San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, November 9, 2012

There Is No Fiscal Cliff

Practically everything you have heard and read about our potential fall over the edge of the fiscal cliff is false.  Much of it is nothing more than political posturing with a view toward the next mid-term elections.  Much more of it is nothing more than media hype designed to increase ratings.  Much more of it is based upon faulty economic theories that defy common sense.  But all of it is based upon lies by every single member of Congress.  They are a despicable bunch.
What is the "fiscal cliff"?  The term was coined by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during one of his required appearances before Congress.  In an attempt to put some fear into congressmen who have no knowledge of economics whatsoever (that is what gets them appointed to the banking committee) and in an attempt to make himself appear to be the savior of the economic universe, crazy Ben warned the House financial services committee that if they did not get a cost cutting budget deal in place prior to the end of the year the nation would plunge off the "fiscal cliff" and into economic ruin.  A new phrase was coined and once again we find gentle Ben predicting another depression.  The last time he talked this way he convinced Nancy Pelosi to spend $700 billion dollars of taxpayer money in order to ensure that the United States would have an economy the next day.  We all know how that worked out.
The "crisis" of the fiscal cliff was created by provisions found in the Budget Control Act of 2011 which, in turn, was written to deal with the non-existent federal budget ceiling crisis of August 2011.  You may recall the budget ceiling imbroglio.  Congress had routinely increased the amount of money it allowed itself to spend.  It was never a political issue and it was never a big deal.  The great majority of the times the budget ceiling was increased it was not even reported in the press.  Then some brilliant politicians realized they could make political hay over the budget ceiling increase and, presto, the budget ceiling crisis was created.  All of a sudden what had been a routine congressional action now took on the significance of a major tax bill or a declaration of war against Canada.
To give the appearance of being fiscally responsible the congressmen who approved the Budget Control Act declared that a Joint Select Committee, also known as the "Supercommittee", would have to produce a piece of legislation by late November of 2011 that would decrease the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion dollars over a ten year period.  It came as no surprise to anybody who has a lick of common sense and a knowledge of politicians that the bipartisan effort failed miserably.  When they failed to reach an agreement the Budget Control Act specified mandatory budget cuts and tax increases, all of which are to go into effect on January 1, 2013.  That is the fiscal cliff.
What does the fiscal cliff entail?  It is a combination of tax increases and budget cuts.  The tax increases are almost entirely related to simply allowing previous tax cuts to expire.  The state of taxes after falling off the cliff will be essentially the same as they were during the Clinton administration, with one exception.  The exception is the 3.8% excise tax levied on a very small percentage of the population to help pay for Obamacare.  So, as far as taxes go, we have been there before and did not die.  In fact, the 90s were a pretty good time to be in the stock market, if I recall correctly.  Don't misunderstand.  Increasing taxes is always bad.  But there is bad and there is bad.  These tax increases are simply bad.  We will survive them and the economy will prosper.
The budget cuts associated with the fiscal cliff are being described as "severe" and "drastic" by various media outlets.  I have heard reports that they will immediately plunge the United States into a recession in which GDP will decrease by 4%.  Nonsense!  First of all, the cuts are not drastic.  The largest federal spending program of all, social security, is exempt from the cuts.  The second largest government spending program of all, Medicare/Medicaid, is limited to a 3% reduction.  Half of the scheduled cuts of $109 billion for fiscal year 2013 will come from national defense and the other half will come from non-defense programs including education, law enforcement, low income energy subsidies, roads and homeland security.
Defense spending cuts represent about 7% of the total defense budget.  To put the defense spending cuts into perspective consider the following facts.  US military spending would decrease from $710 billion to $660 if the cuts are enacted.  The United States, prior to the cuts, is responsible for 41% of all military spending in the world.  The next closest competitor is China with a military budget of $143 billion representing 8% of total military spending in the world.  If the cuts are enacted the US share of total military spending will decrease from 41% to 38%.  The US will still spend more on its military than the next eleven countries combined.  I do not see how that will pose a significant national security issue.
