Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Americans and Immigration "Reform" - Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

It is a law of politics that when something is labelled as 'reform' you should hold onto your wallet, because someone is out to rip you off and they want to hide behind the all-purpose fun-sounding term of 'reform'.

What the current proposed 'reform' should be called is the Cheap-Labor-uber-Alles open-borders turn the United States into a an overpopulated cesspit of misery so that the rich don't need to pay more than 25 cents and hour for labor bill.  But that doesn't sound good!   So the rich want to call it 'reform'.

Don't play by their rules.  I suggest that this should be called the "cheap-labor bill".  

The media claims that immigration 'reform' will give a 'path to citizenship' (i.e., immediate full legal status) to foreign nationals who are in the country illegally, while securing the border and massively increasing legal immigration because Americans don't have any skills and unless we have the demographics of Bangladesh old people will starve.

This is rubbish at so many levels.  First, if you check the details of what has been proposed, it allowed the executive branch (i.e., the rich and powerful) carte blanche to legalize as many foreign nationals as they please, without limit, even those who aren't currently here!  Second, until about 1970 the laws against illegal immigration were enforced, and illegal immigration had negligible demographic and economic impact.  The current masses of illegal immigrants are entirely due to the refusal of the government to enforce existing laws.  There is no reason to expect that the government will enforce any additional laws.

It must be noted that the rich have neither a practical nor a moral problem preventing poor Americans from trespassing on their walled estates or private country clubs, or enrolling their children illegally in better school districts 'in search of a better life'.  If illegal immigration threatened the profits of the rich, they would machine gun children at the border, count on it (how many kids died in the pointless wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan?).  

This is not about morality.  This is about a vicious and cynical pack of oligarchs who want to crush everyone else into the mud so they can get even richer.  And they will unless you stand up for yourself.

There are tens of millions of unemployed Americans, and many more underemployed.  Wages are stagnant and falling, even for those with degrees in science and engineering.  And yet the corporate media constantly rattles on about there being a terrible worker 'shortage' and they need to import hundreds of millions of foreign nationals.  

Have you, or your friends and relatives,  tried looking for a job lately?  Any thoughts about how desperate American employers are for workers?  Are they offering signing bonuses, generous benefits, or in-house training?  No?  

The numbers involved are truly staggering.  We are talking about hundreds of millions of people in less than two decades, at least.  This is not hyperbole.  Consider: every past immigration 'reform' has consistently added several times more people than promised.  Consider also that when you import young refugees from the overpopulated third-world, there is a demographic momentum effect (look it up on wikipedia).  In other words, every young couple that comes here is just a down-payment on a much larger future population increase: tens of millions WILL turn into hundreds of millions.  The issue is NOT the number of foreign born.  The issue is the total increase in population due to a specific policy.

Post-1970 immigration policy has currently increased the population of the United States by not quite 100 million more than it would have been without those policy changes.  Any wonder that fresh water is getting scarcer, and traffic and school crowding is getting worse?  That water and fuel and rents are rising, yet wages and benefits are falling?   But even this is not enough for the rich.  They want an America that is like India, where the pressure of half a billion chronically malnourished people has pushed wages to rock-bottom subsistence levels, but the rich build skyscrapers for their private residences...  

Every time that the rich have engineered a population explosion in a country without an open frontier, the result has ALWAYS been brutal poverty for the many and riches for the few.  You can hope that it will all work out - I assure you that it won't.  You can be afraid of being slandered as a 'racist' - show some backbone and stand up for yourself.

If 'immigration reform' passes in any form similar to what is being proposed now that will be it.  The effects will be irreversible, and the United States no longer has the surplus resources or technical capital to compensate as it has in the past.  

