The First, Second and Third Reich

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 1st, 2014

History 101

The Holy Roman Empire was the First German Reich

At the height of the Roman Empire the Mediterranean Sea was a Roman Lake.  For the Romans controlled all the land around the Mediterranean Sea.  As the Roman Empire controlled most of the civilized world.  From Africa to Britain.  From Spain to the Middle East.  And its presence in Europe would shape Europe and the world we know today.  But before the Romans could shape our world the barbarians had to destroy theirs.

The northern frontier of the Roman Empire ran along the Rhine and Danube rivers.  West of the Rhine and south of the Danube was the civilized Roman Empire.  On the other side of those rivers were the Ostrogoths, the Visogoths and the Vandals.  Barbarians.  Germanic people.  Who would sweep down (along with the Huns from Central Asia) and conquer the Western Roman Empire.  With a Germanic chieftain, Odoacer, deposing the last Roman emperor in the West.  Romulus Augustus.

After about 3 centuries Charlemagne, King of the Franks (Germanic tribes in and around modern day France), would unify Western Europe.  In a Christian kingdom.  Pleasing Pope Leo III.  Who went on to crown Charlemagne emperor of the Roman Empire.  But after he died his empire broke apart.  Meanwhile to the east Otto I was unifying the Germanic tribes into a single kingdom.  A German empire that stretched from northern Italy to the North and Baltic seas.  Encompassing a huge swathe of Central Europe (including but not limited to modern day Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France (eastern lands), Italy and Poland).  A Christian empire.  Pleasing Pope John XII.  Who crowned Otto emperor.  And the First Reich (the first German empire) became the Holy Roman Empire.

Winning the Franco-Prussian War ushered in the Second German Reich

The First Reich would last for about 850 years.  Coming to an end in 1806 when the last Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II, abdicated after fighting and losing to Napoleon.  Who reorganize it into the German Confederation.  And reduced the First Reich to a French satellite.  Up until this time there were two large powers in the Reich vying for power.  Austria in the south.  And Prussia in the north.  Otto von Bismarck was a Prussian.  And Prussia was a militaristic nation.  That believed less in diplomacy and more in power.  And Bismarck would use force to unite the German states into a Prussian-dominated Germany.  While getting rid of its rival.  Austria.

War followed.  The Austro-Prussian War (1866) ended the German Confederation.  Prussia replaced the German Confederation with North German Confederation that excluded Austria.  This confederation included much of the northern lands of the First Reich.  To sooth the feelings between the north (led by Prussia) and the south (led by Austria) Bismarck made the French declare war on Prussia.  And when they did the southern German states sided with Prussia.  The Prussians and Germans moved quickly into northern France.  And after a long siege of Paris the Germans won the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).  They took back a lot of lands lost to France.  Including Alsace-Lorraine.  Much to the chagrin of the French.  And unified the German states into a German Empire.  The Second Reich.

The German Empire industrialized.  Greatly increasing its economic and military might.  Shifting the balance of power in Europe.  Germany was now the most powerful nation in Europe.  Which concerned the other powers of Europe.  So they began to enter treaties with each other.  Such that if Germany attacked one nation another nation (or nations) would declare war on Germany.  To provide a deterrent against German aggression.  And rebalance the balance of power in Europe.  But then Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, traveled to Sarajevo.  Where Gavrilo Princip assassinated him.  Pushing the first domino in a sting of dominos to fall as all of Europe honored their treaties.

The Third Reich was the Largest and Shortest-Lived German Reich

Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia.  In support of Austria-Hungary Germany invaded Belgium and Luxembourg on their way to France.  Causing the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany.  In support of Serbia Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary.  Allying with France and the United Kingdom.  The Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia.  Then nation after nation joined a side and entered the war.  Even the United States.  By the time it was all over some 16 million people were dead.  As were the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and German empires.  The map of Europe changed.  And the Second Reich was over.  Having lasted 47 years.  Large chunks of the Second Reich were taken away.  Including Alsace-Lorraine.  And much of Prussia.  Which was restored to Poland.  Which infuriated a lot of Germans.  Especially one German war veteran in particular.  A corporal.  Adolf Hitler.

World War I ended in an armistice.  Meaning that no one surrendered.  But the American entry into the war pretty much meant that the Germans were going to lose.  All the nations had long grown weary of the war.  But here was a fresh nation that could field fresh troops against Germany.  Which was exhausted.  It had nothing left.  Which gave the Allies the upper hand in the peace that followed.  And it was a bitter peace for the Germans.  Who were singled out as the sole responsible party for the war.  Well, one thing led to another and Adolf Hitler inaugurated the Third Reich.  And he set about retrieving all that lost German territory.  He annexed Austria.  The Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.  Then he took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  A country that conveniently ran along the southern border of Poland.  And then he kicked off World War II.

The Third Reich invaded Poland.  Norway.  The Low Countries.  France.  And the Soviet Union (the former Russian Empire).  Reclaiming all lost German lands.  Including Alsace-Lorraine.  And unifying them once again.  Even adding on to them.  Through the use of force.  The Prussian way.  The Third Reich was the largest German Reich yet.  But it was the shortest lived Reich.  Lasting only 12 years.  By the time World War II was over some 70 million people were dead.  Making the Third Reich the bloodiest Reich.  The Allies helped to rebuild West Germany (East Germany was behind the Iron Curtain) to keep her out of the Soviet Sphere.  To give it a thriving free market economy.  And prosperity.  By providing full employment.  Which also helped to prevent gangs of unemployed young men from getting nationalistic fervor.  Again.  West Germany integrated into the west.  Away from the Soviets.  And away from her Prussian past.

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The Shifting Borders of Eastern Europe

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 18th, 2014

History 101

By 1300 the Mongol Golden Horde took all of Kievan Rus

Vladimir Putin took Crimea from Ukraine.  Because he said the people there are more Russian than Ukrainian.  The people there wanted to be a part of Russia instead of Ukraine.  And that the land historically has belonged to Russia.  But that’s not true.  Yes, if you go back in time the land was Russian.  But if you go further back it wasn’t.  In fact the borders of Eastern Europe have changed so much that today’s borders bear little resemblance to what they have been over time.  You can watch 1,000 years of this change play out in a video on Loiter.co (see Watch as 1000 years of European borders change).  We’ll recap some of the changes in century intervals.

In the early 1100s the Western Roman Empire was gone.  In its place was the Holy Roman Empire stretching from central Italy to the North Sea.  Spain was mostly Muslim.  France was taking shape.  The Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) was still in modern day Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.  Going north there was Hungary.  Then Poland.  And Lithuania.  To the east of these countries was the large expanse of Kievan Rus.  Modern day Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia.  And the Crimea was held by the Turkic Cumans.  But this land would change hands many times in the centuries to come.

By 1200 the Byzantine Empire moved further north into the Balkans.  While the Muslims moved into Byzantine territory from the south.  Hungary, Poland and Lithuania adjusted their borders slightly.  The Holy Roman Empire pushed further west in Europe.  The Cumans pushed into southern Kievan Rus.  While Kievan Rus moved south between the Black and Caspian seas.  By 1300 the Mongol Golden Horde (northwest part of the Mongol Empire) took all of Kievan Rus.  Hungary pushed out her borders while Poland shrank hers.  With East Prussia taking her northern lands.  Lithuania reshaped her borders in part to East Prussia.  The Byzantine Empire was reduced to a small area of the southern Balkans.  The Mongols were in Crimea.

Russia, Prussia and Hungary reduced Poland to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw by 1800

By 1400 the Ottoman Empire had replaced the Byzantines in the Balkans.  Hungary adjusted her borders a little.  East Prussia remained the same.  Poland and Lithuania had joined in a commonwealth and pushed their border south and east.  Into the lands that were once Kievan Rus.  Except for Crimea and the area just north of Crimea.  Pushing the Mongols east.  As the Republic of Novgorod and Muscovy pushed down on the Mongols from the north.  By 1500 the Ottoman Empire pushed further into southern Europe.  Into Hungary.  Crimea.  And Poland-Lithuania.  Which pushed north into East Prussia.  While Russia replaced the Republic of Novgorod and Muscovy and pushed south into Poland-Lithuania.

