Saturday, September 30, 2017

World-saving solutions and inspirations... and what's really in that tax bill

== Problem solving solutions ==

Contests to save the world? The MacArthur Foundation recently closed a competition called "100 & Change," which asks for proposals targeting specific problems on Earth. 

And now a new competition from the Global Challenges Foundation is calling for solutions to the world's most pressing problems, like conflict, climate change and extreme poverty. Registration for "A New Shape" is open until March 31.

The simple-minded genetic determinism of ignorant white nationalists is backfiring on them. They are getting genetic tests to prove how Caucasian they are, and very few of them are getting the results they expect. Anthropologist Raymond Firth wrote a long time ago that whenever two populations meet, they may or may not bleed, but they will most certainly breed.

This raises a potentially effective – and hilarious – way to combat these groups.  Show up at their rallies and hand out coupons for 23 & Me or Ancestry.com…or some cheaper site… to get their haplotype inheritance markers tested.  At minimum, you’ll roil their pot, isolating the extreme racial purists and getting them acting hateful to many of their own recruits!  Even better, some of the marchers may get drawn toward both science and acceptance of complexity, plus identification with more than one simplistic (and actually nonexistent) “European” stock.  Heck, talk those Silicon Valley types into doing this in a test somewhere, then fund giving spit kits away at every rally!

== What the "Tax Bill" really is about ==

Gliding onward from "repeal and replace," now it's taxes. An architect of Republican Supply Side Economics reveals that he is sapient by admitting that evidence should change one’s mind. And evidence shows that Supply Side has always bee utter voodoo. Tax cuts for the rich have never - not once, ever- had any of the stimulative effects promised. And the Clinton tax increases led directly to the best growth since the 1970s.  Wealth transfers to the aristocracy are not invested in R&D or productive “supply” capacity - but instead inflate asset bubbles. Are you similarly sapient? Is your mad uncle?  “I helped create the GOP tax myth. Trump is wrong: Tax cuts don’t equal growth.”

Moreover, GOP tax cuts always led to skyrocketing deficits. So, where are all the budget balancers and deficit hawks now?  See where I prove that (surprise!) it is always Democrats who are more fiscally responsible. What? You prefer your comfy cliches over actual evidence?

But let's be clear. Sure, every line of the new "tax bill" will benefit Trump and his fellow oligarchs, above all. Yes, Hedge funds and lawyers get a special tax break. And other travesties. And your mad uncle who thinks these are ‘populists” is truly a jibbering, confederate loony. But the top goal of all Republicans, across every divide, has been to cancel out the Estate Tax… they call it the “Death Tax.” 

They know they’ll have to back off on some of their proposed middle class rapes and gifts to oligarchy, but that one will probably slip through, and there’s nothing more evil.  And it will slip through because half our neighbors have let themselves be suckered into fights over symbolism, like confederate statues, kneeling football players, and whether a “fence” can be upgraded into a “wall."

== Staunching the worst ==

Two bills introduced in August are designed to safeguard the independent prosecutor, whose investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has roused Trump's public and private frustration. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) have proposed allowing a special counsel to contest any termination after the fact, while another bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) would require the Justice Department to seek judicial approval before any firing.

How silly!  Oh, sure, I am glad DP & GOP senators are recognizing the need to send DTrump a signal to leave the Mueller investigation alone. But in a BILL?  Where will you find the nineteen GOP senators willing to help 48 democrats to over-ride Trump’s inevitable veto?

As it happens, the Constitution has a provision that would let Congress - by simple majority - appoint an “other body” under the 25th Amendment that could do two things (1) make strong (though perhaps sub-binding) rulings about the President’s power to evade justice, and (2) issue - in conjunction with the Vice President, a temporary removal of presidential power. Elsewhere, I explain how this works.

== Art Inspires the Awakening of Our Union ==

With his new site, Woke Giant, Patrick Farley, the brilliant artist who did my Existence trailer and “Spiders” and First Word and so many other fantastic web comics, has been putting out incredible, moving posters to help inspire, as America wakes up again to the resurgence of confederate treason.

Meanwhlie... Blackwater's founder - Erik Prince - offers a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan.  Charging us just a few tens of billions/year and removing lawful supervision of conduct. In effect: "Let me handle things; just go back to your soaps and video games."  All right, that's my paraphrasing.  But no person - not even Rupert Murdoch - so personifies that effort, to shift America from an open-accountable and fact-using republic to an empire-oligarchy complete with mercenary armies, bread&circuses, a shift that the Romans went through with Caesar, and that Orson Scott Card extolled in his novel EMPIRE. (Indeed, a power transfer to unaccountable demigods that Card pushes in every single tale that he writes.) Watch for the other shoe to drop. Trump hinted that Afghanistan would have to start handing over mineral and other wealth (poppies?) presumably to Trump-Murdoch-Cheney connected companies.

Our parents in the Greatest Generation faced similar choices, as did their forebears in 1918, the 1870s and earlier.  For good reason (they knew more about this danger) they chose their favorite living human: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, instead of such monsters.

And monsters rise again... see Farley's image: You again? Stop the "Alt-Right" subtitled, "We beat 'em before. We'll beat 'em now." Though I would have given the loony-hateful romantics torches. Tiki torches. Tiki torches, fools? The fact-users that you hate got us to the Moon and Mars and Jupiter and Pluto, and are developing fusion power. You've chosen to wage war on all the folks who know stuff. How do you think that's going to turn out?

And while we’re on the power of art…

Don't Be a Sucker! is a short educational film produced by the U.S. War Department in 1943 and re-released in 1947. The film depicts the rise of Nazism in Germany and warns Americans against repeating the mistakes of intolerance made in Nazi Germany. It emphasizes that Americans will lose their country if they let themselves be turned into "suckers" by the forces of fanaticism and hatred. The film was made to make the case for the desegregation of the United States armed forces by simply revealing the connection between prejudice and fascism.

== political miscellany ==

This missive on Huffpost: Why Democrats Could Consider Registering Republican To Stop Trump” is a dumb version of my own earlier suggestion. Indeed, is it time to reconsider a mass migration of blacks and other minorities to Mississippi or Alabama? They are already almost 40%! Hey Amazon, set up shop there.


I could not care less about Louise Linton (Mrs. Secretary Mnuchin) and her tiff on Instagram.  Yes, she came across as a spoiled brat… though if you read her posting, I deemed it non-heinous. Bratty, but not as bad as reports.  No, what IS interesting is how this author on the NPR website-blog uses the non-event to riff onto “marginal disutility” in tax rates and to teach some interesting aspects about progressive taxation systems.

== Reflections ==

“He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.’  Donald Trump?  No. Look who.

“For as wealth is power, so all power will infallibly draw wealth to itself by some means or other.”    – Edmund Burke (1780)

“Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution.”
      – Francis Bacon (De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum, 1623)

“That mankind as a whole shall become richer does not, of necessity involve an increase in human welfare.       – John Bates Clark

“Riches: The saving of many in the hands of one.”
                               – Eugene V. Debs

Those persons who comprise the independent classes are dependent upon two things: the industry of their fellow creatures; and injustice, which enables them to command it.
      – Based on John Gray (A Lecture on Human Happiness, 1825)

“No rich man is ugly.”
– Zsa Zsa Gabor
  

93 comments:

Zepp Jamieson said...

There is a bright note regarding Congress (yeah, those are not words I expected to type again in my lifetime). Less than a hour after the demise of Trumpcare 3.0 (aka "Throw Granny in the limb shredder so she can fertilise Donald Trump's golf courses) the Senate unanimously passed another health care bill which got virtually no attention from anyone: it significantly expanded Medicare, particularly home health services. Trump is likely to sign it just because he won't have a clue what it is.

David Dorais said...

I am surprised that more advocacy of the Paul Hawken effort- www.drawdown.org hasn't been touted by you or others in threads of these blogs. It is a comprehensive list of what we can do at all levels of activity from individual to nation to international NGOs.

Doug S. said...

The thing is, the argument that the “death tax” is unfair is pretty much correct. The estate tax should die a quick and well-deserved death. However, the argument against letting people inherit large estates tax free is also correct. The sane thing to do would be to abolish the federal estate tax and replace it with federal inheritance taxes; a $10 million bequest left entirely to one person should be taxed differently than a $10 million estate split between fifty people getting $500,000 each. That makes too much sense for anyone to actually fight for it, though.

Tim H. said...

Just guessing, the new tax bill will not imperil the jobs of accountants, can't let the riff-raff get out of hand...

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Dr. Brin: We keep throwing up these facts, but on several other lists for dispute resolution (specifically tailored to US politics) that I am a member of, two patterns keep popping up: (1) emotional appeals work better than facts and logic; and (2) appeals based on values must engage the values of the convincee, not the values of the convincer. These are highly congruent with what George Lakoff has been saying for years, though I am not sure emotions rule everyone.... rather, that in our Information Age environment, most people who can be swayed by reason already have been.

For instance, people who cheer on fossil fuel companies against them silly libruls with their "global warming" conspiracy.... still don't want the purity of their water supply tainted. The Bible Belt is very anti-abortion, but when I start pointing out that the same legal rules they advocate would allow "death panels", or allow the state to interfere with any other portion of their care, they start to think twice.

As it happens, Alabama is trying for the Amazon site. Of course, that's a crowded field.

@Doug S.: I don't see what the difference is. And the deep problem goes beyond the dollar values: it's also the control structures being passed from generation to generation.