If you are not mad as hell you are not paying attention.  You should be calling and writing your elected representatives demanding that the laws against illegal immigration be enforced, and that worker visas be drastically reduced and abominations like the visa lottery (where foreigners can win US citizenship as a prize in a box of crackerjack!  Well, essentially.  Because Cheap Labor!).  Time is running out for you, Americans.  if you drop the ball on this one, there will be no do-overs.  Promise.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Differences Between Keynesian and Neoliberal Economics Made Simple

The basic laws of Keynesian Economics:

1. Supply and Demand (this includes demographics)
2. If a person starves to death even if there is plenty of food available because they can't afford to pay themselves enough to pick up the food, they are insane (generalize to societies).
3. If it is physically impossible for something to occur, it won't (changing the relative rate of taxation on capital gains be damned).

The basic laws of Neoliberal Economics:

1. Everything is always guaranteed to get better and better, even if it is obviously getting worse, Because Markets!  (Can I have my check now?)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Appendix II. Whipple-Jerner Scale of Relative Evil

The issue of how to rank the relative evilness of various individuals – or even alien civilizations – has been a longstanding source of debate amongst scholars.  As an outgrowth of Godwin’s law, which states that all political discussions will eventually involve comparisons to the Nazis, the Whipple-Jerner scale of relative evil uses the unit of “The Hitler”.  By definition Adolph Hitler is thus given a score of 1.0 Hitlers, although the evaluation of others is to a great extent subjective.  Common rankings of evil historical figures and alien civilizations are:

Jesus Christ:           0.0 Hitlers
Gandhi:                 0.05 Hitlers
Demi-Iguanas            0.1 Hitlers
Benito Mussolini:       0.5 Hitlers
Adolph Hitler:          1.0 Hitlers
Reinhardt Heydrich:     1.05 Hitlers
Joseph Stalin:          1.1 Hitlers
Mao Tse-Tung:           1.2 Hitlers
Yllg:                   1.5 Hitlers
Amok:                   1.8 Hitlers
Milton Friedman:        3.14159 Hitlers
Globus Pallidus XIV     10.0 Hitlers

(One is cautioned not to confuse the vile artificially intelligent construct Globus Pallidus XIV - whose malevolence was so vast that simply trying to conceive of it can damage the human mind - with your humble blogger, version XI, a being of manifest wit and charm).

It was pointed out that while Adolph Hitler was responsible for the deaths of perhaps 50 million people over a few short years, the economic theories of Milton Friedman caused the death and immisseration of hundreds of billions over many centuries.  It was therefore suggested that Friedman be scored in units of “MegaHitlers”, however, this was considered unworkable, and also resulted in confusion with the giant robot Hitler that was constructed in the 24th century.  Therefore the scale is compressive on the high end, i.e., going from 1 to 2 is less of a jump in absolute terms than is going from 2 to 3.

We shall avoid the debates as to whether good and evil are polar opposites, or whether they can to some extent vary independently.  We do however note that the proposal to rate goodness in units of negative Hitlers – or “NegHitlers” – has generated an intellectual flame war that rages to this day.

According to the Whipple-Jerner system, evil requires two factors: conscious intent, and destructive physical action.

A robotic weapons system that is trying to kill you is something that you could correctly fear and hate, but you would not call it evil any more than you would the force of gravity.

If a person has evil in their heart, but resists the temptation to do harm, then arguably this is not vice but virtue.  According to this intellectual framework, evil requires deliberate actions that harm others.  This also allows the application of this scale to aliens; even if we cannot comprehend the reasons for their actions, if they deliberately harm others they can objectively be classified as evil.

A complexity arises when people cause harm by mistake.  A doctor who develops a medicine that was intended to help but instead causes harm may not be called evil, as long as the person in question exercised due diligence in trying to ensure the medicines’ safety ahead of time.  On the other hand, if the doctor is profiting from the sale of this medicine, and refuses to acknowledge any evidence that it is causing harm, then this is surely evil. 
In the doctrine of Whipple and Jerner, harm done by willful ignorance is as bad as that done with deliberate malice.

