Thursday, February 28, 2019

Democratic Socialism?

I’m not saying that Democratic Socialism is a bad thing, but let’s be more clear on what it is or, more specifically, isn’t. Like most people who want this nation to indulge in a socialist economy, Business Insider author John Haltiwanger doesn’t even know what socialism is.

"Socialism," he says in his Feb 25th article, "can be defined as a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control."

Private property is subject to government control? No, not even close. Why would I own a private business and allow the government to control it? And socialism does not involve the “distribution of income” at all; that is part of communism, not socialism.

Socialism is not a “system of social organization” at all. Again, the author is confusing socialism with communism. Socialism is a form of economic management, one in which the means of production and distribution are owned and operated by the government. Private property still exists, homes and automobiles for instance, but not as mechanisms in the economy.

"In other words," he goes on, "it's a state-controlled economy in which the state controls the means of production (factories, offices, resources, and firms)."

Oh, good. Having defined it incorrectly, the author uses “other words” to define it differently and a little more nearly correctly. At least he's defining it as an "an economy" rather than as a "system of social organization." He fails to point out that the government not only controls the means of production, it also owns the means of production. There are no “firms” for it to control, so that part is inaccurate. He also fails to point out that the government owns and controls the means of distribution as well.

"There are," he tells us, "also forms of socialism in which the means of production are controlled and owned by workers."

No. Such an economy is actually known as “collectivism,” and is a very different creature than socialism. In collectivism each facility is managed by the people who work in that facility, because they own it, while in socialism all facilities are commonly owned by government, are managed by a central bureaucracy, and the workers have no direct management input at all.

Collectivism is far from unknown in our economy today; companies in which employees have banded together to buy out the companies they work for. Such companies almost always continue to function on a for-profit basis, with the profits being distributed to the employees who own the companies. Such a company is certainly not an example of socialism, because it is a collective functioning within the capitalist economic model.

The author, having so badly failed in his attempt to define socialism, then goes to great length, never using two words when twenty will do the job, to explain that a “Democratic Socialist” doesn’t want to impose government dictatorship. That’s sort of like a landscaper going to great lengths to assure you that he just wants to mow your lawn and neither wants nor intends to burn down to your house and garage while doing so.

Democracy is a form of government, while socialism is a form of economic management. They certainly can coexist and frequently do, notably in Europe, but socialism is socialism whether it exists in a nation with a democratic government or in a nation which has a monarchy or dictatorship. Being a “Democratic Socialist” simply means that she is a Democrat who wants to convert our nation to socialism economically while maintaining a democratic form of government.

So Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is a “Democratic Socialist.” If Ron Paul was a socialist he would be a “Libertarian Socialist.” If Ted Cruz was a socialist he would be a “Republican Socialist.” Karl Marx was just a “Socialist” because he had no axe to grind with respect to governance. He only cared about the economy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Who's In Charge?

Back during the 2008 election, when Barack Obama was talking about what he would do with respect to troop levels in Iraq and various other military matters, my rather cynical thought was, “Yeah, if the military lets you do that.”

Sure enough, the military allowed him to do almost none of what he promised to do. He made much of “keeping my promise to bring the troops home from Iraq,” which did happen in 2011, but in actuality he tried for three years to prevent that with the Iraqi government prevailing in the end. American troops have since returned to Iraq.

Congress and two presidents have tried to cut military spending repeatedly. None have succeeded. Congress passed the thing about “sequester,” which automatically cut spending across the board, and somehow military spending still increased.

Obama announced that we would become militarily active in Syria but promised repeatedly that there would be “no boots on the ground” there. Next thing we know there are several thousand troops on the ground in Syria, and at least some of them are in combat.

Trump says that he has ordered the withdrawal of all military from Syria, and we find out soon afterward that the military is actually adding troops there. The next thing we know Trump is saying we will leave several hundred troops in Syria because "everybody agrees it is a great idea."

