Thursday, January 31, 2013

You Are More Likely....

to get strangled, kicked, or beaten to death than you are to get killed by a "Assault" Rifle according to the FBI UCR.  Given that there were only 323 positively identified rifle homicides in America last year, out of the near 14,000 that have occurred according the FBI, it seems that if we want to decrease the homicide rate, and we should, going after assault rifles seems to be a pretty stupid way to do it.

And according to Slate, there are 2.4 million legally acquired assault rifles in the hands of Americans. Meaning that any given legally assault rifle has a 1.3%* chance of ever being used to commit a homicide. Now factor in that there are some, in my opinion most, gun homicides done with guns that were illegally acquired, that ratio would have to go down. The facts are clear. Legal gun ownership posses no risk to the American public.

*Addendum Slate estimates a total of 3.75 million Assault Riffles in America. That would drop the chance of being murdered by one even lower using the UCR. About .08%, that is less than 1%. Once again, America certainly does have a murder problem, but trying to make the case that banning legal owner ship of "Assault" Rifles wouldn't make an impact, especially when we consider how many of those 323 were committed with legally versus illegally owned rifles.


 First vampires and now zombies, what's next? A torrid love affair between the son of the prince of darkness, a.k.a Satan, and a shy and quiet girl that somehow gets all the boys even though she has a personality of a rock?

Observations: I am an American vs I am an American Citizen

I was watching a movie, TED, and there was a particular scene where the bear is kidnapped and hey starts saying he is an American citizens and that he has rights. It's innocuous, and the movie probably didn't mean anything by it, but I've been mulling on it anyways. What significance is there in saying 'I am an American citizen' versus 'I am an American' and I could see many people saying that differentiating the two is simply splitting hairs. But there is a difference, a big one, as they convey two separate identities. 

The two different phrases, while ostensibly describing the same person, an American is also an American citizen and it would appear to be vice verca, there is something at play.  The difference between the two phrases is the same difference between a nation, and a nation state. Individuals that study history and geopolitics know that a nation state is different from a nation.  Ideally, a nation state is simply the political organization and geopolitical boundaries that encompasses a nation.  Think Japan and Japanese, yes there are some minorities such as the naturalized Koreans and the Ainu, but their numbers are a mere fraction of the dominant people of the Island. 

In some instances a nation state borders does not encompass a single nation of people, think of the Kurds, whose people are split between Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran and Armenia. If you have paid attention to the news these last 20 years, it has been no small source of instability and tension in the region.  This isn't always the case, the United States has the various Indian nations, but once again their population is too small to be a source of instability, and the United Kingdom has been very stable in its 300 plus years of existence; There is talk of partitioning of Scotland out of the U.K, but I do not think it will happen.

Now, for the United Kingdom, they illustrate the difference between considering themselves a national or citizen of a nation.  Every person living in the United Kingdom is a British citizen and given their shared culture, trails and tribulations you would think they would think of themselves as British. However, talk to someone living in Glasgow, Cardiff, London, or Belfast, most individuals in these regions do not think of themselves as British, they are Scottish, Welsh, English, or Irish and this is self evident because if the people did think of themselves as British, then devolution wouldn't even be discussed.

Now, the British Isle could eventually have it's residents think of themselves a s British, national identities take a long time to form, and Great Britain has only existed for a couple hundred years. Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales as we think of them today have existed for over a thousands years.  But it could happen, three thousand years ago the Italian peninsula was a collection of competing tribes that spoke different languages, and it wasn't until the iron fist of Rome held it in unity for almost a thousand years, did an Italian identity really develop.

So how does this relate to America?  The United States is an anomaly in that regard as most individuals I have meet throughout the country think of themselves as American. I have spoken with people from the south that identify as Southerners and dudes from Texas that call themselves Texans, however, they will also say that they are American. It's a dual identity, one that I cannot identify with because I am not from that part of the country, but they still think of themselves as Americans, ad it is extraordinary.  This nation is only a few hundred years old, but it has managed to create a national identity in a short period of time, which has helped keep our country stable, however, recent cultural trends threaten this stability.

This isn't a post against immigration, far from it, as this nation was built upon immigrants and has enjoyed almost unrivalled success in spite of everything that history has told us should happen. This was largely due to the willingness to take who ever would come, but with the expectation that they would become American, that they would leave their old world traditions behind, and adopt new ones.

At the turn of the last century this was articulated as the melting pot idea of immigration. Pour in a bunch of different metals, heat it up, purge it of the impurities, and create a new metal stronger than anything that it was made out of.  Japanese, French, Russia, Jewish, Italian, Cuban, Indian so on and so forth, put it through the crucible of America, and you would get an American. It served the country very well but in today's progressive age, it is considered to ethno-centric, and the salad bowl, multicultural idea of America, came into being.

Now, instead of Americans, people who may look different and come from different lands but bound together by a shared culture and purpose, we get American citizens.  These are individuals that posses the rights and privileges of being a member of the polity, but they don't necessarily identify with their country of citizenship, it would be far more accurate to call them citizens of the United States.  Their numbers aren't widespread, but they do exist. The best example of these types of individuals are people who come to this nation, stay long enough to make their fortune, get their citizenship, and then they return to their home nation, all the while never giving up their citizenship to the United States.

It might perplex Americans, especially those who now how Byzantine and expensive our legal immigration and citizenship laws are, why anyone would do this, but there is a reason. Citizenship to the United States confers advantages. I met one man in Korea, a very devout and brave man, he once faced execution in North Korea as an accused spy, who had become a United States citizen, but now resides in Korea. When asked by a newspaper why he retained American citizenship, his answer was simple, and to the point, 'You guys (Americans) are like the Roman Empire. Americans can go to other countries far easier than many others.' 

The man was very forthright with his response, and I don't blame the man at all, he paid his dues and acquired citizenship, if he wishes to return home to his people and keep American citizenship then so be it, but I mention it to illustrate a point. He, and others like him, are not Americans, they don't say they are, but they are American citizens.  Whether we will admit it our not a persons loyalty is to their family, friends, and people, the state comes afterwards. Just look at the "Americans" who went back to their country, or parents country of origin, to fight against us. We can call them traitors, and ask how they could attack their country,but you have to understand, they were never Americans.

This issue is admittedly minor. America, despite the citizen of the world none-sense pushed by globalist progressives, is a very patriotic nation. Love of country isn't a dirty concept in America, how much some self loathing Americans might wish to to be, and we are rapidly seeing that globalists progressives best efforts in Europe, that it isn't there either. But it is a potential issue.

Once again I refer to Rome who, at the end of their empire, at millions of citizens, but few Romans. I mentioned in my post about the Constitutio Antioninia that Rome started to suffer a manpower crisis after extending citizenship, because the major impetus to get non-Romans to join, citizenship, was removed. They had what they wanted, the benefits of being associated with Rome, so why bleed for Rome, after all, they were Celts, Germanics, Iberians, Dacians, Thracians and Greeks, not Romans, let Romans bleed for Rome.  It's strange to think ,that an empire encompassing a quarter of the worlds population, was overcome by a couple of hundred thousand barbarians.  When the Celts assaulted the eternal city a thousand years before the fall every man in Rome, and almost every Latin and Italian allied to Rome, stood up against them and ultimately prevailed. And they prevailed because they were defending their home, their people, their 'patria'. The Empire fell because the various factions of Rome turned inward, to their own people, rather than assist their supposed brethren, after all, they were all Romans weren't they?