Lost in all this talk about impending doom is the simple economic fact that cuts in government spending are always good for the economy.  Always.  No exceptions.  The statistical anomaly that calculates GDP by including government spending is responsible for the dire predictions about GDP decline (See "Government GDP Statistics Are Misleading" 10/29/12).  I find it wildly ridiculous and grossly contradictory that practically every citizen of the Socialist Democracy of America believes that it is vitally important to cut government spending and yet, at the same time, when a program to actually cut government spending is about to be enacted there is panic in the streets and predictions of certain economic death.  We can't have it both ways.  Either government spending cuts are good or they are bad.  They cannot be both.  The fact is government spending cuts are good.  If we fall off the fiscal cliff we are in for an enjoyable ride as government spending is reduced and the shackles put on the economy are loosened.
I am most disturbed by the fact that the politicians and the press are working together to foment fear in the citizens of the SDA.  The politicians, especially the Republicans, are doing it for their own perceived advantages.  Just yesterday I read a report that the Republicans in Congress have 13 seats up in the midterm elections whereas the Democrats have 20 seats up for reelection.  The conclusion drawn by the author of the report was that the Republicans were going to do everything they could to exploit fears about the fiscal cliff in order to get more of their kind elected in the mid term elections.  The members of the press, as is always the situation in cases like these, do not care what happens as long as it is filled with fear, hyperbole and lots of opportunities for increased ratings.  So everybody responsible for bringing you information about the fiscal cliff has an incentive to exaggerate the dangers involved.  Don't fall for it.  Don't believe it.  Don't be a dupe for those dummies in Congress.
I will conclude this blog posting by giving you an analogy of what is really going to happen with the fiscal cliff.  Imagine a 300 pound man who decides he needs to go on a diet.  His doctor has told him that if he gets to 400 pounds he stands a good chance of dying young from heart disease.  The man ponders his future and sets up a new rule for himself.  For the next two months, he promises himself, he will continue eating his six doughnuts per day but, on the first of the year, he will cut back to just five doughnuts per day.  Two months come and go and his weight is now up to 330 pounds.  The day of truth arrives and he, as always, eats six doughnuts.  At the last moment, in the nick of time, he changed his own rule and told himself that rather than reducing his doughnut count from six to five per day he could better accomplish his objectives by simply not increasing his doughnut count from six to seven per day.  He congratulates himself on his wisdom and continues as if nothing had ever happened. 
The fiscal cliff is a non-issue.  It will be resolved at the last minute.  Congressmen will congratulate each other on their wisdom and foresight when it is resolved.  The press will report how great our congressmen are when it is resolved.  You will be assured that our congressmen have saved us from economic disaster.  Do not believe a word of it. They are all vicious liars seeking their own gain at your expense.  All talk about a fiscal cliff is utter foolishness.  Do not play the part of the fool and buy into it.

Update:  November 16, 2012:

I was reading an article last night that really did a fantastic job describing how the financial media and the popular press are blowing the fiscal cliff entirely out of proportion.  Here is what David Weidner of the Wall Street Journal On Line (November 14, 2012) says about fiscal cliff coverage:

"This isn't the financial media's finest hour.  We refer, of course, about the so-called fiscal cliff. Washington lawmakers have created a self-imposed deadline of Jan. 1 to make a deal on debt reduction.  It is an imminent threat. Either the automatic cuts or the grand bargain that emerges likely will have a halting effect on the economy.
That's one view. Another view: The cliff is really just a trumped-up annual budget discussion.
Politicians have created this event to pressure one another into a deal. It is theater. The most likely outcome is a combination of tax increases, spending cuts and kicking the can down the road.  It is going to be imperfect, but it is going to be OK.
Investors looking for reassurance or perspective must be disappointed. The overwhelming majority of media coverage has been anything but balanced and reasoned, even by the industry's low standards.
At its worst, the coverage is panic-inducing, falling somewhere between that given to an approaching hurricane and an alien invasion.
Even more troubling is that the hyperbole seems to have fueled a sell off on Wall Street.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has fallen 3.8% since the election ended and the focus on budget talks began. The 10-year Treasury has fallen to a three-month low. Gold is at a three-week high.  Instead of offering a calm counterpoint to the alarmists, the media seem to have turned up the gas."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I Might Be Wrong About Everything

"You always think you are right!"  How many times have I been on the receiving end of that assertion?  More than I can count.  How many times has the person making the accusation been a hypocrite?  Every single time.  Allow me to explain.