Followup to previous post:

@Larry: I do indeed believe that democracy will eventually come up with the right answer. The problem is lag time. It took several decades for the Republican base to figure out that the Republican establishment was systematically screwing them; though the diagnosis and treatment are still far off a curative path, they have figured that much out. Hence the rash of anti-establishment candidates.

@donzelion: it's about dominance behavior. No matter how much they profit from federal efforts, rural Americans see an outside force they don't control exerting power over their lives. This implies that they are subservient to whoever does control the system; be they "Washington insiders" or "globalists" or what have you. Hence they must either banish these powers, or take control of them.

Notice that a recurrent theme of Republican budget proposals is "block grants": no-strings-attached free money that states get full control over. Since the rural interests control the majority voting bloc in most Southern and Interior Western states, this means control would return to rural-supported power structures.

They never notice the flip side of that argument: that control must pass away from the "maker" states that contribute net value to the federal government. They must send their money to the "taker" states with no say in how the money is to be spent, and indeed with the high probability that it will be spent in ways they disapprove of. Instead of taxation without representation, here we have instead the equally perfidious appropriation without representation.

Under such a scenario, taxpayers in the net-production states might see it in their interest to end the federal transfer programs entirely... applying the supposedly "conservative" principles of I should control my money and local control of government to such things as health, transportation, and education grants. Of course the result of enacting such a proposal would be the immediate crisis of red-state budgets and Great Depression-level economic collapse in red states. Many red states would have to raise taxes by 50% or more to maintain even the low level of services they have provided heretofore.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Duncan, @Paul451: The whole population of New Zealand is comparable to a single moderately-sized US state; Australia, to a populous US state. I suspect part of the problem is scale. In my area, there is a patchwork of districts for: federal representative, state assembly, state senate, state judicial district, county judicial district, county commission, city executive, and city ward.

Quite aside from the logistics challenge of providing paper copies of the registration book covering multiple precincts, only your local precinct is guaranteed to have the exact ballot reflecting the candidates you are entitled to vote upon. It is quite possible for this variety of districting to mean that your precinct's ballot may well be unique to that precinct alone. So how can you vote on Election Day without going to your one and only source of ballots?

This is the problem that mail-in balloting avoids, of course -- the problem of directing ballots to voters is handed off to the highly efficient and automated robo-hands of the postal service. The problem then is how to certify the identity of the voter -- Oregon uses signature matching, which has drawbacks. There is also the concern that mail-in ballots may not be completely secret or free of influence.

A hybrid system could be imagined, where the ballot is mailed, but the delivery of the ballot must be at a designated polling place. This would be more complicated than the current system, however, as it means no race can be certified until EVERY polling place has reported vote totals, and EVERY polling place must tabulate for EVERY race, local or not.

The local-precinct system would not be a burden, except for the arrangements to make it difficult for voters to arrive at the polling place. Hence the call for a permanent Election Day holiday.

@Duncan, @donzelion: When I say "friend", I mean it in a different way than you do. No one, no matter how deeply red, considers agricultural extension officers to be a "big government" evil. Why? Because they are so clearly servants to the farmers. Much of their interactions are at farmer request. (In the same way, more problematically, state environmental regulators are considered to be acting primarily at industry request.)

It goes back to that "control" bit I mentioned, and the game of dominance. As long as they feel relegated to a low place on the dominance hierarchy totem pole, they will fight no matter how many benefits they reap. But make it so that the actions are locally initiated; reinforce by symbols that you are their servant and not their master, and the attitudes completely reverse. This is why I advocate for fractal separation of powers, and the establishment of Article I tribunals acting as local first-point-of-contacts for interactions with the federal bureaucracy. If regulations are seen as activated by local request, if they recognize their own actions as the prime mover of the federal action, it feels right.

This is completely illogical, of course. But so is the sense of safety in an automobile as opposed to an airplane. Objectively you are far safer in the plane. But you don't feel that way.... because you are aware of your helplessness. The same applies here: the federal government provides objectively better services... but they don't feel that way; they feel impersonal and dangerous.

The teal-deer summary: I think the opposition to the federal government is actually the result of a perceptual bias of dominance and hierarchy, which can be hacked for smoother interactions with citizens.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry H: Thanks for mentioning Quantum Vibe. I'm about a third the way through, and it's an absolute delight. Once I figured out the reasoning behind "gravs" (1m/sec2) I found myself completely at home in his universe.

Tony Fisk said...

@catfish, I think a few misunderstandings arise from how voting is managed in the US vs A/NZ.

I gather voting in the US is, as you put it, a patchwork of overlapping and non-communicative offices. Do you have to register with each one?

In Australia, federal voting is handled via the Australian Electoral Commission*. State and council elections are handled by the relevant State Electoral Commission. All access the same electoral roles.
I could vote, in person, at any polling booth in my electorate. I could place an absentee vote at an outside booth (not that I ever have). I don't need to provide ID, apart from confirming my address. In recent times, a lot of people have opted for postal votes, which are easily arranged via the Post Office.

One unusual aspect to Australian voting is that voting is compulsory, and you need to have a pretty good reason not to (I was once in the US when a snap election was called. I had to submit an absentee ballot, which didn't arrive in time. The AEC kindly informed me it was an acceptable excuse).

Compulsory voting is often grumbled and whined about, but I think it forms a substantial bulwark against a lot of the chicanery about voter suppression. It puts the onus on the Government to ensure that you *can* vote. I might add that non-compulsory voting is a perennial proposal put up by the IPA, a local alt-right thunk tank.

As for relative size of electorates, mere numbers should not increase the complexity of ballot counting.

* Except the upcoming 'vote' on whether Same Sex Marriage should be allowed under Law. That's being conducted by the Bureau of Statistics, and is actually a non-binding (and non-compulsory) survey. Thank you, conservatism.

Tony Fisk said...

PS: I think other differences are that (I think) the US has elections at all levels at once, and you hold them on a Tuesday. Australian elections are held independently of each other, and they're held on Saturday. Council elections are nowadays held by post.*

*A semi-amusing aside to the SSM survey: many young people registered to vote in anticipation, but the concern raised was that, in this age of digital connections, a lot of them don't know how to post a letter!! I expect they'll figure it out.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Larry H: Thanks for mentioning Quantum Vibe. I'm about a third the way through, and it's an absolute delight.


Glad to be of service. I mnentioned it here mainly because of the explicit homage to "Sundiver". but it really is a good quality webcomic. I don't remember now who put me on to that one, but it was long enough ago that I was reading in in real time, waiting for each new strip to be posted. At least now, there are several complete novels of content there.

If you haven't already reached it, you should get a smile when you finally "meet" Nicole's mother--the one she was talking to on the very first page.

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

I gather voting in the US is, as you put it, a patchwork of overlapping and non-communicative offices. Do you have to register with each one?


No, it's not quite that bad. We only register once, but our address of residence determines which city, township, congressional district, school district, etc we vote for. It's been so long since I registered that I don't remember if registration is done at the county or state level, but I suspect the latter.

One interesting aspect of US elections is that there is no such thing as a federal election. Even when we vote for president, we are voting for the electors for our state. Senators are elected from your state. Anything else is at a district or county level within a state. And every state has its own rules for how elections are run.

LarryHart said...

In response to #SoCalledPresident's unconscionable rants about Puerto Rico and the mayor of San Juan,

My hero, Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Puerto Rican descent) on twitter:


You're going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump.
No long lines for you.
Someone will say, "Right this way, sir."
They'll clear a path.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote:
If you haven't already reached it, you should get a smile when you finally "meet" Nicole's mother--the one she was talking to on the very first page.

I did, and guffawed at the "I see you brought your walrus" line.

Lots of familiar looking visages there.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"You're going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump.
No long lines for you.
Someone will say, "Right this way, sir."
They'll clear a path."

I wish I had a magic wand and could wave it and dump Donald Trump, naked, into one of the isolated villages along the SE coast of Puerto Rico the day after the storm, to await rescue.

ZarPaulus said...

I've seen claims that the genetic markers Ancestry and 23andMe look for aren't actually that ethnically unique, which you would think proves that there really aren't any genetic differences between "races".

But, more likely the Alt-Righters are going to assert that "those liberal companies" are giving them fake results.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Less than a hour after the demise of Trumpcare 3.0 ... the Senate unanimously passed another health care bill which got virtually no attention from anyone: it significantly expanded Medicare, particularly home health services. Trump is likely to sign it just because he won't have a clue what it is.


I wish I had a clue what you were referring to.

George Carty said...

Wouldn't a better argument against the alt-right be the fact that a pure race is an inferior race?

After all, it was lack of genetic diversity that doomed the American Indians to destruction by European microbes...

donzelion said...

Doug S: "the argument that the “death tax” is unfair is pretty much correct. The estate tax should die a quick and well-deserved death."

Agreed; abolish the 'death tax' and just use the ordinary 'income tax' with no special provisions: someone gains a windfall of $500k, they pay taxes on it just as they would if they won that money gambling, through a lottery, or via any other sort of gift (or any other sort of work, for that matter). Treat it all as 'ordinary income.'

The unfairness in the death tax is not a result of it being 'too onerous' - but too generous.

donzelion said...

Catfish: "For instance, people who cheer on fossil fuel companies against them silly libruls with their "global warming" conspiracy..."

I've been posting a bit lately about who really opposes any 'global warming' discussion: the fossil fuel companies are bit players (who primarily fear being forced to pay the tab for a vice that many people shared in). The big players (numerically) are the developers of 'disposable housing': the residences and neighborhoods that will flood, burn, or otherwise be destroyed by global warming (and their efforts to ensure insurance premiums enable the costs of their errors are shifted to other people).

