Big Brother is Watching You…Pee in China

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 24th, 2013

Week in Review

The problem with big government bureaucracies is that they’re always looking at ways to create new public sector jobs.  It’s why the U.S. federal government grows with each passing year.  And why the Chinese are considering this (see Miss your mark in the toilet? Pay $16 fine by AFP posted 5/20/2013 on The Times of India).

People with a poor aim are to be fined if they miss their mark when using public toilets in a Chinese city, officials said — [sic] provoking online derision over how the rule will be enforced.

The penalty will apply to those who urinate outside the bowl of facilities in Shenzhen, the southern boom town neighbouring Hong Kong, although draft regulations seen by AFP did not specify a minimum quantity of spillage required to be classed as a violation…

Users of China’s rumbustious weibo social networks poured scorn on the measures, raising the prospect of hordes of toilet inspectors being deployed to inspect performance.

“A number of new civil servant positions will be created. There will be a supervisor behind every urinating person to see whether the pee is straight,” wrote one poster.

Another added: “Very good measures. I expect they can create 20 jobs on average for every public toilet…”

Chinese toilet discipline can be notoriously wayward, with pictures of people defecating in public sometimes appearing on weibo.

No surprise, really.  Dirt-poor peasants who have nothing of the basic comforts of life—such as indoor plumbing and flush toilets—are moving to the big cities into a world they’ve never known.  But the public defecation is not the outrageous part of this story.  That thing about the potty police is.  And I feel sorry for the nervous pee-er who can’t go when someone is watching them.  Waiting to observe his urine stream.  So the potty police can give them a slap on the buttocks and say, “Nice pee pee.”  Or go Sergeant Hartman all over them.  (That’s a reference to the drill sergeant in the movie Full Metal Jacket.  We’d link to a YouTube clip of one of his many R-rated tirades but decided not to.  Those who are familiar with the movie will understand the reference.  And those who aren’t probably won’t enjoy hearing his abusive potty mouth.  On a side note, I met him once at an air show.  Active duty Marines waited in line to have him insult them and make them drop and do pushups.  Just so they could say he did.  People love R. Lee Ermey that much.  He’s a great American.  A Vietnam veteran who served in combat.  And was a real-life drill instructor.  But I digress.)

Can this happen in the United States?  Well, if anyone had said the federal government would force you to buy something against your will a decade ago no one would have believed it.  But here we are with Obamacare.  And the individual mandate.  So, men, enjoy your urinations in public restrooms while you can.  For it may not be long before you have a federal bureaucrat observing your urine stream.  For Big Brother may be watching you…go pee pee.

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Big Brother is Watching You

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 16th, 2013

Week in Review

I have a friend that once worked in construction.  A small company.  They did a job at a gay bar on an industrial street.  It was the only place opened late night/early morning for a mile or so in either direction.  It was an old part of town.  The street lighting wasn’t that good.  Which made their parking lot very dark.  So being a good business owner concerned about the safety of his cliental he installed security lighting in the parking lot.  To make it bright and safe at night.  Once the job was done and the owner saw it at night he was very pleased.  And the very next day he called my friend’s company to come back that day to shut these lights off.

Funny thing about a gay bar.  About this particular gay bar.  It just wasn’t a place where people came for drinks and camaraderie.  Not this bar in the middle of nowhere with a pitch-black parking lot.  Where the gay clientele went there to meet other gay men.  And if they hit it off they went to the darkened parking.  And did things they couldn’t do in a well-lit parking lot.  Men who were testing the water outside of the closet.  Others who remained in the closet for work or personal reasons and felt safe letting their guard down in such private location.  Perhaps even people who were just questioning their sexuality.  Who didn’t want family, friends, coworkers or neighbors to know.  At least not yet.  For these reasons and possibly numerous others men went to this gay bar.  Because no one could see their car in that parking lot.  Or what they might be doing in that parking lot.  So if something as innocuous as parking lot lighting could spook the clientele  imagine what this could do (see Pubs to escape demand to install CCTV if trouble-free posted 6/14/2013 on BBC News UK Politics).

Pubs in England and Wales with no history of trouble will no longer be forced by local authorities to install CCTV systems, the government has said…

In many parts of the country, pub landlords have been told they must install CCTV, which can cost several thousand pounds, to monitor entrances and exits or face losing their licence…

Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis said: “CCTV has a role to play in stopping and deterring crime in anti-social behaviour hotspots.

Not too long ago a college student committed suicide.  Because his roommate filmed a sexual encounter he had with a friend and uploaded it to the web.  This person had not yet come out of the closet.  His world changed after that prank.  So much so that he couldn’t bear to live after it.

People expect privacy.  Whether they’re going to a gay bar, are having sex in their dorm room or going through the airport only to have their most personal belongings tossed about in public.  They don’t want to worry that their every movement may be watched and recorded.  Proponents of public safety will say if you’re not doing anything illegal then you have nothing to hide.  But there are a lot of things that we do that aren’t illegal but could be very embarrassing.  A night out with the girls can get a little rowdy.  But most things we do can pass into anonymity.  Which is why people can relax and let their hair down.  Let off some steam after a stressful week.  But if we fear our every movement ends up on a surveillance tape somewhere we will stop relaxing.  Stop letting our hair down.  And stop letting off steam after a stressful week.  As we feel the cold stare of Big Brother ever present over our shoulder.  Living in fear that someone somewhere may see us NOT acting like everyone else.

