San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fast Food Corporations Found Not Guilty For Fat

 Super Size Me was a movie that came out in 2004 and attempted to portray "fast food" restaurants as morally and legally culpable for the fact that some people are fat.  It was a significant hit, grossing over $20 million and ranking as the twelfth most successful documentary movie of all time.  It was also nominated for various awards.  The film was the work of Morgan Spurlock.  It chronicled a one month period during which Spurlock ate exclusively at McDonalds.  During that month he made sure that he ate three times per day.  He also made sure that he ate every item on the McDonalds menu at least one time.  Calorie calculations reveal that he consumed about five thousand kilo-calories per day during that month.  Not surprisingly, given the amazing number of calories he was consuming, he gained 24 pounds in thirty days.
Spurlock's motives in making the movie were varied.  He is clearly a socialist who believes that government should be involved in all levels of ordinary life, regulating here and arresting there.  He was exploiting the fact that the US Surgeon General had recently pronounced obesity an "epidemic" in the land.  He was also likely trying to help two fat girls who had sued McDonalds for allegedly making them fat.  They lost their suit, thus proving that some people in the Socialist Democracy of America still have a minimal amount of common sense.  He also made a big deal out of how he proceeded to lose the 24 pounds he had gained by following a vegan diet created by his vegan chef wife.  All in all, the movie was a poorly written attempt to blame profit seeking restaurants for the lack of self discipline in regards to food consumption found in many SDA citizens.  It did, however, raise some interesting points that I would like to address today.
Just what is a "fast food" restaurant?  Politicians and public health do-gooders continually refer to this thing called a fast food restaurant.  As is the case with all people and groups that want to try to control my behavior, they never define their terms.  Some people would say that a fast food restaurant is exactly what it says it is.  If a restaurant prepares a meal quickly, or fast, it is a fast food restaurant.  If that is true I believe every single Chinese restaurant in the SDA must be classified as a fast food restaurant.  At least in my experience I have never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for my order to be prepared in every Chinese restaurant I have ever eaten in.  Yet I do not believe most of the food police would consider Chinese restaurants to be fast food.
On the other hand, the "fast" could apply to how long it takes to eat the food.  That creates an interesting dilemma.  I am a notoriously slow eater.  I suspect it stems from my childhood when my Mom would always tell me to eat slowly and chew my food thoroughly.  I discovered that I actually enjoy savoring the flavors of the foods I consume so I am rarely in a hurry to eat.  The folks I eat with, on the other hand, usually wolf down their food in half the time it takes me to eat.  That always creates the uncomfortable minutes when they have to pretend to be doing something while I finish off my meal.  I feel sorry for putting them in that awkward situation but I just can't eat any faster.   Still, if "fast food" is defined by how long it takes to eat it, the exact same restaurant can be both a fast food restaurant and a non-fast food restaurant at the same time. That makes no sense at all.
Some folks would probably define a fast food restaurant as any restaurant that has a drive up window.  The drive up wind theoretically allows a person to pick up his food more quickly.  But the presence of a drive up window does not necessarily make a restaurant a fast food restaurant.  I have run out of gas while waiting in line for the drive up window at my favorite KFC restaurant many times.  I don't know what it is about frying chicken that takes so much time but my local KFC is anything but a fast food restaurant if the time spent in the drive up window line is what defines a fast food restaurant.  On the other hand, my favorite Mexican restaurant has a drive up window.  A very small percentage of people use the drive up window and this popular restaurant is almost always filled with hundreds of patrons who sit down to eat.  Does the presence of the drive up window make it a fast food restaurant?  It is hard to see how it would.
Some folks might say that a fast food restaurant is one in which you do not sit down to eat whereas a non-fast food restaurant is one where you do.  That definition also does not help me.  I see lots of people sitting in McDonalds restaurants.  Old folks and young mothers seem to spend half of their lives sitting at McDonalds.  At the same time, I often see people taking carryout orders from restaurants that I suspect very few food police would want to call examples of fast food.  So I am at a loss.  I have no idea what a fast food restaurant is.  That makes it very difficult to declare war on them as the creators of the obesity epidemic the SDA is presently suffering through.
