Monday, December 31, 2012

On Our Modern Wild West

"No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him. Every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him. And, no man having a natural right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third."

-- Thomas Jefferson; from letter to Francis Gilmer (June 7, 1816)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Elections and the Valuation of Life

We keep seeing these "Energy Voters" on TV who are so concerned about oil and gas industry talking points. The site vote4energy.org delivers the spin this way: "A Vote 4 Energy is a vote for more jobs, higher government revenues and greater energy security."

They forgot to mention a shorter life. You see , the EPA is in the process of implementing regulations limiting industrial fine particles emissions (such as those found in smog and haze) to between 11 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter (by contrast, the World Health Organization guidelines recommend 10 micrograms per cubic meter [1]). The analysis the EPA provided used before congress included an $8.9 million-per-life cost-benefit analysis figure. It might sound shocking to the general public that our government puts a dollar value on human life, but regulatory agencies have done this for years, and the valuations vary depending on who runs the Executive Branch (and thus the EPA) as illustrated in the graph below:
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Despite the life-enhancing promises made by the fictitious energy voters, The Texas Public Policy Foundation (A fossil-fuel-centric right-wing think tank) is more transparent in their views of the EPA valuation:

' The EPA’s favored studies find that the median age of people to whom additional life expectancy accrues is 80 years. And the increased life expectancy is estimated in several months, not years. But when aggregated into one statistical life, the EPA sets a value of $8.9 million per statistical life-year gained. That figure is more commonly used as a monetized value for a healthy 25-year old adult. The monetized value of additional life expectancy for an 80-year old is more typically estimated at about one-sixth the value of an individual 25 years old. '[2]

To add to their morbid cynicism, the article is headed with a photograph of an octogenarian couple sitting by the beach, looking out into the ocean--presumably waiting for Mitt Romney to appoint an EPA death-panel to put them out of their misery.

If such a scenario seems as absurd as my sarcastic tone might imply, consider what Romney's campaign literature states:

' Other EPA regulations targeting the entire American industrial base pose a similar threat. The EPA has issued a 946-page “hazardous air pollutants” rule mandating “maximum achievable control technology” under the Clean Air Act.  Even the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, an unlikely source of criticism for the President, said the rule would place 250,000 jobs in jeopardy. In conjunction with other regulations that the EPA is seeking to impose, the total number of lost jobs may come to be much higher. '[3]

And this isn't the policy of one who is ignorant of the consequences... 




If you ask me, we can't call any arrangement by the name "Civil Society" that regards life, limb and health as commodities to trade at market--for sale to the highest bid, or the largest political contribution!

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[1] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/

[2] http://www.texaspolicy.com/center/energy-environment/opinions/statistical-lives-are-not-alive

[3] http://www.mittromney.com/sites/default/files/shared/Energy.pdf

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sneak Peek at 2012 GOP Platform

I just couldn't wait until the final draft is released tomorrow, so I predicted what it will have in it.  
Spoiler alert: [Foot-notes] at bottom reveal the actual source for each "plank" ;-)  Enjoy!

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Personal Responsibility

"We have founded a system based on the most sincere foundation there is, namely: Form your life yourself! Work for your existence! Help yourself and God will help you!"[1]


Celebration of Job-Creators

"Let no one say that the picture produced as a first impression of human civilization is the impression of its achievement as a whole. This whole edifice of civilization is in its foundations and in all its stones nothing else than the result of the creative capacity, the achievement, the intelligence, the industry, of individuals: in its greatest triumphs it represents the great crowning achievement of individual God-favored geniuses"[2]


Energy Independence

"It may then be asked, 'With what motive power will you drive you cars?' I say that we shall take gasoline from our own oil and coal"
[3]


Education

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith"[4]


Cultural Exceptionalism

"democracy will in practice lead to the destruction of a people's true values and this also serves to explain how it is that peoples with a great past from the time when they surrender themselves to the unlimited, democratic rule of the masses slowly lose their former position; for the outstanding-achievements of individuals which they still possess or which could be produced in all spheres of life are now rendered practically ineffective through the oppression of mere numbers. And thus in these conditions a people will gradually lose its importance not merely in the cultural and economic spheres but altogether, in a comparatively short time it will no longer, within the setting of the other peoples of the world, maintain its former value"[5]