This is where we’re heading.  To the dull gray world of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Where there is no happiness but only fear.  Fear of the state.  Fear of Big Brother watching our every movement.  Fear of getting caught doing something that the state doesn’t approve of.

Is this the world we want to live in?

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LESSONS LEARNED #71: “For socialism to be successful no one can be allowed to escape it.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 23rd, 2011

Socialism Oppresses and Kills tens of millions of People

It’s easy to point at Cuba as an example of socialism’s failure.  You don’t even have to go to the island.  You don’t have to study their institutions.  All you have to do is to look at the risks people will take to escape Cuba.  And they take some crazy risks to escape.  They will board some barely-seaworthy water crafts and paddle out into the ocean.  Away from Cuba.  And towards Florida.  Away from socialism.  And towards capitalism.  Away from a wretched life of despair and deprivation.  And towards a life of plenty and opportunity.  As they paddle their way to America, how many people do you think they pass who are paddling their way to Cuba?  How about zero?  Because when it comes to refugees, the direction is always towards America.  It’s never the other way.

And it’s easy to point to Mao in China.  His Great Leap Forward killed a lot of his own people.  And by ‘a lot’ I mean in the tens of millions.  Depending on the numbers you use.  It could have been anywhere between 15 and 50 million people.  The Chinese communists were not the record keepers the Nazis were.  Though the actual number may be in doubt the magnitude isn’t.  In the spirit of brotherly love that is the hallmark of socialism, millions were beaten, tortured and killed to ‘encourage’ acceptance of the forced collectivization of farming.  And the funny thing is (not ha ha funny but funny as in sad and ironic) that after beating, torturing and killing so many people to collectivize farming, the agriculture output plummeted.  Partly because of bad planning.  And partly due to nature.  But local party officials reported record harvests to avoid beatings, torture and killings by party superiors.  So China exported much of these record harvests.  Leaving nothing for the peasants to eat.  Resulting in famine.  Again, the record keeping is sparse.  As they often are when your policies end up killing your own people.  But deaths were in the tens of millions.  The Great Leap Forward was a big push to modernize China.  To industrialize it.  For there was little infrastructure in China.  Most of it was rural.  Dotted with peasant farms.  Stretching across vast lands.  With little ways to move around.  Where you probably died less than a day’s walk from where you were born.  Which made it difficult to escape the Great Leap Forward.  Or Mao’s ruthless communist rule.

And it’s easy to point to the former Soviet Union.  Where it all started.  CommunismJoseph Stalin gave Mao Tse-tung a run for his money in the greatest mass murderer of all time contest.  Again, the record keeping was a little sparse.  But the Soviets took socialism to a grand scale.  The government controlled the economy.  And your life.  If you grew up in the Soviet Union, you learned how much better it was there than in the decadent West.  Especially the USA.  Of course, when some Soviets were lucky enough to travel outside the country, they learned that their Soviet teachers were liars.  The West was awesome.  Never before did they see such a wonderful world of plenty.  And some Soviets defected to that better life.  Which was a crime.  And a huge embarrassment for the Soviet Union.  Even Joseph Stalin’s daughter (Svetlana Alliluyeva) defected.  Others included Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Alexander Godunov, Sergei Fedorov, Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl and Nadia Comăneci, to name a few (both from the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc).  Some got preferential treatment to keep them from defecting like Katarina Witt.  Or they held family members as ‘hostages’ when some traveled out of the country.  It was a real problem for the KGB.  Who had agents living undercover in the West.  And a lot of them didn’t want to come home.  Of course, there was no such problem with people defecting from the West into the Soviet Union.  There were a few.  Like Lee Harvey Oswald.  But he wasn’t playing with a full deck.  And he did return to the United States.  Because even he found it was better in America.  And he hated America.

It’s easy to point at the big socialist failures.  But just about every story of socialism is a story of failure.  And as different as some of the stories are, they all have much in common.  In particular, the exploitation of the people to serve the state.

In Socialism, Slavery is Freedom

In George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four, we see a frightening look at totalitarian socialism.  Big Brother is the leader of an oppressive regime.  Where the government plays with language to control the people.  War is peace.  Ignorance is strength.  And freedom is slavery.  War unites a people against a common enemy.  Who then beg for the government to protect them from this enemy.  And they will suffer through any hardship required to defeat this enemy.  Which makes continued war a handy way to control the people.  And to keep the peace among an unhappy and suffering citizenry that might otherwise rise up and complain.  Or riot.  Or attempt to overthrow the government.

Ignorance is strength.  If you don’t know how rotten your existence is you have no reason to be unhappy.  If you don’t know about that better life on the other side of your border, you have no reason to cross that border.  You’ll stay where you are.  And be a good citizen.  You’ll toe the party line.  Work hard.  Sing party songs.  And be happy.  More importantly, you’ll be subdued.  Easier to control.  And easier to lie to.  There’s a reason revolutionaries rounded up intellectuals and people with glasses (people with glasses can read and may be intellectuals) for ‘reeducation’ during revolutions.  Thinkers are trouble makers.  So it behooves them to keep the people ignorant.  So they don’t get distracted from their patriotic duties.  So they can continue to sacrifice to build a stronger nation.