By 1600 the Ottoman Empire adjusted her northern borders a little.  Poland replaced the Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth.  And pushed her border slightly east into Russia.  Russia pushed her southern border to the Caspian Sea.  Sweden was across the Baltic Sea into modern day Finland and Estonia.  On Russia’s most western border.  By 1700 Hungary had pushed the Ottoman Empire back into the Balkans.  Prussia formed on the Baltic Sea west of Poland.  With East Prussia to the east of Poland on the Baltic Sea.  The Russian Empire pushed west to the Baltic Sea.  Pushing the Swedes out of Estonia and part of Finland.  Russia had also pushed south through Lithuania and pushed deep into Poland.  The Ottoman Empire was still on the northern side of the Black Sea at Russia’s southern border.

By 1800 the Russian Empire had pushed their southern border all the way to the Black Sea.  Pushing the Ottoman Empire back.  The Russians also pushed their southern border further south between the Black and Caspian seas.  They pushed west through modern day Finland to the sea.  They pushed their western border through half of what was Poland.  Hungary pushed north into what was Poland.  Prussia and East Prussia joined together, taking land from Poland on the Baltic Sea.  Russia, Prussia and Hungary left little of Poland.   What was left of her lands became the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.

Vladimir Putin has said one of the Greatest Catastrophes of the 20th Century was the Collapse of the Soviet Union

By 1900 the Ottoman Empire was pushed almost completely out of the Balkans.  Greece and Bulgaria were now on the lands the Ottomans once held.  Russia pushed their southern border between the Black and Caspian seas further into the Ottoman Empire.  Hungary pushed her southern border to Greece and Bulgaria.  And west into Austria (which would later form the Austria-Hungary Empire).  The Germanic states had formed into a greater Germany that stretched from France to Russia.  Absorbing the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.  And even pushing into Russia’s western border.

Then came World War I.  And afterwards the borders of Europe were greatly changed.  The Austria-Hungary Empire was broken into Romania, Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.  The eastern half (approximately) of the greater Germany was given to a reconstituted Poland.  With East Prussia bordering Poland on the north and separated from Germany (Hitler’s opening shots in World War II was to recover this lost territory).   To the north of Poland and East Prussia were Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.  Russia was now the Soviet Union with her western border pushed slightly back from where it was before World War I.  Bordering Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania in the west.  And pushed back out of Finland.  The Soviet southern border between the Black and Caspian seas was pushed back a little.  And Turkey replaced what was left of the Ottoman Empire.

After World War II the Soviet Union pushed her border through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to the Baltic Sea.  After the Soviet Union fell Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia restored their borders.  And the former lands of the Kievan Rus are now divided between Russia in the north and east.  Belarus between Poland and Russia.  And Ukraine bordering Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the west.  The Black Sea to the south.  And Russia to the east.  With Crimea a part of Ukraine.  Well, until recently, that is.  As Russia has recently annexed Crimea.  And may be looking further west.  For this former KGB officer—Vladimir Putin—has said one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Which he began to put back together with his annexation of Crimea.

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Cult of Personality

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 20th, 2014

Politics 101

Hitler received the Iron Cross for Bravery which carried a lot of Currency in a Militaristic Germany

Adolf Hitler could give a speech that fired up the masses.  People loved him.  The Nazis rose to power by winning elections.  People elected them because they liked what the Nazis were saying.  Things were not that good in Germany.  The victorious Allies blamed World War I on them even though all nations jumped in enthusiastically.  And then to add insult to injury the Allies made Germany pay reparations.  Burdening Germany with the cost of World War I.

This was especially galling as Germany didn’t lose the war.  The war ended in an armistice.  Which is a mutual cessation of warfare.  Not unconditional surrender.  And yet here was Germany.  Being treated as if they surrendered unconditionally.  It made a lot of people feel angry.  And betrayed.  Enter Adolf Hitler.  Who could tap into that anger and feelings of betrayal.

Hitler was a war veteran.  He served as a dispatch runner in World War I.  Wounded by artillery.  And blinded temporarily by mustard gas.  He even received the Iron Cross for bravery.  Although it may have had more to do with spending so much time with senior officers at headquarters that issued those dispatches.  But for a militaristic Germany an Iron Cross carried a lot of currency.

When the Reichstag burned down Hitler blamed the Marxists and turned Germany into a Police State

So Hitler was a brave war hero.  Even though he didn’t actually use a weapon.  Which was a good foundation to build on.  For war heroes don’t stab people in the back after fighting bravely for them in war.  Which is how many Germans felt about the politicians.  Betrayed.  Victims of the evil, conniving politicians.  So the people felt victimized.  And they were looking for someone to stand up for them.  To right these wrongs.

Hitler wanted to be an artist.  But when that didn’t work he turned to politics.  And learned what a good speaker he was.  He even studied how to become a better speaker.  How to look.  How to use his hands.  How to inflect his voice.  His speeches became very moving.  Very dramatic.  He made the defeated Germans feel better.  For he told them that it wasn’t their fault.  It was the politicians, and the Marxists, that stabbed Germany in the back.  And he was the one man that could do something about it.

When the Reichstag burned down he blamed the Marxists.  Who the Nazis shared power with in the Reichstag.  But didn’t want to.  It’s still debated who started the fire (the communists, the Nazis, others) but what it did was allow the newly appointed chancellor, Adolf Hitler, to urge President Hindenburg to suspend all civil liberties so they could hunt these communists down like the dogs they were.  President Hindenburg did.  And the government rounded up the communists.  With them out of the government the Nazis no longer had to share power.  And turned Germany into a police state.  To keep that power.

The Equation Brutal Dictators use to stay in Power is Victimization + Demonization + Emotion = Power

Hitler was charismatic.  He could give a powerful speech.  And after the Reichstag fire he controlled the people.  Using censorship and propaganda he made himself god-like.  The war hero.  The savior of the German people.  To undo all the injustice of the Versailles Treaty.  Standing up to the Allies.  Punishing those who stabbed Germany in the back (first the Marxists and then the Jews).  And restoring German pride.  Because he got even with those who wronged the German people.  The people loved him.  He could do no wrong in their eyes. No matter how much wrong he did.  Which he could hide from the people.  Thanks to his censoring of the free press.  And his state propaganda machine.  Which is why people packed stadiums and the sides of roads.  Showering him with their adoration.

Adolf Hitler was Germany.  Germany was Adolf Hitler.  His national socialism provided for the people.  In return the people were subservient to the state.  Germany was more important than the individual.  And Adolf Hitler was more important than Germany.  So anything he did was okay.  For he could do no wrong.  As there was nothing more important than Adolf Hitler.  For Hitler was a cult of personality.  Above the law.  And god-like.  Where people believed he was the only one that could save the nation.  And would do anything for him.  With the most devout joining the SS.  Fighting with unbounded fanaticism in combat.  And carrying out the Holocaust with ruthless efficiency.  They pledged their loyalty to Adolf Hitler.  Not Germany.  And would do anything for him.  Anything at all.  Even torture and kill their fellow Germans.  If that was what their Führer wanted.

This is how dictators were able to do some of the things they did. Because they were a cult of personality.  Mao Zedong.  Saddam Hussein.  Benito Mussolini.  Muammar Gaddafi.  Kim Il-sung.  Kim Jong-il.  Kim Jong-un.  These brutal dictators were/are all worshipped by their people.  At least the people they weren’t/aren’t torturing or killing.  For they had an equation they used to remain in power.  Victimization + Demonization + Emotion = Power.  Similar to the equation the Democrats use to win elections.  Victimization + Demonization + Emotion = Democrat Votes.  Where they victimize the people.  Find someone to demonize for this victimization.  Such as Marxists and Jews in Nazi Germany.  Or Republicans in the United States.  Then use state propaganda to disseminate their lies.  Like Joseph Goebbels did in Nazi Germany.  And like the mainstream media in the United States disseminates Democrat talking points.  And then use fiery rhetoric to incite the people’s emotions.  Like Hitler, Hussein, Mussolini, Gaddafi, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un and every other cult of personality did.  Like these ‘god-like’ people still do today.