Everybody thinks he is right all the time.  There is no human being in the history of the universe who purposefully goes around saying things that he knows are wrong (unless, of course, he is playing a game).  Nobody ever says, "That is what I believe, but I do not really believe it."  Nobody ever says, "Here is what I think but I think I am wrong."  Given the fact that we all believe that we are always right, why would somebody accuse me of always thinking I am right as an allegedly pertinent point in the course of a discussion we might be having?  Rest assured, when that accusation is made it is not intended to be a compliment.  The person who makes the accusation almost always does so with a raised voice, clenched fists and a look of potential violence in his eyes.  I think we all realize that when a man resorts to the "you always think you are right" argument he is only doing so because he has nothing of substance left to say.  His argument has been exposed as fallacious and now he is angry.  I have exposed his argument as fallacious so now he is angry with me.  The "you always think you are right" statement is nothing more than an ad hominen argument designed to allow the loser to save face.  Still, the argument reveals something very important about human nature.  That is what I would like to explore today.
For the most part, everybody has an opinion about everything.  Of course, that is just my opinion. Ask anyone about his opinion and you will be told that what he believes is obviously true.  You will also be told that if you are wise, you will agree with him and adopt his opinion on the matter.  The reality of the situation is that people disagree about everything.  We all have different opinions and we all believe our opinions are true.  We all believe that we are right and those who disagree with us are wrong.  We have the truth and our opponents do not.  It is that simple.  Agree with me or be wrong.  But we both can't be right.  There are two things we know for sure when we have a disagreement. Either both of us are wrong or one of us is wrong.  We cannot both be right.
We rarely talk about how we arrive at our opinions.  We rarely analyze how we come to the conclusion that something is true.  What I have discovered over the years is that our disagreements are not primarily related to the actual facts of the matter.  No, I have discovered that our disagreements are primarily related to how we approach the actual facts of the matter.  It is the methodology we adopt in our attempt to derive truth that is the primary source of our disagreements.  Allow me to make a sweeping generalization that I believe is true:  most human beings do not derive their opinions about the nature of reality and truth from a process of logical analysis of empirical facts.  As a corollary to that assertion I will make another:  most human beings believe something to be true when that belief makes them feel good about themselves and for no other reason than that.
In any society there is always a small group of people who believe that truth matters.  These folks are usually committed to discovering the truth through an application of logic to the empirical data found around them.  Life is observed, facts are studied, postulates are proposed, theories are developed, incorrect theories are falsified and the continual process of truth finding marches inexorably forward.  Participants in this grand drama are frequently personally tortured souls.  The persistent search for truth rarely brings emotional comfort.  Facts are found that tell the searcher that he is an immoral being, saturated by sinful impulses and actions.  Facts are found that challenge the status quo.  Facts are found that contradict everything the seeker holds dear.  When those painful facts are discussed with others, who are more concerned with their own personal comfort,  the seeker for truth will suddenly find himself socially ostracized.  He will be an outcast and a pariah because he does not behave like most of those around him.  Truth seekers are rarely invited to parties.  Truth seekers are the death of the party.  Socrates was a seeker of truth and I believe we all know what his contemporaries thought about him.  Modern examples of Socrates are received in exactly the same fashion today.
The rest of the members of society are made up of a class of people for whom nothing is more important than their own sense of personal peace and pleasure.  All of life is structured to reinforce their existing view of reality, not allowing any painful challenges to what is already believed to be true.  What is believed to be true is held dear exclusively because it is emotionally comforting.  The criteria for truth for most human beings is a simple one:  does it make me feel good?  If so, it must be true.  Does it make me feel bad?  Then it is not true for I am never meant to feel bad.
You may think I am exaggerating about the intellectual and logical sloppiness of most people.  I am not.  Listen carefully to the way most people talk.  Is it not the case that almost everybody says, "I feel" when they should be saying "I think"?  I feel that Obama is the better candidate.  I feel that you should not say that.  I feel that I am basically a good person.  The use of the phrase "I think" is almost nonexistent in our society today.  This is true not simply due to a fluke of language, it is true because almost nobody thinks.  Continue listening to people.  When asked about why they believe something you will hear statements like "I like the way Obama shows compassion for those who can't help themselves" or, "I don't like the way Romney cuts his hair."  Assertions about objective truth are routinely ignored.  All conversation devolves into what we like and what we don't like.  Under those conditions the truth will never be discerned, although we will find out a great deal about our personal likes and dislikes.