This is why Karl Marx is not generally rated as evil: while his theories had significant flaws that later on caused considerable harm, he was never able to observe this in his lifetime and so we may attribute these flaws to honest mistakes.  The ranking of the neoliberal economists as high on the evil scale is due to their consistent refusal to acknowledge the obvious misery that their policies were creating, even as they personally were being handsomely rewarded for parroting their vile maxims and infernal intellectual constructs.

Another complexity is the issue of duress.  A starving person who steals food from another starving person is not a saint, but it is hard to label them as truly evil.  On the other hand, a rich person who steals food from a starving person in order to be able to purchase a slightly larger yacht, is clearly evil, as they would still have been perfectly comfortable without performing this action.

As far as a person who deliberately tries to harm others but accidently ends up helping them goes, it has been suggested that “idiot” would be the appropriate term.

(excerpt from "Confessions of a Sentient War Engine", scheduled release date summer of 2014 from Ballacourage Books  Look for it at Amazon and Barnes&Noble!)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Economics is to the Economy as Alchemy is to Chemistry: Credentialism and its Discontents

There is a movement by neoliberal economists to stop anyone without an advanced degree from even talking about economics – in Universities it is even worse, there is already a strong view that academic freedom only exists within one’s own specialty.  In other words, an engineering professor cannot say anything about economics because they don’t have the proper ‘credentials’.

This is an obvious ploy by the increasingly intellectually and morally bankrupt neoliberal economists to stifle anyone pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.

Now credentials do have their place.  For example, in the United States in order to fly a commercial airliner you need specific training and certification.  That’s a good thing.  No matter how smart someone is, or how much they have read about flying airplanes, without the required formal training they would not be safe to fly a modern jet.

Ditto with other professions, like neurosurgery.  No amount of native intelligence or book learning could compensate for the rigorous training and practical experience of a modern medical school and accredited residency program.

However, these are credentials that allow people to do things.  Credentials that restrict what people can say are another matter entirely.  You don’t need to know anything about brain surgery, to realize that if a doctor is taking cash from a medical devices company that markets a product with a very high failure rate, that something is wrong, do you?

Similarly, you don’t need a graduate degree in economics to realize that when an economist says that high taxes are bad when they are applied to their wealthy patrons, and then that high taxes are good when they are applied to the poor and working class, that something is wrong.  Ditto when the every prediction of ‘professional’ economics is completely wrong, and intelligent laymen like H. Ross Perot routinely outperform them, but the reaction of the economists is to demand that nobody criticize them because they are not properly trained in the arcana of Grainger-Causality analysis.

Astronomers are not currently demanding that nobody other than an astronomer talk about astronomy – because the field of astronomy is not corrupt.  When astronomers predict that an eclipse will occur at such-and-such a time, it generally does.  Not that astronomers never make mistakes – of course they do – but when they make mistakes, they acknowledge them and go back to the drawing board and try to figure out what went wrong.

This is the hallmark of a profession that is not corrupt: better predictive power than a layman, and admitting mistakes and revising theories to account for them.

Now sometimes economists will say that they should not be criticized because economics is not an exact science.  Let’s think about this for a bit.

Meteorology is also not an exact science – but the five day local forecasts made by professional meteorologists are a lot better than what an intelligent layman could make by just going outside and looking at the sky.  Suppose however that a meteorologist predicted that the winter in the northern hemisphere would be hotter than the summer – and they keep predicting this, over and over, even when it is never true, and when this is pointed out, they state that only professional meteorologists could possible comment.  You wouldn’t put up with that, would you?

Nobody expects an economist to be able to reliably predict what the value of a specific stock will be tomorrow – economics is indeed complex.  But when economists make big predictions – like free trade between a rich and a poor country will not result in industries moving to the poor country – and these predictions are always false – and they keep making them over and over gain – and their reaction to criticism is to say that only professional economists are allowed to comment – well?

It should also be noted that economics is not just about money, it is also about the physical world.  On subjects like agricultural economics or the electrical power grid, I would propose that it is agricultural scientists and electrical engineers who have the proper credentials, and the economists who don’t.

