Random thoughts on government

There are some basic premises that one should have to use to judge proposals for government action. One need not be an anarchist to see that governments often make things worse rather than better, so one needs to know why that is. Anyone who is a realist and honestly looks at the historical data could see why I agree with the following list.

Consider:

  1. Government is inherently incompetent so no matter what task you give it will likely be done in the most expensive and inefficient way possible. Often it is counter-productive.
  2. The government of any land, but especially the US, is corrupt from top to bottom. Power corrupts men and the more power a government has, the more corruption there is.
  3. It is foolhardy to rely on the mainstream media to inform you about your nation or local community. The task of the mainstream media is not to inform but rather to propagandize.
  4. Democracy is a bad idea, just as H. L. Mencken told us so often. The notion that the destiny of all the people should be in the hands of ignoramuses, idiots, party hacks, rent-seekers, and freeloaders is ridiculous.
  5. Education by the government is meant to indoctrinate the young and not to inform or enlighten.

The above is just a distillation of a lifetime of watching politicians and politics. It has often been observed that government even at its best is kind of like an ogre: slow, dumb and violent. (h/t Nunzio@Nunz112 for that one) Like any retarded and clumsy giant it is foolish to assign it any task that is important; and why give it any unimportant task either? I read sites all the time that specialize in publicizing the obvious tom-foolery, waste, and stupidity of government and they never seem to run out of material to use.

It reminds me of the definition of the term “ironic evil” which is the evil that good men do while they are trying their best to do good.  Governments don’t often have the best interests of their people as a prime concern, but even when they do they make things much worse than they need to be. Government corruption is all around us and it is the system itself that is corrupting and its coercive nature would corrupt even a saint.

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Our government does not really care for “the people” rather the politicians care for certain people who funnel huge amounts of money into their pockets. When is the last time you saw your own elected representative give some “face time” to one of the working poor so that the man might tell his representative a thing or two?

What is any political campaign save a concerted effort to turn out a set of politicians who are admittedly bad and put in a set who are thought to be better. The former assumption, I believe is always sound; the latter is just as certainly false. For if experience teaches us anything at all it teaches us this: that a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. ~HL Mencken

As for the universal franchise, look at the people who vote. Polls done in the street tell us of the universal ignorance of the people. There are millions that can’t name a state’s capital city or tell if a quote came from the Declaration of Independence or from Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.  How can people who are ignorant of politics, history and economics choose wise leaders? And if they somehow did choose wise leaders, those men and women would be corrupted after a month on the job anyway.

Public education is mass-producing ignoramuses who can not spell, punctuate or use the language correctly and who know virtually nothing about their country’s history or geography. Is this failure on the part of the schools? No, it is a feature not a bug. The state does not want a nation of intelligent, self-reliant men and women. The state wants compliant men and women who are as obedient as sheep. The state wants slaves not strong, independent men who are self reliant. Mencken observed that “the most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”

Sometimes people holler at me and claim that I can’t prove that an anarchy would “work” even given all the examples of it working in history. OK, fine. But I think it is easy to prove that government is a mass murdering monster. For that reason alone we should be looking to kill the beast.

The Tyranny of Good Intentions

There are a lot of good books out there by people that I don’t totally agree with. Today I would like to take a look at one of those books. This little treasure was written by a couple of fellows who are not market anarchists nor even Classical Liberals in my estimation, but rather they would probably be called “old right” conservatives. They wrote a book describing how the American justice system went wrong and give detailed examples to make their points. I have read the book twice and enjoyed it both times.

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Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton wrote the book in question. It is called “The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice“, which was first released in 2000 and then updated in 2008. The authors had a chance in the updated version to revise their reporting on cases that had moved forward in the legal system after the release of their first edition of the book. As a bonus they got to look at the abuses of the Bush administration – one of my favorite parts of the newer edition. The book deals with abuse of citizens rights in general, plus the one chapter is devoted specifically to the abuse of the constitution and the law by the Bush administration since the tragedy of the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings. There are no Obama administration abuses listed due to the 2008 publication date of the updated version.

The book explains to the average, non-lawyer citizen how the law once was the shield that protected the population from government tyranny and then, sadly, how this shield became a club to beat the citizens with in recent times.The book covers how Americans once enjoyed the protection of the “Rights of Englishmen” and how those rights have been lost. The book covers the tension between the position of Williiam Blackstone which gave us a rich tradition in both law and politics that guaranteed our rights and freedoms, and the position of Jeremy Bentham, the 19th-century philosopher who popularized the theory of utilitarianism, that has worked to erode these rights in the interest of expediency and efficiency.

The book convincingly argues that conservatives and liberals alike use prosecutors, judges, police, regulators, ill-conceived laws, and the courts to destroy freedom and justice as they seek evil monsters to slay here at home, just as we seek monsters to destroy with our military in the middle east. The title of the book comes from the fact that sometimes these people may very well do these things with the best of intentions even as they destroy the rights of the citizen. The idea that these freedom destroying crazies are “doing it to protect us” has become a cultural mantra since 9-11.