"still don't want the purity of their water supply tainted..."
Nobody wants THEIR water supply tainted, but many simply don't care about someone else's water supply...indeed, tainting someone else's water supply is a great way to set oneself up to make money (all those folks with poisoned water have got to move somewhere...and if you're in the real estate business, that's a 'motivated buyer' - aka, a 'sucker you can take for a ride').

"when I start pointing out that the same legal rules they advocate would allow "death panels", or allow the state to interfere with any other portion of their care, they start to think twice."
Perhaps when YOU start pointing that out, they listen to you. I've had somewhat less experience with actually engaging in such conversations with my crazy conservative aunts and uncles, let alone strangers: they change the subject every time anyone discusses consequences (flipping through the cause du jour on FoxNews, 30 second snippets, rather than careful discussion on any one thing).

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: Here are the details on CHRONIC, just passed by the Senate:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/870/all-info

donzelion said...

Catfish: "it's about dominance behavior. No matter how much they profit from federal efforts, rural Americans see an outside force they don't control exerting power over their lives."

Some see certain neighbors benefit, and grow infuriated when they don't get "their share." That's probably a piece of the puzzle, but not the puzzle as a whole.

I suspect the biggest factor is how the outsiders are perceived: advertisements hint at the wonders offered by certain outsiders (banks, mobile phones), but the only time they hear about the Federal Government is in election cycles (usually negative ads and de-puff pieces delivered through a daily Fox fix).

Mobile phones, financial services, automobiles - ads sell an overt message, 'switch to us and your life will be better!' - a call to action easily shrugged aside. The deeper effect though isn't to 'sell' anything at all, but to alter the emotional frame of the audience -
'this product/service is GOOD/BEAUTIFUL! do not threaten the monopoly/oligopoly/empire it has built!' The audience never even perceives this message, and thus, defends the oligopoly/monopoly/empire that is assailing them.

Cognitive dissonance predominates (same thing for every advertiser-financed media outlet - it is hilarious that Fox watchers believe things to be different on CNN or MSNBC).

"They never notice the flip side of that argument: that control must pass away from the "maker" states that contribute net value to the federal government."
Agreed, and again, the Fox machine operates by exploiting the 'never noticing' - assisting in the cognitive dissonance effort by reiterating, "takers are evil! This is what a taker really looks like - nothing like you!" Reassured, they go on taking...

In a world built upon cognitive dissonance, everything sacred inverts and subverts: Jesus loves the wealthy casino operators, despises poor lazy greedy bastards; Jesus loves the gun owners and despises pacifism...Jesus loves the Confed hatemonger bigot, hates black 'hoodlums' (like Colin Kaepernick)...Slave owners 'worked hard' to amass slave holdings, the rich worked hard to select their skin tones and parents...

TCB said...

Ugh, too late to enter those competitions.

I think I might have had one or two decent ideas.

Berial said...

I think this is a pretty good summation of the 'death tax' via twitter.

It's amazing how many 'middle class' or lower earners want to do away with about the ONLY protection a society has against an aristocracy. Funny that.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@George: interesting thought. It all depends if you want to concentrate on the purebred's fixed and desired traits, or the equally fixed detrimental traits that come along for the ride.

Of course, only the most hardcore old-school Nazis actually believe in biological superiority. They know now that it's too easily refuted. It's cultural superiority that they espouse; then they have some excuse for thinking that "inferiors" cannot absorb that supposedly superior culture.

That's in direct opposition to the traditional evangelism of the West, be it theological or rationalist. Western culture is designed to be, and is, the most absorbable of all cultures. It was only when the siren song of Empire and the opportunities for mass enslavement beckoned that Westerners abandoned this feature. (That's not a racist observation; Columbus and Cortez were happy to enslave Native Americans, and the Dutch, etc. to take advantage of Asians. They were equal-opportunity slavers.)

@Tony Fisk: Actually, no. Election management is the ultimate responsibility of the Secretary of State for each of the fifty states. This authority is devolved through the county-level divisions (which include independent cities, boroughs, parishes, etc.) to local precinct workers, frequently volunteers. Registration takes place at your local county courthouse / office. There is no overlap, except for the Federal role in oversight to ensure the enforcement of nationwide voting rights.

It's the people you are voting for that are a patchwork of non-communicative offices. I take that "any polling place in your electorate" implies that every polling place in your electorate has the same slate of candidates and ballot initiatives. How many citizens are in this electorate of yours? I cross three town lines in my fifteen-mile commute; despite being in the same county, my workplace has a different federal representative and state representatives. No effort whatsoever is made to coordinate any of these boundaries, which are set by, yes, a patchwork of non-communicative offices (frequently the same ones you are electing).

A few US states have "early voting" on the Saturday before the Tuesday. Most don't. Ironically, Tuesday was originally chosen to be convenient to voters (it was market day in the early Republic). Now it is retained because it is inconvenient.

@donzelion: I think the single largest block in talking to conservatives is the refusal of the idea that threats to tyranny could come from within their own ranks. Progressives are still too aware of how nasty socialism / communism was, but conservatives write out all examples of right-wing extremism as "foreign", convinced that their American exceptionalism and love of their own personal liberty is a bulletproof defense against tyranny.

All the while they build themselves into just the sort of people who would be the foot soldiers of a right-wing autocracy.

I do not want America to have to go through the cycle of truth and reconciliation that Germany did in the last century. But it might yet come to that.

LarryHart said...

On the death tax and that twitter link of Berial's above...

Once again, we see two competing mindsets that completely fail to communicate with each other. Of course, some are cynically manipulating the conversation, but the believers on each side don't even understand what the other side is arguing about.

You've got one group who feels that we--society--starts with nothing, and that everything of value has been created by individuals without whom the wealth would not exist and who therefore own their own product. Under this view, the commons derives value from requiring those who produce value to give it up to those less fortunate--at the point of a gun if they won't do so willingly.

You've got another group who feels that, at least here in North America, there was great unclaimed wealth out here long before humans came to make use of any of it. Under this view, personal wealth and property is something that individuals have "bought" from the commons by providing work or ideas or whatever that society found useful. In return for this useful contribution, a certain amount of the commons is allowed to become the personal property of the individual. The purpose of the inheritance tax is to provide that the commons reclaims at least a portion of its wealth when the individual in question no longer has use for it.

Of course, it's not as simple as either model, and there are nuances to argue over as to how much belongs to individuals vs the commons. But unless the two sides communicate across this fundamental divide, there will never be any agreement or solution.

LarryHart said...

...and again on the link of Berial's, the guy is correct to keep pointing out the lie to the "already been taxed" meme. Even at my wealth level, I know that if (say) my grandmother purchased a stock for $2/share back in 1920 and she died in (say) 2000 never having sold the stock, and I inherit it at a current value of $42/share, then my basis when I sell that stock later is the higher $42, and I'm only taxed on the profit above that basis. The raise in value from $2 to $42 is never taxed. The "death tax" insures that when the value exceeds the $10 million or whatever it currently is, that unrealized increase is taxed. For the first time.

Duncan Cairncross said...

On the "Death Tax"
It's not just the
"great unclaimed wealth out here long before humans came to make use of any of it."

Its the work that all of our ancestors have done so that we can exist and continue - it's the "Shoulders of giants" that we stand on that makes the difference between a comfortable life and "Cat Food"

As an engineer if I could not use the work of my predecessors then I would be back to wondering what type of stones to throw at the sabertooths

Every new invention is just a thin veneer on top of the underlying structure

Tim H. said...

It's kind of darkly amusing that so many that want lower taxes are utterly dependent on taxpayer funded infrastructure.

donzelion said...

Catfish: "I think the single largest block in talking to conservatives is the refusal of the idea that threats to tyranny could come from within their own ranks."

Indeed. But perhaps that's because they're so 'focused' on possible threats of tyranny that they miss the real world threats that are right in front of them.

"X has millions of dollars, I have barely a thousand to my name...he must work harder than me!" rather than "How did he really get it?"

If the wealthy person is deemed an 'insider' - it's legitimate wealth, and critical scrutiny directed elsewhere. If an 'outsider' - it's theft/cheating. Race is one factor, but 'insider/outsider' decisions are more nuanced.

Hillary is as white as Donald after all. If one applied the sort of scrutiny to Donald that was applied to Hillary's Whitewater, every Republican who deemed her a crook in the 1990s would see he's done dozens of deals like that - yet they forgive him, blame her (so to with the emails, with Jared using a personal email server, and not one Republican clamoring to 'lock him up!').

We're still some ways away from a war: the hypocrisy is too glaring, but there are alternatives. We have extreme wealth in a few hands today, BUT those hands do not possess the levers of power they did in the 1870s - yet. My expectation would be a 1900s era solution to the 1870s style problems. Trump? Just another useless president, much as America survived for decades after Lincoln. The real work, and concern, must go elsewhere.

Paul SB said...

Hmm,

I'm a bit flattered, here. I haven't been back for a few days, and I find Dr. Brin is quoting me. He even used that Raymond Firth line I'm so fond of, and went on a rant against genetic determinism, one of the ugliest, hook-taloned legs that American conservatism stands on. I must be having an impact, as hard as that is to believe... But the idea about handing out free spit kits was his own, and very amusing.