Culture matters, this is something we can never forget. I do not care who my neighbors and countrymen are, be they Jew, Islamic, Christian, Black, Asian, or White, it makes no difference to me so long as they share my culture, my American culture.  And this is something globalists need to understand, it took almost 12,000 years, since the settling of Jericho, and the beginnings of the city state, for the modern concept of the nation state to develop. It seems utterly foolhardy to think that we can advance humanity to the next stage of interconnection, the world nation state, that is a mere fraction of the time that it took for the nation to come into being.

Fortunately for us, in all the battles that we will have to fight, the infantilization of our country, statism, corruption this one is probably the easiest. It doesn't require a large government policy, in fact I think government action would hurt this cause, and it only requires that we speak out against the globalist nonsense and refuse to be shamed by those who would argue that patriotism is something to be ashamed of. It's a war of ideas, and the battlefield is in our favor in this one, but we must never give an inch. I will not apologize for being patriotic, nor do I equivocate or back track when individuals dare say that my expectations that people assimilate and become American is provincial/racist/close minded, I dismiss those arguments for the foolish ones that they are, and I have said outright that I consider citizen of the world idea an infantile one. We (the West) can offered to think this way (for now) due our position in the world, but it would be a grievous mistake to think that national sentiments do not exist elsewhere in the world and that in our coming struggles that nations will not act out on their sentiments.

For those who would say that I am advocating a kind of nationalism that resulted in two terrible World Wars, I would first reply and say that you need to study why those wars actually happened, and I would then also say that I am not. A realistic world view is not something to be turned away from, nations and people act out in their own self interest, it is simply the macro version of what human beings do on a daily basis, and it doesn't mean you cannot come into accommodation. The citizen of the world concept is far more dangerous to global peace and stability than accepting the reality of national differences. Just look at what the EU wrought in Greece, their (the EU) efforts to try and stifle national sentiment in favor of a trans-European identity, that does not innately exist, has resulted in the rise of Islamic violence, but of course the butchering of a youth in England is not related to that now is it, and counter extreme national retaliation, and it all resulted because the EU tried to create a nation of European citizens before there was a unified sense of Europeans among them. We must not make the same mistake as Europe.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fight Tyranny

Long story short, decorated vet faces 35 years due to NY magazine ban. He is not a rich newscaster so there is little chance that he will be let off like a certain David Gregory, and he does not have the funds to defend himself. His brother has instituted a gofundmepage and I have already donated what I can. If you cannot donate, then spread the word. This cannot stand!

His Excellency: The Greatest American Ever

Tim's answer to question one made me chuckle, it was a good answer, that who governs least governs best. William Harrison certainly fit that description, but that, along with question number 4, made me think about my favorite president, who is my hero, and committed the most important act in American history.  It is easily the most important event in our history, yet it is not widely taught in our schools, it is not celebrated, and it occured before the Constitution was even signed. Incidently enough, the event occurs right next to Christmas, and I think it fitting, as it is the greatest gift we Americans have ever recieved.

Because on that day December 23, 1776, General George Washington Commander in Chief of the Continental Armies of America formally resigned his military commission and returned military power back to the continental congress. George Washington could have used his armies to claim a crown, and many of his soldiers wanted him to do just that, yet George Washington refused to do so. And in the tradition of the great Cincinnatus voluntarily gave up absolute power.

This act was so monumentous, and unheard of, that even King George expressed admiration for the man. It is just as impressive today as it was over 200 years ago. Did Castro return power to the people? Did Lenin. Did Mao? No they did not. In my mind, George Washington's act, is one of the very reasons why we did not suffer under a reign of terror, unlike revolutionary France, and it set the tone of our nation from the get go. How could any other man think of grabbing the reigns of power, when George Washington, known as His Excellency by his men, refused to do so?

For this reason, and this reason alone, George Washington is the only man ever to have deserved the presidency.  He is the only man that can honestly claim to have occupied the office without ever desiring power because his previous actions almost two decades ago when he refused power.  I have few men that I idolize, that I think of as heroes, who I can say that I love. George Washington is among those men.

Mr. Washington, is the greatest American ever.

China Working Population Decreasing

Demographics is destiny, it is something that I believe is true, and have used one of the many reasons why China will not be the next super power. Their demographic outlook is poor, and no society ever thrived while in demographic decline.  Essentially a lot of analysts have summarized China's situation as 'they will get old before they get rich.'  This is a known problem in China, but like all governments, their own has failed to even try and mend the situation. But there maybe a reason why, they may have already gone over the edge.

According to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, via Gordon Chang at Forbes, announced that 2012 saw a decline in the working age population from 2011 to 2012. And some demographers have postulated that 2010 was the year of peak employment numbers for China.  This is not good, as it essentially means China has gone over the event horizon.  While China had expected their peak population age to peak, it wasn't supposed to do so for another four years.  The fact that it has happened earlier raises another specter. 

It is estimated that China's population will start declining in absolute numbers around 2030, however, if peak employment as occurred before expected, then this means that peak population might occur sooner than anticipated. In fact, according to Gordon, some Chinese officials now expect the population peak to occur in 2020, fully 10 years before the official estimates.

The threat of a top heavy population distribution curve is well articulated in the United States, it is one of the reasons why we have unfunded liabilities around $ 80 trillion, but as bad as that is for America, Europe and Japan, wealthy industrialized nations, this is even worse for China. China, based off of 2011 statistics a per capita of just under $5,000, making it 114th according to the world Bank. Argentina, which just barely squeaks by into the highly developed category, had an income of just under $ 11,000 in 2011. And for nations that have traditionally been considered '1st world', Britain, with an HDI of .86 has an income per capital of over $ 38,000 in 2011.

To just reach the level Argentina is at now, China would have to double their income in the next 10 years.  While China has experienced tremendous income growth over the last decade, it becomes harder to have exponential gains as time goes on, and given the global economic outlook. It would be very difficult for China to repeat its feat. Adding in China's real estate/infrastructure/government money bubble, and the outlook isn't good.

Progessivism and The New Noblesse Oblige

Hierarchical structures have existed throughout human history, ever since man was first able to walk on two feet and grip his rudimentary tools.  The feudalistic system of the middle ages was a direct off evolution of the patronage system of ancient Rome, which started out as an informal agreement between a benefactor and benefactee and only became formalized into the feudalistic system with the collapse of the Roman economic system, and the concept of betters leading, or guiding, their lessors have direct roots to our first governing system, the tribal system.

It is easy to see why so many individuals are drawn to government solutions, after all, our human brain is geared to operate in small tribal communities lead by a chieftain, in wolf packs we would call him the alpha, and given the relatively small size of tribes, no more than a hundred or so individuals, the system worked relatively well. After all, if it didn't, we wouldn't be here today now would we? Our societies have evolved, but the evolution isn't nearly so large as we would like to think. It is  simply complex reiterations of the basic tribal systems, I mean, if tribal thinking isn't still inherent in modern man then how can you explain the almost fanatical attachment individuals have to regional sports teams? Or just look at the social cliques of high school kids.

Rule By The Nobility Never
Really Went Away
I mention this only to offer some contextual back ground to my post.  Because, with the evolution of our tribal system into larger and more complex systems, certain concepts were articulated.  One concept, noblesse oblige, articulated a rule that was meant to not only prevent abuse of privilege by the elite, but also stipulate that the privileged inherited grave responsibility.  Noblesse oblige has existed as long as formal human social structures have existed, but it wasn't until given the name it has now until the early 19th century by the French. It has been used to articulate the need of nobility to act honorably and justly to their less privilege compatriots, and also, by the morally bereft to justify the cruelty of tyrants.