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Abortion and Tax Revenue

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 27th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published January 21st, 2013)

The Population Growth Rate fell during the Sixties and Seventies from 19% to 11% due to Birth Control and Abortion

Taxpayers are born.  Yes, immigration helped populate America.  But it was really the children of immigrants that made the country grow.  For a large population having babies will increase the population far more than immigration can.  Why?  Where do immigrants come from?  Babies.  Having babies is like compounding interest.  For babies grow up and have babies of their own.  So babies are good.  Especially for a government that wants to spend money.  Because the more babies we have the more taxpayers we will have.  So high-spending governments need a growing population growth rate.  To provide ever more taxpayers.  Who provide ever more tax revenue.  But sometimes the population growth rate doesn’t always increase.  Sometimes it even falls.  (See Population, Housing Units, Area Measurements, and Density: 1790 to 1990.  The population numbers are from the decennial census numbers.  The population growth rate is the percentage of population growth from one decade to the next.)

Although the population has always grown the population growth rate has not always grown.  In fact, the rate of growth has been falling over time.  Taking steep declines during war.  During the American Civil War the growth rate fell from 36% down to 23% by the time of the next census.  The census before and after World War I saw a decline from 21% to 15%.  The rate plummeted from 16% to 7% before and after the Great Depression.  With so many people out of work and struggling to survive the last thing families needed was another baby to feed.  The rate actually increased during World War II.  But that had more to do with people not having babies during the Great Depression for economic reasons.  After World War II the rate rose to 14%.  Which was still a point less than after World War I.

The following table shows the decrease in population due to war.  (Raw numbers are pulled from United States military casualties of war.)

Note that the most devastating of American wars was the American Civil War.  Where approximately 2% of the population died.  In terms of percentage loss of population the next costliest war was the Revolutionary War.  Then World War II.  Then World War I.  These wars saw millions of men in uniform (except for the Revolutionary War).  Away from their wives for years.  Which put a crimp in baby making.  And the large number of wounded and dead compounded that problem.  Resulting in large dips in the population growth rate during these wars.  Despite the large loss of life in numbers of America’s other wars those losses were all less than 0.10% of the population.  Making the impact on the population growth rate negligible.  One thing these numbers don’t explain, though, is the decline in the population growth rate after 1960.  During the Sixties and the Seventies the growth rate fell from 19% down to 11%.    But it wasn’t the Vietnam War that caused that decline.  So what did?  Birth control.  And abortion.

Couples having only 2 Children can’t Support an Expanding Welfare State but Couples having 3 Children Can

The U.S. approved the sale of the birth control pill in 1960.  Which corresponded with the era of free love and the sexual revolution.  People were having more sex.  While having fewer babies.  Then Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973.  Since then there have been on average about 1.4 million abortions a year.  Dwarfing the 156,250 killed a year in America’s most devastating war.  The American Civil War.  Which has brought the population growth rate to its smallest numbers that weren’t due to war or depression.  Because of that compounding nature of babies (growing up to have babies of their own).  And because babies become taxpayers this has a big impact on future tax revenue.  We can see this by looking at how 100 abortions ripple through the population.

Let’s assume those 100 abortions happen in Year 1 (Y1).  Had these abortions not happened these babies would have grown up and entered the workforce about 20 years later (Y1+20).  And split off into pairs to have babies of their own.  (If each couple has one baby they have a total of 50 babies.  If each couple has two babies they have a total of 100 babies.  Etc.)  Who would grow up and enter the workforce about 20 years later (Y1+40).  And so on.  The above graph adds up all the people for each 20-year period produced by the Y1 babies (children, grandchildren, great grand children, etc.) divided by 100 (those original babies not aborted).

If the Y1 people only have one baby they and their descendants disappear from the world in about 2 centuries.  If they have 2 children the population never grows larger than 4 times the original Y1 people.  Two children to replace two parents.  It’s not until you get to three children that you see an increase in population.  As well as an increase in tax revenue.

Assume each of the people, or taxpayers, at 20-year intervals earn a median income of $50,000.  They pay an effective federal income tax rate of 18%.  In addition to 12.4% for Social Security taxes (both employer and employee).  And 2.9% for Medicare.  Added together they total 33.3%.  This tax rate on total income at each 20-year interval produces the tax revenue in the above graph.  Note the revenue graphs are the same shape as the population graphs.  Showing a direct correlation between tax revenue and the population growth rate.  The tax revenue provided by couples having only one child disappears within two centuries.  Revenue provided by couples having only two children peaks out at $6,660,000.  As couples only have enough children to replace themselves.  Maintaining a constant of 4 taxpayers (2 parents and 2 children) after 80 years.  Showing that couples having 2, 1 or 0 children cannot support an expanding welfare state.  But a couple having 3 children can.  As long as it’s not too big of a welfare state.

You just can’t have an Expanding Welfare State with a Falling Population Growth Rate

The more children a couple has the greater the tax revenue.  For the more children they have the more people enter the workforce and become taxpayers.  If 50 couples have 3 kids each (as do their descendants) they will add $30.4 million in federal tax revenue in one century.  If they have 4 kids they will add $99.9 million in revenue.  If they have 5 kids they will add $264 million.  And if they have 6 kids they will add $599.4 million.

In two centuries these numbers are even more profound.  Couples having 4 kids will provide $3.2 billion in federal tax revenue.  While couples having 5 kids will provide $25.8 billion.  And couples having 6 kids will provide $145.6 billion.  If, that is, 100 pregnancies weren’t aborted 2 centuries earlier.

In the long-term revenue would soar if people simply started having babies again.  For birth control and abortion have greatly reduced the number of babies we’re having.  Causing tax revenue to fall.  We can bring revenue back up by having more babies.  But after some 30 years this baby dearth has pushed us into the flat part of these graphs.  Requiring up to a century or more to make large population gains.  And large gains in tax revenue.   And without these gains in revenue we simply cannot afford an expanding welfare state.

It is rather ironic that two tenets of liberalism clash here.  Liberals believe in both a welfare state.  And free birth control and abortion on demand.  They believe in one thing that requires women to have a lot of babies.  And another that helps women to have as few babies as possible.  Which is another reason liberalism will ultimately fail.  Paradoxes like this.  For you just can’t have an expanding welfare state with a falling population growth rate.  If you try you get trillion dollar deficits.  And $16.4 trillion in accumulated debt.

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Cairo Speech, Treaty of Rapallo, German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, and Operation Barbarossa

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 14th, 2014

History 101

President Obama’s Cairo Speech of Islamist Appeasement Emboldened our Enemies

Candidate Barack Obama said during the 2008 presidential campaign that he would talk to our enemies.  Without preconditions.  He would discontinue the gunboat diplomacy of George W. Bush.  Instead he would open a dialogue with the people who wanted to kill us.  Find out why they wanted to kill us. And then resolve those issues that caused our enemies to want to kill us.  Which was the core of his foreign policy.  Being nice to our enemies to get them to like us.  And once they did they would stop killing us.

Some say this started with the Obama apology tour.  With his message of appeasement in Cairo in June 2009.  Where he told our militant Islamist foes, those people who have a tendency to kill Americans, we only want to live together in peace.  And that there is a level of conservative Islamism that was acceptable to the United States.  When the Arab Spring began in Iran (a sponsor of anti-American/Western terrorism) in June of 2009 (after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won reelection despite reported irregularities) President Obama did nothing to support the Iranian protestors.  And the enemies of the United States took notice.  The Cairo speech of appeasement.  Not condemning the Iranian election results and telling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he had to go (as he would tell Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak).  The message was clear.  America’s enemies could do whatever they wanted.  Even become a rogue nuclear power (see Iran: US and others ‘surrendered before the great Iranian nation’ in nuclear deal by Alexander Smith posted 1/14/2014 on NBC News).

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said world powers including the United States “surrendered before the great Iranian nation” in agreeing an interim nuclear deal with his country, state media reported Tuesday.

Iran reached the deal with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the U.S., Canada, Britain, China, and Russia– and non-member Germany…

Speaking to a crowd gathered in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan on Tuesday, Rouhani said: “Do you know what the Geneva agreement means? It means the big powers have surrendered before the great Iranian nation.”

Apparently appeasing our enemies only makes our enemies bolder.  And stronger.  Which is probably not a good thing.  North Korea is a rogue nuclear state.  But their need for food and energy make it unlikely that they will launch a nuclear weapon.  They have so far used the threat of doing so just to get what they desperately needed.  Food and energy.  Militant Islamists, though, want to rid the world of anyone who is not a militant Islamist.  Even if they have to die in the process.  Which they don’t mind.  Because for them this world is only the prelude for the far better afterworld.  Whereas the regime running North Korea has no desire to die.  They enjoy living in the here and now.  And know that won’t continue if they launch a nuclear weapon.

