Government

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This is my rambling about the philosophy of Goverment. These are ideals. Pragmatically, we are forced to accept a little bit of wrong, and life is more gray than black and white, but ideally we should glance at the ideals to understand how far we are willing to compromise on them. Read this with that balance in mind. This is also from a very American point of view, most Europeans don't understand our Liberty or our Declaration of Independence.
  • Q: What is Goverment?

  • A: It's a reflection of the people, culture, history, and rules to govern.
    Government is no more good or evil than the people running things (or the people voting them in). When the culture is fighting for liberty and tolerance: they're good. When they're fighting for oppression and conformity: they're not good. (No matter the rationalizations for that tyranny: injustice, inequality or diversity).
  • A: Primarily: Government is a tool of force.
    That is why it exists. It is a way to force people to do what you want, or else people with guns will come to their house and either take away their life, liberty or property. If you doubt that Govt. is about force, stop paying your taxes or break the law, and see how long it takes for the men with Guns to come take your property, freedom, or your life (if you resist). There are many subtleties and differences in when force should be used or not, but Governments boil down to, "Do what we say, or we kill you".

If you distrust others, then you probably think we should use government to micromanage the unwashed hordes and force them to do what is right, in every aspect of their lives (called progressives). Others think we should use force as little as possible and keep Govt. as local as possible, and as the last resort, in order to enable freedom, distribute and delegate power, and to teach responsibility ( called libertarians). I'm pragmatically in the latter camp. That's fundamentally what most political fights are about: do you advocate patience and teaching (libertarianism), or bullying/theft/redistribution and threats of force (stealing someone's life, liberty or property) if they don't comply. Of course there's a time and place for both -- but every law/regulation/tax is where we think we should draw those lines.

California Coastal Commission

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The CCC is what happens when community organizers run development planning: they "To protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the environment of the California coastline" by obstructing development and improvement of one of our countries great resources, saving it from humanity and the usefulness it might have to individuals or our country. Good for the locals who don't want to share. Bad for everyone who isn't already there. It's what tolerance looks like in California.

Harrison Bergeron and the Law of Jante

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The idea that the individual should be valued based only on their contribution to the collective, is one of the most detestable philosophies ever invented. From Harrison Bergeron, Sirens of Titan, Law of Jante, tall poppy, Procrustean bed or Dog in the Manger -- the allegories and lessons throughout time are not positive ones. But still the philosophy exists. And humanity is worse for not crushing it, and all who harbor it, in the name of tolerance.

Suffocating Liberty - the cost of red tape

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Each new tax, law or regulation, comes with costs (compliance, non-compliance, enforcement and punishment). We 174,545 pages of regulations with over 1,040,940 restrictions. Our tax code has over 73,954 pages. Our federal legal code has over 23,000 pages and over 4,450 federal crimes (in 2008). Double that for statutes, case law, and regulatory provisions. Then there’s another 300,000 criminal punishments within the discretion of administrative agencies. Then you have to add in the state and local laws, regulations and taxes on top.

Tragedy of the commons

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We often get dire warnings about Malthusian Catastrophes, Ehrlich's population bombs and how individuals can't be trusted to manage shared interests. We need government to protect us from ourselves. History shows the opposite: individuals form small governments for common interests better than big governments, unless big government stops them.

Housing and Urban Development

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HUD (Housing and urban development) has various programs that are meant to help low income and first time buyers into their own homes. Sounds great, right? Too many people can’t afford a house, so a little wealth redistribution ought to help them out? Yet not all the effects are positive — trust me, I know.

Bay Bridge Boondoggle

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The bay bridge is a metaphor for San Francisco. The Golden Gate was built privately and under budget for $35M ($1.2B in today's dollars), one span of the Bay Bridge needed a retrofit, that was run by the city and came in late, and over budget at $6.4B, and has withmetallurgy issues (per the spec). For that cost we could have built 4 other bridges. But it looks nice, so everyone wins.... except the taxpayers
Main article: Bay Bridge Boondoggle

Costs of Defensive Medicine

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There are many unexpected consequences for everything we do. I had a minor epiphany for improving a medical device/process, that the heads of the company I worked for (Baxter) agreed would save lives, but they could never use because of medical liability. They had to practice defensive medicine, which is about protecting the company from lawsuits. For every action, there is an opposite reaction.... but in life (unlike physics), it isn't always an equal and opposite reaction.

California Notary

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My wife spent like $500 (and a few days in class) getting her notary, only to be blocked by the County Recorder, for no good reason, because that's what Bureaucrats do in California.
Main article: California Notary

Government R&D Spending

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If you only look at the government wins in R&D, things look great. If you look at the bigger picture, you'll understand why government R&D usually has huge costs and small payouts. Politicians playing technologists, using our money, may be fun for them, or earn them votes for caring by the gullible, but it's not fair to taxpayers.

California Water Crisis

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Understanding California's fake water drought. It had nothing to do with rain, and everything to do with the failure of government. California captures 1% of the water, then since 2007 flushes 46% of that into the ocean for "environmental purposes" (a baitfish the delta smelt), 43% goes to farming, 11% goes to urban areas. Whenever there's a problem they raise the cost of water and punish the 11%: because that's where the money is.