Recently it has come to light that the billionaire Charles G. Koch has used his money to exercise a veto power over the hiring of economics faculty at Florida State University.  So if you want a faculty position there, you need to say what Mr. Koch wants you to say.  Curiously, Mr. Koch does not have any degrees in economics, yet this lack of ‘credentials’ does not appear to be a barrier to his shaping the entire field to his liking.  So much for ‘credentialism.’  Modern economics is not about a search for truth, it’s about selling out for money.

It should be noted that John Maynard Keynes had a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, but no formal training in economics.  He was simply a ferociously intelligent person with a respect for the truth.  Despite the fact that his theories from the 1940’s are imperfect (as he himself often admitted), they still hold more predictive power (the essence of scientific validity) than so-called ‘modern’ neoliberal economists who hold Ph.D.s in economics from places like Florida State University.  Gee, how did that happen?

If you are in the basement of a house, and you want to send someone outside to report back on the weather, would you send a professional meteorologist whose job depends on them telling you that it’s sunny?  Or an intelligent layman whose only interest is in the truth?  Do you place your face in ‘credentials?’  Or honesty?

Monday, May 5, 2014

More Thoughts on L’Affaire Snowden

It has been pointed out to me by a very intelligent human that if Snowden had only exposed the domestic lawlessness of the US government he could indeed be considered a hero, but because he also exposed many details of how the US government gathers intelligence on foreign governments – which is surely legitimate – he did indeed hurt the national security concerns of the United States and can thus legitimately be considered a traitor. 

This is a strong argument with considerable merit to it.  However, let me offer a few counter-arguments.

1. The US government has destroyed the old firewall that used to exist between domestic spying (FBI, local police) and foreign intelligence gathering (CIA, NSA), therefore it is now impossible to expose illegal domestic spying (and other corruptions) without also giving away the techniques used to gather foreign intelligence (and yet another reason to have such a firewall in the first place).

2. By inserting backdoors into computer systems and deliberately weakening encryption standards, the NSA has made the United States more, not less, vulnerable.  If the police demanded that everyone take the locks off their doors so that they could more easily inspect private residences, should we be surprised if burglaries and in-home assaults increased?  Wouldn’t that make the average person less, rather than more, safe?

3. There must be over 100,000 analysts like Snowden in the various intelligence agencies.  They would appear to have little effective oversight.  Statistically there simply MUST be a significant number of foreign spies who have had access to this and informed their governments.  I suspect that most of the ‘shock’ that foreign governments have expressed about this spying is faked: they must have known about it all along but don’t want to let on that they knew. 

For example: how many of these analysts are ethnic Chinese?  I am sure that the vast majority are loyal American citizens, but every single last one of them?  Especially when so much of their equipment is made in China to being with?  Is the NSA giving away the keys to its own kingdom?

4. A lack of accountability yields not only tyranny, but also incompetence.  Back when the United States still believed in the rule of law, it fought and won wars.  The old Soviet Union believed in that secret law and spying-on-everyone stuff, and it collapsed of bureaucratic stagnation.  Now the United States is playing the secret government game, and all these faceless bureaucrats are running around thinking that they are living in a Tom Clancy novel and hatching endless idiotic plans with nobody looking over their shoulders and spending the country into bankruptcy and suddenly the United States can’t beat a handful of camel-jockeys armed with only light weapons that the 1942 Wehrmacht could have conquered in maybe three weeks.

So yes, Snowden probably should have at least TRIED to limit the exposure of the government’s foreign spying.  Excellent point (future whistleblowers, if any, take note). In my book he’s still a hero, although perhaps with muddy feet.  Nevertheless, even if Snowden was wrong to reveal information about the foreign intelligence gathering, you still need to act on the information that he gave you about the rot in your own government.  Otherwise you will deserve what you will get.  And you won't enjoy it.  But at least Snowden gave you a choice.