Sunday, January 30, 2005

Work-Life balance and Child Advertising

If Mark Kleinman had comments, I would simply put a link to this post by Ragout at Angry Bear in the comments to this post of Mark's.

That is all.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Family Freedom Accounts

Ezra calls for guesses at the next next term for SSecurity Privitization. I tried to come up with one.

I thought I had it with Legacy Accounts, but Family Freedom Accounts (mentioned in Ezra's comments) blows it out of the water. The key would be tying the positive aspect(s) of the program (heiritability) to the label as closely as possible. Liberty accounts is a possibly better suggestion.

Liberty and security are opposites in politics. When one feels threatened, security becomes paramount (war on terror). When one feels secure (economic stability of eighties and nineties, arguably of the fifties and sixties too) government is seen as an obstacle (war on The New Deal).

That said, we can pursue one of two strategies:

1. Call for security and draw parallels to war on terrah.

2. Call for freedom through security by allowing partial priitization with gurantees on benefit levels that would be financed from the general fund.

1 would seem contrived and complicated and overly intellectual, falling onto a neat pre-packaged narrative for the media. 2 is the kind of doublespeak that Bush has used so effectively against us.

I propose the Democrats draft legislation to gurantee benefits (from the general fund), make some small privitization gesture, and label it the Family Financial Freedom Plan (or act or something). This would block any Republican use of the terms, paint any opposition as opposed to freedom (in this case, economic freedom, the good kind), and practically shift the burden of Social Security off of regressive payroll taxes and onto progressive income taxes.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Comparison of Ancient Pirates and Terrorism:

"The quest for total security for some turns into total insecurity for the remainder."-Some jewish republican

1:For a long while, Pirates were kept in check by a rival superpower, until that super power’s defeat.

The Soviets and their allies helped to contain the forces of terrorism in the middle east until their defeat by the West (partially through supporting their terrorist enemies). Carthage suppressed pirate activity until its defeat in 146BCE after which piracy grew for about eighty years before Rome finally acted decisively to end it.

2:Piracy was tolerated by Rome because of its close relation to the primary source of energy of the time.

Piracy was closely tied to the slave trade, slaves being the steam engines of the agricultural revolution. Piracy was tolerated to create ample flows of slaves for Roman purchase (to work the grain fields of Sicily and North Africa). Terrorist sponsors are tolerated because of their relation to the oil trade.

3:Piracy was used by local powers to extend their influence.

By providing safe harbor for Pirates, Kings could share in the plunder and have a naval ally. Mithradates is known to have supplied and harbored pirates in his conflict with Rome. Mullah Omar and the Warlords of Somolia have done similar things with “terrorists”. FARC, ELN, Tamil Tigers, Shining Path, Abu Sayeff, Uzbek Islamic forces, and Basque separatists are all basically militias (to various degrees involved in the drug trade), labeled as terrorist groups by the State Department.

4:Rome was roused to find a solution to this former ally, grown into a problem, after it sacked Rome’s main port.

In 69BCE Ostia, port of Rome, was sacked by Pirates. Pompey was dispatched to the East in 67BCE. Ostia was encased with walls by 58BCE. NYC, I believe, is already blanketed with security cameras.

5:These pirate forces largely came from an area near an ideological center of thought and old civilization, though did not discriminate in their prey.

Cilicia Trachea was a center of pirate activity in SE Asia minor (near Crete). Jerusalem was a critic of Hellenism and later became a vocal critic of Roman hegemony. Jewish pirates are not unknown. In addition, the close association of pirates with Rome's political enemies no doubt produced at least lip service to some creed which is now lost to history. Al Queda’s primary foe is the Saudi Royal Family. They attack Saudi Arabia as well as Western targets.

6:In the process of denying these pirates safe harbor, basically decides that it cannot trust any remaining rivals to do their part to suppress piracy.

After subduing the pirates of Asia Minor, Pompey uses the authority granted him to eliminate the pirates to also end the Seleucid dynasty in Syria and the Hasmonean power in Israel. Piracy is cited as part of his reason to intervene in Israel (Chapter 3 paragraph 2, "and the piracies that had been at sea,"). No US parallel, yet.

7:In fact, ultimately the threat to Rome comes from the barbarian tribes of Europe who enthusiastically adopt much of Roman culture.

The Vandals, Visa and Ostra Goth tribes that ultimately evict Rome from Africa, Hispania, and Italia originally were Roman vassals protecting the Empire from raiders further North and East. They adopted much of Roman custom (eventually including the Christianity of the Romans, first as Aryans, then eventually as Roman Catholics). Where in your analysis of the United States’ enemies are Russia and China? Or are they allies in your opinion? China may occasionally scrutinize US cultural material because they fear their population will be exposed to US political propaganda, but they hardly have a problem with the vulgar aspects of our media. Depictions of violence and sex are not as dangerous to the Chinese as the depiction of positive US political messages, which of course have a military (morale) implication. I highly doubt the Communist Chinese are as worried by the ascent of Coca Cola (or perhaps more appropriately Marlboro, which has been unable to access the Chinese market until recently) as they are about US military hegemony (especially with regards to Taiwan). Plus if the Chinese could get all the Chinese to speak English, that would save them the trouble of teaching them Chinese. The US is currently building up a huge deficit with China, effectively turning them into our (currently willing) vassals by having them send us a tribute (the trade deficit).