In the last thread Donzelion said:
"The more the federal government tries to help, the more the rural folks despise it and any 'city dwellers' whom they blame for exploiting them (our own Locum illustrates the type of rural folks who hate their 'friends' and love their 'enemies')."
- This reminded me of the very first comment on the thread, by Catfish (I'll refrain from calling him Mr. Catfish. It would be like when I addressed Greg Bear as "Mr. Bear" and felt like I had dropped into the 100-Acre Wood or some such). he spoke of the stereotyping of rural people, which is real and pervasive, just as pervasive as our other stereotypes. In fact, I doubt there are any people who we don't stereotype, though I love the idea of including them in Affirmative Action. Maybe Hollywood will stop casting people who have Southern accents to play stupid people, like they have given up the stereotypical whining black guy who dies right next to the (Caucasian) hero of the story. When impoverished rural people support right-wing oligarchs, they aren't doing out because it makes any sense, it's just that their feelings are hurt by being stereotyped and they want someone to lash out at. The Republicans figured that one out a long time ago and have positioned themselves as their friends, directing their rage at their own opponents.

BTW, I was going through some old anthropology notes I found in my garage recently, typing them up before the writing fades to illegibility, and came across a term I haven't heard in a very long time. Oligopoly is the condition of being controlled by a handful of businesses which are not monopolies but still act together, setting similar standardized prices so none of them will actually compete with and undercut each other. It's a good word to think about when you are looking at our economy, which isn't as capitalist as we pretend it is.

George Carty said...

@Catfish:

"Of course, only the most hardcore old-school Nazis actually believe in biological superiority. They know now that it's too easily refuted. It's cultural superiority that they espouse; then they have some excuse for thinking that "inferiors" cannot absorb that supposedly superior culture."

I was responding to the OP's comment that white nationalism could be combated by genetic testing of white nationalists, as it would likely explode their claims to be racially pure. This is obviously predicated on the assumption that they value racial purity in the first place!

And while the old-school Nazis may have claimed to be biologically superior in their propaganda, they didn't (AIUI) actually believe it themselves. In fact they were essentially fundamentalist Social Darwinists who believed that genocidal race war was a positive moral good, and who despised the Jews because they viewed the Jews as the font of non-racist morality. Personally, I'm shocked that Nazi-style anti-Semitism (as expressed by the "Jews will not replace us" chanting at Charlottesville) still exists in today's world – not just because of the horrors of the Holocaust, but also because Israel's behaviour now contradicts the Nazi claim that Jews are uniquely hostile to ethnic nationalism.

To me it would have made more sense if the ethnonationalist far-right today defined Islam rather than Judaism as the ultimate enemy – not only because Islam is a long-term civilizational rival to the West, but also because white Muslims (whether converts, or established Muslim populations such as the Bosniaks) tend to have no trace of race-consciousness. In addition, political Islamism has largely replaced Communism as the world's leading anti-nationalist totalitarian ideology, and it is clearly far more intimately connected with the religion of Islam than Communism ever was with the religion of Judaism. Communism was openly and proudly atheist after all...

"That's in direct opposition to the traditional evangelism of the West, be it theological or rationalist. Western culture is designed to be, and is, the most absorbable of all cultures. It was only when the siren song of Empire and the opportunities for mass enslavement beckoned that Westerners abandoned this feature. (That's not a racist observation; Columbus and Cortez were happy to enslave Native Americans, and the Dutch, etc. to take advantage of Asians. They were equal-opportunity slavers.)"

Is it a coindence that the West's most bitter civilizational rivalry has been with its Islamic sister civilization (which is also aggressively proselytizing, and which clearly has rationalist potential even if rationalism is currently sadly lacking in the Muslim world – wasn't the scientific method itself a product of the Islamic Golden Age?), rather than with more distant civilizations such as the Confucian or Hindu ones? The fact that it is almost impossible to convert a Muslim to another religion or to atheism (to the point that the Spanish Catholic monarchs were forced to ethnically cleanse their Muslim population because even the Spanish Inquisition couldn't convert them) must also make Islam appear uniquely threatening.

Paul451 said...

Catfish,
[Voting on Tuesday] "Now it is retained because it is inconvenient."

I honestly think that's the case for most of your system, to drive away voters; but everyone there defends it as "it must be so". Surely there's no reason why different elections can't be staggered over different years, County-level elections held on Year One, Federal mid-term elections on Year Two, State-level elections in Year Three and Federal & Presidential elections on Year Four. According to the googles, only 5 states out of 50 use the off-year cycle for their state elections. Making that universal would eliminate entire layers of overlap. You guys don't even seem to try.

That's one of the big differences here. We never hold state/council elections at the same time as Federal elections. (We also don't do that school district, special business district, etc etc, bullshit. Has not a single county across the US, let alone a single state, eliminated that crap? What happened to the whole "laboratories of democracy" thing?)

The other big thing is the small fine for not attending a polling place on election day. (Technically for "not voting", but in practice they can't tell if you voted, only that you turned up.)

But to answer your question, no, there's no overlap between Federal, State, Council areas/electorates/seats in Australia. Indeed, my city council borders three Federal seats and six State seats, so most of the polling places around me have to serve multiple electorates, because you are allowed to cross the electorate lines to vote in neighbouring electorates. (Which I do for Federal elections, my nearest (handiest, walking distance) polling place is physically located in another electorate. Always funny to watch the election officials herding people from different electorates who have no idea what the name of their electorate is. Although to be fair, I have to look it up every single time.) Collectively therefore, many polling places in the state handle about half a million people on their (paper) electoral rolls. (US Federal districts average 710,000, sayeth google, less in small states, so not a huge difference in managing electoral rolls.) My two jobs (30m north, 30m south) are in completely different council and state electorates, but one (north) is in the same federal electorate, I think.

(Aside: In US states that insist on both electronic voting machines and ID cards, I fail to see how there's any limitation on voting at any polling place across that state.)

Paul451 said...

Larry,
To Tony, an Australian,
"Even when we vote for president, we are voting for the electors for our state. Senators are elected from your state. Anything else is at a district or county level within a state."

Err, dude, parliamentary-democracy here. Only people in the electorate of Wentworth voted for our Prime Minister. Only people in the state electorate of Cheltenham voted for my state's Premier (state head of government). Everyone in this city gets to vote for the mayor, that's more like a Presidential system, I guess; but I don't get to vote for the mayor of the capital city of which my city is a satellite.

(Speaking of councils, we don't have "unincorporated" areas. A concept I find bizarre. Nor "school districts" which I find batshit crazy.)

--

Berial,
Re: "Farmer" Chad parody.

Surely at least one person in the chain of replies could have asked those screeching "It's already taxed", "Can we at least have our decades of agricultural subsidies back?"

--

PaulSB
"Maybe Hollywood will stop casting people who have Southern accents to play stupid people"

But they also treat farmers and small town people as more genuine and decent and worthy than uptight, pushy, vindictive city people. Even in a SF movie like Interstellar, the brainy engineer/physicist had to work as a honest farmer for twenty years for us to consider him "decent". Or the decent small business owner getting monstered by the sleazy corporation with its sleazy executives (who Trump's sons appear to have physically modelled themselves on.) Even better if he's a decent small business owner from a small town.

I suspect the same people who lash out "because they were insulted by Hollywood fags", soak in that same Hollywood-created sons-of-the-soil fiction for their self-image.

Paul SB said...

Paul 451,

Yes, culture is always complex and multifaceted. So much so that if you look hard enough you can find just about any message anywhere you like. You get country boy Luke Skywalker as the hero of one of the most remunerative film epics in history on the one hand, and "Deliverance" on the other hand. "The Music Man" a small-town crook and the evil Weyland-Utani Company of the "Aliens" series all come out of the same Hollywood machine. So if a person is X and is enraged by Y, he can find what enrages him without looking too hard. And if a person is A and is enraged by B, he can find what enrages him easily enough, too. That's what happens when you have hundreds of millions of people living in the same theater. What's disturbing is how many people are looking for excuses to be angry. I'm a believer in individuality. It doesn't matter one iota where anyone comes from, what they look like, what their native language is, what may or may not dangle between the legs or anything else that comes out of the circumstances of their birth, which they had no control over. Action and attitude are what matters. Nothing else is remotely fair.

Paul SB said...

Forgot to say that I completely agree with you RE: school districts. They are great opportunities for petty corruption and unjust inconsistencies.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

According to the googles, only 5 states out of 50 use the off-year cycle for their state elections. ...You guys don't even seem to try.


I presume by "off-year", you are referring to odd-numbered years. Because many (if not most) states hold congressional and governors' elections in even-numbered, non-presidential years. My state of Illinois changed from voting for governor in presidential years to doing so in the "midterm" years, two years removed.

I used to think that was a good idea until I figured out that states do that because Democrats tend to vote only in presidential election years, and Republicans vote all the time.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

"Even when we vote for president, we are voting for the electors for our state. Senators are elected from your state. Anything else is at a district or county level within a state."

Err, dude, parliamentary-democracy here. Only people in the electorate of Wentworth voted for our Prime Minister. Only people in the state electorate of Cheltenham voted for my state's Premier (state head of government). Everyone in this city gets to vote for the mayor, that's more like a Presidential system, I guess; but I don't get to vote for the mayor of the capital city of which my city is a satellite.


I wasn't trying to portray local elections as weird. Just noting that there is no such thing as a federal election here--everything is run by the states or municipalities chartered by the states. Or is that what you were trying to say as well?

George Carty said...

@LarryHart: "I used to think that was a good idea until I figured out that states do that because Democrats tend to vote only in presidential election years, and Republicans vote all the time."

Why are Democrats so much less likely to vote in non-presidential years, and what can be done about it?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: Just noting that there is no such thing as a federal election here--everything is run by the states or municipalities chartered by the states.

That's why Bush v. Gore was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court didn't have standing.

Only when the state appeals process has ended, and there is reasonable cause to believe the constitution has been violated, can the SC rule on a state case like that.

LarryHart said...