Two Commanders in Chief have not been able to control the military. Congress cannot control the military. Who’s in charge? The question answers itself.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Fuzzy Thinking Again

Arguments against "building the wall" include refuting the claim that it will reduce drug trafficing by saying that most drugs come in through legal ports of entry. There has always been something about that claim that seemed "off" to me, but I haven't really cared enough to really analyze it. My immediate thought went along lines of, "If drugs are coming in through legal ports of entry, and we know it, why aren't we stopping them?"

Well, it seems that we actually are, because it now turns out that the argument regarding the wall, and that it won't reduce trug trafficing, is based on a claim that 97% of drug interdiction is made at legal ports of entry, while only 3% of drug interdiction is made in areas where the wall would be built.

Does the amount of drugs being stopped at various points say anything about the amount of drugs not being stopped? Not really, but if it does it says the opposite of the point wall opponents are trying to make. If large amounts are being stopped, it would imply that very small amounts are getting through, so the fact that almost all of the drugs we are stopping are stopped at legal ports of entry would imply that legal ports of entry is the least successful method of importing drugs, not the favored one as opponents of the wall suggest.

It seems to me that this means that wall opponents are making, then, an argument in favor of building the wall, rather than one against it.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The More Things Change...

"We can't wait for Congress to do its job, so where they won't act, I will."
Barack Obama, October 2011

When President Obama said that everyone cheered wildly, including Congress oddly enough, and he was hailed as a national hero. All of his executive actions, including the ones which directly reversed specific acts by Congress, were hailed as “visionary,” and were cheered lustily.

When President Trump says the same thing, he is accused of trying to be a dictator. Congress says, “You are challenging our authority and we’ll sue,” and the media says he has “created a constitutional crisis.”

All because the public failed to elect a president as decreed by the established government and its captive media.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Suspension of Disbelief

Screen writing on network television is deteriorating badly. I have no real idea as to what might be causing the problem – am open to suggestion.

In the latest episode of NCIS the scenario is that they are frantically searching for a woman who enlisted in the Navy nine years earlier but never reported for duty. She was, they earnestly declared, “their responsibility” because she had taken the oath to enlist even though she had never actually served one day.

All very noble, and enhanced by the reason for the renewal of the search, which was that her daughter had suddenly turned up. She was, it turns out, pregnant when she enlisted and disappeared. So, the Navy accepts unmarried pregnant women as enlistees? The last I heard, if you were unmarried and got pregnant, you were promptly discharged.

In a recent episode of Law & Order; Special Victims, the detectives were agonizing for the entire hour over whether they should tell the truth when they took the stand to testify, or if they should lie in order for the woman to be found not guilty of murder. They felt that the woman was justified in killing her husband; not for beating her, the woman didn’t claim that he had ever done that or even threatened to, but for years of insulting her.

I am as willing as anyone to engage in a certain amount of “suspension of disbelief” in the name of entertainment, but there are limits.

Update: Ah. As I read this after posting it, I am seeing that there is a "social justice warrior" thread having to do with women as victims, and righting the wrongs than men do against them. How could I have missed that? Two of the detectives were women and the Navy enlistee was, of course, kidnapped and held hostage by a man.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Good, The Good and The Ugly

At the season opening ARCA race the national anthem was sung respectfully and in tune by a young woman from Daytona Beach. The command to start engines was given by the marketing manager of the company sponsoring the race, and he said nothing other than, “Drivers start your engines,” without undue histrionics. Almost all of the cars finished the race intact.

There was a car in the race which was identical to a car driven in 1990 by Davey Allison; black and white with a touch of red, and the number 28 in metallic gold. Davey, you may or may not know, was the son of Winston Cup champion Bobby Allison and died in a helicopter crash in 1993 at age 32. The car yesterday was driven by Brandon MacReynolds, whose father was Davey Allison’s crew chief. I enjoyed that.

