Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Israel versus Palestine versus TRUTH

I don't know if I've ever seen anything this amazing.  Thankfully a ceasefire has been reached just at time of writing, but after a week of fighting between Israel and Gaza, who knows who or what to believe.  Unfortunately, I can't write this without bias because I do have my beliefs about this situation, but I'm hoping to touch on something more important than taking sides.  I would like to demonstrate what I think is an incredible information gap.  I think that this gap goes beyond bias to the level of massive disinformation reaching well outside the boundaries of Israel / Palestine.

For the purposes of this blog, Israel means Israel's government and not its civilians or any other people of Jewish faith/culture.  The politics surrounding this conflict are so vicious that I feel I must make absolutely clear that I am not antisemitic.  Actually, I am anti-violence and pro-truth (versus any lies, disinformation, or secrecy).

The pro-Israel camp generally believes (with some variation):

  • Palestinian extremists (and other regional Muslim extremists) want to destroy Israel basically at any cost or chance
  • Hamas is a "terrorist organization" 
  • Israel has a right to all of the land it currently occupies and expands into
  • Anyone against Israel, since it is the Jewish state, is antisemitic
  • Military attacks on Palestine are self-defense

The pro-Palestine camp generally believes (with some variation):

  • Palestinians are being robbed of their land (often violently) and oppressed by the Israeli government.
  • Palestinians live under "apartheid"-like circumstances whereby they are subject to different laws, rules, and rights than Israeli citizens
  • Many of the territorial actions of Israel are illegal by international law and according to the United Nations
  • Votes on actions to condemn Israel for this situation in the United Nations are always blocked by the United States
  • Much of western mainstream media (essentially all mainstream media in the United States) only gives the pro-Israel point of view
  • The two state solution as it's been negotiated occasionally over the past few decades was incredibly unfair (unacceptable) to the Palestinian side
  • Military/bomb attacks on Israel are justified retaliation for the untenable situation
Middle ground?  There is no middle ground.  How many sides are there to this story?  At least 3?  

Besides the lives lost (on both sides) and injustice suffered, I think the real victim is the truth.  Do you want to know the truth?  I DO.  


P.S. Define "terrorist"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who's afraid of big bad OBAMACARE?


Here's a great article explaining a lot of the points of Obamacare.

http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/vb8vs/eli5_what_exactly_is_obamacare_and_what_did_it/c530lfx/

This one criticized some business owners that are vocal in complaining about it.

http://wonkette.com/489997/a-childrens-treasury-of-ceos-throwing-very-grown-up-tantrums-over-obamacare

Here are a few words I'd like to say:

To focus my comments about health care, I will respond to a very common statement about health care in general in the context of Obamacare.

"Health care should be divorced from employment."

For starters, it's not really possible (very exceptional or contrived exceptions) for a person to survive in this country without money, directly or indirectly.  Most people's money or support comes from being employed, receiving government benefits (Social Security or welfare-ish things), or being family (liberally defined) of the former two.  

Health care is pretty essential (some room for debate).  Unless you're off the grid with health care or some rare other alternative, you are paying for it.  In addition, we all are paying for other's health care already, directly and indirectly (like it or not) by increased costs from unpaid bills and emergency room visits (that can't be refused) and in Medicare/Medicaid.  

The Affordable Care Act (u.k.a. Obamacare) an insurance-based model as opposed to for example a single-payer model.  (This is my least favorite part;  generally not a big fan of insurance.)  By making everyone participate (as they do to some extent already), the risk is pooled (insurance terminology) helping to bring down cost.  Optimistically, people that can afford it take responsibility for it (financially) and those that can't at least are treated reasonably instead of letting things go until emergencies arise.  For better or worse (and this certainly isn't perfect), the overall costs to individuals and society should work out to be less and misery/suffering should be less, too.

To bring this back around full circle, many (but certainly not most) of us are gainfully employed and technically can afford insurance or it's already built into our benefits (and families are covered, too).  Those that are employed but can't afford it are a drain on the system in one sense, but their employers are also a bit of a drain on the system (this point is quite disputable, but for example companies like Walmart have a huge percentage of employees on food stamps, can health care be considered an externality?)  Medicare recipients are already in a system designed to aid their health-care costs significantly.  Unemployed drain the system, but the system drains them a little, too.  At least their drain of the system is mitigated a little (much less emergency care, more preventative care, and healthier so more employable in the future).   

Marriage of employment and sources of obtaining money with health care (and essential service?) does make some sense in this modern society we find ourselves in.