@George Carly,

I don't know why. I vote in every election I can, but apparently, that's not the norm.

I think the fundamental reason is because Republicans see voting as an investment with a payoff, and therefore worth the while of doing. Democrats tend to see voting as a chore, something they're supposed to do but aren't motivated to do. Like going to church. :)

This might be partially explained by the fact that when Democrats vote their principles, they are generally voting for policies that cost them personally. That doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do--after all, giving to your favorite charity costs you personally too--but that sort of thing is something that any individual can only do so much of before running out of...money, time, motivation, whatever. This also applies to donors to the Democratic Party's messaging.

Republicans voting their principles are voting for their own economic interests. So they see any time and effort putting into the exercise as something with a payoff. Likewise, Republican donors feel willing to contribute any amount of money that they feel will be more than returned to them by favorable legislation and court rulings.

Perhaps that suggests something that can be done, but I'm not sure what that would be.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

That's why Bush v. Gore was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court didn't have standing.


And just as the US Supreme Court gets final say over anything the other branches of government do, you'd think the Florida Supreme Court would have the final say over that matter. But because the Florida Supreme Court leaned Democratic at the time, while the state legislature leaned Republican, the meme was pushed over and over again that any decision had to be made by the "elected representatives of the people" in the legislature, not the "unelected judges" on the Florida Supreme Court.

David S said...

Conservatives do a better job at framing elections as an opportunity for conservatives to vote their values. Progressives look elections as opportunities for progressives to vote on policies. According to Lakoff, values > polices. This explains both higher conservative turnout and why conservatives vote for things that aren't in their best economic interest.

Antonym said...

A few years ago I got my ancestry tested via 23&Me. Sadly, the tales of a Native American great-great grandmother did not pan out (or at least none of her 23 pairs ended up in me. Virtually 100% European stock, the dream of all those inbred hillbillies, and I married a Chinese woman, so there is pie in their faces!

One interesting development is that 23&Me put me in contact with a half-brother I never knew existed, letting me met my biological father, who had zero clue I even existed. For me and my family, it was (and is) an awesome experience. Especially to see how much of my personality is genetically linked. But when this kind of testing is %15 down at the local pharmacy; there will be many family secrets that will no longer be secret!

-AtomicZeppelinMan

LarryHart said...

AtomicZeppelinMan:

For me and my family, it [23 & me] was (and is) an awesome experience. Especially to see how much of my personality is genetically linked.


Funny, since my daughter was born, I've been amazed to see how much of her personality is not genetically linked. She shares way too many characteristics with my wife's adopted sister to be explained by coincidence (or even enemy action).

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

I was wondering when you'd get around to the latest trickle-down attempt. Fortunately, at least as far as facts go, it's easy to refute that sort of nonsense. On the one hand, find the corporate executives who've said that the only thing that makes corporations add workers is demand. Then find, if you can, any who've said that they hired more workers because the government cut taxes.

As far as estate taxes go, I'm in the 'it's regular income' crowd. And it's true that the very large majority of the US doesn't have enough wealth to have any personal worry on the subject. But there's one segment that could certainly be affected, and that's family farms. In my own family's case, my grandparents' farm would have been subject to those taxes had it not been for very careful handling of moving it to my uncle. It is my opinion that tee uber-rich don't much mind a few others going along for the ride as long as they get theirs. And so it appears to be with the estate tax. They're willing to let some others get by without paying it as long as they don't have to pay it. One possible problem with the 'income' scheme is that it might be possible to initially break up the estate such that every inheritor is not subject to the tax, but then manages over time to assign the value back to hte prime inheritor (I'm using the family farm as a model here). This would effectively nullify the laws in some cases, and there's always the problem of an inheritor not playing along.

With regard to Don't Be A Sucker, most people seem to think that the tables never turn, and that the stuff they insist on will never be turned against them.

Love the quotes.

Re: Genetic testing and a sideways romp into the NFL...

There have been various times and places where my ethnic group was considered less than human. And there's slurs that still exist today dating from that time, Fortunately, it didn't persist as far as I can see.

I'd have loved for my hate-filled grandmother to have had her genome sequenced. It probably would've given her a heart attack on the spot. She would have been part of the problem today. Live all her life in towns smaller than 20K. But certainly thought herself as being far superior to the rest of humanity, mostly because she attended a podunk local private school. In reality, she'd never have survived in a city, where no one would care about what she thought. And people only cared about what she thought because her husband was the local banker.

And as far as kneeling football players go...

The NFL is a pretty cutthroat business. I've know a few players, though after their careers. Nothing at all matters other than how well can you play and thus win games. Nothing. It's as Darwinian as it gets. But... 70% of the league's players are not white. Ever think that the white nationalists might be peeing their pants at the thought that, in a fair society, that might be true for other areas of effort? Maybe their own?

Paul451:

We can't even get people out for the elections we do have. And a fine would make thing sin general worse, as there's forces attempting to >prevent< people from voting at all.

LarryHart said...

raito:

With regard to Don't Be A Sucker, most people seem to think that the tables never turn, and that the stuff they insist on will never be turned against them.


Or when it looks like the tables suddenly might turn, such as when the president is black, or when workers (via their 401k accounts) might end up owning the means of production, they fire all weapons, scorched earth be damned!, in what they perceive as a literal fight for their lives, to prevent at all costs their being subject to the rules they've imposed upon others.

LarryHart said...

raito:

We can't even get people out for the elections we do have. And a fine would make thing sin general worse, as there's forces attempting to >prevent< people from voting at all.


While I can see the merit in compulsory voting as an antidote to voter suppression, I am leery of forcing people who don't want to vote to vote. Doesn't that just increase the chance that they'll vote for a bad outcome as a kind of "F*** you!"?

donzelion said...

Paul SB: "[Catfish] spoke of the stereotyping of rural people, which is real and pervasive, just as pervasive as our other stereotypes."

Is it really? Looking through the top grossing films and several television series, I see a rough balance between 'stupid hicks' and 'rugged/resourceful/independent' rural types: if there is any pervasive negative stereotype, it tends to be toward 'evil elitist smartypants' (esp. evil blond older females in YA fiction/cinema).

"When impoverished rural people support right-wing oligarchs...it's just that their feelings are hurt by being stereotyped and they want someone to lash out at."
I tend to think that any such sensitivity is more of a "War on Christmas" type of self-victimhood. Telling a crowd of white folks, 'white folks are the most oppressed people in the world!' is an excellent way to sell them books - and the sort of folks who will buy them are more likely prospects to sell the rest of the crap.

"The Republicans figured that one out a long time ago"
They definitely figured out which markets were easiest to sell a line of crap. Where Democrats noted the power of "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore" populism (William Jennings Bryan, channeling Andrew Jackson) - but ever since Woodrow Wilson, they have bureaucratized/technocratized/scientifized/policy wonked away from that. Obama, temporarily, channeled 'angry populism' as a subtext in his message of hope - but he was always more moderate/pragmatic than even Hillary.

donzelion said...

David S: "Conservatives do a better job at framing elections as an opportunity for conservatives to vote their values."

Think you're onto something there - but perhaps less 'conservatives' than 'conservative financed attack dogs.' How many Republican candidates for president really believe in creationism? Yet they cannot say anything about evolution, since the attack dogs are spreading a somewhat expensive line about "evolutionist abortionist oppressors" (to rouse Republicans to action) - while spreading a much more nuanced line about how bad Hillary is (to enervate Democrats). The latter story is the bigger one for 2016.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

while spreading a much more nuanced line about how bad Hillary is (to enervate Democrats). The latter story is the bigger one for 2016.


Right there is a clue to at least some of the reason Republicans are more motivated voters than Democrats. In 2016, Bernie supporters were so upset about the establishment forcing Bernie out of the running that they could not shift their loyalty to the establishment candidate. In their eyes, Hillary was not only a bad liberal, but "just as bad as Trump."

There were plenty of Republicans who understood that Trump was a bad candidate, a bad Republican, and a bad conservative, and who probably detested the man personally. However, they didn't assert that Trump was "just as bad as Hillary".

locumranch said...


As a self-identified progressive, I find the genetic determinism of David's "23&me" proposal to be particularly objectionable as it perpetuates the unenlightened notion that race, gender, intellect & supremacist orientations can be genetically predetermined.

Just as most progressives support Bruce Jenner's right to self-identify as the female in order to qualify for 'Woman of the Year' (despite being genetically male) and Rachel Dolezal's right to self-identify as 'black' in order to qualify as a regional leader of the NAACP (despite being genetically caucasian), all true progressives know that they must likewise support the right of supremacists everywhere to self-identify as the race, nationality or orientation of their own choosing.

Then 'make room, make room' for supremacists of every creed, orientation, colour, religion & nationality to follow Catalonia's loud & proud lead IF you endorse equivalency between the post-racial goose, the secular religious sectarian & the gender-neutral gander.

Nationhood, Sovereignty & Independence by virtue of Self-Identity: Gay & Straight Pride! Black, Yellow & White Power! March On, Soldiers Hindi, Muslim & Christian! Atheists in support of God-Given Rights! Viva Catalonia, Kurdistan & the New Confederacy!

Embrace the idiosyncratic diversity of the 21st Century.


Best

M L Clark said...

John Kennedy cut taxes and the economy surged. That is a counter example to your statement the cutting taxes never, not once, stimulated the economy.

OTOH, the top tax rate was 91% and he cut it to 70%. He had also increased unemployment benefits previous to the tax cut. So it is arguable, I guess. Counter example with an asterix?
cutting tax has never, (except maybe that one time with JFK), stimulated the economy.

http://www.npr.org/2013/11/12/244772593/jfks-lasting-economic-legacy-lower-tax-rates

Cari D. Burstein said...