Neville Chamberlain opened a Dialogue with a Lying Adolf Hitler who lied to Chamberlain

The Allies blamed Germany for World War I.  And the Versailles Treaty made the peace following the war a difficult one for Germany.  Blame for the war, war reparations, loss of territories, emasculation (severe limits on Germany’s military strength), etc.  It did a number to German esteem.  Especially when they didn’t technically lose World War I.  The war ended in an armistice.  Where the combatants agreed to a cease fire as they were all exhausted by war.  Of course, America’s entry into the war would have most likely led to a German surrender.  For they were not yet exhausted by years of war.  And could extend the conflict indefinitely until Germany did surrender.  But that didn’t happen.  Which made for a lot of angry Germans when the Allies treated them as if they had surrendered unconditionally.  Setting the stage for an Adolf Hitler to come to power.  Which is what happened.

The war left the Germans isolated.   Russia pulled out of World War I before its completion and devolved into revolution.  Bringing the communists to power.  Replacing Russia with the Soviet Union.  These developments left them, too, isolated in the post-war world.  And then these two isolated nations found each other.  Signing the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922.  Renouncing any territorial or financial claims between them from the war.  And becoming trading partners.  Among other things.  Such as using Soviet soil to rebuild German armed forces in direct violation of the Versailles Treaty.  Where they trained for armor warfare.  Built an air force.  And even developed chemical weapons.  This new eastern friendship had another shared interest.  Poland.

 

Germany and Russia lost portions of Poland following World War I.  And they wanted them back.  But Hitler tested the waters first.  To see how the war-weary allies would react.  He marched troops into the demilitarized Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty.  And the Allies did nothing.  Hitler sent an ultimatum to the Austrian chancellor to hand over power to the Austrian NSDAP (i.e., Austrian Nazi Party) or he would invade Austria.  The Austrian chancellor did.  And Hitler’s Wehrmacht marched triumphantly into Austria the following day.  And the Allies did nothing.  Then Hitler turned his eyes to Czechoslovakia.  And the Sudetenland.  Which he wanted to annex into the Third Reich.  And he was willing to do this with an armed invasion.  Something that got the war-weary Allies’ attention.  For the last thing they wanted in Europe was another war.  British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler.  And opened a dialogue with him.  Finding Hitler to be a reasonable man.  And the Allies agreed to give Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to Hitler.  With Czechoslovakia having little say in the matter.  But it was for the greater good.  “Peace in our time.”  And it was the last territorial acquisition he wanted.  He promised.  So Hitler got the Sudetenland.  And within 6 months Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  Without firing a single shot.  Because the Allies were so eager to appease Hitler that they never considered that he was lying to them.  Which he was.

The Treaty of Rapallo allowed the Nazis to build the War Machine they eventually Unleashed on the Soviet Union

With the southern border of Poland secured thanks to the Allies giving Czechoslovakia to Germany it was time to recover their lost territory in Poland.  All they needed was a little help from their new best friend.  The Soviet Union.  And it came in the form of a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.  The Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics signed August 23, 1939.  Promising that neither would go to war with the other.  Or ally with a nation that does.  As well as the secret agreement to invade and divide Poland.  As well as dividing up Bessarabia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, etc.  Then, on September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland.  Launching World War II.  Something they couldn’t have done if it weren’t for their new best friend.  The Soviet Union.

After Poland came Norway.  Then France and the Low Countries.  The British held the Nazis off in the Battle of Britain.  Then came North Africa.  Yugoslavia.  And Greece.  Then came Operation Barbarossa.  Starting on June 22, 1941.  Something Hitler thought about since writing about it in Mein Kampf back in 1925.  Finding Lebensraum (i.e., living space) for the German people.  In particular the Bread Basket of Europe.  The Ukraine.  Which if you know your history, and your geography, was part of the Soviet Union.  Yes, that’s right.  Hitler lied to Joseph Stalin to get what he wanted.  Launching off points for the conquest of the Soviet Union.  A land he viewed as filled with sub-humans he would kill off with famine after taking their food.

The Soviet people paid a dear price for their leader’s treachery.  Enduring hell on earth on the Eastern Front.  With some 20 million dead by the time it was over.  It was these innocent Soviets who won World War II.  Who wore down the Germans with their wholesale dying.  At times 10 Soviets dying for every one German.  None of which would have happened if Stalin had read Mein Kampf.  Or if he didn’t make a pact with the Devil that led to World War II.  The secret agreements in the Treaty of Rapallo.  Letting the Nazis develop the war machine they eventually unleashed on the Soviet Union.  Which just goes to show you that you need to understand who your enemies are.  And once you do you cannot try to make nice with them.  For they will turn on you once you’ve served your useful purpose.  Just like Hitler turned on Stalin.  As Iran will turn on the United States after they served their useful purpose in getting them their nuclear weapons.  And when that time comes the cost of that war will be far greater than it would have been if it was fought before they had nuclear weapons.  With scenes from that war looking more like Hiroshima and Nagasaki than the hell on earth of the Eastern Front

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FT167: “When we lived more austerely there was no need for painful austerity to cure a bloated government.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 26th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Wise Men in Governments can Do Anything but Pay for their Nanny States

Economics changed in the early Twentieth Century.  America once again had a central bank.  Progressives were expanding the role of government.  And a new economist entered the scene that the progressives just loved.  For he was a macroeconomist who said government should have an active role in the economy.  A role where government tweaked the economy to make it better.  Stronger.  While avoiding the painful corrections on the downside of a business cycle.  Something laissez-faire capitalism caused.  And could not prevent.  But if wise men in government had the power to tweak the private sector economy they could.  At least this is what the progressives and Keynesian economists thought.

That economist was, of course, John Maynard Keynes.  Who rewrote the book on economics.  And what really excited the progressives was the chapter on spending an economy out of a recession.  Now there were two ways to increase spending in an economy.  You can cut tax rates so consumers have bigger paychecks.  Or the government can spend money that they borrow or print.  The former doesn’t need any government intervention into the private sector economy.  While the latter requires those wise men in government to reach deep into that economy.  Guess which way governments choose to increase spending.  Here’s a hint.  It ain’t the one where they just sit on the sidelines.

Governments changed in the Twentieth Century.  Socialism swept through Europe.  And left social democracies in its wake.  Not quite socialism.  But pretty close.  It was the rise of the nanny state.  Cradle to grave government benefits.  A lot of free stuff.  Including pensions.  Health care.  College educations.  And a lot of government jobs in ever expanding government bureaucracies.  Where wise men in government made everything better for the people living in these nanny states.  And armed with their new Keynesian economic policies there was nothing they couldn’t do.  Except pay for their nanny states.

According to John Maynard Keynes raising Tax Rates reduces New Economic Activity

The problem with a nanny state is things change.  People have fewer babies.  Health care and medicines improve.  Increasing lifespans.  You put this together and you get an aging population.  The death knell of a nanny state.  For when those wise men in government set up all of those generous government benefits they assumed things would continue the way they were.  People would continue to have the same amount of babies.  And we would continue to die just about the time we retired.  Giving us an expanding population of new workers entering the workforce.  While fewer people left the workforce and quickly died.  So the tax base would grow.  And always be larger than those consuming those taxes.  In other words, a Ponzi scheme.

But then change came.  With the Sixties came birth control and abortion.  And we all of a sudden started having fewer babies.  While at the same time advances in medicine was increasing our lifespans.  Which flipped the pyramid upside down.  Fewer people were entering the workforce than were leaving it.  And those leaving it were living a lot longer into retirement.  Consuming record amounts of tax money.  More than the tax base could provide.  Leading to deficit spending.  And growing national debt.

Now remember those two ways to increase spending in the economy?  You either cut tax rates.  Or the government borrows and spends.  So if cutting tax rates will generate new economic activity (i.e., new spending in the economy) what will a tax increase do?  It will decrease spending in the economy.  And reduce new economic activity.  Which caused a problem for these nanny states with aging populations.  As the price tag on their nanny state benefits eventually grew greater than their tax revenue’s ability to pay for it.  So they increased tax rates.  Which reduced economic activity.  And with less economic activity to tax their increase in tax rates actually decreased tax revenue.  Forcing them to run greater deficits.  Which added to their national debts.  Increasing the interest they paid on their debt.  Which left less money to pay for those generous benefits.