Slavery is Freedom.  Because slaves never have to make a decision.  Or provide for themselves.  What a joyous and simple life.  Someone provides everything you need.  Your job.  Your clothes.  Your food.  Your home.  Your health care.  And your funeral.  And all you have to do is give yourself to the state.  Give up all your freedoms.  Give up all hope.  All your dreams.  And all of your comforts.  You have no bills to pay.  Because you don’t have anything.  You get up, work, eat and sleep.  Simple.  Easy.  And carefree.  True freedom.  Lucky slaves.

Adolf Hitler was a Socialist

Of course, if you talk to some slaves you’ll probably hear a different story.  Real slaves.  Like 19th century American slaves.  Those working the plantations.  They didn’t all buy that ‘slavery is freedom’ line.  If any did.  Because a lot of them did try to escape.  Just like those who tried to escape from Soviet socialism.  Interestingly, there are similarities between the two.  Because if you take socialism to its logical end you do arrive at slavery.  Friedrich August von Hayek wrote a book about this.  The Road to Serfdom.  Even said that if socialism grew unchecked in a state some guy named Adolf Hitler may come along and create an oppressive state dictatorship.  He didn’t quite say it like that.  But a guy named Adolf Hitler did come along and created an oppressive state dictatorship called National Socialism.  Or Nazism.  Anyway, suffice it to say that Hayek was right.  As proven by people everywhere who have tried to escape their socialist utopias.

Despite popular belief, everyone was not equal in these socialist utopias.  The inner party people lived well.  And their apparatchik.  But little changed for the masses.  In fact, life often got worse for them.  They were hungry, living in crowded quarters, with poor sanitation, some without running water, living in fear of state punishment for breaking a rule or not making quota, days of endless labor, no say in your future, no liberty and little hope for a better tomorrow.  Very similar to a 19th century American slave.

The American plantation is a microcosm of socialism.  The few at the top did very well (the glorious leaders).  Those close to them that ran the plantation (the party apparatchik) did not do as well but did much better than most.  And then there were the slaves at the bottom.  Who were all equal.  Equally miserable.  And without any hope.  Living in fear of abuse for breaking a rule or not making quota.  And working days of endless labor.  This is socialism taken to its logical end.  Which is why people risked death to escape places like the Soviet Union.  East GermanyCzechoslovakiaRomania.  Cuba.  To escape servitude.  Because the state could do anything they wanted to you.  And often did.  Just like a plantation overseer.

Slaves of the Social Democracies Riot

Of course, the critics will say that this isn’t true socialism.  That these are just mad dictators who corrupted socialism in their quest for absolute power.  And I’ll say, well, of course.  You’re right.  But they all used socialism in their rise to power.  Not a one of them said anything about cutting taxes or reducing stifling government regulations in their climb to power.  Quite the contrary.  They used every facet of socialism (egalitarianism, redistribution of wealth, taxing the rich, nationalization of private companies, etc.) in their climb to power.  In fact, one could say that without these tenets of socialism to unwittingly rally the people behind them they could never have risen to power.  Which is why socialism is not just a Road to Serfdom.  It’s a blueprint as well.

Some will roll their eyes at this.  And say Europe is full if social democracies that treat their people pretty damn well.  Let’s call it socialism-light.  These socialist countries have large and generous social welfare programs for their people.  Generous unemployment benefits.  Generous vacations.  Generous health care benefits.  Generous pensions when they retire.  Some at the ripe old age of 50.  A large and generously paid public sector.  Clearly these people aren’t oppressed.  And I’ll agree.  The people receiving these benefits are not oppressed.  But it places an incredible tax burden on those who work.  Who must make continuous sacrifices as their taxes continuously rise.  Let’s call these people slaves-light.  Because they are not allowed to enjoy the full fruits of their labor.  So, yes, the people in these social democracies in general are free.  And happy.  When they’re not rioting, that is.  Like in Greece.  Again.  Where the nation is broke.  And had to borrow money to pay its bills.  Which they have.  But one of the conditions for getting these loans was to cut back on those generous benefits.  Which hasn’t gone over well with the people receiving those benefits.  So they rioted.

Of course they rioted because they had become slaves of the welfare state.  Politicians promised them everything they wanted for their vote.  And delivered.  Until they could deliver no more.  Having become so dependent on the state the thought of taking care of themselves frightened them so that they ran into the streets and started burning things in protest.  The state had no problem keeping these people from escaping their country.  Unable to take care of themselves they were afraid to leave.  But the people with the jobs, and those who created the jobs, that’s a different story.  They could leave.  And a lot did.  So the state made it as difficult as possible for their money to follow them.

You may be able to Escape the Socialist Welfare State, but your Money may Not

New York City is the financial capital of the world.  For now, at least.  It costs a lot to live in the city.  Cost of living is high.  And the taxes are higher.  Way higher.  Which was never a problem for rich people.  Or rich companies.  Rush Limbaugh did his radio program out of New York City for awhile.  But he left because of the excessive taxation.  Went to Florida.  Where there is no income tax.  But every time he traveled to New York City he was required to pay income tax on his earnings for those days in the city.  The New York tax authorities put him through incredible hurdles to prove when he was out of the city.  Showing in multiple ways that he was, in fact, living in Florida.   With receipts.  Phone bills.  Etc.  They put the onus on him.  Said he owed the tax unless he could prove otherwise.