Then the “big boys” of the Monster Energy Cup series got on track and showed the ARCA youngsters how not to do it. Seven time champion Jimmie Johnson caused a 17-car pileup (only three cars were not involved in the wreck) and then blamed it on the car that he “dumped” to start the disaster.

In the booth, two announcers were saying that Jimmie “turned into” and spun Menard while Jeff Gordon, former teammate of Jimmie and future owner of Hendricks Motorsports for whom Jimmie drives, kept insisting that he had seen Menard wreck himself by turning down into Jimmie’s front bumper. Right.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Only In California

While California is busy passing laws to assure than everyone can use the bathroom of their choice, and that college students can receive “fair pay” for playing football, the streets of downtown San Francisco are awash with human feces left by the homeless population, and Los Angeles City Hall is over run by rats and is experiencing a significant Typhus outbreak.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Unintended Consequences

Democrats, especially California Democrats, have a chronic inability to “think things through” in recent times. They keep making proposals that are a mile wide and an inch deep, like taxing the rich to pay for universal health care, which turns out to actually solve only 15% of the problem.

Or creating a regulatory agency without rules and mandating that it create its own rules, and then getting upset when it creates rules that they don't like.

California Senate Bill 206, introduced by Democrats of course and dubbed the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” proposes that, “college athletes from California’s 24 public colleges and universities would be able to make money ‘as a result of the student’s name, image, or likeness.’ The universities would be prohibited from taking away scholarships from students who choose to pursue those opportunities.”

The rule against college athletes being paid for the use of their “name, image, or likeness” in advertising is issued by the NCAA (National College Athletic Association), and what they do when a college or university permits athletes to participate in intercollegiate sports when they are in violation of that rule is, they “excommunicate” that school from league participation.

So the Democrat’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” is entirely self defeating. If an athlete receives pay for the use of his/her “name, image, or likeness” and the school does not rescind that athlete’s scholarship, the school will no longer be participating in NCAA competition. When that becomes the case, the “name, image, or likeness” of the athlete is no longer of any value to advertisers, so they will no longer be offered any payments for use of their “name, image, or likeness.” Nor will any other athletes who attend that school.

I guess that does solve the problem of athletes wanting to be paid and such payments not being allowed, but I don’t think that is quite the solution that Democrats had in mind.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

The Petard Thing

Democrats are outraged, upset, and demanding intervention regarding the plan by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to “rescind a requirement that short-term, small-dollar lenders check to see if borrowers are likely to be able to repay their loans before making those loans.” The phrase “hoist on their own petard” comes to mind.

Congress, controlled by the Democratic Party at the time, created the bureau in name only and allowed it to write its own rules, which is a blatant abrogation of Congressional power. It means that a bureau which is part of the Executive Branch is making laws, something that is so far outside the scope of how the constitution defines the duties and responsibilities of the branches of government as to utterly boggle the mind.

When Congress created the CFPB, it was their duty to create the laws under which it would operate, and not only did they not do so, but Democratic supporters broke their own arms patting themselves on the back for it.

And so we have a bureaucrat appointed by a Republican president making laws because a Democratically controlled Congress created a situation which allowed that to happen. And, reaping what they have sown, Democrats are crying foul. The shame is on them. Democrats let this happen, and cheered themselves while they were doing it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Free Stuff For Everyone

“Free health care for all” is the price tag for admission to the Democratic primary election race. Don’t even enter unless you are making that promise. Everyone agrees that it will cost $3.2 trillion per year to provide that, which is about what the government spends in total right now. That presents no problem, we are told, just raise taxes on rich people.

Individual income tax revenue in total, rich and poor, is currently about $1.78 trillion. The increase on the top rate to 70% as proposed by Ocasio-Cortez, by the most optimistic projection I can find, would increase that by $20.2 billion per year. That’s less than 1% of the amount needed to fund “free health care for all,” so we’re still $3 trillion short.