On the domestic side, this book shows how even very powerful people and organizations like Charles Keating, Leona Helmsley, Michael Milken, Exxon, and Archer Daniels Midland Corporation are victimized. Roberts and Stratton then proceed to show how the powerless, average citizen is rolled over and victimized by the so-called justice system. The book is a chronicle of the unrestrained powers of police, prosecutors, and judges. It is a chronicle of unfair forfeiture laws, and unreasonable bureaucratic regulations which have the status of laws that should only be passed by accountable legislative bodies.

One of the best chapters is about the “crimes without intent.” It is an ancient concept that one must have Mens Rea or a “guilty mind” to be guilty of a crime. This concept is supposed to protect us from being punished for accidents or acts that were innocent in nature. Another chapter deals with retroactive law; the fact that one can commit an act that is perfectly legal today, and yet becomes an illegal act in the hands of an unscrupulous prosecutor tomorrow.

The book covers the forcing of plea-bargaining on almost all defendants. This chapter is a chilling look at the basic reality of the modern “justice system” in our country and may be the most important chapter in the book. Of all the types of injustice, making a man plead guilty to a crime that he knows he did not commit must be the most evil and heinous. Roberts and Stratton also document the modern overturning of attorney-client privilege, the raw ambition of those involved in our justice system, coached lying by police and other government experts, and the lack of regard for the truth of guilt or innocence of the defendant. Instead of seeking truth, obtaining a great record of convictions is all that counts today and the finding of truth is seemingly of no regard at all. Prosecutorial misconduct naturally plays a major part in all of this, but the rot runs throughout the system

This is a book that covers the law being used as a weapon of persecution in this land where everyone is supposed to be equal before the law. It may be a little dated since this is 2013 and even the updated version was published in 2008, but it is a treasury of facts and ideas for you to consider. Each chapter can stand alone which makes reading the book easier for those of us with limited reading time. I recommend that you consider reading this small volume if liberty is one of your interests.

The dark heart of the people?

“The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.” ~ H. L. Mencken

Of course Mencken wrote that in the middle of the progressive era when do-gooders of every sort were afflicting men with their mindless “help”, so Mencken had an easy time seeing that little truth. Those of us alive today in the belly of the beast, that is, the US Empire, don’t really believe any more that the rulers are trying to help us out of some moral obligation on their part. Too much water over the damn for that.

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Ah, but the next one has come to past in our times! …

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” ~ H.L. Mencken

The moron was Bush the lesser, and then we went on to to Obama who is the very personification of the dark heart of Americans who want to control others. We fight the Muslim because he believes differently than we do — hell, even worse he seems to really believe his religion! We can’t have that now can we? Of course it has been pointed out that not only does the Muslim believe a different religion, the overwhelming vast majority of them have darker skins that we do. Brown in fact. There seems to be a large measure of racism involved in the Empire’s treatment of the middle east.

But now the dark heart of the modern man, raised on violence everywhere he looks, is coming to pass in the person of Obama. “For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong,” and the American loves a simple solution — drone the bastards! “Get her done!” is our motto.

Democracy is the tyranny of the majority just as the ancients told us, so it will be the minority who will oppose the total control of the central government. That minority will be the first to taste the full brunt of the terror state that Obama is building, but the flag waving majority will get theirs in the end — good and hard no doubt.  One hopes that before they die, the government worshippers who helped build this modern terror-state will realize their error before they travel on to their just “rewards” in whatever comes next.

The theory behind representative government is that superior men—or at all events, men not inferior to the average in ability and integrity—are chosen to manage the public business, and that they carry on this work with reasonable intelligence and honesty. There is little support for that theory in the known facts… ~Mencken

Some goober claimed in response to me that anarchy was “Utopian”. I got a laugh out of that little peace of ignorance as he obviously thinks that all the people acting in non-coerced, voluntary cooperation every day can’t work but that these same people will elect angels to make us all work together. But then, the fellow in question works for the Empire as a lawyer so I understand he can not possibly see anything that might hurt his income.

The worst delusion of modern man seems to be that “democracy” is somehow superior to other forms of government. Yet it is obvious that the lawmaker of today is totally devoid of principle. He is a political player in a grotesque power game. If the right pressure is applied to him he would cheerfully and forcefully be in favor of torture, bestiality, cannibalism or any other of a host of horrors.

The job of the radical libertarian is to seek to convert the masses to belief in the non-aggression principle, but often the first step is to make a man realize that “democracy” is a farce. It is the horrible deal that the ancients said it was thousands of years ago. When the common man sees this, then perhaps we can help him see why we believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve any government is largely a waste of time.

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The Iraq War, Oil, and Dollars

I was reading the comments on a Glenn Greenwald post, and the regulars were all arguing about the ‘real reason’ that the US Empire invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Many were adamant that it was all about the oil. I offered my opinion on the matter and now am positing it here. I have edited it slightly for better readability in this venue and the picture, of course, is added.