Then came the subprime mortgage crisis that gave us the worst recession since the Great DepressionWall Street income fell.  As did New York City and New York state tax receipts.  People moved out of the city.  Out of the state.  Worked out of their homes.  Some did no work in the state but still kept a vacation home on Long Island.  Desperate for money and unable to keep these people from escaping the state, the taxing authority went after their income.  Said if they spent any time in the state they owed income taxes for the entire year.  Even if you only vacationed for two weeks on Long Island.  While paying the taxes in the state you actually live and work in.  This was worse than taxation without representation.  It was double taxation.  In addition to taxation without representation.

New York City is generous with their social benefits.  Call it socialism-light.  It’s not all out socialism.  But it still suffers from the same fatal flaw.  It doesn’t work well if the people can escape this socialist utopia.  Especially the ones paying the taxes.  As is happening in the social democracies in Europe.  And anywhere where there is high taxation without a secured border.  To prevent the taxpayers (i.e., best and brightest) from escaping.  Like the Soviets did to keep their best and brightest from escaping.  As did the East Germans.  The Czechoslovakians.  The Romanians.  And the Cubans.

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Green Energy taking us to a George Orwell 1984 Future?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 8th, 2011

Smartphones so Smart they know where you’ve Been

The digital world leaves a lot of digital footprints.  And there’s a lot of money in those footprints (See Apple, Google to face lawmakers in privacy tussle by Diane Bartz posted 5/8/2011 on Reuters).

Tech companies such as Apple and Google are hoping the tracks of millions of mobile device users will lead to billions of dollars in revenue.

But where they see dollar signs, lawmakers see red flags.

Following us around and keeping track of where we went?  I don’t know.  Sounds a little creepy to me.  But I guess if everyone knows they’re doing this and voluntarily agree to it, I guess there’s no problem.

Smartphone and advertising companies argue that they use data on what users like (which they know because users use the phone to check prices); where they are (which they know because of contact with cell phone towers); and who their friends are (which they know from social media like Facebook) to give their customers ads for products they are most likely to buy…

But the discomfort comes with the failure of companies — ranging from smartphone makers, to app makers, to advertisers — to disclose to customers what information they are collecting and what they will do with it, said a staffer for Democratic Senator Al Franken, chairman of the online privacy subcommittee that will hold Tuesday’s hearing.

What we like?  Where we are?  Who our friends are?  Without our knowledge?  Sure, we clicked to approve the 50 million-word user agreement to activate our stuff so we could get on with our lives.  But we’re not all lawyers.  And some of us work.  We don’t have the time to read these agreements and then to hire someone to explain what they mean. 

It’s still creepy but as long as it’s not for nefarious purposes…

Franken’s staff has been concerned by reports that insurance companies have explored using location tracking to calculate insurance rates by noting where people go — for example if they go to a gym or a donut store…

“The fact is that they’re creating these sort of mobile digital dossiers based on what you do on your mobile phone and where you are,” said Jeff Chester, head of the Center for Digital Democracy.

Whoa.  This is just a little too KGB-like police state.  The government is right to step in stop this Orwellian activity.  Thankfully, we can always trust government to do what’s right for the people.  I mean, they would never consider tracking our whereabouts like these untrustworthy corporations.

Government Considering getting Deep into our Private Lives

Actually, as it turns out, they would.  Track us.  Or, rather, our cars.  Which typically only go where we go.  So it’s a lot like Apple and Google.  Only, unlike them, the government won’t be trying to persuade us to buy something.  They’ll just be taking our money (see Pay per mile: A timely tax idea, or a privacy threat? by Tom Curry posted 5/5/2011 on msnbc).

Department of Transportation officials have drafted legislation that would study a vehicle tax to track how far drivers travel and charge them by the mile. The proposal would create a “Surface Transportation Revenue Alternatives Office” to conduct trials of the concept.

The draft proposal was first reported this week in Transportation Weekly, a trade publication. A White House spokeswoman told The Hill newspaper that the draft “does not represent the views of the president” and is in no way an administration proposal.

To ‘track’ drivers.  Rather ominous.  Government tracking our whereabouts.  That’s more something out of 1984 than the United States of America.

A tax or fee on miles driven could possibly supplant the gasoline tax, which has has lost a third of its purchasing power since it was last raised by Congress in 1993. Since 2008, according to a Congressional Budget Office report, the money available in the highway trust fund has not been enough to cover federal spending on highways, requiring an additional injection of about $30 billion from the federal treasury. 

Yes, “supplant” the gas tax.  If there is one thing Americans are familiar with is the way government eliminates taxes that they don’t need any more.  And by ‘familiar with’ I mean it rarely ever happens.  Because new taxes are implemented to fund ever growing government spending.  And eliminating a tax just makes it harder to fund ever growing government spending.

But raising the tax when a gallon of gas costs more than $4 in many parts of the country is a nonstarter for most members of Congress.