All of this brings me back to the original question.  Do I always think I am right?  The answer to that question depends on one crucial distinction.  If truth is derived from logical analysis of the brute facts that surround me then, yes, I always believe I am right.  Of course it does not follow that I am always right.  I acknowledge that sometimes my logic is faulty and sometimes I do not see the brute facts for what they are.  Still, I am usually on close to being on the mark with my assertions and conclusions if logic is the pathway to truth. 
On the other hand, it truth is derived from some sort of mystical intuition filtered through the grid of my subjective emotions and all designed to make me feel good about myself, then I am quite certain that I am always wrong.  If logic is not the pathway to truth, then I am wrong about everything. If the logical analysis of propositions, arguments and conclusions is not the pathway to truth, then everything I have written in this blog the past year is wrong.  In fact, because my belief that I am always wrong is derived from logic and not from a hunch filtered through my emotional grid, it is possible I am wrong about what I just said about being wrong.  In that case I would still always be right.  But, I can't always be right if I ignore the process by which truth is discovered, namely, mystical intuition filtered through my "I like it, I don't like it" grid.  As you can see, if I have no logic, I have nothing.  I am awash in a sea of ambiguity, contradiction and emotion.  I am, at this point,  just like most of the people who populate this land.
We can now see what is happening when my opponent in a discussion delivers the "you always think you are right" statement.  We have been talking past each other.  I have been using logic and rational analysis in my argument and he has been using mystical intuition, hunches and emotion in his argument.  As is always the case, rational analysis will defeat emotional excess. Finally my opponent becomes so frustrated he lashes out at me in a personal attack.  My statements about truth are upsetting his personal emotional apple cart.  He will have nothing of that.
It is inevitable that our discussion will end very soon after the "you always think you are right" argument has been used.  There is really nothing left to say.  When the statement is used on me, my response to it is always the same.  I close my mouth, affix my eyes on my opponent, allow my face to go as deadpan as I can make it and wait for him to shout himself out.  Most people will carry on yelling at me for a couple of minutes.  Like a crying baby these folks will eventually shout themselves out and stomp off in a huff.  I can hear them muttering to themselves as they walk away.  They are telling themselves that they are right and I am wrong.  They are doing everything they can to maintain their sense of personal peace and comfort.  They are reinterpreting everything around them to reinforce the idea that they are correct.  These people truly do believe that they are always right.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Republicanism Vs. Democracy

Do you remember the "pledge of allegiance"?  It contains a phrase that says "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands...."  Does anybody remember what a "republic" is?  If my experience with my fellow citizens is at all indicative of the general level of political knowledge in the land, there are very few people who have even the slightest bit of knowledge about political systems.  Allow me to reminisce about the history of political systems in this country for a bit.
Most citizens of the SDA have entirely forgotten the nature of the political systems found during the colonial period.  Most of those same citizens do not remember that many of the colonies were established by members of different sects of Christianity who were fleeing Europe in search of religious freedom.  Once these various groups arrived in America they immediately established the equivalent of theocratic governments that were designed to enforce their interpretation of biblical law and exclude all members of other Christian sects/denominations.  By the time the thirteen colonies had been formalized it was the case that twelve of the thirteen had some form of Bible based theocratic law as the judicial standard for its territory.  Rhode Island was the lone exception to this rule.  As has been the case with Christians throughout history, the fighting between the Christian colonies could be extreme.  Citizens were routinely banished from colony to colony for violations of particular religious laws.  There was "religious freedom" in name only.  If you did not agree with a particular sect of Christianity you were by no means free. 