Corporate taxes are about $225 billion. Let’s double that tax, oh what the hell, let’s triple that corporate income tax and pretend it won’t harm the economy. We’re down to being $2.6 trillion short.

Elizabeth Warren claims that her wealth tax, even if it proves to be constitutional, will raise $2.3 trillion, but that’s in ten years, not one year, so we find ourselves still about $2.4 trillion short.

So “taxing the rich” pays barely one fourth the cost of “free health care for all,” and we haven’t touched yet on covering the cost of “free college education for everybody” and the “Green New Deal” that Democrats are promising.

A relatively sane Democrat will counter with the argument that taxing to cover the cost of “free health care” would cost less than paying health insurance premiums, copays and deductibles. The individual cost to cover the $2.4 trillion balance above would come to $8,125 per person, or $32,500 for a family of four. I’ll leave it to you to compare that to what you are paying now, but it certainly isn’t “free health care.”

Monday, February 04, 2019

Superbowl Observations

It was an excellent game if you like defense, which I do. The Rams defense was better than the Patriots defense, notwithstanding the outcome, and it was the Rams coaching that was the eventual determinant. The officiating had a couple of glitches, but for the most part the officials tried to stay out of the game.

There was one call for "hit on a defenseless player" after the catch of a pass that was bogus. It was not helmet-to-helmet, the tackler wrapped his arms around the receiver's shoulders, and the announcing "rules specialist" said it was because the hit was too quick - the receiver had not had time to "establish himself as a runner" before the tackle was made. That was utter nonsense by everyone involved in the call, making it and justifying it, but it had no effect whatever on the game.

The Rams defense did what a defense needs to do to stop the Patriots. They applied consistent pass rush pressure up the middle and made Tom Brady throw the ball when he didn’t really want to throw it. (CBS did a very poor job of showing that, although they did mention it.) That gave up a couple of halfway decent runs, and it didn’t stop all of the pass completions, but it did stop the Patriots from making long drives and scoring.

Point one of the Rams coaching failure was that near the end of the game with the score tied they decided to reduce the "attack defense" and focus more on secondary coverage - a "light" version of the infamous "prevent defense." The Patriots, of course, drove the length of the field for the game's first touchdown.

The Patriots defense also was excellent, but benefited from the larger coaching error by the Rams - not playing their own game on offense. The Rams' normal game is to use misdirection running with trap blocking and, when that causes the secondary to inch closer, they throw the ball over the top of the linebackers. They did not even attempt any of that last night. They started passing right out of the gate, and when they did run the ball they ran straight ahead in a power game. That is not their game and it failed miserably.

They did run Tod Gurley twice on misdirection, where he cut back just before the line of scrimmage. It gained 14 yards one time and 11 yards the other, and they had some success passing afterward, but they went right back to straight ahead power running in the next possession and were three and out.

Tony Romo kept commenting that the Patriot defenders were going straight ahead, "not going side to side like most teams do against the Rams." That observation was not as brilliant as he thinks it was. (Very little that Tony Romo says is as brilliant as he thinks it is.) Most teams go sideways against the Rams because, against most teams, the Rams run sideways and then frequently cut back. That is their game. They were not doing it in the Superbowl. They were running straight ahead, and the proper counter to that is for a defense to attack straight ahead.

In summary, the Patriots played their game and won doing it. The Rams got “clever,” did not play their game, and lost. Good game, though.

I won’t even talk about the halftime show. Yeccch. The commercials were unadulterated, endless virtue signalling. I don’t drink beer any more, but if I did I would not choose a brand because no dinosaurs died in producing the electric power that was used to brew it.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Things That Are Not Surprising

A judge rejected a lawsuit filed by two New Orleans ticket holders to have the NFC Championship game replayed due to a blown call for pass interference. Those two ticket holders will just have to continue suffering from the "denial of the enjoyment of life" that the NFL imposed on them.