And the gasoline tax is pumping less money into federal coffers over time, as automobile companies continue to improve the fuel economy of cars they manufacture.

So even though we are paying more for gasoline than we ever have and more people are driving than ever before, it’s not enough to fund government.  How much do you want to bet that gas prices will go down after they implement the new ‘government tracking your whereabouts’ tax?  Don’t bet.  Because they won’t.  And if you were about to bet that they would you should probably have someone else handle your money.

With the Obama administration encouraging people to buy fuel-efficient vehicles, “there’s a total contradiction in current government policy” in how highways are funded, said energy consultant Geoffrey Styles, who writes the widely followed Energy Outlook blog.

Styles said policy makers need to address this issue “before there are 20 million electric vehicles on the road.”

“If we’ve waited that long, and all those folks have been used to driving those cars without paying any energy tax, then trying to change what we do is going to be a big disconnect,” he said.

And there is that most coveted tax of all.  The energy tax.  And the electric car makes it the fair thing to do.  It kind of reminds me of that line in the movie Patton.  Near the end when Patton is talking on the phone with General Bedell Smith.  Patton is just itching to start a war with the Russians.  And says that he can.  That he can start a war with the “sons of bitches” and make it look like it was their fault.  General Smith calls Patton mad and hangs up.  Now I’m not saying that the government planned to pass the energy tax by making it look like the sons of bitches (i.e., we the people) asked for it.  I’m just saying it reminds me of that line in Patton.

As experts have recognized, many Americans would be wary of the idea of a government agency tracking their vehicle in order to tax the miles they drive.

“The problem comes the minute you introduce a device in the vehicle” because people “do not want the government to know where they are and where they are going,” Styles said.

That’s right.  Our privacy is sacred.  So sacred that the government is convening hearings to look into Apple and Google for violating that sacred trust.  Because targeting advertising at us threatens the very foundation of a free society.  Unlike an all-powerful government using its power to track what we do in our personal lives to extract tax payments.  Or, perhaps, to let them know we’re going somewhere they’d rather we didn’t.  No, that they’re okay with.

Green Electric Cars may Track you.  And Strand You.

These electric cars are more trouble than they’re worth.  Invasions into our private lives.  And a justification for more taxes.  Like that ever elusive energy tax the government so wants to implement.  Because energy is everywhere in a modern society.  Well, almost everywhere (see Electric car charging points ‘shortfall’ by the BBC posted 5/8/2011 on the BBC News UK).

Only 704 of the 4,700 expected by the end of the year are in place and two-thirds of towns with a population of over 150,000 do not have any public charging infrastructure.

David Martell, of charging supplier Chargemaster, said the lack of points can be very stressful for drivers…

Mr Martell said many electric vehicle drivers suffer from “range anxiety”, which concerns their fear that they run the risk of running out of power due to a lack of charging points.

As if fearing Big Brother might catch us going somewhere ‘inappropriate’ (a casino, a lingerie/sex toy store, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Republican fundraiser, etc.) wasn’t enough, now we have to worry whether or not we’ll ever be able to make it back home when we venture out in our electric cars.  And what may happen to us if we don’t.  I don’t know about you, but that internal combustion engine is looking better and better all of the time.  It sure delivers the liberty enshrined in our Founding Documents.  Unlike that ‘police state’ green technology.

Green Energy adds to Electrical Demand while Reducing Electrical Supply

Range anxiety may not be our only anxiety.  Because with the move to green energy sources there’s a good chance that even if you find a charging point, it may not have any juice in it to recharge your battery (see Wind farms produced ‘practically no electricity’ during Britain’s cold snap by Rowena Mason posted 1/11/2010 on The Telegraph).

The cold weather has been accompanied by high pressure and a lack of wind, which meant that only 0.2pc of a possible 5pc of the UK’s energy was generated by wind turbines over the last few days.

Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), gave warning that this could turn into a crisis when the UK is reliant on 6,400 turbines accounting for a quarter of all UK electricity demand over the next 10 years.

He said the shortfall in power generated by wind during cold snaps seriously undermined the Government’s pledge on Friday to build nine major new wind “super farms” by 2020.

“If we had this 30 gigawatts of wind power, it wouldn’t have contributed anything of any significance this winter,” he said. “The current cold snap is a warning that our power generation and gas supplies are under strain and it is getting worse.”

This is from a January 2010 Telegraph article.  That’s not one winter ago.  That’s two winters ago.  They are well aware of this problem.  Yet they move forward building windmills.  And with plans to shut down safe, reliable coal-fired plants.  Because they’re too dirty. 

In an effort to save the planet it is the human race that constantly has to make concessions.  They’ll walk back our standard of living right back to the 18th century when there were no cars.  No internal combustion engines.  No electricity.  To a time when the earth was a happier, cleaner place.  Where human and horse feces covered the streets and sidewalks.  And famine was just a part of life.

Our Green Future:  Higher Electric Bills, Service Interruptions and Big Brother

We bought more fuel efficient cars to protect the planet even though we wanted those big SUVs.  Then even though we were driving those small cars and using less gas we were spending more money for gas.  So some of us spent more money for an electric car and drove less.  But because we did and bought less gas there may be a new mileage tax.  Calculated by a little black box in our cars.  That tracks where we go.  To be fair.  So everyone pays for the amount of roads they drive on.  Which will probably negate any cost savings made by moving into an electric car.