Although not generally taught in the government schools, one of the prime motivations for the constitutional movement in colonial America was to establish a federal government that would be secular in nature.  Washington, Jefferson, and many other "founding fathers" were deists who were sick and tired of the religious infighting taking place among the various groups of Christians in the colonies.  They envisioned a land that could be united by a federal government that would operate under the principles of deistic natural law.  As the founding fathers considered the type of government they wanted to establish they were overwhelmingly concerned about protecting the rights of the individual to his own life, freedom and property.  Due to their own experience with the tyranny of Great Britain they were adamant that the new government should expressly protect the rights of the minority members of society.  They knew that the rights of the majority would not be infringed simply because they were the majority.   They also knew of the natural tendency of the majority to force the minority to bend to its will.  They wanted to prevent the tyranny of the majority over the minority.  They envisioned a republican form of government and the United States of America was formed.
Under republicanism it was understood that the primary focus of government was to protect the rights of those who found themselves in the minority from the depredations of those who were in the majority.  Furthermore, it was understood that the rights that were being protected were rights to life, freedom and property.  At this point in time it was utterly inconceivable for all citizens in the new land that anybody could ever claim to have a right to something that belonged to his neighbor.   Recent experiences with the British had convinced most Americans that allowing the majority party to kill, conscript and steal from the minority was a very bad idea.  All of the "checks and balances" that were written into the US Constitution were done so to keep the size and scope of the federal government small.  The founding fathers were well aware of the dangers inherent in government.  They did everything they could to limit its growth by establishing a republican form of government.  Sadly, they failed in what they attempted to accomplish.  The republic is dead.  It died a long time ago.
Democracy is the form of government we operate under today.  It has nothing to do with republicanism and, therefore, has made the conscious decision to jettison the Constitution of the United States of America as the formal governing document.  Democracy is just a fancy name for mob rule, or rule of the majority.  Under democracy the primary goal of government has gone from protecting the rights of the minority to using the rule of the majority to plunder the lives, freedom and property of various minorities.   The majority rules the minority.  The  majority takes what it wants from the minority whenever it wants it.  The majority tells the minority what to do and when to do it.  The United States of America is dead.  It died with the republican form of government where government existed to protect the rights of the minority.  Today I welcome you to the Socialist Democracy of America, where everyone has his hand in his neighbors pocket.
As I watched the election returns last night I was struck by several truths.  Local Congressman Ed Perlmutter was reelected to the US House of Representatives.  When asked how he managed to secure such a convincing victory over his opponent he cited three federal spending programs he was instrumental in bringing to Colorado.  In other words, at the exact same time citizens in the SDA have given Congress a 90% disapproval rating due to its profligate spending behavior, the citizens of Colorado reelected a man based upon the fact that he had been responsible for a significant part of that federal spending.  There was only one conclusion that I could come to.  Citizens in the SDA are sick and tired of federal spending in general but pleased as punch with federal spending in particular.  Or, to put it more precisely, citizens in one state of the SDA hate when their tax dollars are spent in other states but love it when the federal government sends tax dollars from those other states to their own.  What is that if it is not a love of legal plunder of our neighbors?  Of course, that is the very definition of democracy.
Another man was being interviewed as he emerged from the polls.  He had voted for Obama and when asked why he responded that "Obama wants to tax the rich.....what do those people need with all of that money anyway?"  That was not the first time I have heard the "what do those people need with all of their money anyway" argument.  It is very common coming out of the mouths of the sinfully envious.  As I pondered his comment it occurred to me that it cuts both ways.  It should obvious to any rational human being that what this poor, envy-filled soul was saying is that he is mad that others have more than he does and he wants the government to take some of his neighbor's property and give it to him.  But as I thought about what he said, I realized that he probably has lots of things that he does not need as well.  I wonder if he has two cars?  I don't have two cars.  I have one car.  If he has two cars I don't see why he needs both of them.  Government should take one of them away.  I wondered if he has a late model car.  I don't.  My car was made in 1998.  Why does anybody need a car that is newer than ten years old?  If his car is newer than ten years old the government should take it away.  I wonder if he has a tool shed in his back yard?  I don't.  I had one but my neighbor made me take it down.  He said it was "impairing my psychic enjoyment of my backyard sanctuary", whatever that means.  Since then I have learned that I do not need a tool shed.  If the fellow being interviewed has a tool shed in his back yard the government should take it away.  I know he does not need it.  I wondered if my envy-filled friend has a smart phone.  I don't.  I am not very smart.  Smart phones confuse me.  But I certainly know that nobody "needs" a smart phone.  We should all be able to get along quite well without them.  If he has one the government should take it away.  I wondered if he has a big screen television.  I don't.  My television is so small I have to sit very close to it to be able to read the fine print that is constantly scrolling across the screen.  I have never had a big screen television and I see no reason why any human being should need one.  I think the government should take his away, if he has one. 