President Obama’s Non-Defense Spending caused a Huge Spike in the National Debt not seen since World War II

It’s a vicious cycle.  And eventually you reach a tipping point.  As debts grow larger some start to question the ability of a government to ever repay their debt.  Making it risky to loan them any more money.  Which forces these countries with huge debts to pay higher interest rates on their government bonds.  Which leaves less money to pay for those generous benefits.  While their populations continue to age.  Taking you to that tipping point.  Like many countries in the Eurozone who could no longer borrow money to pay for their nanny states.  Who had to turn to the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund for emergency loans.  Which did provide those emergency loans.  Under the condition that they cut spending.  Money in exchange for austerity.  Something that just galls those Keynesian economists.  For despite all of their financial woes coming from having too much debt they still believe these governments should spend their way out of their recessions.  And never mind about the deficits.  Or their burgeoning debts.

But these Keynesians are missing a very important and obvious point.  The problem these nations have is due to their inability to borrow money.  Which means they would NOT have a problem if they didn’t need to borrow money.  So austerity will work.  Because it will decrease the amount of money they need to borrow.  Allowing their tax revenue to pay for their spending needs.  Without excessive tax rates that reduce economic activity.  Making the nanny state the source of all their problems.  For had these nations never became social democracies in the first place they never would have had crushing debt levels that cause sovereign debt crises.  But they did.  And their populations aged.  Making it a matter of time before their Ponzi schemes failed.  Something no nation with a growing nanny state and an aging population can avoid.  Even the United States.  Who kept true to their limited government roots for about 100 years.   Then came the progressives.  The central bank.  And Keynesian economics.  Putting the Americans on the same path as the Europeans (see US Federal Debt As Percent Of GDP).

Debt as Percent of GDP and Wars R2

With the end of the Revolutionary War they diligently paid down their war debt.  Which was pretty much the entire federal debt then.  As the federal government was as limited as it could get.  Then came the War of 1812 and the debt grew.  After the war it fell to virtually nothing.  Then it soared to pay for the Civil War.  Which changed the country.  The country was bigger.  Connected by a transcontinental railroad.  And other internal improvements.  Which prevented the debt from falling back down to pre-war levels.  Then it shot up to pay for World War I.  After WWI the Roaring Twenties replaced progressivism and quickly brought the debt down again.  Then Herbert Hoover brought back progressivism and killed the Roaring Twenties.  FDR turned a bad recession into the Great Depression.  By following all of that Keynesian advice to spend the nation out of recession.  From the man himself.  Keynes.  The massive deficit spending of the New Deal raised the debt higher than it was during World War I.  Changing the country again.  Introducing a state pension.  Social Security.  A Ponzi scheme that would struggle once the population started aging.

Then came World War II and the federal debt soared to its highest levels.  After the war a long decline in the debt followed.  At the end of that decline was the Vietnam War.  And LBJ’s Great Society.  Which arrested the fall in the debt.  Its lowest point since the Great Depression.  Which was about as large as the debt during the Civil War and World War I.  Showing the growth in non-defense spending.  Then came Reagan’s surge in defense spending to win the Cold War.  Once the Americans won the Cold War the debt began to fall again.  Until the Islamist terrorist attacks on 9/11.  Halting the fall in the debt as the War on Terror replaced the Cold War.  Then came the Great Recession.  And President Obama.  Whose non-defense spending caused a huge spike in the national debt.  Taking it to a level not seen since World War II.  When an entire world was at war.  But this debt is not from defense spending.  It’s from an expanded nanny state.  As President Obama takes America into the direction of European socialism.  And unsustainable spending.  Which can end in only but one way.  Austerity.  Painful austerity.  Not like the discomfort of the sequester cuts that only were cuts in the rate of future growth.  But real cuts.  Like in Greece.

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Abortion and Tax Revenue

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 21st, 2013

Economics 101

The Population Growth Rate fell during the Sixties and Seventies from 19% to 11% due to Birth Control and Abortion

Taxpayers are born.  Yes, immigration helped populate America.  But it was really the children of immigrants that made the country grow.  For a large population having babies will increase the population far more than immigration can.  Why?  Where do immigrants come from?  Babies.  Having babies is like compounding interest.  For babies grow up and have babies of their own.  So babies are good.  Especially for a government that wants to spend money.  Because the more babies we have the more taxpayers we will have.  So high-spending governments need a growing population growth rate.  To provide ever more taxpayers.  Who provide ever more tax revenue.  But sometimes the population growth rate doesn’t always increase.  Sometimes it even falls.  (See Population, Housing Units, Area Measurements, and Density: 1790 to 1990.  The population numbers are from the decennial census numbers.  The population growth rate is the percentage of population growth from one decade to the next.)

Although the population has always grown the population growth rate has not always grown.  In fact, the rate of growth has been falling over time.  Taking steep declines during war.  During the American Civil War the growth rate fell from 36% down to 23% by the time of the next census.  The census before and after World War I saw a decline from 21% to 15%.  The rate plummeted from 16% to 7% before and after the Great Depression.  With so many people out of work and struggling to survive the last thing families needed was another baby to feed.  The rate actually increased during World War II.  But that had more to do with people not having babies during the Great Depression for economic reasons.  After World War II the rate rose to 14%.  Which was still a point less than after World War I.

The following table shows the decrease in population due to war.  (Raw numbers are pulled from United States military casualties of war.)

Note that the most devastating of American wars was the American Civil War.  Where approximately 2% of the population died.  In terms of percentage loss of population the next costliest war was the Revolutionary War.  Then World War II.  Then World War I.  These wars saw millions of men in uniform (except for the Revolutionary War).  Away from their wives for years.  Which put a crimp in baby making.  And the large number of wounded and dead compounded that problem.  Resulting in large dips in the population growth rate during these wars.  Despite the large loss of life in numbers of America’s other wars those losses were all less than 0.10% of the population.  Making the impact on the population growth rate negligible.  One thing these numbers don’t explain, though, is the decline in the population growth rate after 1960.  During the Sixties and the Seventies the growth rate fell from 19% down to 11%.    But it wasn’t the Vietnam War that caused that decline.  So what did?  Birth control.  And abortion.

Couples having only 2 Children can’t Support an Expanding Welfare State but Couples having 3 Children Can

The U.S. approved the sale of the birth control pill in 1960.  Which corresponded with the era of free love and the sexual revolution.  People were having more sex.  While having fewer babies.  Then Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973.  Since then there have been on average about 1.4 million abortions a year.  Dwarfing the 156,250 killed a year in America’s most devastating war.  The American Civil War.  Which has brought the population growth rate to its smallest numbers that weren’t due to war or depression.  Because of that compounding nature of babies (growing up to have babies of their own).  And because babies become taxpayers this has a big impact on future tax revenue.  We can see this by looking at how 100 abortions ripple through the population.

Let’s assume those 100 abortions happen in Year 1 (Y1).  Had these abortions not happened these babies would have grown up and entered the workforce about 20 years later (Y1+20).  And split off into pairs to have babies of their own.  (If each couple has one baby they have a total of 50 babies.  If each couple has two babies they have a total of 100 babies.  Etc.)  Who would grow up and enter the workforce about 20 years later (Y1+40).  And so on.  The above graph adds up all the people for each 20-year period produced by the Y1 babies (children, grandchildren, great grand children, etc.) divided by 100 (those original babies not aborted).

If the Y1 people only have one baby they and their descendants disappear from the world in about 2 centuries.  If they have 2 children the population never grows larger than 4 times the original Y1 people.  Two children to replace two parents.  It’s not until you get to three children that you see an increase in population.  As well as an increase in tax revenue.

Assume each of the people, or taxpayers, at 20-year intervals earn a median income of $50,000.  They pay an effective federal income tax rate of 18%.  In addition to 12.4% for Social Security taxes (both employer and employee).  And 2.9% for Medicare.  Added together they total 33.3%.  This tax rate on total income at each 20-year interval produces the tax revenue in the above graph.  Note the revenue graphs are the same shape as the population graphs.  Showing a direct correlation between tax revenue and the population growth rate.  The tax revenue provided by couples having only one child disappears within two centuries.  Revenue provided by couples having only two children peaks out at $6,660,000.  As couples only have enough children to replace themselves.  Maintaining a constant of 4 taxpayers (2 parents and 2 children) after 80 years.  Showing that couples having 2, 1 or 0 children cannot support an expanding welfare state.  But a couple having 3 children can.  As long as it’s not too big of a welfare state.