The biggest issue I believe with the American voting system is that too many decisions about how it functions are controlled by the people with the most to benefit from gaming the system. If someone were going to help some new democracy design a system for voting and it was designed the way ours is, we'd rightly raise hell about how easily abused it would be. But we barely blink at the way it works here, and any proposal to change it has to overcome so many obstacles it seems almost impossible.

With regards to staggering elections- some are setup that way, and when they are it's sometimes to take advantage of the fact that it results in low turnout. There was an article a few years ago on 538 covering it.

David Brin said...

Locumranch exaggerates dishonestly... and Dolezal was dissed by liberals. Still, on this occasion Locumranch is not diametrically OPPOSITE to true and his salvoes aim at least in a general direction that's not a straw man. Indeed, I have often denounced PC-police bullies and "identity" fetishists. Indeed, I'd talk about the dangers from that kind of leftism... were we not in an existential fight for our very lives and civilization against a monstrous treason and anti-science, pro-feudalism cult on the right.

MLClark I specifically cited "Supply Side" tax cutting and the term was not around in Kennedy's day. Moreover, no one paid 91%. Moreover that cut was justified and was not a flat-out gift to oligarchy in order for them to inflate asset bubbles and invest nothing in "supply." Starting with Reagan, that's what the GOP cult delivered. and it did not work. Once.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Just as most progressives support Bruce Jenner's right to self-identify as the female in order to qualify for 'Woman of the Year' (despite being genetically male) and Rachel Dolezal's right to self-identify as 'black' in order to qualify as a regional leader of the NAACP (despite being genetically caucasian)...


The way I remember it, Ms Dolezal was pretty roundly excoriated by the left and had to resign her NAACP post. Normally, I'd give the benefit of the doubt that someone posting about a specific event knows more about it than my fallible memory, but in your case, it would be a good bet to make an exception.


...all true progressives know that they must likewise support the right of supremacists everywhere to self-identify as the race, nationality or orientation of their own choosing.


Ok, the Nazis can self-identify as Nordic Aryans even if that's not their genetic ancestry. But now that we know that, what do we know? Nazis like to conclude all sorts of things about intelligence and physiology and morality as a result of racial identification. If being a Nordic Aryan simply means that's what you insist on calling yourself, then nothing else follows from that identification.

LarryHart said...

Carl D. Burstein:

With regards to staggering elections- some are setup that way, and when they are it's sometimes to take advantage of the fact that it results in low turnout


I was only 16 at the time, but after Republican Jim Thompson beat Democrat Dan Walker for the Illinois governorship in 1976, the state made a change so that future governor's elections would fall on "midterm" years rather than presidential years. At the time, that sounded like a good idea to remove the state elections from the noise of the presidential elections. But now I come to understand that doing that is a way of locking Republicans in power, because Democrats only vote in leap years.

You may say, "I thought Illinois is a blue state", but I'm just talking about the governorship, and since 1976, we've had a Republican governor for all but 12 of the 41 years (42 by the time of the next election).

U S Senate elections are staggered as established in the Constitution. One third of the Senate is elected every two years for a six year term. It's common wisdom that "A president's party loses seats in the sixth year of his term," and no one seems to recognize an obvious cause of that, at least as it goes for the Senate. Six years in, you've got all the Senators who came in on a popular president's coattails now running for re-election in a non-presidential year. President Obama swept many Democrats into office with him in 2008, even in Republican states. They were more likely to lose in 2014 without Obama on the ticket. Likewise, George W Bush in 2006.

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

I'll have to take your word on the current balance. I really don't watch a lot of movies these days, and I don't see any TV at all unless I buy the show on DVD. My career pretty much robbed all the pleasures of life, and it might take me awhile to get back into them. of course your War on White People types come in the same basket as the uneducated people Candidate Grope said he loved so much - people who have no thinking skills. Their hatred for smart people is not just about jealousy, it's that smart people know that much of what dumb people believe is flat-out wrong, and they hate having their cherished traditions trashed. And once they've bought the crap that tells them what they want to hear, they then go out and vote for liars who promise them the world and deliver nothing. But their thinking skills are so poor that can't even figure that one out.

George,
I like your comment about racial purity being genetically inferior. It's pretty standard that genetic stagnation leads to extinction, diversity aids survival. Culture does the same. But the kind of people who believe that genes are everything and their genes are better than everyone else's generally don't understand genes well enough to get that. It's just another word they use to proclaim their superiority. Before Brother Mendel coined the term, they would go on and on about "breeding."

M L Clark said...

David Brin - Thank you for the clarification.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

I am a lot less sure that the drop from 91% to 65% was not the start of our current problems
Any change that drives a change in behavior will have a delay before it starts to bite

Changing the top tax rate like that means that a pay rise for a top executive becomes suddenly worth four times as much
It may not feel worth pushing for a bigger pay rise if the Government is going to take 91% - but if the government is only taking 65%....

Also well paid executives got a major take home pay boost with that drop
When Thatcher did the same thing in the UK - top rate cut from 83% to 60% - I got about an extra pound a week my uncle had his take home pay doubled

That big jump in income may have "primed the pump" and created a big drive for that to continue

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "In their eyes, Hillary was not only a bad liberal, but "just as bad as Trump."

Well, may their eyes be opened. I seem to remember having a few of them on this board last year. I'd have to go back some ways to find it, but I remember one exchange where I asked a Bernite which policies he actually believes in, he listed them, I asked if policies X, Y, and Z were what he meant, he agreed, then told him those were Hillary's commitments - he didn't care.

Ah, emotions. We like to think Dems are rational, policy-oriented, science/provability dictated; but energy, enthusiasm, and the like are not so simple.

locumranch said...


Locumranch exaggerates sarcastically (but NOT dishonestly) in order to make a point about PC progressive hypocrisy as Jenner's gender-based cultural misappropriation was widely celebrated while Dolezal's race-based cultural misappropriation was universally condemned.

While you ponder on the 'why' behind this progressive double-standard, ask yourself the justification behind the PC crowd's use of racial stereotyping to portray one entire group (or gender) as inexcusably 'privileged', 'racist', 'brutish' & 'regressive' slave-owners while it uses racial stereotyping to portray other groups as 'blameless', 'disadvantaged', 'progressive' & appropriately 'empowered' better angels.

No longer serving its intended purpose, this false narrative collapses in upon itself:

The first & former group (whose ancestors bled themselves white to abolish slavery, share power & create economic prosperity) has awakened from its stupor, and it now recognises the official narrative as overt emotional manipulation & abuse, while the second & latter group continues to harp, carp and demand a never-ending stream of group-specific benefits, reparations & entitlements.

And, so our metaphorical Atlas wakes, stretches & marks all of his old debts 'paid in full'. He seeks to liberate himself from self-imposed indentured servitude like the so-called 'privileged' citizens of Catalonia & the brutes of the new Confederacy; and, by doing so, our Atlas grants that second, latter, progressive & fully 'empowered' group their heart's desire as he leaves them at LIBERTY to fend for themselves.


Best
_____
David calls it 'freedom' when one group is forced to abide by the rules made by others, but he calls it 'cheating and/or 'crime' when & if that group rebels against servitude and attempts to rule itself, even though self-rule equals democracy and rule obedience equals authoritarianism & tyranny.

It's even more ironic when you realise that slavery still exists in many Muslim, African & Asian countries, yet these are the very cultural mores that the West must adopt in order to become more 'diverse', according to perverse progressive doctrine.

Jossy said...

Very apt. I agree with you Catfish .

J.L.Mc said...

Handing out DNA testing coupons is a very good idea for weakening the alt-right. However I also expect some people like the antifa to try and find ways to get DNA tests from alt-right members involuntarily.

locumranch said...


By all means, let's make genetic testing mandatory & legally binding, so much so that those phenotypic whites with a modicum of minority heritage can (1) benefit from preferential minority hiring practices, (2) gain special legal protections against all types of genetic & cultural discrimination and (3) claim the same immunity against the accusation of 'racism' that phenotypic minorities do.

As a male, I would welcome this, assuming that those same genetic studies were admissible in court, so men subject to paternity fraud (up to 20% of the MARRIED population as documented by some clandestine studies performed in the 1960s) would be able to escape the indentured servitude of child support payments, as I've discovered that such paternity results are legally inadmissible in the USA, France & many other EU jurisdictions.

That said, I'm not sure how you could reconcile genetic test results with the argument that sexual (and/or 'trans') orientation is 'a matter of birth' instead of elective choice, while you simultaneous make the progressive argument that gender is a matter of choice rather than genetics.

Perhaps we could agree, then, that political inclination (conservatism; progressivism; climate change denialism & acceptance; etc) is also 'a genetic predisposition' & 'a matter of birth', so the hate-speaking progressives among you would 'shut the hell up' about your Progressive Genetic Supremacy.

Best

Paul SB said...

Here he goes again...

The faux rancher said:

"Just as most progressives support Bruce Jenner's right to self-identify as the female in order to qualify for 'Woman of the Year' (despite being genetically male) and Rachel Dolezal's right to self-identify as 'black' in order to qualify as a regional leader of the NAACP (despite being genetically caucasian)..."

and now he says:

"... while Dolezal's race-based cultural misappropriation was universally condemned."