As you can see, this process can go on forever.  We all have things in our mind that we believe others do not need.  If I can get 51% of the voters to agree with me that somebody else does not need what he has, we can take it away from him.  All of that is done in the name of morality and by the means of democracy.  That, my friends, is the nature of the government under which we live today.  Those who "won" yesterday are already meeting in secret rooms and arguing how to carve up the largess.  Those who "won" yesterday are claiming today that they have a mandate from the people to take property from one group and give it to another.  Even worse, they are claiming that this act of pillaging their neighbors is moral because the majority decreed it to be so.  It is a sad thing to witness the destruction of a nation due to the sin of envy. I don't know about you but I think it is time for John Galt to rise up.  I think it is time for Atlas to shrug.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Vote Of No Confidence In American Voters

Voters in the Socialist Democracy of America vote for the silliest reasons.  The democratic process of voting, by which we select our rulers for the next couple of years, should be accompanied by thoughtful reflection, logical analysis, rational study of political philosophy and rigorous evaluations of the candidates prior to heading to the ballot box.  Does any of this happen with voters in the SDA?  Not even close.  Voters in the SDA vote for a wide variety of reasons but none of them have anything to do with choosing the best candidate for the job.  Allow me to cite some examples that dramatically illustrate the ignorance, folly and downright sinfulness of voters in the SDA.
A poll conducted by "SurveyUSA" and published in the Denver Post yesterday asked the following question, "Which one issue do you want the president to focus on ahead of all others?"  35% of the respondents said they wanted the president to create jobs.  28% said they wanted the president to balance the federal budget.  16% said they wanted the president to "focus on health care", whatever that means.  A full 79% of the respondents to this poll asserted their belief that the president should engage in activities for which he has no constitutional authority whatsoever.  Furthermore, the responses reflected an amazing ignorance of basic principles of economics.  No politician, no matter how powerful, is capable of creating jobs.  For the one third of Americans who want the next president to focus on creating jobs--- forget about it.  It isn't going to happen.  Even the god-like person who fills the office of King of the SDA is not capable of creating a single job.
Constitutional ignorance is on full display when roughly another third of the voters want the president to balance the budget.  Apparently these folks are oblivious to the fact that all bills related to taxation and spending come from the House of Representatives.  The president has no constitutional authority to enforce or even propose a federal budget.  Due to ambiguity in the poll, I am unable to determine what is meant by the 16% who want the president to focus on health care.  Do these folks want more Obamacare?  Do these folks want Obamacare repealed?  I don't know.  What I do know for sure is that the sector of the economy dedicated to providing health care services should not be subject to political manipulation.  The president should have nothing to do with health care services.  The president should stay out of the free market.
In another poll conducted by the Denver Post yesterday, voters were asked the following question about the presidential candidates: "Who is more in touch with the average working person?"  51% said Obama was "more in touch with the average working person" and 41% said that Romney was "more in touch with the average working person".  The next question asked, "How important is it for the president to be in touch with the average working person?"  73% of the respondents said that it was "very important" for the president to "be in touch with the average working person?"  Am I the only person in the SDA who has no idea what this series of questions is about?  What does it mean to be "in touch" with somebody?  I know lots of folks in this country have been arrested and gone to prison for touching people.  Is it different with a presidential candidate?  Do people really want to be touched by them?  I don't.  The thought of being touched by Mitt or Barack sends shivers down my spine.  I want them to keep their hands to themselves.  Also, who is an "average working person"?  I work.  I started working when I was 17.  I worked throughout college and post-graduate studies.  I have continued to work down to this very day.   I have never drawn a dime from any level of government.  I have been on the receiving end of a grand total of zero dollars from government income and wealth transfer programs.  So I guess I can say I am a "working person" although I seriously doubt that those responsible for writing this poll question had me in mind when they wrote it.  Am I average?  I certainly hope not.  Regardless, I have no clue what an "average working person" might be, and I might be one. 