You just can’t have an Expanding Welfare State with a Falling Population Growth Rate

The more children a couple has the greater the tax revenue.  For the more children they have the more people enter the workforce and become taxpayers.  If 50 couples have 3 kids each (as do their descendants) they will add $30.4 million in federal tax revenue in one century.  If they have 4 kids they will add $99.9 million in revenue.  If they have 5 kids they will add $264 million.  And if they have 6 kids they will add $599.4 million.

In two centuries these numbers are even more profound.  Couples having 4 kids will provide $3.2 billion in federal tax revenue.  While couples having 5 kids will provide $25.8 billion.  And couples having 6 kids will provide $145.6 billion.  If, that is, 100 pregnancies weren’t aborted 2 centuries earlier.

In the long-term revenue would soar if people simply started having babies again.  For birth control and abortion have greatly reduced the number of babies we’re having.  Causing tax revenue to fall.  We can bring revenue back up by having more babies.  But after some 30 years this baby dearth has pushed us into the flat part of these graphs.  Requiring up to a century or more to make large population gains.  And large gains in tax revenue.   And without these gains in revenue we simply cannot afford an expanding welfare state.

It is rather ironic that two tenets of liberalism clash here.  Liberals believe in both a welfare state.  And free birth control and abortion on demand.  They believe in one thing that requires women to have a lot of babies.  And another that helps women to have as few babies as possible.  Which is another reason liberalism will ultimately fail.  Paradoxes like this.  For you just can’t have an expanding welfare state with a falling population growth rate.  If you try you get trillion dollar deficits.  And $16.4 trillion in accumulated debt.

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Smooth-Bore Musket, Napoleonic Tactics, Rifling, Minié Ball, Percussion Cap, Breech-Loading, Brass Cartridge, Machine Gun and Indirect Fire

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 14th, 2012

Technology 101

A Muzzle-Loading Smooth-Bore Musket had an Effective Range of about 50-70 Yards and was Slow to Reload

Why do quarterbacks spin the football when throwing a pass?  Because a good spiral will make the football act like a gyroscope.  Stabilizing the ball in the air.  Giving it better aerodynamic stability.  Allowing the quarterback to throw it farther.  Faster.  And more accurately.  In tight traffic.   Threading the needle between defenders.  And into the hands of his receiver.  The quarterback’s target.

But we didn’t confine spinning things to hit targets to only football.  We use it someplace else, too.  And have for quite awhile.  In rifles.  And guns.  Which had a profound impact on the battlefield.  Rifling dates back to the fifteenth century.  But it didn’t really enter the battlefield until the 19th century.  But before we started cutting grooves in rifle barrels to spin projectiles smooth-bore weapons ruled the battlefield.  And shaped the tactics of the day.  What we generally call Napoleonic tactics.  Mastered by Napoleon Bonaparte.  But used before him.  When we used large formations of soldiers on the battlefield.  That we moved in formation thanks to intense drilling and discipline.

A smooth-bore musket had an effective range of about 50-70 yards.  Or little longer than an NFL quarterback could throw a football.  They weren’t extremely accurate because the ball they fired was smaller than the barrel.  Which let the ball bounce off the walls of the barrels before exiting.  So they didn’t always fly perfectly straight.  Also, because the ball was smaller than the barrel there was blow-by of the expanding gasses that forced the ball out of the barrel.  Reducing the muzzle velocity of the weapon.  These muzzle-loading weapons were also slow to reload.  They required many steps to reload after firing.  Taking some 15 to seconds for a good infantryman to reload.  While standing up in the middle of the field of battle.  This short effective range and slow reloading time led to the Napoleonic tactics.  Maneuvering large formations of infantry into long lines.  Where they stood shoulder-to-shoulder to concentrate their fire.  They moved in formation to within effective range of the enemy and fired on command to hit the opposing line of soldiers with a large volley of fire.  When they reloaded opposing cavalry tried to charge their line to break up their formation before they could fire again.  If the infantry brought down effective fire on the opposing line of infantry they might break the enemy’s ranks.  If so, cavalry would charge to route them off the battlefield.  If not, the infantry would close ranks with the enemy after a few volleys and charge with fixed bayonets.  If a wall of approaching gleaming steel bayonets did not break the enemy’s ranks the lines came to gather and they engaged in hand to hand combat.

A Rifled Musket firing the Minié Ball increased the Effective Range of the Infantryman to about 300 Yards

Smooth-bore muskets gave way to rifled muskets.  Which helped with accuracy.  But didn’t make much difference on the battlefield.  Until Claude-Étienne Minié developed a new conical shaped bullet with a hollow base.  The Minié ball.  Made from soft lead it expanded when fired.  The expanding gases pressing the base of the Minié ball into the grooved barrel of a rifle.  Preventing the gas blow-by.  And imparting a spin on the bullet.  Greatly increasing the effective range of an infantryman’s rifle.  Approximately 4 times the range of the smooth-bore musket.  Which meant you could be 4 times as far away from the enemy and still be able to hit your target.  So instead of about a half of a football field you could hit an enemy reliably from 3 football fields away.  Also, they delivered these new bullets to the infantryman wrapped in a paper cartridge that also included gunpowder.  The soldier bit off the end of the cartridge, poured the premeasured amount of powder into the muzzle, followed by the Minié ball, rammed it home and placed a percussion cap (a small metal cap with a shock-sensitive explosive in it) on a hollow nipple above the packed powder.  When the infantryman pulled the trigger the hammer fell on the percussion cap.  This ignition source then spread through the nipple to the packed powder in the barrel.  Igniting the powder.  Expanding the soft lead of the base.  Pushing it and spinning it out of the barrel.  A soft, fat projectile.  That when it found its mark made big holes.  Tore through muscle.  And shattered bone.  Most wounds in the chest or abdomen were fatal.  Wounds in arm or a leg usually resulted with the amputation of that limb.

These were great advancements in weaponry.  Making the infantryman a much more powerful and lethal force on the battlefield.  If used in battle with the proper tactics.  Unfortunately, when armies first used the new Minié ball rifle they still used Napoleonic tactics.  Europeans in the Crimean War (1853 –1856).  And the Americans in the Civil War (1861–1865).  The first modern wars.  That killed hundreds of thousands of soldiers.  About 600,000 each.  And maimed more.  Because they still fought shoulder to shoulder.  Marching forward under a hail of long-range and accurate enemy fire.  Of soft, fat projectiles.  That just decimated their ranks.  Soon the Americans learned to build fortified defensive positions.  On the high ground.  And let the enemy attack them.  Because an offensive attack against a fortified defensive position proved suicidal.  As Union soldiers learned.  So before some of the later battles these soldiers invented something that became standard issue in following wars.  The dog tag.  So someone could identify them after they died in combat.  So their families could bury them at home.  These fortified defensive positions evolved into trenches.  Such as used during the Siege of Petersburg.  A siege because offensive attacks against infantry in a trench proved suicidal.  A lesson, sadly, that few learned.

By the end of the Civil War the tactics finally caught up to the technology.  Napoleonic tactics were out.  And modern war was in.  Infantry didn’t mass on the field of battle.  Resplendent in their uniform behind their colors.  Instead they were filthy and firing from behind cover.  And battles weren’t a Sunday afternoon in the park.  But lasted days.  Where soldiers often went hungry.  Endured constant shelling.   And kept their heads down for fear of snipers.  Also, it was now total war.  War against the soldiers in the field.  And the resources that kept them in the field.  Rail lines.  Telegraph lines.  Factories.  Ports and harbors.  Food supplies.  And even the morale of the enemy combatant’s citizens.  Because attacks against all of these made it difficult to continue to wage war.  Which ultimately shortened war.  But making war truly hell.  And most cruel.  But hopefully ending it quicker and saving lives in the long run.