This is something we need to understand, libertarianism isn't natural, it isn't an innate part of human nature, it has to be discovered and wrestled with rationally. People who do not admit that they have to wrestle the way human beings work with libertarianism, for example the perennially stupid making perennially stupid decisions, and that they have never felt doubt about their ideology, well they are lying, or just no examining their beliefs hard enough.  Ultimately, libertarianism is an intellectual decision, of the mind, not one of our instincts. This is why so many human beings continue to elect individuals that support policies that we do not understand, they are using the instincts, rather than their rational. It wouldn't be so terrible if our instincts weren't woefully out of synch with how complex societies operate.

With this background we move onto progressivism. Now progressivism isn't really all that new, yes some of the causes of progressivism are new, and aren't necessarily diametrically opposed to libertarianism, but the solutions they propose are nothing new. And in fact I should state now, many of the solutions proposed by traditional conservatives are also nothing new. The idea that social ills must be addressed by the state. This is were the variant strains of libertarianism diverge from progressivism and conservatism. 

One of the biggest tenants of progressivism is that the state must ensure that we are all equal. I call these progressives equalists. This isn't the notional that everyone should be treated equal under the law, I support that equalism, but that every one should be equal, i.e those with more give to those with less and that special favors be given to disadvantaged groups to 'level' the playing field.  I have made my, contempt, for such a system abundantly clear so I won't say much more on the matter. I will say that most equalists aren't a huge threat to our society. They will one day be forced to deal with the reality that no, not all people are equal, and when that day comes, provided they don't become mentally unhinged, they can be reasoned with.  It is a different strain of progressivism that worries me, the progressives who would consider themselves, whether consciously or unconsciously, the new nobility of America, those are the progressives that worry me.

While some of these progressives who view themselves as our nobility are equalists, in the end I think they make up a minority, and don't hold that much sway.  You see, living in a progressive city, I can attest to one thing. Not all progressives are equalists, in fact, I have met many who aren't.   They have come right out and said they do not think all people inherently are equal. This scares me. The fact that they don't think all people are 'equal' doesn't bother me, I do not think that myself, but being libertarian, I am content with everyone being treated equal under the law, and then let everyone live their own lives the best they can. Not so with the non-equalist progressive.

I can understand the allure of 'equalism' and the desire of some progressives to achieve that magical state were everyone is truly equal. It will never happen, there will never be 100% parity in representation, salary, power, or intellect, the challenge is beyond our capabilities or our systems and attempting to do so will harm society in the long run, but the intentions are well meaning. But the non-equalist progressive, well that is a contradiction.  Here we have an individual that admits that individuals are not, can not, and will not ever be equal to each other, yet they support equalist policies. The question is, why? Surely a person, who knows the utter fallacy that is equalism, that these policies will only cause ruin

The answer, I believe, is advancement. Individuals, who knowingly support policies that are ultimately futile, do so because they believe they derive some benefit from them.  'Yes,' they might rationalize to themselves, 'I can see how policy x really doesn't work, but it benefits me, helps me move up the ladder, and because it does so, I will support it.'  Millions, or even Billions, of dollars wasted. The discussion of competent individuals because they are not a protected group? It doesn't matter so long as the policy helps them achieve their ultimate destination.

There is also another aspect at play. That is the unfortunate reality that human beings like telling human beings what to do. As much as it is true that human beings form hierarchical social structures in nature, it is also true that humans, outside a select few, like being the leader, or at least enjoy the perks that leaders enjoy. Moreover, these type of individuals excel in a particular eviroment, one favored by major corporations and governments.  You can get truly exceptional individuals of great talent and intellect, but history is replete with those type of individuals being cast out, only to have them return when they shake the very foundations of whatever world, think of Steve Jobs.

And that is why they support big government, ultimately it isn't even the politics, it's knowing that whatever cause the government takes up, a new opportunity arises. Calls for government to regulate and dictate an aspect of Americans lives that hadn't been overseen before? Great, it's another opportunity to become the chief undersecretary to the secretary of the deputy director of the department of fuzzy bunnies. It's another opportunity to become part of the technocratic ruling class.

All modern progressivism is today, what it has devolved into, is the concept of noblesse oblige. But rather than the nobility be conferred hereditarily, it is awarded by credentialism. The ring you are expected to kiss is now the ring with the most certificates, diplomas, unviersities and fellowships under his or her belt.  It is the perversion of the meritocracy, were one's status is based off of their actual accomplishments, into the technocracy, were ones status is based on how many of the right kind of documented accomplishments one has.

Economy Contracted Lasted Quarter of 2012

Well it looks like the last quarter of 2012 saw the contraction we all expected. Does this mean the economic dice have finally fallen into place? Not likely, I imagine that the release of this news will spur ever more priming and pumping, however, while the contraction was small, just .1 percent annual rate, this is a marked decline given that the quarter before saw 3.1% annualized growth.

However, even if this contraction is just a minor blip, and it's hard to say given how much government distorts actual economic production today, the news is still not good. Economists predict that we need the economy to grow at least at the rate it did during the third quarter of 2012 if we want to lower unemployment. Economic growth in 2012 was officially 2.2 percent.  My question though, is how much of that was self sustained private sector growth, versus growth spurred on by the government.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Seattle Gun By Back

Well the times is touting that the gun buy back program this last weekend yielded a missile launcher, naturally it was inoperable so the only danger it poses is the possibility of a rather nasty bruise if you hit someone with it.

I drove by it this weekend, and couldn't help but laugh at the whole ordeal, the paper does mention that there were guys sitting on the periphery trying to buy firearms, either to keep or to sell and split the difference, but it didn't mention how many of those guys there were.  There were a lot. I counted at least a dozen on the section of road I was on, and there could have been many more that I didn't see.

I don't have anything against the city instituting this sort of program, especially when the funds were privately donated and do not come from the cities coffers.  But make no mistake, this gun buy back isn't about making people safer, it is a public relations event. It makes the city look good, and the mayor was able to make this statement:

Officers saw guns changing private hands without knowing whether the person buying the gun had the legal right to buy it, and those transactions are occurring all the time
A shrewd move on his part, and if there are any gun rights activists out there, a rather short sighted one on theirs. I believe the threat of private sales is overstated, especially the so called gun show loophole, but at the same time, if the state institutes a requirement for a background check for private sales I can't imagine it receiving a lot of opposition. Provided that they don't charge an obscene amount for it. But this is another discussion for another blog.

The city announced that they collected around 716 firearms, and at this point had confirmed that 4 of them had been stolen.  Now there could have been many more, I don't know how long it takes to confirm proper ownership of a firearm, and given private transfers we may never know exactly how many of those firearms were legitimately or illicitly acquired. But as a gun enthusiast, I could tell you one thing, the reason why I was laughing, wasn't because I thought the city was wasting their time, they knew what they were doing. But because the crowd was so foolish.

Outside rusted and inoperable hunks, and I am willing to wager more than a few of those firearms were exactly that, the vast majority are worth far more, even used, than the $100 to $200 gift card offered by the city.  Here is my take away, there is almost no possibility that real gun owners were a part of the crowd in my mind, save those just pawning off firearms that aren't worth the metal they are made out of (incidentally I heard that one of the donors to the gun buy back was a company that deals in scrap metal, but don't quote me on that).  I bet you the guns were either stolen, since the gun buy back is no questions asked, junk, or individuals that ended up with a firearm that never wanted one; I'm thinking of hipster Henry and hipstress Jane ending up with dead uncle needs 1911 that they just kept in the closet because they didn't know what to do with the icky icky gun.