I am guessing here but I think that being "in touch" with somebody could mean that we would be folks who might go to lunch together.  Or maybe if we were "in touch" we would share an adult beverage after work.  Or maybe we would go to the ballgame together.  In the vernacular, we would relate to each other.  We might even be friends.   If that is what is meant by being "in touch", I am not in touch with Mitt or Barak; and neither are most of you.  Of course that calls into question the importance of those two men being "in touch" with us, the voters.
I can't relate to either Barak or Mitt.   I can't relate to having two full time projectionists working in my own private movie theater located in my house so I can watch a movie anytime I want.  I can't relate to having my own 747 available for trips to the corner store or across the country.  I can't relate to jetting around the country handing out billions of dollars of other people's money in exchange for votes.  I can't relate to sending my wife and her friends off on vacations that cost tens of thousands of dollars and then sending the bill to the US Treasury for payment.  I can't relate to Barak at all.
I also can't related to being a multi-millionaire.  I can't relate to being the CEO of a large investment company.  I can't relate to being a Mormon.  I can't relate to raising hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy supporters and then spending that money trying to convince people who will never vote for me to vote for me.  I can't relate to having my name on signs in the yards of millions of people around the country.  Simply put, I can't relate to Mitt in even the slightest fashion.  In other words, both Barak and Mitt are not in touch with me, the average working person, at all.  Since, by definition, candidates for the presidency of the SDA are incapable of relating to the great majority of the voters, how do the voters really make up their minds about who to vote for?  I have witnessed many ways that voters in the SDA make their voting decisions.
Many women voters vote for the man who is the best looking.  I have heard that many times and it always disgusts me (although it does give me hope that if I were ever to run for public office I would stand a very good chance of sweeping the female vote).  Many voters vote for the man or the woman who is the same race as they are.  We all want to deny this fact and pretend that it is not true, but it is.  Many voters vote for the candidate that is the same sex as they are.  Many vote for the pro abortion candidate in order to assuage their consciences about previously committed abortions.  Many vote for the anti-abortion candidate for the exact same reason.  Many voters vote for the candidate that has promised to give them the most goodies.  Some folks have voted for Obama because he promised to give them cell phones.  Others voted for Obama because they thought he had promised to make their mortgage and rent payments for them.  Many others will no doubt vote for Obama because he showed up in hurricane ravaged areas and handed out large bags of dollars that were previously taken from taxpayers in other parts of the country.  It is hard not to vote for somebody when he gives you a bag of cash.
Many voters will vote for Romney because they think he will protect them from the politicians who want to take their money and give it to their friends.  In this case voting is more like an act of war.  Voting for the candidate who has promised to give you something is a vote for offensive war.  Voting for the candidate who has promised to protect you from the candidate who wants to take your money and give it to someone else is a vote for a defensive war.  Either way you cut it, voting is an act of economic war.  We all know how that war will turn out.  There are always more people who want to receive the money stolen from their neighbors than there are people who will be robbed.  In a democracy the majority always wins.  The 49% will lose their money and the 51% will receive the spoils of the voting war.  Isn't democracy wonderful?  Isn't the process of voting morally uplifting and beneficial for the soul?
Millions of votes will be cast today.  Very few of those votes will be cast for the candidate the voter believes is most qualified to uphold and enforce the constitution of the land as the law of the land.  Most voters in this land would not recognize the constitution if it jumped up and bit them on the nose.  Indeed, almost every vote that is cast today will be done with the explicit intention of using the vote as a means to control the money and behavior of someone else.  Almost every vote that will be cast today will be cast in the hope that it will enrich the voter at the expense of his neighbor.  That is the nature of democracy.  That is what this lawless nation has become. That is why I will cast a vote of no confidence in American voters. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tim Tebow Is Wrong About Trademarks

I was watching the evening news on the television a week or so ago when a report came on about Tim Tebow.  It seems that Mr. Tebow had decided to apply to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requesting that the posture he assumes when he bows in prayer on the football field after a game be trademarked.  I do not know how long ago he made the request but the federal government recently granted his request and his prayer posture is now a trademark,  relegating the legal use of that posture exclusively to him. 