The Brass Cartridge with Bullet and Percussion Cap allowed Breech-Loading and much higher Rates of Fire 

There are a lot of lessons to learn from the Crimean War.  And the American Civil War.  Which they quickly forgot by 1914.  With the outbreak of World War I.  Where combatants went off in the spirit of a Napoleonic war.  Resplendent in their colors.  Full of patriotic fervor.  But not for long.  For in this most modern of all wars to date they still foolishly massed infantry on the field of battle.  And attacked fortified defensive positions.  A war that still used horses for cavalry charges.  Despite massive advancements in technology.  Like breech-loading rifles that fired ammunition consisting of a bullet pressed into a brass cartridge full of gunpowder.  Also pressed into this cartridge was a percussion cap.  Making a self-contained round.  That they could press into a clip or a magazine.  Which could be loaded into a rifle while lying down behind cover.  Greatly increasing the rate of fire.  Without having to expose the rifleman to enemy fire.  These new cartridges could also be loaded into canvas belts.  And fed into a new weapon.  The machine gun.  A horrific killing machine in WWI.  Where a gun crew could maintain a rate of fire great enough to wipe out companies of infantry at a time.  Who were foolishly advancing over open ground against an entrenched defensive position.  As if the Crimean and American Civil War never happened.

Artillery was bigger and more accurate, too.  And unlike their Civil War ancestors, you didn’t have to see what you were firing at.  Artillery batteries could be miles from the battlefield.  Out of sight of the enemy.  Instead aiming at them with geometry and maps.  By calculating azimuth (left and right) and elevation angles (up and down) to adjust the gun for an accurate but indirect fire.  Forward observers used new electronic communication to adjust this indirect fire onto target.  Breech-loading and recoil dampening devices (also unlike their civil war ancestors where the recoil threw the cannon backwards) made these not only rapid firing but accurate.  Raining hell down on that advancing line of infantry advancing into a hail of machine gun fire.  Meaning that when the order was given to go over the top of their safe (but miserable) trenches to assault the enemy’s trenches many would die.  Giving the huge death toll of World War I.  Where some 10 million combatants died.

WWI is perhaps the greatest man-made disaster in history.  And not just for the horrific death toll.  But what that death toll did.  WWI changed the world.  Not just the lines on the map.  But the very nature of nations.  The size of governments.  And economics.  Not because of the advancing technology.  But for the misunderstanding, and misuse of, that technology.  Because for some fifty years their tactics played catch up to the technology of the day.  Which, sadly, is more of the rule than the exception.  Because it’s senior military personnel that make policy.  And these generals are still planning to fight the last war.  Instead of the next war.

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World War I, Gold Standard, German Reparations, Hyperinflation, Credit-Anstalt, Keynesian Policies and the Great Depression

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 13th, 2012

History 101

Nations abandoned the Gold Standard to Borrow and Print Money freely to pay for World War I 

Banks loan to each other.  They participate in a banking system that moves capital from those who have it to those who need it.  It’s a good system.  And a system that works.  Providing businesses and entrepreneurs with the capital to expand their businesses.  And create jobs.  As long as all the banks in the system go about their business responsibly.  And their governments go about their business responsibly.  Sadly, neither always does.

World War I changed the world in so many ways for the worse.  It killed a generation of Europeans.  Bankrupted nations.  Redrew the borders in Europe as the victors divvied up the spoils of war.  Setting the stage for future political unrest.  Gave us Keynesian economics.  Saw the beginning of the decline of the gold standard.  A deterioration of international trade.  A rise of protectionism and nationalism.  Punishing German reparations.  To pay for a war that they didn’t necessarily start.  Nor did they necessarily lose.  Which created a lot of anger in Germany.  And provided the seed for the Great Depression.

A set of entangling treaties brought nations eagerly into World War I.  There was great patriotic fervor.  And a belief that this war would be Napoleonic.  Some glorious battles.  With the victors negotiating a favorable peace.  Sadly, no one learned the lessons of the Crimean War (1853-1856).  Which killed approximately 600,000 (about 35% of those in uniform).  Or the American Civil War (1861-1865).  Which killed approximately 600,000 (about 20% of those in uniform).  The first modern wars.  Where the technology was ahead of the Napoleonic tactics of the day.  Modern rifled weapons made accurate killing weapons.  And the telegraph and the railroads allowed the combatants to rush ever more men into the fire of those accurate killing weapons.  These are the lessons they didn’t learn.  Which was a pity.  Because the weapons were much more lethal in World War I (1914-1918).  And far more advanced than the tactics of the day.  Which were still largely Napoleonic.  Mass men on the field of battle.  Fire and advance.  And close with the bayonet.  Which they did in World War I.  And these soldiers advanced into the withering fire of the new machine gun.  While artillery rounds fell around them.  Making big holes and throwing shredded shrapnel through flesh and bone.  WWI killed approximately 10,000,000 (about 15% of those in uniform).  And wounded another 20 million.  To do that kind of damage costs a lot of money.  Big money.  For bullets, shells, rifles, artillery, machine guns, warships, planes, etc., don’t grow on trees.  Which is why all nations (except the U.S.) went off of the gold standard to pay for this war.  To shake off any constraints to their ability to raise the money to wage war.  To let them borrow and print as much as they wanted.  Despite the effect that would have on their currency.  Or on foreign exchange rates.

As Countries abandoned the Gold Standard they depreciated their Currencies and wiped out People’s Life Savings

Well, the war had all but bankrupted the combatants.  They had huge debts and inflated currencies.  Large trade deficits.  And surpluses.  A great imbalance of trade.  And it was in this environment that they restored some measure of a gold standard.  Which wasn’t quite standard.  As the different nations adopted different exchange rates.  But they moved to get their financial houses back in order.  And the first order of business was to address those large debts.  And the ‘victors’ decided to squeeze Germany to pay some of that debt off.  Hence those punishing reparations.  Which the victors wanted in gold.  Or foreign currency.  Which made it difficult for Germany to return to the gold standard.  As the victors had taken most of her gold.  And so began the hyperinflation.  As the Germans printed Marks to trade for foreign currency.  Of course we know what happened next.  They devalued the Mark so much that it took wheelbarrows full of them to buy their groceries.  And to exchange for foreign currency.

Elsewhere, in the new Europe that emerged from WWI, there was a growth in regional banking.  Savvy bankers who were pretty good at risk evaluation.  Who were close to the borrowers.  And informed.  Allowing them to write good loans.  Meanwhile, the old institutions were carrying on as if it was still 1914.  Not quite as savvy.  And making bad loans.  The ones the more savvy bankers refused to write.  Weak banking regulation helped facilitate these bad lending practices.  Leaving a lot of banks with weak balance sheets.  Add in the hyperinflation.  Heavy debts.  Higher taxes (to reduce those debts).  Trade imbalances.  And you get a bad economy.  Where businesses were struggling to service their debt.  With many defaulting.  As a smaller bank failed a bigger bank would absorb it.  Bad loans and all.  Including an Austrian bank.  A pretty big one at that.  The largest in Austria.  Credit-Anstalt.  Which was ‘too big to fail’.  But failed anyway.  And when it did the collapse was heard around the world. 

As banks failed the money supply contracted.  Causing a liquidity crisis.  And deflation (less money chasing the same amount of goods).  Currency appreciation (further hurting a country’s balance of trade).  And low prices.  Which made it harder for borrowers to service their debt with the lower revenue they earned on those lower prices.  So there were more loan defaults.  Bank runs.  And bank failures.  Spreading the contagion to Amsterdam.  To Warsaw.  Germany.  Latvia.  Turkey.  Egypt.  Britain.  Even the U.S.  Soon countries abandoned the gold standard.  So they could print money to save the banks.  Lower interest rates.  Depreciate their currencies.  And wipe out large swathes of wealth denominated in that now depreciated currency.  What we call Keynesian policies.  People’s life savings became a fraction of what they were.  Making for a longer working life.  And a more Spartan retirement. 

Abandoning the Gold Standard didn’t fix the U.S. Economy in 1971

Meanwhile in the U.S. the government was destroying the U.S. economy.  Trying to protect domestic prices they passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.  Raising the price for businesses and consumers alike.  And kicking off a trade war.  Both of which greatly reduced U.S. exports.  New labor legislation keeping wages above market prices while all other prices were falling.  And higher taxes to pay for New Deal social programs.  Wiping out business profits and causing massive unemployment.  Then came the fall in farm prices due to increased farm productivity.  Thanks to farmers mechanizing their farms and greatly increasing their harvests.  Thus lowering prices.  Making it hard to service the bank loans they got to pay for that mechanization.  Thus leading to bank failures in the farming regions.  That spread to the cities.  Causing a liquidity crisis.  And deflation.