If you're as lucky as I am to be pretty healthy, it hurts a little more to know you're paying for the sick (naturally or self-inflicted), but we really are paying for a lot of it anyway, and hopefully this system will realize some savings for everyone.   I hope we can address obesity and our awful diet as well, but I digress even further.


I think Obamacare will be ultimately worth it (an improvement), but it isn't the perfect system we'd hope for.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Are the wealthy $15,200,000,000,000 ($15.2 trillion) richer because of Reagan?

I have some questions.

We have a $16 trillion national debt-- how much of that $16,000,000,000,000 is in the portfolios of the wealthy?

The wealthy had their tax rates drastically reduced 30 years ago starting with Reagan.  Under Reagan, the debt quadrupled and has since grown 20 fold.  I agree that spending could have been reduced, too, but in hindsight, wouldn't it have made more sense to reduce spending *first* and *then* reduce taxes as much as we could afford?

Isn't it apparent by now that low taxes on the wealthy neither causes wealth to trickle down nor create jobs?

Is this another case of rent seeking?

Are we ready to end this failed experiment of making the wealthy wealthier while mortgaging the future of the whole country?

I know that this is a pretty simplistic view of things, but is it incorrect?


Friday, October 5, 2012

The national debt? Reagan built that





The national debt-- Reagan built that, with his tax cuts for the rich. He came in with 800 billion, left with 2.6 trillion, and it's been a skyward trajectory ever since. It's been good for the stock market though, but is that money the money the rich didn't pay in taxes? Did we transfer our national debt into the portfolios of the 1%? I think it's a coincidence (albeit an interesting one), but the total market capitalization of the NYSE is also 15 trillion dollars. Where is the national debt money and why hasn't lowering taxes on the rich worked?

Me Nuh Like

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wealth envy, or disgust for the wealthy?

Wealth envy? Someone's been listening to mainstream media. How about disgust for the wealthy in this country? I do get it with the free market ideals (I actually like them believe it or not), but they are just that-- *ideals*. What's happening in practice is neither a free market nor ideal. Multinational corporations have rigged U.S.A. Inc. to work for them and in their favor to extract wealth and destroy competition at home and abroad. At home, they have an army of lawyers and lobbyists who have used the law, regulators, politicians, and courts to make the system work for them and against the average person and small business. They own and control the media who only acknowledges the two parties (two factions of one Corporate America) and gives us the impression that we live in a democracy.

This is the overall effect that can be measured by income inequality. Talking about income inequality rings of trying to affect the outcome moving forward. In this case, I recommend looking at it at measuring the effect "Reaganomics" has had on our society looking back. So what if a few people are super wealthy? Am i jealous? I'm not jealous. I'm happy with my middle class life (lucky to still be middle class), but I think the super rich are sinking the ship. They are cutting off America's nose to spite its face. back in the day, the government employed anti-trust laws to reel in business. No one was prepared for this subtle yet advanced attack on the free market, and they've won. Game over...

...The ship has sailed; The two parties are too corrupt to fix this from the inside. Why do you think mainstream media marginalized the Occupy Wall Street movement? Because they are dead on about corporations, who of course run mainstream media, and about money running politics.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why the United States will invade Iran

Since I'm talking about future events, this is clearly an opinion piece. I also base my opinion on some speculation, so if you don't agree with the speculation, you wouldn't agree with the conclusion. While I don't condone any of the speculated actions, I'm not interested in protesting any of this either. I consider myself of a scientific mind, and I'm just interested in knowing how the world works and whenever possible knowing the truth.

So, I believe that the US will invade Iran to secure its oil just like with Iraq. The USA doesn't simply want their oil (ie to enrich oil companies), they *need* that oil (see oil links below). Most people agree that the amount of petroleum in the world is finite, and some believe that production has already started declining. Oil for the US absolutely is a national security imperative. "The last country with oil wins." If any military power finds itself with little or no oil confronted with an enemy with more oil, they don't stand a chance in armed conflict. Oil powers jets, tanks, aircraft carriers, etc. Literally, the last country with oil will have an extreme military advantage over other countries.

Oil for the United States is also of extreme economic importance. It's not just so that it can be sold for a profit. It's the life blood of the economy and productivity. It's a significant part of the value of the dollar, too. Without the productivity gained from black gold, the economy stagnates, shrinks, and falters. That's eventual but hopefully way in the future, and sustainable practices will necessarily help mitigate the change in the way the economy will work.

So what of the supposed reasons we've entered Iraq and possibly in the future Iran? That's where things get quite messy. I don't even like to talk about it because I feel like there's quite a truth gap.