The fact that  fast food has not been precisely defined however, does not keep politicians from attacking profit seeking restaurant businesses as proprietors of the obesity epidemic.  Over the last ten years there has been a concentrated assault upon select groups which have been expected to take the blame for the fact that somebody else is fat.  Burger chains like McDonalds, Wendys, and Burger King have been forced to put green stuff, other than the green stuff found on week old cheese and chicken,  on their menus to keep the community activists at bay.  Every once in a while they will throw in an apple slice in a vain attempt to convince consumers that their foods are not packed full of calories.  Seeing an opportunity to exploit and oppress the free market, career politicians have jumped on the band wagon as well.  They see an opportunity to purchase the votes of another special interest group, in this case, that group of people who believe it is their duty to tell other people what to eat.  Laws have been created that forbid the type of food that can be prepared.  There are some places in the SDA where it is illegal to prepare goose liver!  Can you imagine that?  Other laws are passed about the type of oil a restaurant may use to fry potatoes!  Can you imagine that?  Other laws have been passed that declare precisely how big a portion may be consumed!  It is illegal in some areas to drink from a cup that is larger than a certain size. My goodness, what will these people thing of next?   All of this food craziness makes me wonder how all of these laws are authorized by the Constitution.  I wonder how the politicians who enacted them and the food police who enforce them justified their actions on a constitutional basis.  No matter....never let the Constitution get in the way of a new law that will buy some votes and ensure re-election.
This brings me to the point of today's post.  I was reading the paper yesterday and I saw a very small article on one of the back pages about a report that had just come out from the Center for Disease Control.  The CDC is a federal government bureau charged with protecting the physical health of the citizens of the SDA.  They are perhaps most famous for their annual predictions about the type of flu strain that is expected to infect all of us each winter.  They perform other meaningless functions as well.  As it turns out, the taxpayers have paid for an extensive study about the eating habits of the people in this country.  The primary purpose of the study was to determine how much of each citizen's daily caloric intake comes from fast food.  Of course, fast food was not defined.  Still, what would you guess is the correct answer to the question?  On average, what percentage of daily caloric intake comes from fast food?  Fifty percent?  Sixty percent?  The percentage must be quite high to justify the war that is being waged on fast food restaurants.  The answer, straight from the mouth of the government beast itself, is eleven percent!  That is it.  About one out of every ten calories eaten by the citizens of the SDA comes from fast food.  That being the case, why has the government and self-appointed special interest groups taken it upon themselves to declare holy war upon fast food corporations?  Eighty nine percent of our daily caloric intake comes from sources other than fast foods.  In light of this fact, how can any rational person possibly blame the fast food companies for his obesity?
The results of the study made me wonder.   With the rapidly increasing popularity of "organic foods", whatever they are, would it not make sense to determine what percentage of daily caloric intake comes from them?  If the percentage of calories we consume on a daily basis from organic foods rises to ten percent or above, we must declare war on the organic food manufacturers as well.  Organic food manufacturers must be portrayed in the media as proprietors of fat designed to destroy the health of SDA citizens.  At the very least the CDC needs to tell us where most of our daily calories are coming from.  We might just discover that Mom's kitchen is the fat producing death machine we have always thought it to be. 
In one way the human body is a very simple machine.  It gains weight when it takes in more fuel that it uses.  It loses weight when it burns more fuel than it takes in.  Fat people are fat people because they eat more than they need.  Skinny people are skinny people because they eat less than they need.  Given this simple biological truth, why is it the job of government to regulate what we eat?


Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Simple Sequester Proposal

Almost everybody agrees that government spending is out of control and needs to be reduced.  Then, at the same time, almost everybody agrees that if politicians cut government spending the economy will be sent into a tailspin that will create a huge recession and destroy billions of dollars in wealth.  The first sentence is true.  The second sentence is false.