I've heard that the city is thinking of instituting another gun buy back, and I won't lie, I am tempted to get a wad of bills and see if I can nab a 1911 on the cheap. But there are also some real drawbacks to doing something like that as well.

*Addendum. I was persuing some of the Times forums and I read an article that claims one of his friends was working at the buy back program. According to him, most of the firearms were either cheap knock offs, too old to use modern ammo, or broken in some way were the repair cost would have exceeded the value of the firearm.  Third party heresay from the internet I know, but I'd thought I'd share it anyways.

Presidential Politics: Obama's Power Class

Joel Kotkin has a great article talking about how the clerisy, as he calls the conglomeration of academia, government bureaucrats, and information and 'green' companies, will benefit from Obama's second term. What is also interesting is the rivalling power class, traditional big business, bankers, and other east coast institutions, had benefited greatly under Obama, but backed Romney anyways. In some ways you could call their backing an attempted fail coup, but this is normal in politics.

While the results of the presidential election matter little for everyday Americans, since Romney and Obama didn't really differ that much on policies that would have actually affected the average American, the elections are a big deal for the power class. It serves as a good reminder that the halls of power are not occupied by one set of elite, but like the scheming feudal lords of old, different groups of 'nobility' each vying for their own influence.  Banks and traditional business, lost this round. Academia, bureaucrats and green industries have won big time.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Part III: The Social War

Individuals who follow my blog know that I spend a lot of time comparing the United States to Rome, specifically the Rome of the late republic.  The reason why I do so is because I do see a lot of similarities between the two polities, politically and culturally. Late republic Rome had to deal with it's new found position as the biggest power in the Mediterranean and growing internal strain due to inequality, lack of opportunity, growing entitlements, and abuse of their constitutional system, all leading to a series of crises that helped lead to the end of the republic.

Currently America finds itself in a rare position of near unchallenged power and growing internal issues are starting to tear apart the traditional fabric that lead America to be a great, and more importantly, free nation.  Previously wrote about Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, and how their attempts at addressing some reason social issues that troubled Rome, by running roughshod over their constitution, had long term ramifications that lead to the ultimate downfall of the republic.  The Social war is one of these long term items I refer too, though the point is relatively minor.

Now, the Social war is perhaps one of the events that bears the least similarity to the United States as it stands now. I cannot think of anything approximating the social war that we have gone through in the last century, or will about to go through in the near future. An event like the Social War today would have to entail that America's allies wage a war against the United States with the end goal of obtaining citizenship. This isn't going to happen, largely because our alliance structure as it stands now is more beneficial to our allies than the Romans alliance structure was for theirs around that time.

I mention the social war, because I do think the actions of Tiberius and Gaius do relate, however minutely, but more importantly, it is a great example of what happens when a known problem is ignored until it becomes critical. Tiberius had campaigned for allied citizenship back in 133 B.C and the Social War didn't break out until 91 B.C, which means the Romans knew of this problem for at least four decades, and quiet possibly longer, but failed to address this issue. In short, the Social War was an entirely unnecessary war, thousands dies that need not of died, and this war was the impetus for the civil wars between Marius and Sulla.  There is no guarantee that the Republic would not have collapsed if it were not for this war, I think the Republics eventual demise was a given after the Gracchi brothers, but the war was the first noticeably large brick that fell out of the foundation of Rome. And that is why I feel compelled to write about it, because it serves as a stark reminder for the living today the potentially dire consequences that can be reaped when we ignore what we sow.

Before I continue I, once again, recommend that you go to this and listen to this podcast about the Social War.  It's a good podcast to listen too if your doing some menial task work.  Now onto the rest of the blog itself, there is a lot that plays into the Social War that I won't cover, such as the distribution of colonies and what happened with Roman versus non-Roman colonies, but that could a very long time. I am going to try to keep this blog post as streamlined as possible.

The catalyst for the Social War was the assassination of populist tribune Marcus Livius Drusus the younger, who had attempted to address Romans allies growing discontent with the current political order by trying to get citizenship extended to them. This is interesting for two reasons, one, his father was elected as a tribune to the people, by members of the conservative party, in order to stymie Gaius Gracchus. His son was a populist and had enjoyed some success securing greater participation of the wealthy plebeians, the equestrians, into the political system.  His downfall came when he tried to press his luck and address an issue that was beginning to boil over. And this is where the second interesting point comes in, Drusus was partially responsible for the death of Gaius by the mob, and Tiberius was responsible for the breaking of the personal sanctity of the Tribune, by having his supporters forcibly remove a rival tribune. Both these instances are seen when Marcus Drusus, whose body is sacred as long he is a tribune, is stabbed by an unknown assailant and died.

However, unlike Gaius, where the mob was instrumental in his death, it is most likely that a paid assassin from one of the conservatives senators was responsible. The reasons for the assassination stem from reports, though solid unbiased information from this period is difficult to find, that some of the senators had found out that Drusus had made agreements with the Italian allies. The allies would become his patrons in exchange for his pushing through a citizenship bill. If this were true then it would have made Drusus a very powerful man, the most powerful man in Rome. On the flip side, others have said that Drusus was simply trying to include more wealthy Italian patricians, which would have shifted the balance of power back to the Senate and away from the demagogue Tribunes that had come into being with the rise of the Gracchi brothers.

The sins of Tiberius and Gaius had come full circle, now even the senators were blatantly ignoring the laws set down by their countries constitution, and like Gods punishment on Cain for his fratricide, the Social War was the punishment meted out for the breaking of their cities covenant.  For a long time the allies of Rome had become increasingly restless, and it was Drusus alone, who promised enfranchisement, that kept them at bay.

The allies were part of a confederation, with Rome at it's head, that was something not quiet as strong as a federation of states into a nation and not quiet as week as a military alliance, like NATO today. Essentially, it was a hegemonic relationship with Rome. Roman allies would be guaranteed protection by Rome in exchange for letting Rome dictate foreign policy while still maintaining sovereignty domestically. Additionally, during military campaigns, Roman allies would make up half of all the military units mustered, with the other half being comprised of Roman citizens and the spoils of war would be shared equally.

Italians benefited from this arrangement since the enjoyed protection from foreign aggression from Rome, their individual military burden was lessened, and they maintained their sovereignty, at least domestically. For the Romans, it ensured that they wouldn't have to worry about being attacked by their neighbors, their military force would be supplemented so it lowered their own individual burden, and they got to dictate when and were the forces would fight.  This set up lasted for hundreds of years, and even Hannibal was unable to get Romes allies to break ranks during his invasion.

However, with the land crisis of the mid to late 2nd century BC, and growing corruption by the senatorial class, began to change all this.  Other Italian and Latin cities had the same sociological make up as the Romans, with their own patricians and plebeians. For the Italian patricians, even though they did not enjoy say in policy of Rome, they benefited from the arraignment. Yes, many were frustrated that Roman patricians were increasingly taking a greater share of the spoils of war, however, they also benefited from the growing impoverishment of plebeians, and were able to also acquire tracts of land as well.  They were second class citizens, but they benefited from the arraignment since their interests were largely the same as the patrician Romans. Gaius and Tiberius changed all that.

