste time kicking the scapegoat of Globalization (whatever that means) for the fact that you can’t make $30 bucks an hour doing tech support for (insert giant corporation’s name here) anymore. As Dan rightly points out “they have smart people in India too” and they’ll work for much less. Any corporation bent on reducing costs is going to outsource work in those sorts of circumstances, globalization incentives in place or not.

It’s not globalization’s fault, because that’s only part of the big picture. There’s also the consistent devaluation of the dollar (generally referred to as inflation) by spend-happy congressmen bent on buying their way into re-election at the top end of the government chain (not to mention crusading Presidents with Foreign Dragons to Slay) These actions reduce the purchasing power of the dollars you have left after your job was outsourced to India.

On the other end of the government chain, you have cities (like Austin) that have activist governments bent on achieving various goals, either for the enrichment of the powerful within the city, or to satisfy the security/comfort demands of the citizens, or both. In Austin, the government has used zoning, licensing, and control of the water/wastewater and road system, as well as what’s known as an Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) to limit growth and prevent what city planners refer to with distaste as sprawl. The predictable results have been growth outside of city controlled areas (leading to congestion and a mad dash to toll all roads that lead into Austin) and a steep climb in real estate values within city boundaries.

I say predictable, because this is the same formula that Portland and other cities modeled after Portland have used to limit growth and encourage compact city centers. The problems with this model have been documented in CATO studies, which I have perused often enough that I end up in a screaming match with my radio when the Mayor is interviewed.

Traffic congestion, homelessness and poverty. All of these are attributable side effects of limiting road construction, driving up the cost of housing, and diverting public funds to programs (such as light rail and subsidized housing) that do not produce the benefits promised. When you couple that with multi-national corporations outsourcing employment to countries where three generations of a family live under the same (small) roof; and the devaluation of the wages that remain, you have the recipe for the near unavoidable disaster which looms on the horizon.

Hello, interesting times. The ancient Chinese guy I was just talking to mentioned you.


So, what about the losers? What’s the solution? A lot less government, and a lot less government interference. It’s what will occur whether we head that way voluntarily or not. We might as well plan for it.

On the local end it’s going to mean relaxing building restrictions at the city level and perhaps relying upon the licensed professionals to do their job without the city looking over their shoulder (an architect can dream, can’t he?) it means privatizing road ownership (road construction, contrary to popular belief, is already mostly private) so that real maintenance costs can be established and funded. Privatized mass transit systems (London’s seems to work just fine)

On the Federal end, who knows? Can Washington be reasoned with? Considering the battle in California over medical Marijuana (a clear states rights issue if I’ve ever seen one) I’d have to say it looks like no. Can the out of control bureaucracy be brought to heal? That remains to be seen, but also doubtful.

[I’d be interested to see what would happen if the states insisted on payment of federal debts in Constitutional money; precious metal coinage. I think the Fed would have a hard time winning that battle in court]

So the real question is “will the Federal government survive the collapse of the dollar?” (which appears to be underway right now. It’s been slow so far, let’s see how long that lasts. And yes, I’m being serious. When have you ever seen the USD trade at parity with CAD? I’ve never seen it, till now) I don’t think it can be avoided. If, by some machination of events beyond the average persons comprehension collapse is avoided, and the federal government continues, there’s no telling what it will look like. Better to not worry about events beyond our control.

As for the plight of the losers, I’ve been rolling this idea around in my head for years now. Since we don’t use real money anyway these days, and since the banks can create money out of thin air when they need it, why can’t we do the same thing for that portion of society that would do without necessities if they aren’t extended the equivalent of credit.

There would need to be a standardization or nationalization of accounts, so that each person would have one account (and only one account) into which his electronic funds are transferred when he works, and from which funds are drawn when purchases are made. But rather than having a lower point at which no more funds are available, as in today’s bank accounts, the loser hits the point where the cash card becomes a charity card. Businesses would be given direct tax write offs for extending charity, and charity would be limited to strictly defined necessities (such as utilities, food, etc.) If you want a large screen TV, sorry you’ll have to do without. If you became productive again, then after a set period of time your charity card would once again convert to a cash card, and you could purchase whatever you wanted with it.

Not a libertarian solution, but a solution all the same.


I can see several of my AnCap acquaintances bristling from all the way over here. So, why should I care if the losers do without necessities? If I don’t want to give them charity, I don’t have to. And that’s true, as far as it goes. This post is already too long, but I thought I’d touch on the issue of haves and have-nots (or winners and losers) because it’s the have-not / have quotient (and the correlative societal highs and lows of money and status) that defines whether a society can continue to function peacefully or not.

Too high a number and the have-nots are emboldened to take what they want from the haves; and not all of us are or want to be Joe Horn. Too low a number, and human nature takes over correcting the trend turning haves into have-nots through natural laziness.

So obviously, it’s in the haves best interest to act in advance of the outset of violence, by not allowing the number to get too high; and the easiest way to do this is to keep the low end of the have-nots from falling too low. Put whatever conditions you want on the charity that makes you happy (after all, this is an exercise in “what if?”) Sterilization of the lowest portions of society so as to prevent a blossoming of their ranks through reproduction, in the event that they go on charity status. Repayment of charity before cash status is returned. Whatever.

Just remember that the more draconian the penalties, the less effective the charity will be at mediating violence. Which is the point of offering it in the first place, if human decency isn’t enough of an appeal to move you.