And if that wasn’t enough, there will have to be a huge investment to install an electric car charging infrastructure.  All paid for by the new mileage tax.  Probably.  Or maybe the gas tax.  Or some new tax.  And when we put this huge new demand on our aging electrical grid that we’re trying to make green, we’ll probably pay higher electrical bills.  Or suffer through service interruptions when the wind doesn’t blow.

Well, that’s about as cheerful a future as poor old Winston Smith had in Orwell’s 1984.  And if you’re interested in seeing what that future is, you can read the book.  Or see the movie.  You know, while you can.  Before they consider these too inappropriate for us.  Like the SUV.  Because Big Brother will soon be watching and judging what we do.

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Revising Language and History to Help the Agenda

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 20th, 2010

Barack and Big Brother

“Have you heard, brother, about the summer of recovery?”

“No, brother.  Heard what?”

“Millions of jobs were saved.”

“Doubleplusgood, brother.  Doubleplusgood indeed.”

For inner-party members, perhaps.  For us regular party members, though, not a whole lot has changed.  But we don’t complain.  We continue to drink our Victory Gin and praise Big Brother.  Because we don’t want to be summoned to the Ministry of Love and feel the wrath of the state.  Or be audited by the IRS.

Of course, the proles, the masses, get to indulge in their pornography, drugs, music, prostitution, alcohol, cigarettes and other crimethink.  Anything to quell the unruly masses.  The lucky bastards.  Well, the ones not sent to joycamps, at least.  A few privations will always trump forced labor in my book.

The purpose of Newspeak in Oceania is twofold.  First it provides a political correct language to communicate in.  And, second, this simplified language simplifies the people so they’re little more than automatons of the state.  Makes it easier for the state to lie.  To twist the meaning of words.  To change their meaning.  And to change history. 

Unemployment is higher today than it was during the Bush administration.  But we’re not going to return to the failed policies of the past.  Things are better today and moving in the right direction.  Loyal party members believe this.  They know this.  This is blackwhite.  To believe in things that contradict.  The bad economy of today is better than the good economy of the Bush administration.  Despite what the numbers say.  Or until the numbers can be revised to agree with the new truth.  This is the power of Newspeak.

War is Peace

In the past it took a constant state of war to consume the economic output so everyone had less. Everyone was equal (other than inner-party members who were more equal than others).  Everyone was poor.  Lived in fear.  And sacrificed.  For the common enemy.  Today, we don’t need constant war.  We have the welfare state.  The war on poverty.  Which consumes the economic output.  And makes us dependent on the state.  Where we live in fear of losing our benefits.  And shared sacrifice leaves everyone with less.  For the common good.  Except, of course, the inner-party members.

Freedom is Slavery

Imagine a world where you never have to worry or think about where to work, finding healthcare, what to wear, where to live, what movies to watch, what music to listen to, what books to read, what cable news program to watch, what websites to visit or what to do with your spare time (because you won’t have any).  This is true freedom.  Freedom from choice.  You will never have to think again.  Or provide for yourself.  Because to be a slave is to be truly free.

Ignorance is Truth

What you don’t know can’t hurt you.  Obedience to the state is easy when you don’t question what they tell you.  When everything you hear is the truth.  And it is if you don’t know any better.  The era of Reagan is over.  Trickledown economics doesn’t work.  And if you don’t look at the numbers and see the robust economic health of the Reagan years, it is easy to accept the lie.  If you don’t know the truth then you accept what they tell you as the truth.  And you become good party members.

Newspeak Today

This word play doesn’t only exist in George Orwell’s classic book 1984 or in totalitarian regimes.  It exists wherever states want to revise history.  To alter your perception.  The way you think.  To bring you more into the party fold.  The latest is the revision of ‘global warming’ to ‘global climate disruption’ as noted in White House: Global Warming Out, ‘Global Climate Disruption’ In on the FOX News website.  To try and rescue a favored liberal cause from ridicule and charges of junk science it receives today.  Past examples of Newspeak include the following revisions: ‘terrorism’ to ‘man-caused disaster’; ‘war on terror’ to ‘overseas contingency operation’; and now that the Left wants to extend the Bush tax cuts, these have been revised from ‘tax cuts for the rich’ to ‘middle-class tax cuts’.

For further study on revisionism and abuses of state power, you can read 1984, watch the movie or follow the Obama administration.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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LESSONS LEARNED #28: “Politicians love failure because no one ever asked government to fix something that was working.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 26th, 2010

THE TELEVISION SHOW Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. aired from 1964-1969.  It was a spinoff from the Andy Griffith Show.  Gomer, a naive country bumpkin who worked at Wally’s filling station, joined the Marines Corps.  And there was much mirth and merriment.  To the chagrin of Sergeant Carter, Pyle’s drill instructor (DI).  Think of Gunny Sergeant R. Lee Ermey’s Sergeant Hartman in the movie Full Metal Jacket only with no profanity or mature subject matter.  Sergeant Carter was a tough DI like Sergeant Hartman.  But more suitable for the family hour on prime time television.