The land reforms implemented saw the lands of the Italian patricians being confiscated and given away to Roman plebeians. This was a grave insult to the patricians, and it reminded them, that yes, they were patricians like the Romans, but they were second class citizens. The dregs of Rome mattered more than the gentry folk of non-Roman citizens. This had effectively started to regionalize the alliance, and regional differences are often the seeds of civil war.

It is telling though, that it took almost forty years for war to break out, the political leaders of the allied cities did not want to fight Rome, they felt that alliance with Rome served their best interest, but they increasingly viewed the situation as intolerable. It was only when political options had been completely exhausted, in the eyes of the allies, that war was considered. It is also a testament of the stupidity of the elected leaders of Rome, there was no reason why this war couldn't have been prevented, but the leaders of Rome continued to stick their heads in ground and tell themselves that if it hadn't happened in 133 B.C then it wouldn't in 123 B.C, then 113 BC, and finally, in 91 B.C it finally did. This should serve a stark reminder to us, because our politicians are doing exactly what the patrician senators did in regards to our national debt and growing socialism.  It may take half a century or more for the ills of ignoring poor policy to be felt, but eventually they will be felt.

After the assassination of Drusus the younger the Italian allies formed their own confederation, complete with a capital city, Corfinium, their own senate, consul, praetors, quaestors, and magistrates. It was just like the Roman confederation, save that Rome wasn't a part of it.  Both the allies and Rome knew this couldn't be solved peaceably, so they mustered their legions. However, at this point, fully 60% of Romes legions had been made up of allied soldiers.  Rome was severely understrengthed for the fight ahead.

At first war went very poorly. Rome faced enemies to the north and south, and a much smaller military force than it had historically commanded. Consul P. Rutilius was defeated in several engagements up north, until he was finally killed in battle, which prompted Marius, who I will write about later, to come out fo self exile and campaign in the north.  In the south, several towns were captured and sacked by the Italians until Lucius Julius Caesar, father of Gaius Julius Caesar, was able to defeat the Italians in a crucial battle.

It had become all too clear to the Caesar at this point that the resolution of the allied conflict was impossible with out granting citizenship.  There were simply too many cities for Rome to hold down by military force, and revolts would continue to break out, weakening Rome in the Mediterranean, and possibly leaving it vulnerable to a new power in the future.  With this in mind, Lucius Julius Caesar proposed the Lex Julia, which granted citizenship to any Italian who was not in revolt, and also to any allied city that immediately put down their arms.  For most Italians, this was exactly what they had fought for, so they put down their arms and swore allegiance to Rome. Nevertheless, a few formerly allied cities, held out and continued their war. And a war that was already interesting, becomes even more so, because it is in these final years of the Social War that you begin to see the seeds of conflict between Sulla and Marius as well as the rise of Pompey clan.

Lucius Julius Caesars time as consul was over and Sulla had returned from praetorship and was granted command in the south. Instead of picking Marius to lead the armies, as he had made many enemies in the Senate, they one of his opponents Caepio, for the command in the north. Caepio was killed in battle, but Marius was slighted again, when Pompeius, father of Pompey the Great, was picked to lead the Roman armies.  This wounded Marius pride greatly, and it was became worse when Sulla, victorious in his campaign down south and formally ending the Social War, was elected to a consulship.

The Social War is the last time that Rome, and her various factions, are unified as one people..I mark the end of the republic, in regards to the Roman constitution, with the tribuneships of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.  Marius and Sulla mark the end of the republic as a political entity governed by the senate.  The next few decades will see bloody purges, civil wars, the first triumvirate, the second triumvirate, and finally Augustus.  Less than 60 years later, the republic had completely consumed itself. August, learning from the murder of his uncle, and adoptive father, Julius Caesar, would rule discreetly and behind the scenes, keeping the charade of the republic alive.  But the republic by that time was well and truly dead.

There is no indication that this would not have eventually happened to Rome even if they had avoided the Social War.  A growing class of plebeians dependent on the patronage of wealthy patricians for sustenance would have eventually resulted in a man powerful enough to try and grab the reigns of the most powerful nation in the ancient world, he only needed the ambition.  But the Social War certainly exacerbated the problem.  What probably would have been a slow decline of the republic, ended up ending quiet rapidly. Caesar was a boy when the Social Wars had started, and the Senate still a viable, if horribly corrupt, governing entity.  By the time he crossed the Rubicon 41 years later, the senate had become completely impotent.

Next in the series of the decline of the Republic, Marius and Sulla, bloody purges, and civil wars.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stratfor: Columbia's Geographic Challenge and Pacific Neighbors Reacting to China's Pacific Moves

It's been a busy weekend so blogging took a back seat.  Here are two good videos from Stratfor. One on the geographic challenge posed for Columbia. The other talks about various Pacific countries reacting to the growing strength of China.

Friday, January 25, 2013

When Patriots Speak

The self serving rhetoric of statist is shown for the power grab that it is.

MBA's And The Chinese

I hope they don't buy that kind of schlock like we did in the states. I once considered an MBA program, and then while studying for it, I realized that it would have been a colossal waste of time. How exactly do you teach management and leadership skills in a program? The answer is you really can't. The best way to learn is on the field from someone you think is a good leader, it's far cheaper than a degree, and far more effective.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pierce Morgan Statistical Cherry Picking

Piers Morgan keeps citing his, "Only 35 people are killed by firearms a year in Great Britain." It is a great example of cherry picking a statistic, since he is only focusing on one section of violent crime, and conveniently ignoring the fact that knives are the preferred murder weapon of choice, and he is skewing the statistics, using all gun homicide deaths rather than just deaths by rifles, to try and make assault rifles out as the problem.  Sprinkle in some emotional rhetoric about not wanting to see children killed, as if we gun right supporters don't want that, and you got a compelling argument for those who are ignorant of guns and the actual statistics.

I am going to do the same, twisting the statistics, however, unlike Mr. Morgan, I am telling you up front what I am doing. I will take the number of deaths recorded in the FBI's UCR that can knowingly be attributed to rifles and coming up with a per population statistic. I will then be comparing it to the firearm homicide rate of Great Britain. Now I tried to get the data from their equivalent to the FBI, but their data services are terrible compared to ours. I am sure I could find a specific breakdown of homicides with firearms, but it isn't as easy to find, and for my purposes I don't need it. Unfortunately I will use wikipedia to find the homicide statistic I need.

This says that in 2009 Great Britain had a firearm homicide rate of .07 per 100,000 people. There will be some mix and match here as I will be using data from the FBI UCR of 2011.  Rifle homicides in 2011 were 323 and divide that by the population estimate and multiply that by 100,000 and you get .10.  So yes, our rifle homicide rate is higher than Britain's gun homicide rate but not that much higher, and it is lower than France, which had a firearm homicide rate of .22 per 100,000.

Now of course there will be individuals crying foul that I am only looking at rifle homicides. But that is the point. The vast majority of gun homicides in America are committed with a hand gun, and Piers Morgan isn't arguing for a hand gun ban, yet, but he is (mis)using that data to forward his case to ban assault rifles. If you looked at assault rifles alone you realize that it isn't the issue that Pierce Morgan makes it out to be.

Random Thought On Consumption

Read a post on early extreme retirement on ecological capitalism, I am not going to get into it but it did make think about the problems we have today.  It is its interesting, more like sad, that we enjoy a technologically rich society, yet rather than make our lives better, or goods more durable, it simply produces cheaper stuff.

Take a look at some products that were made 40 years ago and you will notice a definite difference in quality. Yes it is a bit bigger, roughre, and less refined looking, but these things last for ever. It wasn't that cheap garbage wasn't made back then, it was, but considering our cultural mindset, and our funds at the time, individuals bought the best item they could afford, and used them until it could no longer be repaired anymore.