Cutting government spending does not harm the economy.  The myth that government spending is beneficial for an economy comes from the fallacious Keynesian theory that government fiscal policy can create and sustain economic growth.  Because this myth is believed to be true by those in government who are responsible for tabulating economic statistics, government spending is added to the calculation for Gross Domestic Product as a positive factor.  It is therefore necessarily the case that any reduction in government spending will result in a reduction in the overall rate of increase reported in the GDP.  It does not necessarily follow, however, that the economy is really contracting.
Government spending is unlike all private savings and investment in that the money that is "invested" by government is first extracted from the taxpayers, either through direct taxation or monetary inflation.  The fact that the money taken by the government would have been either saved, and thus brought about more capital creation, or spent, and thus used to purchase the goods and services that are the direct result of that capital creation, is lost on the government economic planners.  Since the wealth that is required to fund government spending activities must first come from the economy, government spending can have only a net zero impact upon economic growth rates.  In the real world it is never the case that government spending has a net zero impact upon the economy.  The grossly inflated costs associated with the government bureaucracy guarantees that all attempts to create economic growth by government fiat will end up reducing overall wealth and capital in the economy.
That being the case, why should the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of America fear the impending  "sequester", which is set to begin on March 1st?   Any reduction in government spending is a good reduction.  Any reduction in government spending will necessarily result in an increase in economic growth.  It is amazingly ironic and contradictory that Republicans rail against government spending one day and then turn around and warn us that cuts in government spending are going to be harmful to the economy on the next day.  They should not be able to have it both ways.  I think it is quite obvious what is going on in this situation.  Republicans have the intellectual knowledge to realize that government spending is not "investment" and does not stimulate the economy to greater growth.  They also have sufficient economic awareness to know that a reduction in government spending would be good for the economy.  However, they are political creatures and their number one goal is to get re-elected.  Cutting government spending programs makes those who are dependent upon those programs angry.  With almost half of all citizens of the SDA not paying any federal income taxes, there is a significant group of voters in this country who are on the take and unwilling to have to actually work for a living.  Republican politicians realize that alienating those voters by taking away their freebies could result in their not being re-elected in the next election cycle.  So the career politicians try and play it both ways.  They profess to believe in cutting government spending but they warn us of the dire consequences of doing so.  Their logical inconsistency is barely noticed by the rank and file member of the SDA because the rank and file member of the SDA does not have a rational bone in his body.
I have a simple sequester proposal.  Rather than spending months fighting with each other over which budget to cut by how much, I have a proposal that will not cut any current budget and dramatically reduce government spending over time.  You heard that right.  My proposal will reduce spending without cutting any government bureau's present budget.  I propose that government hiring and spending be frozen at current levels.  No additional increases in government employment or spending may take place at any time in the future.  This rule must be inviolable.  Meanwhile, all people employed by all governments at all levels will continue to receive their full salaries and benefits, but with one important condition.  That condition is they promise never to go to work again.  Yes, all government "services" will be shut down.  The free market should be permitted to take up the slack for any of those activities the government has been performing that actually have market value.  There should be no barriers to entry for any profit seeking company that wants to engage in the business that any government bureau is presently engaged in.
The key to the success of this plan is that all government employees never return to work.  Over time they will all retire and, eventually, die.  In one generation we will rid ourselves of all the government parasites that have been sucking us dry all of our lives.  The government employees can hardly complain about this plan since they will continue to receive full salaries and benefits as long as they live.  And they do not have to do anything to get that salary and benefits except not show up for whatever work it was they claimed to have been doing before.  Within one generation government spending will practically disappear and the economy will be unshackled.  Within one generation we will see a revival of the free market unlike anything ever seen in the history of the world.  Within one generation we will all be rich beyond our wildest dreams.