Gunny sergeants are tough as nails.  And good leaders.  They take pride in this.  But sometimes a gunny starts to feel that he’s not himself anymore.  This was the subject of an episode.  And Gomer, seeing that Sergeant Carter was feeling down, wanted to help.  So he stuffed Sergeant Carter’s backpack with hay before a long march.  While the platoon was worn and tired, Sergeant Carter was not.  He was feeling good.  Like his old self.  Until he found out he was not carrying the same load his men were.  He asked Pyle, “why hay?”  He could understand rocks, but hay?  Because if he outlasted his men while carrying a heavier load, he would feel strong.  But knowing he had carried a lighter load only made him feel weak.

This is human nature.  People take pride in their achievements.  They don’t take pride in any achievement attained by an unfair advantage.  Self-esteem matters.  And you can’t feel good about yourself if you need help to do what others can do without help. 

AN OLD CHINESE proverb goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  Let’s say I am a fisherman in a small village.  I catch fish to feed my family and sell/trade for other family needs.  There’s a man in my village who asks me for a fish each day so he can eat.  I’m a caring person.  So I give him a fish each day.  So a pattern develops.  Each day he shows up when I come in from my fishing.  He takes the fish and goes away.  It works out well for him.  He doesn’t have to work.  He can live off of my kind charity.  Then I move.  Without me being there to give him a fish each day, he no longer can eat.  And dies.  If I only had taught that man to fish. 

Kindness can lead to dependency.  And once dependent, you become lazy.  Why develop marketable skills to provide for yourself when someone else will provide for you?  The problem is, of course, what happens when that charity ends?  If you’re unable to provide for yourself and there is no longer someone providing for you, what do you do?  Steal?

Dependency and a lack of self-esteem are a dangerous combination.  And they feed off of each other.  This combination can lead to depression.  Behavioral problems.  Resentment.  Bitterness.  Envy.  Or a defeatist attitude.

These are often unintended consequences of government programs.  A failed program, then, has far reaching consequences beyond the initial economic costs of a program.

LIQUIDITY CRISES CAUSE a lot of economic damage.  If capital is not available for businesses to borrow, businesses can’t grow.  Or create jobs.  And we need jobs.  People have to work.  To support themselves.  And to pay taxes to fund the government.  So everyone is in favor of businesses growing to create jobs.  We all would like to see money being easy and cheap to borrow if it creates jobs.

But there is a downside to easy money.  Inflation.  Too much borrowing can create inflation.  By increasing the money supply (via fractional reserve banking).  More money means higher prices.  Because each additional dollar is worth a little less. This can lead to overvalued assets as prices are ‘bid’ up with less valuable dollars.  And higher prices can inflate business profits.  Looks good on paper.  But too much of this creates a bubble.  Because those high asset values and business profits are not real.  They’re inflated.  Like a bubble.  And just as fragile.  When bubbles burst, asset values and business profits drop.  To real values.  People are no longer ‘bidding’ up prices.  They stop buying until they think prices have sunk to their lowest.  We call this deflation.  A little bit of inflation or deflation is normal.  Too much can be painful economically.  Like in the Panic of 1907.

Without going into details, there was a speculative bubble that burst in 1907.  This led to a liquidity crisis as banks failed.  Defaults on loans left banks owing more money than they had (i.e., they became illiquid).  They tried to borrow money and recall loans to restore their liquidity.  Borrowers grew concerned that their bank may fail.  So they withdrew their money.  This compounded the banks problems.  This caused deflation.  Money was unavailable.  Causing bank runs.  And bank failures.  Business failures.  And unemployment grew. So government passed the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.  The government gave the Federal Reserve System (the Fed) great powers to tweak the monetary system.  The smartest people at the time had figured out what had gone wrong in 1907.  And they created a system that made it impossible for it to happen again.

The worst liquidity crisis of all time happened from 1929-1933.  It’s part of what we call the Great Depression.  The 1920s had a booming economy.  Real income was rising.  Until the Fed took action.  Concerned that people were borrowing money for speculative purposes (in paper investments instead of labor, plant and material), they put on the brakes.  Made it harder and more expensive to borrow money.  Then a whole series of things happened along the way that turned a recession into a depression.  When people needed money, they made it harder to get it, causing a deflationary spiral.  The Great Depression was the result of bad decisions made by too few men with too much power.  It made a crisis far worse than the one in 1907.  And the Roosevelt administration made good use of this new crisis.  FDR exploded the size of government to respond to the unprecedented crisis they found themselves in.  The New Deal changed America from a nation of limited government to a country where Big Government reigns supreme.

ONE PROGRAM OF the New Deal was Social Security.  Unemployment in the 1930s ran at or above 14%.  This is for one whole decade.  Never before nor since has this happened.  Older workers generally earn more than younger ones.  Their experience commands a higher pay rate.  Which allows them to buy more things.  Resulting in more bills.  Therefore, the Great Depression hit older workers especially hard.  A decade of unemployment would have eaten through any life savings of even the most prudent savers.  And what does this get you?  A great crisis.

The government took a very atypical moment of history and changed the life of every American.  The government forced people to save for retirement.  In a very poor savings plan.  That paid poorly by comparison to private pensions or annuities.  And gave the government control over vast amounts of money.  It was a pervasive program.  They say FDR quipped, “Let them try to undo this.” 