Family Values

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and co-operation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life"[6]

Strong National Defense

"It is absolutely clear that the amount of armaments for defense is determined by the degree of dangers which threaten a country. We cannot imagine anyone outside London being competent to estimate the strength necessary for the protection of the British Empire. The estimate of our need for protection is decided exclusively in Berlin."[7]

The Duty To Breed

"Whereas previously the programs of the liberal, intellectualist women's movements contained many points, the program of our National Socialist Women's movement has in reality but one single point, and that point is the child, that tiny creation which must be born and grow strong and which alone gives meaning to the whole life-struggle"[8]

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Oh, and those were actually all said by...

[1] -- Adolph Hitler; from speech in Wilhelmshaven (Apr. 1, 1939)
[2] -- Adolf Hitler; from speech to Dusseldorf Industry Club (Jan. 27, 1932)
[3] -- Adolf Hitler; from speech to Nuremburg Labor Front (Sept. 12, 1936)
[4] -- Adolf Hitler; at Nazi-Vatican Concordat (April 26, 1933)
[5] -- Adolf Hitler; from speech to Dusseldorf Industry Club (Jan. 27, 1932)
[6] -- Adolf Hitler; from national proclamation (February 1, 1933)
[7] -- Adolf Hitler; from speech in Nuremberg (Sept. 14, 1936)
[8] -- Adolf Hitler; from speech to the National Socialist Women’s League (September 8, 1934)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Machinations

You are an object to be evaluated
worthless unless assimilated
fruitful for us, but otherwise castrated
we'll stoke your desires, impossibly sated

We teach you to not know a thing
lest you find out that you're just
a cock fighting in the ring
Just a fool for our amusement
Willing to shed your blood
so you can pay your many rents

You were so young when
we sold you the dream
Now forever tied
to this nightmare machine

Our every machination
is geared for your exsanguination

We'll rule over every nation
reveling in their tribulation!

You are just a cog in our machine
freely discarded once no longer pristine
we build up temptation to fuel you
but insist you stay clean

You have the instincts of an animal
We'll abolish empathy and exploit them all
We teach you to ravage your prey
no use for conscience, it gets in the way
So we set up ritual in its place
learn to perform the sacrifice
and appreciate the taste

You were so young when
we sold you the dream
Now forever tied
to this nightmare machine

Our every machination
is geared for your exsanguination

Our lust for domination
Will end in global damnation

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Myth of Merit

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business--you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen."
 -- Barack Obama; from speech in Roanoke, Virginia (July 13, 2012)

The above inartfully put together statement has drawn some controversy.  Though it is clear from his inflection in making it, that the president clearly was talking about roads and bridges being what others built and made happen, there is certainly a germ of truth even to the comment as distorted by the media.

First of all, there is the matter of "this unbelievable American [S]ystem" that our capitalist economy was built on.  The American System was that economic system put in place by the George Washington Administration, which included protective tariffs, bounties to industry, and even the bailout of Wall Street banks in 1792.  This system became more extensive following the civil war, with massive land grants to the federally chartered railroads to lay track and borrow capital against.  The American System continued until WWII, and--to a lesser extent--until 1994 GATT.  That is, it was the prevailing economic policy during the duration in which the United States became an economic superpower.

We can debate the merits of the American System of economics but, right or wrong, it was built and maintained for the sake of the national interest.  That is, that certain privileges were granted based on the supposition that such served the greater good, and that such a supposition was the basis for the social compact during the bulk of our history.