It is strange to think that it takes two people to fund a 'middle cass' lifestyle when it only took one not to long ago. When we realize that real incomes for families have been dropping, and are now at their lowest level since 1995, it's downright disconcerting, but it is also self inflicted.  Our concept of middle class, which is vastly different from our grandparents, is responsible for this self implosion we see today.

I've seen families, with two working parents, have a car for each member of the household and an additional one that is never driven. I have seen an abudenance of needless flat screes. Yearly buying of new laptops.  Rooms full of cloths. And the question is, what does it get us? What we expect for middle class is vastly more than what we used to expect, and we aren't really happier for it.

On the otherside you go Mr. Money Mustache a dude who has family and lives off of $27,000 grand a year, is sort of retired in the sense that he works when he wants and only then, and has a pretty damn nice house. It has become increasingly apparent to me that much of what passes in modern societal as normal or sound is quite the opposite in almost every aspect of our society.

It is really telling on how dysfunctional our society is, where if you earn a median income your are among the top 3% richest in the world and if you earn above the poverty line you are in the top 20%, cannot make 'ends meet' and demand that the government give us more.  Perhaps if we adopted our grandparents outlook towards possessions, buy what you need, the best you can afford and use it until you can't use it anymore, we would be in a whole lot better place than we are now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

PC Idiocy in the Upper Brass

Reading this, I couldn't help but roll my eyes.

The State Doesn't Care About You

An article from PolicyMic quotes a rather chilling statement by the CIA nominee John Brennan.

Since letting citizens participate freely in the political process can be messy and may lead instability, according to Brennan, “too much freedom is possible and in the end, even detrimental to the cause of democracy.” Even “[then-Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat’s undemocratic methods, therefore, may aim at the ultimate preservation of democracy rather than its demise.” If after all this you are still wondering where he stands on human rights violations, he answers,“Can human rights violations in Egypt be justified from a democratic perspective?”

His answer, “If the preservation of political order and stability is [the] justification for various human rights violations.” He does qualify this in saying that it may have been simply to preserve Sadat’s rule, but he leaves it open to the reader to interpret. Even so, this makes human rights simply a matter of interpretation and relativism that can lead to gross abuse of power.
 Chilling, but not unexpected, and the best summation of the principals of geopolitics that there is. The paramount goal of the state is self preservation, it doesn't matter whether it is a democracy, republic, monarchy, socialist, or otherwise. The state must preserve itself, and secondary to that, must seek as advantageous position in the world as possible given their resources. This is why wars are fought with other nations, because whether it is for influence, resources, or space for it's people it is in order to try and satisfy one of those two imperatives, whether it actually does so is another matter entirely.

Every nation, on every continent, of every type of person, operates like this. There are no exceptions, a nations pacifism isn't rooted in the moral goodness of a nation, no, it is because it either does not need at this point in time, or physically cannot, act capriciously to satisfy it's two imperatives via warfare.  I think France serves as a great example, for all of the crocodile tears France shed about our actions in Iraq, it has no compunction using military force in Mali, or weighing on America to do it's heavy lifting in Libya.

The reason why I harp on this is that we need to focus on the core items that direct a nations foreign policy.  Simply saying we do things for freedom, oil, human rights abuses, corporations, or our allies misses the mark. Those things are related, but they are not a prime mover in and of itself and until we realise that, then we cannot hope to affect real policy change, we are just pissing in the wind.

The US acts the way it does today because it seeks to maintain it's position as hegemon of the world order. Why does it do this? Because in a very distant sense, it protects the United States, specifically it removes the ability of other nations to significantly affect the US. By significant, I mean use foreign military forces to apply pressure the way we apply pressure to China. What do you think those joint exercises in the South China sea are? A reminder to China that we could enforce an embargo and cut of their supply of foreign materials they desperately need, which, in turn, is why China is trying to develop anti-carrier weaponry.

This doesn't mean that every action the US in regards to foreign policy actually fulfills this goal, on the contrary, in some instances the course of action taken harms their position. But foreign policy is driven by men, and men's judgement, meaning that they can make errors. Overestimate threats, misappropriate resources or commit terrible policy blunders. For those who want to change US policy away from militarism then you must stop 'crying no blood for oil', those slogans are for the masses, not the policy makers. Instead, you must articulate how a different course of action better suits America's prime imperative.

The US has the most powerful navy in the world and if our nations goal is to keep it's place on top of the world, then it doesn't need to interact in every two bit bush league war that comes along. The US can afford to play with a softer hand.

But ultimately, this doesn't really matter all that much to you or me. Nations play the geopolitical game which is measured in decades, or even centuries, and unless your the one being bombed or fighting in a war, it doesn't affect you all that much.  However, that core sentiment that I outlined, that does affect you.  If the state decides that it gains more security and stability by putting it's boot on your neck, then it will do so. And you've just seen that essentially articulated by a member of the policy class.

His quote is probably the best thing that I could ever hope to find to illustrate why we need the 2nd amendment in the United States.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New York Staters Challenge Govenor

Read this news article via Vox Day.  Looks like a lot of New Yorkers are planning to ignore the recently passed gun registration law, not a big surprise really, hundreds of thousands of assault rifles disappeared after California passed their restrictive laws, and Canada recently ended their long gun registry due to cost over runs and non-compliance.  While I do not expect gun owners to start shooting at agents, I also don't expect the state agencies to spend any real time trying to enforce the ban. It's too expensive, too unpopular, too time consuming and there are simply bigger fish to fry.

Now, I am not normally a fan of protests, I think they are a waste of time. I live in Seattle and every day I walk by one protest or another, war protests (far smaller now that Bush is out of office), police brutality protests, environmental protests, impeachment protests (both Bush and Obama), any protest you can think of, and none of them have ever accomplished anything, ever. You can look overseas and see the futility of most protests as well.

The media made a big ballyhoo about the Arab spring, specifically the Egyptian protests. Yet now we see that the protests accomplished little, and many private geopolitical intelligence analysts said as much. You might say that the protests resulted in the over through of Murabarak's government, but that isn't exactly the case. The military simply deposed one of their own, Murabarak was a park of the Egyptian military, and put a new guy in charge. The conflict between the government and the protesters was really a conflict between the Egyptian police and the protesters, the military wasn't involved. But the military has been pushing back on protestors now, much harder than the police could.

Then we have the Green revolution in Iran, we saw how that ended. A regime that has no compunction in using near indiscriminate violence against it's citizenry cannot be unseated, or significantly alter their policy, via protest.  Outside of Tripoli, the only 'succesful' revolution has been Libya, and quite possibly Syria.  Non-violent protest doesn't usually work.  Individuals will point to the civil rights movement and their achievements, but that just solidifies my point.

The reason why the civil rights protests of the 1960's worked wasn't because they were protests. It was the governments reaction to them that changed public opinion. The American people saw individuals peaceably protesting fundamental violations of their civil rights. Seeing children, women, and the elderly have dogs set upon them, beaten, and sprayed with fire hoses was deeply unsettling to the American public. And that is why the civil rights protest meant something, there was something to loose. Mr. King wasn't a fool, far from it he was a very shrewd man, he knew that the southern state governments were going to react disproportionately hostile to their peaceful marches.  He knew there was no quicker, and arguably more moral, way to achieve their justly demanded rights than to go up against the segregation machine and get worked over.