With government taking care of you in retirement, more people stopped providing for themselves.  When they retired, they scrimped by on their ‘fixed’ incomes.  And because Social Security became law before widespread use of birth control and abortion, the actuaries of the day were very optimistic.  They used the birth rate then throughout their projections.  But with birth control and abortion came a huge baby bust.  The bottom fell out of the birth rate.  A baby bust generation followed a baby boom generation.  Actually, all succeeding generations were of the bust kind.  The trend is growing where fewer and fewer people pay for more and more people collecting benefits.  And these people were living longer.  To stay solvent, the system has to raise taxes on those working and reduce benefits on those who are not.  Or raise the retirement age.  All these factors have made it more difficult on our aged population.  Making them working longer than they planned.  Or by making that fixed income grow smaller.

FDR used a crisis to create Social Security.  Now our elderly people are dependent on that system.  It may suck when they compare it to private pensions or annuities, but it may be all they have.  If so, they’ll quake in their shoes anytime anyone mentions reforming Social Security.  Because of this it has become the 3rd rail of politics.  A politician does not touch it lest he or she wishes to die politically.  But it’s not all bad.  For the politician.  Because government forced the elderly to rely on them for their retirement, it has made the Social Security recipient dependent on government.  In particular, the party of government who favors Big Government.  The Democrats.  And with a declining birth rate and growing aged population, this has turned into a large and loyal voting bloc indeed.  Out of fear.

A PROGRAM THAT straddled the New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society was Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  Its original New Deal purpose was to help widows take care of their children.  When program outlays peaked in the 1970s, the majority of recipients were unmarried women and divorced women.  Because this was a program based on need, the more need you had the more you got.  Hence more children meant more money.  It also reduced the importance of marriage as the government could replace the support typically provided by a husband/father.  Noted economist Dr. Thomas Sowell blames AFDC as greatly contributing to the breakdown of the black family (which has the highest incidence of single-parent households).

With the women’s liberation movement, women have come to depend less on men.  Some affluent women conceive and raise children without a husband.  Or they adopt.  And the affluent no doubt can provide all the material needs their children will ever need.  Without a husband.  Or a father for their children.  But is that enough?

The existence of ‘big brother’ programs would appear to prove otherwise.  Troubled children are often the products of broken families.  Mothers search for big brothers to mentor these fatherless sons.  To be role models.  To show an interest in these children’s lives.  To care.  When no such role models are available, some of these troubled children turn to other sources of acceptance and guidance.  Like gangs.

AFDC has compounded this problem by providing the environment that fosters fatherless children.  And another government program compounds that problem.  Public housing.

POOR HOUSING CONDITIONS hurt families.  They especially hurt broken families.  Without a working husband, these families are destined to live in the cheapest housing available.  These are often in the worst of neighborhoods.  This is an unfair advantage to the children raised in those families.  For it wasn’t their fault they were born into those conditions.  So, to solve that problem, government would build good public housing for these poorest of the poor to move into.  Problem solved.

Well, not exactly.  Public housing concentrates these broken families together.  Usually in large apartment buildings.  This, then, concentrates large numbers of troubled children together.  So, instead of having these children dispersed in a community, public housing gathers them together.  Where bad behavior reinforces bad behavior.  It becomes the rule, not the exception.  Making a mother’s job that much more difficult.  And because these children live together, they also go to school together.  And this extends the bad behavior problem to the school.  Is it any wonder that public housing (i.e., the projects) have the worst living conditions?  And some of the highest gang activity? 

Government didn’t plan it this way.  It’s just the unintended consequences of their actions.  And those consequences are devastating.  To the poor in general.  To the black family in particular.  AFDC and public housing enabled irresponsible/bad behavior.  That behavior destroyed families.  As well as a generation or two.  But it wasn’t all bad.  For the politicians.  It made a very large constituency dependent on government.

THERE ARE SO many more examples.  But the story is almost always the same.  Dependency and a lack of self-esteem will beat down a person’s will.  Like an addict, it will make the dependent accept poorer and poorer living standards in exchange for their fix of dependency.  Eventually, the dependency will reach the point where they will not know how to provide for themselves.  The dependency will become permanent.  As will the lack of self-esteem.  Conscious or not of their actions, Big Government benefits from the wretched state they give these constituencies.  With no choice but continued dependence, they vote for the party that promises to give the most.  Which is typically the Democrat Party.

But how can you fault these politicians?  They acted with the best of intentions.  And they can fix these new problems.  They’ll gather the brightest minds.  They’ll study these problems.  And they will produce the best programs to solve these problems.  All it will take is more government spending.  And how can you refuse?  When people are hungry.  Or homeless.  Or have children that they can’t care for.  How can anyone not want to help the children?  How can anyone not have compassion?

Well, compassion is one thing.  When the innocent suffer.  But when government manufactures that suffering, it’s a different story.  Planned or not the result is the same whenever government tries to fix things.  The cost is high.  The solution is typically worse than the original problem.  And the poorest of the poor are pawns.  To be used by Big Government in the name of compassion. 

Of course, if Big Government were successful in fixing these problems, they would fix themselves right out of existence.  So as long as they want to run Big Government programs, they’ll need a stock of wretched, suffering masses that need their help.  And, of course, lots of crises.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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