And he thinks that no one here takes anything he says seriously because they are all a bunch of witless libtards. He has done this so many times that nothing he says is credible in nay way. Just like when he trotted out the racist ranter Philipe Ruston a few months ago as an authority on race, then when I pointed out that he was a thoroughly discredited scholar, not just on grounds of his overt biases but on the very sloppy science he tries to use to justify his biases, our most verbal of bridge lurkers changed his tune. Then when someone calls him on his obviously racist screeds he changes his tune again. Funny how he doesn't do that for his sexism, though.

locumranch said...



"I pointed out that he was a thoroughly discredited scholar, not just on grounds of his overt biases but on the very sloppy science he tries to use to justify his biases", says yet another witless libertard who mistakes irreproducible politically correct claptrap for actual science:

http://www.nature.com/news/1-500-scientists-lift-the-lid-on-reproducibility-1.19970

:p

occam's comic said...

I have been thinking about Musk’s BFR and the future of the space age. I think there is a good chance that the BFR will lead to a Kessler syndrome and the ending of the space age.

Here is the outline of the argument: The only commercially successful space based activity has been communication / sensing satellites. A single BFR will very quickly satisfy this market.

What other activities would the BFR allow?
Materials made is space? I know of no process or product that can cover the cost of space based manufacturing.

Materials from space? It is cheaper to get your stuff form the earth. Maybe if the material is used in space.

Energy? Solar power with battery backup is cheaper than space based solar.

Tourism? There may be a small market for people to vacation in low earth orbit. It will be very expensive.

Human space exploration? Who will pay for this and how much will they pay? (there is no commercial return on investment)

So how does Musk made money off of the BFR?
The US Military has boat loads of cash and the military still dreams of holding the “high ground” and if the US military decides that it can use something like the BFR to dominate Earth’s orbit I think that they will be give the resources to do that.
But neither the Russians nor the Chinese will tolerate that and they can simply launch tons of ball bearings into orbit, initiate the Kessler syndrome and deny space to all.

David Brin said...

Locum says he “exaggerates sarcastically (but NOT dishonestly) in order to make a point about PC progressive hypocrisy …”

Wrong. Though confronted endlessly with evidence that his bettes noirs - screaming lefty PC Police - are a very small minority among the vast majority of moderate, reasonable and adult-pragmatic liberals, he cannot grasp it. His own personality is fanatical, black-white, zero sum, an it disturbs him to imagine that millions of others aren’t like the frantic zealot he sees in the mirror. Those who oppose him MUST be both identical to him, in fanaticism and diametrically opposite in every strawman specific.

Hence, on this occasion he is right that there EXIST entities such as he is complaining about, he nevertheless reveals he is confederate-loony.

“David calls it 'freedom' when…” Liar. Total liar. Deliberately dishonest and vile liar. loco

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main postn:

“No rich man is ugly.”
– Zsa Zsa Gabor


Heh. I'm reminded of when I was first aware of the name Zsa Zsa Gabor, when she played the villainess on the final episode of the 1960s Batman. Her character, Minerva, ran a mineral spa which was a front for an operation to learn where rich gentlemen hid their valuables and then steal them. She had lines like:

It will make you feel like a new man.
I know I feel like a new man.


But the funniest part was that she was phoning in the lines and saying them wrong, with the other actors correcting her on screen. And because it was the last episode, the producers didn't care any more and just left that stuff in the final cut.


Minerva: Put them in my parafume pressurizer.

Henchman: Persimmon pressurizer, Minerva.

Minerva: Vhatever, dahling.

LarryHart said...

Apropos nothing at all, my teenage daughter just experienced her first break up with a boyfriend--via text messaging.

Dang, this is why I was afraid to have kids.

Paul SB said...

Here are locum's words from the August 5th entry:

"Neither Paul_SB nor I have any use for this Ruston character: His so-called 'science' is awful, his rationalisations unreasonable & his conclusions laughable."

Now that has been awhile and no doubt most people have forgotten, he decides that his stout defender of racism is, in fact, credible. The tune changes once again.

Paul SB said...

Here's a video that explains trickle-down (a.k.a. supply-side) economics, coming from a billionaire investor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPe5xYBP0D8

And if anyone is interested, here's a little article I wrote that someone saw fit to post on the internet. Bit of a surprise, though the article itself is just a bagatelle, under 500 words.

http://www.dbsasgv.org/2017/10/02/hospitalism-when-good-intentions-just-dont-cut-it/

locumranch said...


Absolutely not. I was NOT defending Ruston's scientific credibility, as PaulSB alleges, I was merely pointing out with my link to Nature (above) that only the witless assume the soft sciences to be credible in & of themselves, especially when their unscientific conclusions are mere OPINION, as the reproducibility of the soft sciences approximates that of a coin toss.

Science has proven, however, that certain genetic characteristics are inheritable, as in the case of both humans & Mendel's peas, yet only the most foolish of libertard equalists assume that all peas or humans will display identical capabilities & characteristics when cultivated on the proverbial 'fair open level' playing field.

A "confederate-loony" I may be, but I am in good company because I stand with all those who favour National Sovereignty, Democracy & Self-Rule, like the modern Catalonians, Kurds, Ukrainians, Tibetans & Israelis.

I even stand with David when he defends California's recent treasons against the US Federal Government, even though he stands (mostly) with all those self-important tyrants who would deny sovereignty to freedom-loving separatists, like Spain does to Catalonia, Iraq & Turkey do to the Kurds, Russia does to Ukraine, China does to Tibet & the Arab Nations do to Israel.

For a self-professed 'freedom lover', David sure has interesting allies & fellow travelers who sacrifice individual liberty on the alter of federal unity. Mao & Stalin were quite fond of military caps & kepis, too.


Best

donzelion said...

Locum: "I even stand with David when he defends California's recent treasons against the US Federal Government"

What, legalizing pot? Hardly seems treasonous, even if it is very direct defiance of the attorney general's will and federal law.

Oh, you meant refusing to permit immigration authorities to harass women when they go to report abuse by their husbands if they happen to be illegal immigrants? What some call treason, I call 'common sense.' And indeed, it's been a Republican position for decades that the federal government cannot require local law enforcement to enforce federal law - why is immigration special, if, for example, Republicans fought against federal mandates to cram federal enforcement rules on the states for gun control?

Or was it Jerry Brown calling for Americans to enforce climate change rules even if the federal government renounces them? Read the freaking Paris Treaty instead of judging what it means through a lens of nonsense filtered by nonsense vendors. Nothing in the Constitution bars states from setting higher environmental controls than the federal government chooses to require.

LOL, you've been missed my crazy, somewhat deranged friend.

Ioan said...

I thought I'd share the following article:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/chenchen-zhang/curious-rise-of-white-left-as-chinese-internet-insult

Note that I can't vouch for the trustworthiness of the source, but the author does seem to have good credentials.

My comments

1. As it has been argued in the comments of the article, this might have to do much more with rights for Tibetans, Mongols, and Uyghurs?

2. Africans who settled in Guangzhou have encountered a lot of racism, and paranoia about the community is popular within Chinese social media, or so I heard when I was in Japan in the early part of this decade
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africans_in_Guangzhou

3. I wonder if this is in any way sponsored by the government as a cover to declare anyone who believes in a multicultural existence an "enemy of the state"? Perhaps it's a new excuse to crack down on human rights groups?

donzelion said...

As for this tidbit,

"Locumranch exaggerates sarcastically (but NOT dishonestly) in order to make a point about PC progressive hypocrisy as Jenner's gender-based cultural misappropriation was widely celebrated while Dolezal's race-based cultural misappropriation was universally condemned."

The difference between publicly asserting an identity and assuming an identity one prefers, then hiding that identity and its assumption to take a leadership role - is almost as obvious as the difference between consensual and nonconsensual sex.

Indeed, 'authenticity' of identity is a crucial aspect of leadership. Just think, what if all those gay-bashing homophobes elected a representative who was, in fact, a closet homosexual? (It's only happened...quite a few times.)

donzelion said...

Loan (or is it, ioan?) -
"1. As it has been argued in the comments of the article, this might have to do much more with rights for Tibetans, Mongols, and Uyghurs?"

The article you linked to linked in turn to the Quartz critique of the claim that the Chinese are most welcoming people in the world to refugees - and asserts that it's quite likely the Chinese translation for the research didn't convey the sense of 'foreign' refugees. Many Americans take other (white) Americans into their homes in the event of catastrophes - usually though, we prefer alternative solutions.

"3. I wonder if this is in any way sponsored by the government"
Possible, but I smell 'entreprenuerial' efforts: the article refers to the '50 cent' posts written by the government, BUT the sort of person with time and an inclination could just as easily troll-for-hire on behalf of any other backer (including certain Americans trying to penetrate China, who could not distribute their content there themselves, but could hire and pay Chinese to produce it). That sort of wording is exceptionally useful - once a keyword gains a certain amount of weight, advertisements can exploit it (and pages that refer to it).

David Brin said...

Some members of our blog comment community raised the issue of “The Bell Curve”or whether there might be some systematic differences between races, genders that it would be dishonest to suppress:

1. Population studies of various distinct social groups clearly do show there are differences in intelligence, and research shows that a significant fraction is nature.

2. If social policies are based on the assumption that differences in achievements between groups is all nurture, no nature, then these social policies are likely to be sub optimal.

Alas, though, Bell Curve defenders utterly missthe point.

1. The “differences in averages” (DIA) that might be found in comparisons of bell curves have always diminished over time, with the application social resources to eliminate disadvantages, prejudices and discouragements. Given that blatant history, the only useful policy application of comparison of bell curves is to call attention to a likely need for investment.

(Yes, the rate of narrowing of DIAs may diminish, over time, settling on some “natural” DIA. So? Read on.)