In our post 1994 GATT system of globalism, it is questionable whether any suppositions of national interest are translatable.  In this global system, it ought to be expect that businesses stand on their own two feet, but this is rarely the case.  Quite ironically the old dynamic has been turned on its head.  Indeed it could be stated in Yakov Smirnoff form:
In American System, companies compete for sake of nation.  In global system, nations compete for sake of company.
Whereas it would seem that "free trade" would preclude any sort of protectionism at all, it is instead the case that protectionism is everywhere more prevalent now than at any time in history, even disrupting that "commercial amity" among the states that was a central purpose of our constitution.  There is even an industry of selling books telling aspiring entrepreneurs how to get the most handouts in order to become a "success"

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Some of the most celebrated "job-Creator" deities are in fact the greatest welfare queens of all.  Take for instance a company called Steel Dynamics whose 1994 start-up included $385 Million from investors--the largest private investment being $18 Million from a Massachusetts firm by the name of Bain Capital. The largest investment however was provided by the taxpayers of Indiana and DeKalb County.  Grants and subsidies of $37 Million (plus a county income tax to finance agreed upon infrastructure improvements) helped anchor this "success" story.  Cato Institute analyst Tad DeHaven described these bounties as "an example of the government stepping into the marketplace, picking winners and losers, providing profits to business owners and leaving taxpayers stuck with the bill."

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/12/nation/la-na-bain-subsidies-20120113

There is in fact a laundry list of instances where Bain Capital profited from the beneficence of government.

http://mykeystrokes.com/tag/corporate-welfare/

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2832332/posts

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/library/mdelect/statewide/mdfunds102198.htm


It's one thing to be a welfare queen.  It's another still to be one who says "let them eat cake!"


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Industrial Homicide

Deep water, oil well
Drilling halfway down to hell
they broke the law and workers died
Industrial homicide!
The same standard that applies to you and me
should apply to the captains of industry
Prison if our negligence leaves another dead
For them a golden parachute instead.

They break the laws and people die
Industrial homicide!
No vengeance for innocent blood
A sacrifice for the common good

A proud laborer nears his death
Now his hardest labor, every single breath
Made his living without causing trouble
by the sweat of his brow and a tear-off shovel
He had work ethic and misplaced trust
They never told him what was in the dust
A filter mask and his life would be saved
Instead that work ethic dug his grave

We have a right to know, but evil ones lie
Industrial homicide!
No vengeance for innocent blood
A sacrifice to the common good

A homestead family flees from doom
Death lurks in the manure lagoons
Their water rights were established first
Now left with poison to quench their thirst
Their petitions to be free from harm
only attract goons from the industrial farm
County commissioners paid to preside
over industrial homicide!
There is no rule of law anymore
Just a machine to churn the gore

All around, the neighbors died
Industrial homicide!
No vengeance for innocent blood
sacrificed for the common good

How many more must die
before we punish industrial homicide?
If our servants can't be made to legislate
time build a shaving mill and reciprocate!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fuel for Superstition

A man whose only hope is hereafter
conditioned from youth for this disaster
Sweat pour down as he walks to his fate.
moving stiffly; his chest bound with stiff tape,
through what some call Holy Land; some Zion.
Whose enemies turned his body into a bomb.

Abandoned conscience for the sake of mission.
A soul tormented by distorted visions.
A life discharged like ammunition.
More fuel for superstition!

Propaganda proclaims God and nation.
Young minds fed ceaseless indoctrination
accept their fate in a foreign land,
to profit the cunning, cowardly man.
Stone slabs pay homage to Kings' bishops' pawns.
Sacrificed upon the alter of Mammon

Abandoned conscience. Prostituted mission.
To fulfill vainglorious politicians.
Young lives consumed like ammunition.
More fuel for superstition!

How long must humanity hang upon this cross of atrocity.
Repressed bodies close minds to just reciprocity,
fueling the inferno below with zealous ferocity.
Our descent reaching terminal velocity

Once the struggle of distorted visions
finally ends this cycle of attrition.
Mankind consumed like ammunition.
Spent fuel for superstitions!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Everything We Hated About Communism...

When challenged by peaceful assembly, they crush it so nimbly.
Commies!

They censor the coverage by press with violence and arrest.
They're Commies!

They search without cause, and aggregate our thoughts.
Commies!

Without trial they detain; inflict cruel and unusual pain.
They're Commies!

They deny the right to civil damages for all corporate ravages.
Commies!

They grab private property; a pipelines for plutocracy.
They're Commies!

Their political theater is propaganda to distract us,

for, when all political power in a very few hands,
and the economy runs at their very command,

You have what communism always was in practice!

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"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestible unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." -- Constitution of Massachusettes (1780)