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The Iraq War was not about oil, and it was about oil at the same time. It depends on what aspect of that horror you care to dwell on. The truth is that the rulers of the American Empire know very well that oil is fungible and that we don’t need to occupy the Middle East to insure we have enough oil. Hell, for practical reasons we get most of our oil from this hemisphere anyway.

But the US Empire is bankrupt and only our currency’s status as the world’s “reserve currency” keeps the credit lines open for us. The fact that Middle East oil is traded only in dollars helps to keep America’s Dollar in the position of the world’s reserve currency. Saddam and others had hoped to break the chains of our domination of the oil market via the dollar — and paid a dear price. Remember, Saddam was our boy: we put him into power. Sure he was a dictator, but that never offended the US leadership any; unless we needed propagandize our people for a coming war.

Oil played a big part since the people were told that we would take oil from Iraq to pay for the short, “cake-walk” of a war and we would maybe even make a little extra money on the deal for our troubles. I don’t think the leaders really believed that, but that was the story they had their minions in the press tell the people. But oil was also a big part due to the oil-for-dollars-only policy which was (and remains so) very, very important to the empire.

It boils down to POWER. Money is about power, but so are many other things. The USA wants to order the world around and have everyone kneel to our wishes. We are in the Middle East to protect our status as the country with the reserve currency, to keep Israel happy by destroying their neighbor countries that stand in the way of a “Greater Israel”, and to keep the military-industrial-intelligence complex happy with yet more war.

Remember what Mussolini taught us about the political-economic system of his that we adopted here in the 30s. Yes, we are a fascist state. Since “fascist” has so much baggage, perhaps it is better to say corporatist or crony-cap but we are fascist non the less.

The American invasion of the middle east was about power, and it is still all about power. Bank on that.

A new source for cheap, clean water

I saw this good news in a blog post. I was reading at a science blog and I was shocked to read about the following news reports of a new way to make water drinkable. I had missed this recent news article, from Reuters:

Pentagon weapons-maker finds method for cheap, clean water

(Reuters) – A defense contractor better known for building jet fighters and lethal missiles says it has found a way to slash the amount of energy needed to remove salt from seawater, potentially making it vastly cheaper to produce clean water at a time when scarcity has become a global security issue.

The process, officials and engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp say, would enable filter manufacturers to produce thin carbon membranes with regular holes about a nanometer in size that are large enough to allow water to pass through but small enough to block the molecules of salt in seawater. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.

They make the filter out of graphene. I had never heard of the stuff. I bet most people have not.

“It’s 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger,” said John Stetson, the engineer who has been working on the idea. “The energy that’s required and the pressure that’s required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less.”

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Humans are very creative and ingenious. Given cheap energy, we can meet our needs on any front. The need for clean, pure, drinkable water is one resource that has been in the news lately. All kinds of people have been hollering that we are “running out of water“. I even hear that on the news here in Florida which is a swamp from one end to the other, and we live on a big ball of water called the earth. Maybe some don’t know about the oceans because they don’t live near one like I do, but surely they have seen photos.

But potable water, ah, now there is the key. Potable water (drinking water) is needed to support life and to grow crops. If the southwest USA and northern Mexico had a nearly unlimited supply of clean water we could feed the world many times over. Think of it, we could pump sea water out of the Gulf of Mexico and desalt it, thus giving farmers all the water their little hearts and large crops could ever want. Cheap food? Now there is a problem I wish we had.

As proof of the possibility, look at what Israel has done with old style technology. They can clean up 5 gallons of sea water for one cent. That is 500 gallons for a dollar.

cost efficiency isreal desalinationFigure 2. Cost per cubic metre (black) for desalinated water around the world. I have added the cost per 100 US gallons in blue. The four outlined plants are in Israel.

Now it takes large amounts of energy to pump seawater though reverse osmosis filters and so we will still need relatively cheap energy. But with the graphene filters we might see an increase in efficiency of up to a factor of 100 times present methods. That would be up to 50,000 gallons for a dollar.

Since Israel is already desalinating 300,000,000 cubic meters of water per year now and is said to be building capacity to go to 600 million in a few years, we see that the new technology will make desalinating sea water even much more practical than it is now. Tampa Florida is using some seawater now as part of their water management plan. This graphene news can only be great news for everyone: but especially the poor of the world. The poor need clean water and this new advance can make it 100 times cheaper to provide it.

This news also reminds me of the people who keep saying that we are running out of water. That has never been true. We have shortages of pure, clean drinking water in places. We need to develop the technology to clean sea water to meet our needs. This is of course exactly what the new development of the graphene filters means for the reverse osmosis desalination of seawater plants.

But even with this breakthrough, it still takes energy to purify water and if the mindless fraud of “catastrophic man-made global warming” means we can’t use coal or gas then the cost of purified sea water will remain too high for the common man — and especially the poor. The cost of the water is a function of the cost of energy.

If energy is cheap then using endless seawater to turn the deserts green is practical and profitable. If energy is made ultra expensive by the so-called “fact” that CO2 is “poison” then the poor of the world will suffer greatly and many will die.