2. It is clear that the top motive behind “The Bell Curve” and its zealots is racism, sexism and desperate need for confederate-style solace in symbolic superiority. Yes, some are attracted to the topic out of intellectual orneriness. The latter group should make strenuous efforts to distinguish themselves from the racists… as I describe legitimate climate skeptics distinguishing themselves from members of the insane denialist cult.

3. But what if there truly are some systematic difference in width or center of bell curves among groups? While ending stupid assumptions shifted the distribution of women capable of military service, it did not change the inherent different in physical height from the average for men. But even such residual, systematic differences do not mean what the racists and sexists think it means.

The blatant fact of human individual diversity - plus 250 years of the American Experiment - show that it is both immoral and impractical to apply group stereotypes upon individuals in ways that restrict any individual’s right or ability to say “I am different from that average.”

It is #3 that proves the despicable core of the Bell Curve zealots. Even if some remnant of observed differences in averages (DIA) did not decline with the application of resources and justice, there would be no justification for the racist-sexist-bigoted application of DIA upon any individual who is seeking to prove herself or himself.

Even if a person cannot parse the intellectual arguments I have made here, there is a basic conclusion: if that person seeks to restrict another person’s individual ambition, based upon membership in an involuntary classification like race or gender, then that bigot is a nasty, degraded person who did voluntarily join a classification group, one we should all treat with great contempt.

Paul SB said...

This is pretty much standard operating procedure with our deranged friend:

" "I pointed out that he was a thoroughly discredited scholar, not just on grounds of his overt biases but on the very sloppy science he tries to use to justify his biases", says yet another witless libertard who mistakes irreproducible politically correct claptrap for actual science"

then:

"Absolutely not. I was NOT defending Ruston's scientific credibility, as PaulSB alleges, I was merely pointing out with my link to Nature (above) that only the witless assume the soft sciences to be credible in & of themselves..."

Hmmm. Sounds like yet another change to the tune. And what was the point of the attack on reproducibility of scientific results, when the supposed expert he is holding up falls in the same category. Pure red herring.

Then there's the straw man, also standard operating procedure for him:

"Science has proven, however, that certain genetic characteristics are inheritable, as in the case of both humans & Mendel's peas, yet only the most foolish of libertard equalists assume that all peas or humans will display identical capabilities & characteristics when cultivated on the proverbial 'fair open level' playing field."

Does anyone here think that all members of the human race are clones? Anyone? I have absolutely never heard anyone assert that everyone on Earth is genetically identical. That goes beyond straw man to reduction ad absurdum. People here have explained to him time and time again that equality means legal equality, not that everyone has exactly the same physical and mental characteristics. That is almost beyond belief, but given what this guy spews (like "libertard") there really isn't anything that would shock us coming from him. if there is another mass shooting and he stops posting here, we'll know why. Dementia is setting in.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin, and anyone else trying to understand this stuff,

I think a visual will help here. This article uses the example of height to get the idea across.

https://perrystreetpalace.com/2012/09/06/on-gender-essentialism-in-public-schools-bell-curves-and-cpd/

Look for the following paragraph and examine the graphs above and below it.

"See that big lavender section there in the middle, where the two bell curves overlap? That is the range where the majority of people of both sexes fall. So, while we can certainly say that it is true that the median height for men is 5′ 9½” and the median height for women is 5′ 4″, we cannot say that all men are taller than all women. If that were true, our graph would look like this:"

Hopefully the visual will make it more clear.

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Ioan said...

donzelion, it's ioan.

I am personally skeptical that it's the government. Thinking about it some more, I think it could be overseas Chinese who agree with Trump trying to get the support of their social circles back in China. Or even alt-right supporters within the overseas Chinese community recruiting.

LarryHart said...

Someone on Norman Goldman's radio show yesterday had an observation that is at once spot-on accurate and disheartening. Because American culture just refuses to deal with the problem of gun violence--because "There's no way to prevent this, says the only place on earth where this happens"--we're going to have to get used to mass shootings as equivalent to natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes that "strike" a geographic region every so often. Afterwards, we count the dead and mourn them, and then we metaphorically re-build on the metaphorical flood plain and hope the next one hits somewhere else, because there's nothing else we to be done about it.

Like lightning or floods or blizzards, mass-shootings are best understood as "Acts of God".

occam's comic said...

I don’t know if it is because it is so obvious or so depressing, but let me try again to get a little discussion on game changing nature of Musk’s BFR (or something similar).

I think that it is clear that a small fleet of military BFRs could easily destabilize the global military / political situation. Say the US military wants a Rocket Rapid Deployment Force and they buy 20 BFRs. One day they launch all 20 BFRs. They put 1,000 nuclear weapons and 1,000 Rods from God into low earth orbit. Now the US has the capability to launch a first strike nuclear war and win.

Given the fact that the US is an empire in decline, and its political system is increasingly dysfunctional and the moral prohibition in the US against using nuclear weapons today is about as strong as our moral prohibition against torture was in the year 2,000, other countries in the world should be freaking out about the development of a military BFR.

Smurphs said...

Re: Gerrymandering

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/03/politics/redistricting-supreme-court-gerrymandered/index.html

Lucky me, I'm in Pennsylvania's 6th district. Not the worst-gerrymandered 7th, but the district next door that was butchered to make the worst one.

I guess I should be happy?

Ioan said...

occam's comic

This assumes no one else is working on a BFR. I mean, it may take a few years, but I think China will build its own.

Second, having orbital nukes and "rods from god" doesn't prevent a second strike. That's what the US is afraid of. We can already launch a first strike and win. Neither of those weapons are instantaneous; they take a few minutes to reach their target.

The real danger is when the US can shoot down ICBMs. That's when the prohibition may disappear. Then again, that's when Russia and China build their own "rods from god".

Ioan said...

Having said the above, this is the biggest revolution in power projection since the invention of the aircraft carrier.

Darrell E said...

occam's comic,

I'm not so sure that the military BFR scenario you describe is that much different than what we have right now, regarding 1st strike abilities. Sure, weapons that are already in LEO will reach their targets much faster than ground based weapons like ICBMs. But, a couple of thoughts.

1) It is currently impossible to launch something like a BFR, let alone a fleet of them, without the rest of the world being aware of it. And it would be very unlikely that you could rely on major foreign intelligence agencies not having some idea of the probabilities that a given BFR payload being launched is major weapons systems, or not. Particularly if it is large enough scale to be something like a 1st strike. If you include the time it takes for the BFR launch you have just as much, or more, warning time of a strike.

2) Trying to sneak major weapons systems into orbit, with the numbers to be an effective 1st strike against a major adversary, is not likely to be doable. It's too easy to see what is in orbit. There are enough other countries with the technical capabilities to see and characterize anything we, or anyone else, puts in orbit pretty quickly after it launches.

The BFR may possibly cause potential adversaries to have to make some adjustments to what conditions warrant what kind of response but I don't think it could enable the 1st strike advantage you describe.

occam's comic said...

Loan,
Thanks for recognizing that the BFR is a big freaking deal in terms of military potential.

But lets look a little more closely at what you said;
It is my understanding that ICBMs are most vulnerable in the launch and boost phase. Is a couple of minutes enough time to get a nuclear bomb from low earth orbit to near enough the launch site to destroy the missile? I don’t know but I am thinking it might be.

If China and Russia start their own programs to build their own BFRs, what do you think will be the US military’s response? I am 100% certain that they will demand and get their own fleet of BFRs (if the Chinese or Russians had 1,000 rods from god in orbit they could completely destroy all of the US navy)

A small fleet of 10-20 BFRs might be enough seize low earth orbit and prevent other nations from accessing space.

occam's comic said...

Darrell E
I guess I am not being clear.

it is not so much a nuclear first strike I am worried about, it is the possibility that a small fleet of BFRs could be used to seize, hold and militarily dominate earths orbit.

and form orbit, all of humanity would be in the cross hairs of who ever controls near earth space.

It better be us, right? (so says the Americans, the Russians and the Chinese)

Darrell E said...

occam's comic,

I think you were clear enough and that I understood you fine. I just am not convinced that your predictions about how the BFR will change the balance of power are likely. For one, the BFR is still a few years in the future. Fleets of BFRs are even further in the future. Meanwhile, other groups will be continuing to work on launch systems also. Some of them have enough resources to throw at such a project that if they were to determine that BFR is potentially as much a threat as you suppose that they would likely be able to at least counter BFR enough to make it too potentially risky to use it as you fear it may be used or even reach parity with BFR's capabilities. And some have enough resources that if they feel the need is great enough the cost of developing something to counter BFR won't be a major factor. In other words it won't have to be as cheap as BFR.

Space X, their Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and BFR, are awesome. They have already changed the game and will do so more and more with every milestone they meet. They could be the beginning of humans moving into space in a serious way, finally. But the basic technologies are not new or secret. Just difficult and expensive. And Space X has refined and innovated ahead of anyone else so far. But they aren't that far ahead.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/03/opinion/stephen-paddock-las-vegas-terrorism.html


...
Forget about persuading these legislators. They are not confused or underinformed. They are either bought or intimidated. Because no honest and decent American lawmaker would look at Las Vegas and Puerto Rico today and say, “I think the smartest and most prudent thing to do for our kids is to just do nothing.”

So there is only one remedy: Get power. If you are as fed up as I am, then register someone to vote or run for office yourself or donate money to someone running to replace these cowardly legislators with a majority for common-sense gun laws. This is about raw power, not persuasion. And the first chance we have to change the balance of power is the 2018 midterm elections. Forget about trying to get anything done before then. Don’t waste your breath.

Just get power. Start now.

David Brin said...

onward

onward