Then came Credit-Anstalt.  And all the woe that followed.  Which caused a speculative run in Britain.  Which made the British decide to leave the gold standard.  To stem the flow of gold out of their country.  Which destroyed whatever confidence was still remaining in their banking system.  People thought that the U.S. would be next.  But the Americans defended the dollar.  And instead raised interest rates (by reducing the money supply).  To keep the dollar valuable.  And to protect the exchange rate.  Making it less attractive to exchange cash for gold.  And to restore confidence in the banking system.  Of course, this didn’t help the liquidity crisis.  Which Keynesians blame for the length and the severity of the Great Depression.

Of course, it wasn’t the gold standard that caused the fall of Credit-Anstalt.  It was poor lending practices.  A weak banking regulation that allowed those poor lending practices.  And a lot of bad government policy throughout Europe.  Especially those punishing German reparations.  And the gold standard didn’t cause the economic collapse in the United States.  For it worked well the previous decade.  Providing all the capital required to produce the Roaring Twenties that modernized the world.  It was government and their intrusive policies into the free market that caused the economic collapse.  And abandoning the gold standard wouldn’t have changed that.  Or made the economy better.  And we know this because leaving the gold standard didn’t solve all of the countries woes in 1971.  Because the government was still implementing bad Keynesian policies.

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The Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 10th, 2011

Why the Attack on America on 9/11? 

Sunday is the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  Ten years is a long time.  And during those years it’s been safe in the U.S.  Which makes people complacent.  That’s what time does.  People tend to forget.

So what was it?  And why was it?  The attack on America on 9/11? 

The ‘what’ is simple to answer.  A group of Muslim men hijacked four jetliners.  They crashed two into the World Trade Center.  Crashed one into the Pentagon.  And the fourth?  The passengers fought back.  Having learned of the other hijackings.  They attacked the attackers.  Fought.  And died.  Bringing the fourth plane down in a field in the country.  Far from its intended target.  These were the first to fight back in the war on terror.  A war where Americans were dying before 2001.

The ‘why’ is a little more involved.  It’s because of the Jews.  In the Middle East.  Who now live on ancient Jewish land.  Israel.  Land that has changed hands a few times since the time of King David (born 11th Century B.C.).  And King Solomon (born 10th Century BC).  And the people that lived on this land before the Jews returned to their homeland?  Muslims.  Who wrested this land from Christians.  Who got the land when the Roman Empire became Christian.  Who took the land from the Jews.  When the Romans were still pagans.  And on and on it went.  Back in time.  Until you get to King David.  And his conquests to consolidate his kingdom.

Long Story Short, Jews and Muslims hate each other in the Middle East

The Muslims want it back.  Because they conquered that land.  And they believe this makes it their land.  But if they believe that he who conquers the land has claim to the land, they have a problem.  Because the British won that land in World War I.  When they defeated the Ottoman Empire.  A member of the Central Powers.  Who lost the war. 

World War II soon came along.  And the HolocaustAdolf Hitler hated Jews.  Tried to kill them all.  So when Nazi Germany lost the war, displaced Jews who survived the Holocaust went to British Palestine.  To their ancient homeland.  Shortly thereafter they declared themselves the State of Israel.  And asked the Palestinians to kindly leave.  And they did.  Into refugee camps surrounding the new State of Israel.  They lived in refugee camps because the surrounding countries didn’t want to take them in.  So in these camps they stayed.  Where they’ve lived with a simmering hatred since.

Anyway, long story short, Jews and Muslims hate each other in the Middle East.  Israel is a tiny Jewish island in an Arab sea.  The Arabs tried to take this land a few times but were beaten back.  Thanks to an assist from the U.S.  And they lost land to boot.  The Sinai Peninsula.  The West Bank.  The Golan Heights.  And the Muslim Arabs want those lands back, too.

Militant Muslims hate America with every Fiber in their Body

Eventually the Egyptians made peace with Israel.  Anwar Sadat formally recognized the State of Israel.  And fundamentalist Egyptian officers assassinated him because of it.  His successor honored the peace Sadat made.  Hosni Mubarak.  For some 30 years.  Got a lot of U.S. aide for helping America’s most important Middle East ally.  Until he was toppled from power during the Arab Spring.

So there’s some history in the Middle East.  The Muslim Arabs hate the Jews.  And want that land back.  And they hate the Egyptian government who made peace with Israel for all those years.  They hate the British for taking that land from the Ottoman Empire.  And perhaps most of all they hate America.  Who they blame for everything.  Had they not entered World War I, that war may have ended in a draw with no lost of Muslim land.  Had they not entered World War II, Hitler may have won that war.  Or at least killed more Jews.  If the Americans had not ‘bribed’ Sadat with aid he may never have recognize the State of Israel.  And had America not helped Israel during the Arab-Israeli wars, the Arabs may have won those wars.

So do militant Muslims hate America?  With every fiber in their body.  Can we get them to like us?  Not a chance in hell.  You see, defeating us is just step one in their grand plan.  Once upon a time Muslim power controlled the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe.  And they want to again.  They want to restore the caliphate.  And spread Sharia Law.

Osama bin Laden led the War against America

So the radical Muslims, fundamentalists, Islamists, whatever you want to call them, waged war against the U.S.  Attacking U.S. nationals out of the country.  And planning and conducting attacks inside the country.  Osama bin Laden led the war against America.  With his al Qaeda getting bolder over time.  Leading up to September 11, 2001.

So far every subsequent plan has been foiled.  Or failed.  Like the underwear bomber on that Detroit bound plane.  And the Times Square bomber.  So it’s been relatively safe in America.  But there is unrest in the Middle East.  Which is very ominous.

Representative Democracies rarely break out Amidst Chaos

What happens in Egypt may very well tell us the future of the world.  Will they maintain their peace with Israel?  Or will they drift further into the Iranian orbit?  Further pressuring Israel.  Bordered in the north by Iranian client Hezbollah.  And in the south by Iranian client Hamas.  With an open border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.  It’s getting tense over there (see Israel, Egypt try to stem damage from embassy riot by Diaa Hadid, Associated Press, posted 9/10/2011 on the Toronto Star).

Israel and Egypt’s leadership tried Saturday to limit the damage in ties after protesters stormed Israel’s embassy in Cairo, trashing offices and prompting the evacuation of nearly the entire staff from Egypt in the worst crisis between the countries since their 1979 peace treaty.

The 13-hour rampage deepened Israel’s fears that it is growing increasingly isolated amid the Arab world’s uprisings and, in particular, that Egypt is turning steadily against it after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the authoritarian leader who was a close ally…

Egypt’s new military rulers, in turn, appear caught between preserving key ties with Israel — which bring guarantee them billions in U.S. military aid — and pressure from the Egyptian public. Many Egyptians are demanding an end to what they see as too cosy a relationship under Mubarak, who they feel knuckled under to Israel and the U.S., doing nothing to pressure for concessions to the Palestinians.

The big question is who will succeed Mubarak.  The Muslim Brotherhood?  They have close Iranian ties, too.  So that wouldn’t be good.  But at this time they are probable the largest organized political force in Egypt.  Which carries a lot of weight following a civil war.  I mean, representative democracies rarely break out amidst chaos.  And if it did, it could even be worse.  For a lot of Egyptians don’t like Israel.  Or that peace treaty.  Which means if the people get their way, it could be bad for Jews.  And Christians.

On this Day of Remembrance, we should make sure that those who died did not die in Vain 

We need to be concerned with what’s happening in Egypt.  For if the wrong people get into power there will be no peace for Jews.  Christians.  Or for much of the Western World.

If Iran gains power and influence in the area there will be no peace for Jews.  Christians.  Or for much of the Western World.  This is even a greater concern.  Because they may soon have a nuclear weapon.  If they don’t already.

Ten years is a lot of time.  But we must not become complacent.  And not forget what happened on that day.  Because the threat to America is real.  And it won’t go away with diplomacy.  For you can’t talk sense to people who hijack jetliners full of innocent men, women and children.  To kill innocent men, women and children.

On this day of remembrance, we should make sure that those who died did not die in vain.  As in any war, some may die so that others may live.  So we must honor those who died.  By living.  And being strong.  Strong enough to deter any attack on our soil again.  To protect those they left behind.

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