Me nuh like

Oil economy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predicting_the_timing_of_peak_oil
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2011/mar/01/addiction-oil-global-economy
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/09/peak-oil-international-energy-agency

Iranian threat:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pH8gCEZ4Ds

Iraqi oil:
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/7/16/fuel_on_the_fire_author_greg

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Libertarians and Progressives join hands and let's save this country


Libertarians and progressives have a lot in common, currently. Let's have a Coffee Party (http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/) and Tea Party (http://www.teapartypatriots.org/) party!  I think there's a lot to talk about.  

I recently watched the documentary "Ayn Rand and the prophecy of Atlas Shrugged" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1989454/).  As a recovering libertarian, I had some difficulty with the ideas in this film.  Much of the rhetoric in the current interviews was very focused on the government-- there's too much regulation, we need limited government, the tax collectors and bureaucrats take away from productivity, etc.  On a philosophical level, I have a hard time disagreeing with this actually.  Nevertheless, I found the film extremely short-sighted as it relates to our current political situation.

I've also recently watched "The Corporation" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379225/).  Having watched this before the Ayn Rand piece, I noticed this aspect of politics stunningly absent from the Libertarian/Objectivist commentary.  They blame government for just about everything, but the blame seems to be that it's the nature of government to be this way, which *on some level* (philosophically) I believe too.  This laser beam focus on just the government as being uniquely the problem and thus "reducing it" being the solution is the wrong answer, right now.  How does limited government and regulation account for crony capitalism?  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crony_capitalism)  It doesn't!  (As far as I can tell)

We have industries regulated by their own insiders.  We have politicians bought and directed by donors and lobbyists.  We have a banking system that apparently is untouchable.  We have a health care bill written by the health insurance companies.  We have a drug war that benefits no one except the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, big pharma, the textile industry, soy producers, ethanol producers, the logging industry, and corrupt politicians / law enforcement.  (I don't even know where to start on our foreign policy.)  Our rampant and under-regulated crony capitalism has subverted our democracy.  In an ideal world, corporations would be good citizens, but that clearly can't be further from the truth.  (There must be some, but the bad ones are ruining it for the rest.)

So, can a libertarian explain to me how less regulation and free markets solve this problem?  Please don't think I'm entirely discrediting this philosophy or suggesting massive regulation or even communism.  We the people are being laissez faire with our government at the worst possible time.  I know that most libertarians wouldn't support having absolutely no regulations, so I hope we could agree that the "right regulations" would make sense here.  What we need, even more than the right regulations, is transparency.

"When government disappears, it's not as if paradise will take its place. When governments are gone, other interests will take their place."  - Lawrence Lessig

Surely some people will disagree with me, and I encourage that.  I also encourage critical thinking, so I'd love to see someone explain to me how voting on a fiscal conservative track, specifically in this election,  would handle crony capitalism, or if you don't actually think  crony capitalism is a problem (please explain).  If you don't think we're facing massive tyranny right now, then please be kind and let me know your source of Kool-Aid.

ME NUH LIKE

Mighty Fist. -----> i.i.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Corrupt Atlanta Transportation Initiative to pass on July 31st

Atlanta Transportation "T-SPLOST" has a lot of politics going on!


I had a burning question bouncing around my mind for weeks, and I finally asked my Facebook family:

"do any of you know who is bank-rolling the ads in favor of voting yes on the transportation initiative? it's a suspiciously large amount of funding for this type of thing. why wouldn't they be more forthcoming about the source of the money?"

No sooner did I ask, I found the answer on an unrelated site in an ad.

"interestingly, i found the answer online on a news site i was reading. http://untieatlanta.com/ is their site. "Paid for by Citizens for Transportation Mobility. Dave Stockert, Chairman". dave stockert is the ceo of post properties. the following is conjecture, but i bet there will be post apartments very close to many of the rail line stops. that would explain why they're so interested in getting this passed."

I also added a mention to this blog post in a subsequent comment.

"this is an interesting treatise of the initiative in general (the author ultimately will vote ___ didn't want to spoil) http://tropicsofmeta.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/is-the-beltline-bad-for-atlanta/"

So, that's what happened in my social networking world today.  (Yes, I'm telling stories about what I did on Facebook.)  And...  ME NUH LIKE

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Insurance sucks us die

See all those frequent, polished ads for car insurance? You are required to purchase auto insurance if you drive.  Everyone must have car insurance, to drive.  So why is there so much effort put into having the best ads?  There's a mandatory chunk of consumers' income that must be spent on car insurance.  Who's making a ton of money from this?  Insurances companies, that's who.  What's scary is that is the model for our health care plan.  It would be great if they were solving this another way, but the process is more capitalistic than democratic. WE lose again.  mE nUH Like