Space Shuttle Boondoggle

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The last Shuttle Launch has happened today. The end of an era. Hopefully the beginning of a new one. Now that the government monopoly on space is weakened, the rate of progress can increase.

Military Costs Explained

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If you hear someone claim "that military screwdriver cost $500", or something like that, then you know that person is gullible, or a polemic. The truth is far more nuanced. When politicians get involved, bureaucracy will increase -- and those costs will be absorbed and passed on to the consumer. So you get what you pay for, and we're paying for political waste.

Military industrial complex

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50 years ago Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) warned us about an iron triangle (government conspiring with politicians and special interests to work against the public), and coined the term "the Military Industrial Complex". Since then the military has fallen to 1/4th the spending it was, and the Poverty Industrial Complex (Social Spending) has become 8x larger, and far surpassed military spending. The warning still applies, just what the bigger threat is has changed.

Net Neutrality

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Net Neutrality is a Mao suit, or the idea of "mail neutrality": one same fee for mailing a letter or a 100 lb package, no matter the distance. One price fits all. We had no net neutrality for the first 60+ years of networking, the Obama admin invents a few "regulations" in 2015 to protect us from imaginary demons under the bed and non-problems that weren't happening, and people act like repeal of that will be end of days? I'm not buying it.

Going back to those libertarian cowboy era of 2015, is unlikely to end freedom on the web, or be anything that anyone notices. And if Comcast/ATT/etc do something that gets on consumers nerves, THEN we can regulate in a far more targeted way that claiming government should control what can browse to "protect us" from evil telcos.

Main article: Net Neutrality

California Gunpocolypse

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If you want to know why gun advocates have a problem with "reasonable" gun laws, you have to look no further than California, and their legislators versions of "reasonable". Not one of these new laws will help in shooting or mass shootings in any way, or gun safety, they only show raw, naked contempt for gun owners and the second amendment, in ways that will hurt the innocent, waste millions of dollars in legal fights, and eventually lose. But that doesn't slow them down from passing them. And that's why the NRA exists, and informed gun owners have contempt for what sounds reasonable to the uninformed.

Guns: Control or ban?

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Some claim, "nobody wants to take your guns, we just want a few 'reasonable' controls on them". But if we pretend that gun control works (by ignoring facts and history), and we assume guns are the problem, then there is no such thing as gun-control: you need gun bans. "Controlling" semi-auto rifles means you have to control semi-auto-pistols... and then revolvers, and pump/lever action, then bolt action guns (which committed one of our worst mass shootings in American history) and the results are, there are no safe guns in the hands of crazies. Thus logic says they're lying, either to us, themselves or both. So I've yet to meet the gun-controller that will be satisfied with X, when that means their neighbors will still have guns.
Main article: Guns: Control or ban?

Concealed Carry in California

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California was one of only 10 "May-issue" Conceal and Carry permits states (as opposed to "Shall-Issue"). Which means they can choose to use the "good cause" to set impossible standards that no one other than the politically connected or big police donors, to meet the standards -- thus they violate the intent of the law that is supposed to allow C&C permits (not deny them). Stacked on top of California not having open carry, it means that you have a right to have a gun, you just can't ever take it anywhere in California. And it's been ruled before that such restrictions violate the people's Second Amendment rights. The State's then A.G. (Kamala Harris) doesn't care about victims lives as much as her political career: and she had armed security guards, so that's all that mattered.

Main article: Peruta v. San Diego

Reasonable Gun Laws

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There’s an oft repeated fallacy that “all we want it a few more ‘reasonable’ gun laws” but ((insert either the NRA, evil republicans, gun-nuts)), won’t be reasonable. So let's talk about "what's reasonable", and explain some of the complexities that the reasonable laws on the books already look like, to understand why some are so hesitant to ask for more.
Main article: Reasonable Gun Laws

VoterID and Voter Fraud

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The purpose of this aimless article isn’t to convince people of any particular solution, it is to meander through the facts, eviscerate the fallacies, and give everyone the data to come to their own conclusions about Voter fraud and VoterID.

There are a lot of fallacies and noise about voter fraud and whether voterID (requiring ID at voting places would fix it). I’ll list just a few of the many examples of voter fraud, and reasons for concerns below -- yet, there's are a lot of DNC fronts (media outlets) that claim there’s virtually none. Why the discrepancy? Well the reason is that voter fraud overwhelmingly benefits the Democrats (DNC). If you were them, would you want it to stop? Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Examples of Voter Fraud

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There are three common classes of illegal voting: non-citizen (Illegals), proxy (voting for someone else, alive or dead, individually or mass ballot stuffing), duplicate voting (more than one state). All can be mitigated with simple voter roll sanitizing -- but Democrats have historically been against that as well as voter ID, and one can easily guess why.

Voter Suppression

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The knee-jerk anti-voterID response is, “but Voter Suppression”. While voter suppression is real, and infrequently happens on both sides of the aisle -- it's usually done by not having enough polling places in the right areas, not by checking ID. Yet when real voter intimidation comes up by goons in Philadelphia standing outside a polling station with clubs, the Obama admin drops it, because it benefited them. 400M poor people in India can voter with VoterID, and an ID is required to collect unemployment, foodstamps, welfare, medicare, Social Security. But it's "intimidation" to ask to see them at the polling booth.
Main article: Voter Suppression
Written: 1998.03.13