According to the USPTO website, a trademark is "a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others."  The USPTO has published a booklet entitled "Rules of Practice & Federal Statutes of Federal Trademark Law".  The booklet  is 254 pages long.  It contains Section 37 C.F.R.-Part 2 of the federal statutory law that deals with trademarks.  I did not read it prior to writing this post.  I did not want any more brain damage than I had already suffered just by downloading the booklet and scanning the table of contents.  To preserve my brain cells I went to Wikipedia for more information about trademarks.
According to Wikipedia, "trademark rights generally arise out of the use of, or to maintain exclusive rights over, that sign in relation to certain products or services, assuming there are no other trademark objections."   Why would somebody want a trademark?  Wikipedia answers, "The owner of a trademark may initiate legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark."  So, in short, Tim Tebow applied to the federal government for a legal monopoly over a posture that he has taken in his public, post-game prayers so he can sue anybody who decides to assume that same position in public prayer.  The government, always happy to grant monopoly privileges to people that it likes, decided to grant his request.  As a result, Tebow can now sue you for praying the wrong way in public. What has the world come to?
Is there anybody who is not aware of the controversy that arose when Tebow repeatedly assumed a bended knee, folded arm, head down posture (for those of you who have not witnessed it, think "the thinker" and you will be close) in his post-game prayers of thanksgiving for victory?  Christians and non-Christians alike both weighed in with their opinions about his pious post-game practices.  Was it a good thing?  Was it a bad thing?  Would his prayers result in mass conversions of unbelievers?  Was it nothing more than a publicity stunt on Tebow's part?  Was it anybody's business to discuss in the first place?  It did not take long before "tebowing" became a national phenomena.  Here is a photograph of an anonymous group of people preparing to descend into Carlsbad Caverns.  Prior to entering the gapping pit they posed for a group prayer for protection:

This pious practice will now be punishable with civil penalties.  Should Tebow read this blog and decide that his trademark has been infringed (and it most certainly has been infringed), he could sue these four folks into personal poverty.  They would never dare pray in public again.  Or, at least, they would never dare "tebow" in public again.  Thanks to this new trademark we can be sure that "tebowing" will be driven underground, to be practiced exclusively by shady praying personality types and miscellaneous drug dealers.
Profligate proliferations of "tebowing" have spontaneously arisen in the most unlikely places.  Take, for instance, this example of four poor souls who are praying, in the trademarked Tebow position, from the pinnacle of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in the great state of Texas.  Little were these fine folks aware that they were violating the Tebow trademark and subjecting themselves to liability related to the legal enforcement of that trademark.  Although this hardly looks like a criminal action, or even a tort for that matter, it is now a position that can only be assumed after receiving the prior permission of Mr. Tim Tebow, or one of his lawyers.

Clearly many things are wrong here.  Tim Tebow is wrong. He should never have sought government permission to trademark a prayer position.  The federal government is wrong.  The government should never have granted him a legal right to sue anyone in the world who might assume the "tebow" position for what is nothing more than a fun-filled transgression of a frivolous trademark law.  Tebow and the federal government have opened a can of worms that should have remained tightly shut.  What, I wonder, is next?  Will picking one's nose be trademarked?  Or how about walking in a funny fashion?  With apologies to Monty Python, soon we are going to require that a new branch of the federal bureaucracy be created and dedicated to evaluating silly walking styles for possible trademark infringements.  Can I trademark sitting in a chair and sue you when you do so without my prior permission?  I sure hope so. That could be my pathway to permanent retirement income.
All jesting aside, monopoly privilege is always harmful to the economy and the citizens who live within it.  Furthermore,  government is the only source of monopoly in the universe. The free market never has monopoly privileges associated with it in any way, shape or form.  One of the ways government grants monopoly privileges to politically connected members of the Socialist Democracy of America is by means of trademarks, patents, and copyrights.  All of these artificial obstacles to economic progress are designed to do one thing....enrich and empower those who receive them at the expense of those who do not.  Government should not be in the business of granting favors to one person at the expense of another.  There is no better example of the absurd extremes trademark law can go to than the case of the trademarked "tebow".  Tim Tebow has publicly stated that he desires to be a role model.  Trademarking the "tebow" is the wrong way to become a role model, unless he desires to become a role model for lawyers, politicians, bureaucrats and worshipers of state power. In that case, he is quite successful.  Thanks Tim.