Real protests, that have any hope of ever accomplishing something, must require that the protester put themselves on the line, that they stand to suffer for their opinion, though this is only the case in a nation that isn't run by a bunch of thugs like Iran, Bahrain, or Syria. That is the reason why no one cared about what happened to OWS. They weren't protesting for a fundamental human right, and even though the police often did not acquit themselves very poorly, the OWS protesters often tried to use intimidation, via force of numbers, to shut government office down.

But back to the topic at hand. The protest by gun owners in New York is more of a challenge than anything else. Either the New York state government starts knocking on people's doors and taking people in for failing to comply or they expose their laws for the toothless decrees that they are. Either way it is a no win situation for the Governor, assuming that New York staters don't meekly acquiesce to his law. If they do peacefully resist, well after taking in so many uncle Neds and Grandpa Bills, the public's opinion would start to turn. If they don't go try to vigorously enforce their law, well it kind of exposes the myth that more gun laws will prevent the problem. Kind of hard to argue we need more gun laws if the government can't enforce the ones already on the books.

This Takes The Cake

Crusaders back some bizarre, and pointless, causes sometimes but this has to take the cake, as a crusader in New Zealand has been calling for the removal of house cats in hopes to help out the endangered bird population in New Zealand.

Monday, January 21, 2013

US Foreign Policy Shifting to The Pacific

The two decades has seen the US focusing on the middle east, though even as early as 2000, the US has been shifting military forces and diplomatic muscle to the pacific in a way it hasn't since the Vietnam war. The video from Stratfor should help articulate why:

China's growing belligerency is a near given in the short term. If it is indeed the next economic super power then being left at the mercy of the US navy and it's ability to enforce crippling embargoes is intolerable. If economic collapse, and social strife, are in the cards, then an aggressive military posture will be used as a vent t direct dissatisfaction with the PRC to a foreign adversary.

For the US the move to the Pacific is a continuation of US policy since the end of World War II. That policy is to ensure that only one nation enjoys unfettered access to the worlds oceans. Expect to see  lot more confrontation with China, more assertive Japanese military, and perhaps even a reopening of a US military installation in the Philippines.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Another art rant

An old post that I wrote put forgot to publish:

My girl friend volunteered at another art soiree, I ended up going because it was her roommates birthday and we were all going to meet at the art museum and then get drinks once my girlfriend was done.This time I took pictures, and fortunately for me her friends, whose opinion on modern art mirrors my own, came along.

We spent our time blankly looking at bad art, I.e modern and some good art, classical and tribal. A friend of hers, who is studying to become a doctor, was equally incredulous when he saw that the ancient Roman and Greek section filled only a single solitary wall.  My girlfriends cousin wandered around with a blank look on her face.

Here we see that statue I mentioned. The one with a Jesus holding a pig and flipping the bird. I'm sure the artist will claim that's its provocative and will cause personal reflection on our society or some nonsense like that. Never mind that its little more than shock art, and that the public gas been inundated with this garbage for so long that it no longer registers. That blank look on peoples faces isn't shock, it's boredom. It's a sad sign of the times we live in.  This art literally has no redeeming value.  This isn't shocking because it is trying to force us to confront uneasy truths or realities. No, its shocking for the sake of being shocking.  I at least took some solace that this monstrosity garnered no attention from a public that has since long become used to such crass displays.

More frustrating is that what could be considered on of pinnacle periods of art, classic Greco-Roman art, barely occupies a portion of a small room at my urban museum.

This sad show is almost all that we have in our art museum of what could be considered the pinnacle of western civilization, outside perhaps of the late 19th and early 20th century, when it comes to art.  And it is not for a lack of piece, I was told by one volunteer that there are plenty of ancient art pieces sitting in storage waiting for their rotation, but the preference is for the 'art', that is an attempted assault on a persons sensibilities. But after having been inundated with images like this:

File:Duchamp Fountaine.jpg

For he better part of a century, what is the point of shock art that isn't so shocking anymore? Money pure and simple.  There is an entire industry that has sprung up around this kind of garbage simply because it attracts headlines, which is funny, because while art critics think this is a big deal, newspapers think its a big deal, and some organizers with more money than sense think this is big deal, the common man doesn't.  And yet they bemoan the fact that no one goes to art museums anymore. I wonder why.

Friday, January 18, 2013

An Anonymous Opinion Means Nothing...

Nor does one hidden behind a pen name.  When I first started blogging I chose a pen name because I happened to live in an area that is not very amendable to conservative or libertarian viewpoints. In fact I had been actively encourage by my parents to keep my political viewpoints to myself. Unfortunately, even in the business world your political viewpoints can result in lost opportunities if you happen live in an area that is opposed to your world view, even if only slightly.

I saw this in college as well. There is a lot of talk about how universities are about opening your mind and learning new ideas, however, that isn't the case. Colleges are probably one of the most dogmatic and ideologically closed environments you will find. Some universities have even actively tried to stifle speech that they do not agree with, which is why F.I.R.E exists in the first place. This knowledge lead me to the decision that if I were to blog, I should kept my identity hidden.

But I have learned from some of the other bloggers that this is the wrong choice.  If I am unhappy with what is going on then an anonymous opinion behind a pen name solves nothing. It really is nothing more than an act of cowardice. No opinion given by a coward has any real merit or value. One thing I have to respect is individuals that voice controversial opinions and are willing to stand by them. I do not agree with everything I have read, but as hpx83 said, this about being a grown up as things need to be said, and items need to be debated.

I am under no illusion that I somehow say anything more insightful or profound than anyone else, but then that wasn't the point in the first place. I wanted to express my frustration, my worldview, and learn from others. I have only blogged for less than a year, but it looks like something I will continue for a long time, and if I ever do say anything worth spreading or reflecting, it needs to be said by a real man, and not by a disembodied name. Free men do not hide behind pen names for fear of the possible retribution they may face for their opinions. The founders were willing to sign their names, and their sacred honor, declaring their intent to rebel against the crown. I should at least be able to handle the few snide remarks that might come from my social circle for the opinions I express.

My name is Kevin R Daniels. I live in Seattle, Washington. I do not like what has happened to my country, I distrust my government, I am disgusted by our political process, I hate our moral relativism, I despise our celebration of willful ignorance, I cannot understand our cultural self loathing, I believe the constitution is the most important document in human history outside of the bible, and maybe the great charter, and I believe that classical western culture, with it's judeo-christian foundations, is superior to other cultures and one of the reasons for our success.  You can few my profile at policymic if you want to see a real image of me.

Former Mayor Indited For Corruption

A public official abuses his office for personal gain? No, that never happens!

STRATFOR: Australia Geographic Challenge

A video from Stratfor detailing Australia's geographic challenges and how it shapes foreign policy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Warm And Fuzzies

My girl friend gets the warm fuzzies after she watches a sweet kid movie. I get the warm fuzzies when I hear about citizens exercising their rights to defend their and their neighbor's property.

California's Demographic Decline

It's only a small portion of Joel Kotkins essay, but he notes that Asian immigrants have stopped favoring California, and are increasingly heading to Houston, Fort Worth, Raleigh, and Nashville. California is facing demographic decline, and like China, Japan, Russia or other parts of Europe it means some difficult times are ahead.