Friday, January 21, 2005

Last night (20th) on Aaron Brown concerning the inauguration of Bush:

Some old (jewish looking) guy in Miami: “I'm optimistic because we got [slightly overextends right index finger with left index finger as if counting] tax breaks. We got uh, um… it seems that I think we're going in the right direction.”

Oy gevalt!

That same day during the inauguration Barbara Kellerman gushes about how lucky we are:

KELLERMAN: Yes, but I think having said that, we ourselves were not sure that they would get out of the vehicle. And I think there's a sense of pleasure and relief that at least we do have that.

We're not so far encased that this is has been made impossible. I at least am seeing with some pleasure and even relief that they are feeling confident enough of the control they have of the situation to let the president and the first lady get out of the car and walk those final steps.
Well thank goodness our elected officials are still confident when practically surrounded by a military division. I mean, I just don't know how I could go on had I not seen Bush walk fifty feet through a crowd of pre-approved supporters. I mean if the President feels confident struting around with only That was close.

PS: I looked for a news story that contained a count on the security personnel on hand for the inauguration to link "division" to. I noticed something weird. The LA times story Google pulls up mentioned 6,000 in the cached excerpt displayed beneath the link, but does not have a specific count in the linked story. That got me wondering. Several other stories cite the 6,000 LEOs and add 2,500 troops, but NewsHour says that there were 7,000 troops (last paragraph) on hand. In addition, CNN's story currently cites the 2,500 figure but the google news excerpt showed 4,700 military personnel.

Now, I know there really are bigger fish to fry for the democrats, but the approximate size of the military resources devoted to various ends should not be kept from the public even though it could be useful to our enemies. The varaiblity in these accounts of the size of the security force is a bad precedent in my opinion. The precedent, if extended, could amount to a fully opaque defense budgeting process; a situation which would beg for corruption.

Monday, January 17, 2005

All jews think alike

Have I mentioned that all jews think alike?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Kos is different from Williams

Because Williams took government money. Even if Kos was spreading message for the Dean campaign, everyone who financially contributed to this propaganda campaign would have agreed with its message. On the other hand, government is (theoretically) unique in our society in its ability to coerce payment from people. In effect, government propaganda takes away our first amendment rights by forcing us to support messages we do not agree with. That is why Williams was wrong for being a party to this violation of the first amendment. It was a violation of civic ethics, if not journalistic ethics, and Kos has nothing to apologize for.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Administrative courts

Dale Franks is upset about the costs of our system of torts. The way I see it, our system of torts serves administrative duties for our entire economy, especially when other parts of the economy screw up in their administration of the law. If the social security administration doesnt pay you enough, you can still turn to the legal system and sue for benefits (while you may not be constitutionally entitled to such benefits, you can use legislation to justify claims); when the SSA does not administer laws properly, the justice system steps in and uses its own peculiar method of administration to potentially reverse and rectify the administrative decisions of the SSA. Similarly, when GE's legal department does not administer the law properly, they may be sued and possibly have the decisions they made regarding administration of laws reversed by another administrative institution (the courts).

That said, the fact that the total costs of this administration of our economy come to approximately 2 26/110% or about 2.24% of our GDP puts the torts system at a level that is a bit less efficient then Medicare and a bit more efficient then Social Security according to Mallabys numbers. All the SSA does practically is print and mail checks, and the tort system manages our economy more efficiently.

In addition, a commenter, bushluv, makes a good point: defensive medicine seems to be a counter example to the theory that additional litigation does not provide additional safety.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I'm confused

Bob Walker on today's Crossfire:

WALKER: And because of the fear of lawsuits.

And the other problem is that it's not just the fact that you have the lawsuits themselves that are paid out. It's the fact that every doctor practices defensive medicine against the potential of...

BEGALA: So they're extra careful not to cut the wrong leg off. I think that's good.

WALKER: No. No. No. What they do -- what they do is send -- send patients to a lot of expensive specialists to make certain that their diagnosis can be backed up. And all of those costs and so on are built into the system.

BEGALA: Good. Good. Good.


BEGALA: If it's my kid, they're going to make sure.


BEGALA: But let me raise -- let me bring an expert into this.

WALKER: Very, very huge cost to the overall system, and if it ends up with less doctors, your kid is not benefited by it.

I'm confused. Paying more doctors to look at a problem will make less people want to become doctors? Maybe if a doctor had to pay a specialist out of his own pocket, but generally doesn't the patient pay for that? If anything, defensive medicine increases the amount of dollars chasing medical expertise in our economy.