Advice to HR People at Career Fairs

The Captain has a lot to say about human resources, none of it good, and like him, I hold a dim view of it as well. While I have not had the (dis)pleasure to deal with all the worst aspects of it, I do know that out of all the interviews I have ever done, the ones with HR are my least favorite. Interviewing with the employees is great because they ask you important questions, interviewing with management is a mixed bag, sometimes it's good sometimes bad, I have never liked interviewing with HR.
Bizarre questions, which really have little to due with the job, such as where do you see yourself in 5 years or why do you want this job, serve no purpose.  Everyone knows that 5 years from now there is a good chance I will not be there, it could be because I was laid off, it could be because I found something better, it could be because I simply wanted to move to a new state. A question like that might have made sense 30 to 40 years ago when lifetime employment wasn't uncommon, you could argue that a question like that could gauge motivation, though even then I am skeptical of the merits of such a question, but in todays age when the average employment period is something like 2 to 3 years, it doesn't make much sense to ask the question.  It's not that I am against working for the same company for 10 to 15 years, in fact that would be quiet nice, but the likelihood isn't that great, so let us face reality. I am interviewing for a job I believe I can do, you should ask me questions that gauge my ability to do said job.
Now, the image below isn't necessarily that of an HR person. It could be a manager or an employee that was asked to go to the career fair, it isn't uncommon. However, and this is only anecdotal experience, every fair I have been to the business casual uniform was the outfit of HR.  Now I can only speak for the banking, finance, real estate analysis and corporate jobs, I know that certain groups like engineers don't always dress up for these events, but employees and managers that have gone have always been in a suit and tie for men, and the equivalent for women.


The reason being is that people understand that the career fair isn't about just finding an employee, in fact career fairs probably aren't the best way to find a job though you should still do them, but they are also opportunities to market yourself. What I see in the picture doesn't impress me.
Right off the bat I do not like the interviewers dress. While a company, and its representatives, can dress however they want, within company guidelines, for interviews within the company, this is a career fair. There are potential competitors here! What happens if your rival company shows up in three piece suits when you show up with a blue blouse that is too small and you can see the outline of your bra straps? You get what happened when the Marine and Army recruited at my college, the Marines were in Dress Blues and the army in their baggy BDU's, and the result was that the Marines had way more people visiting their information booth. 
Secondly, she is reading the resume. Look, there is a line of half dozen people behind that well dressed man, whose body posture indicates that he isn't happy with going on. Why waste every one's time? You can go back and read those later, talk to the man! Not only is it going to save time, make the experience more enjoyable for everybody, but it is a far better way to get a feel for a person. Take notes on the back of it and if you really liked the interview with the man then put a mark next to his name or something. Read the rest of the stuff later on your own time!
Thirdly, and this is common, why are companies wasting money on little trinkets to hand out? I doubt the guy wants a pen, he wants a job, and pens are like a buck thirty anyways.  Moreover, they spent money on pens, yet I do not see any billboards, posters, or brochures.  This is an event for the company to market itself! The best prospects aren't going to bother going to a booth that makes the company look like it it is a rinky dink operation, but that is exactly the impression I am getting right now.
Lastly, the HR woman's body posture, and I am reasonably sure it is an HR woman, is poor. She is hunched over and even from the image alone I get the impression that she doesn't want to be there or even care. Just look at the guy standing in front of her. Blank expression, arms in front of him, hand over wrist, slumped over shoulders. Yes it could be because he is undergoing a job hunt grind, but any HR person or job recruiter worth their salt should be able to get someone to be engaged, and this man doesn't look engaged, and it is probably because he can sense this person doesn't give two craps.
There is my rant about HR.  Now if it turns out that the women in the picture is not HR, well, it doesn't matter. My complaints about HR are still valid and my criticism of what I see doesn't change.  Good companies realize that employees are an asset and not just say it at a job interview because people can tell when they are being fed a load. 

Pierce Morgan Admits Assault Rifle Ban Won't Solve Gun Crime

But wants them banned anyways. But go figure right?  I think this article from a British paper called The Telegraph describes how he comes off perfectly and is pretty decent, even though like many others, misinterpretes the true meaning of the word regulate as it meant in the 18th century, explanation of why Americans as a people are so big on firearms.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

China Chooses Population Bust

Many individuals have talked about how the next century was China's century, and that they would overtake the United States as the sole super power of the world, however, this required numerous assumptions. First, it required the assumption that Chinese growth rates were continue as it had been for the last 20 years, and that is assuming that their growth rates were not tampered with show growth rates higher than what actually existed. Second, the assumption that technocrats call actually steer an economy or a nation, and history has shown us repeatedly the fallacy of thinking that way. Thirdly, it required turning a blind eye to the massive malinvestment driving Chinese growth numbers. Fourth, it requires us to ignore that even though the US imports energy, it produces more than twice the energy that China does.  Lastly, there is the fact that China faces demographic decline.
Even one of these factors could severely hamper China's global super power ambitions. A combination of them would made it almost impossible. And the last one, demographic decline, renders it a near impossibility. No nation with a declining population was a superpower, demographic decline is a harbinger of societal decline.  Demographic decline was an almost certainty for China yet it looks like their leadership has officially come out and said that they will do nothing about it.  It is strange that perhaps one of the most momentous pieces of news, considering its geopolitical implications for decades to come, was nothing more than a footnote on, were I found the article.

This is a big deal for China because, up to this point in human history, no economy has ever grown when it's population has declined.  Yes, the case of Japan illustrates that individual wealth growth can continue for a short time as economic decline lags behind demographic decline. But history has shown us that this is a near certainty.  Computers, technology, robotics, this could be the means to break that cycle, however, these it will most likely be relatively wealthy nations that will be the first one's to develop these capacities.  And China, with over 100 million living in poverty, and not the American version of poverty, doesn't have a lot of funds to spare.

You then also have the problem which faces Japan, America, and Europe, an elderly population dependent on a social safety net whose needs outstrip the youths ability to provide. China is going to get old before it gets rich. China has the double trouble of dealing with a large population that can barely scrap buy and an old population demanding that it be taken care of. It's like being tied to the train tracks with two trains coming at you head on.

Now some Malthusians would argue that this policy is a good idea, though my points before should start to illuminate the fact that assumption number two is absurd, given the fact that China is a net importer of food.  They would argue that a declining population could help ameliorate the situation illustrated below:

 China's Population Density
China's Farming Land Output
File:China agricultural 1986.jpg
As you can see China has to deal with their people competing for the very same land that is used to generate their foodstuffs. As seen below the United States does not have this problem.
America's Population Density 
America's Farming Productivity
The United States does population isn't vying for the same land where we grow most of our food. Moreover, much of China's eastern interior is incapable of any sort of real agricultural production. in America, outside of the southwestern deserts, the bayous, and the mega population centers, we do not have this issue.  Though it should also be noted that California benefits from a very advanced system of agriculture that allows us to extract yields that would not be possible otherwise.
Where China has to import massive amounts of food, America is the largest exporter in the world. The US has the most arable land in the world and the most cultivated land. Even though, in my opinion, America is facing a terrible economic collapse, as is the rest of the world, America has the capability to at least feed her people and then some. China does not.  And while China could develop the agricultural infrastructure to meet its needs just like America did. America was able to do so because it had an abundance of wealth, China will not have that wealth, not in time any ways.
There is a lesson to be learned here, and it is a simple one. Technocratic rulers are no more smarter, principled or farsighted than the average man.  The leaders of China are not blind to the problems they face, however, they chose to keep their current course even though it spells demographic disaster.  They did so simply because the have decided that they will better be able to keep power by doing so.  For the technocrat, the state is of first importance, a countries economic well being is a secondary consideration. They might not even be cognizant of that fact, but that is exactly why they have elected to keep the one child policy.


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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.