Does anybody have the courage to engage my plan?   My plan requires a strong faith in the free market and utter disdain for political incursions into the economy.  My plan believes that individuals, seeking their own self interest, are able to create more wealth than the best laid plans of politicians for government "investments" into the economy.  My plan makes each person responsible for himself and removes the government dole.  Of course, that is why my plan will never be enacted.  There are way too many people on the government dole. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The "Free Will Illusion" Is Illusory

In an article found at the Huffington Post website (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/free-will-is-an-illusion_b_1562533.html), popular author, physicist and God-hater Victor Stenger weighs in with his opinion on the current philosophical controversy about the concept of free will.  In a nutshell, Stenger believes that free will is an illusion.  Furthermore, the fact that free will is an illusion is, in Stenger's mind, an insurmountable problem for Christian theism.  Stenger quotes two recently written books in support of his position.
The first book is Leonard Mlodinow's, Subliminal:  How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.  Stenger describes Mlodinow's thesis as "a wide range of psychological experiments that demonstrate the dominant role the unconscious plays in our behavior.  This recognition challenges fundamental assumptions about free will and the associated religious teaching about sin and redemption, as well as our judicial concepts of responsibility and punishment.  If our brains are making our decisions for us subconsciously, how can we be responsible for our actions?  How can our legal system punish criminals or God punish sinners who aren't in full control of their decision making process?"   Clearly Stenger is very happy that Mlodinow's research gives him a basis for declaring Christianity untenable on the grounds that the God of the Bible can't exist if He punishes sinners for sins they are compelled to do.  Stenger believes that if man does not have free will, all of Christian theism collapses.
The second book is entitled Free Will and is written by neuroscientist Sam Harris.  Stenger joyously writes about the content of that book and concludes that "free will is an illusion.  We don't exist as immaterial conscious controllers, but are instead entirely physical beings whose decisions and behaviors are the fully caused products of the brain and body."  Once again Stenger believes he has uprooted the doctrines of historic Christianity because, in his mind, if free will does not exist, the God of the Bible does not exist.
Stenger does a good job laying out the three basic positions on the doctrine of the human will.  Determinists believe that man has no free will.  The particular brand of determinism being described in these two recent books argues that man has no free will because the thoughts that "pop into his head" are the result of a previous physical-chemical reaction in his brain.  The ideas that appear in the mind of men are the basis for the actions that men take.  Since the ideas are determined by prior unconscious neural activity, the notion of a free will must be abandoned.  Man acts based upon the motives and inclinations that are physiologically derived, not consciously derived from a rational thought process in a free will.  Man does not have a free will.  What he thinks is free will is really an illusion.
Free willists, if there is such a word, obviously believe in free will.  Proponents of this theory include almost all evangelical Christians of our time.  They argue that man clearly has free will and the proof of that free will is largely experiential.  Nothing forces us to do anything.  When we examine our thought process we find that we can think about whatever we want to think about.  We can then act any way we want to act.  Nobody and no thing compels us to behave in any particular fashion.  The idea that free will is an illusion and that our actions are really determined by chemical reactions in our brain would be a serious philosophical problem for Evangelicals.  That is precisely why Stenger is ecstatic about this recent discover.  And frankly, Evangelicals have no answer to his charge.  Free will really is an illusion. However, illusory free will is not harmful to biblical Christianity.  Rather, it establishes it.
The third position on the doctrine of the human will is known as compatibilism.  It holds that there is no logical contradiction in the assertion that a human action can be both determined by the decree of God and freely performed by a human agent.  Stenger criticizes the compatiblists for their use of the term "free will" in their discussions.  Actually, compatibilists do have a term that describes non-coerced human action.  That word is volition.  I do not know if Stenger has spent any time reading the two authorities on the doctrine of compatiblism.  If he has not, he should.  John Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding goes into great detail on how the volition of man is not logically contradictory to the decree of God.  Jonathan Edwards, in his A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the False and Contradictory Notion of the Freedom of the Will, goes into even greater detail on the exact same subject.  I will not try to reproduce their arguments in this short blog post.  Simply put, the doctrine asserts that it is not a logical contradiction to assert that God sovereignly predestines an action and man performs that action by means of his volition, and not under compulsion.  Needless to say, I find compatibilism logically compelling.
So what is the point of all this brain-numbing philosophical discussion?  My point is a simple one.  Stenger believes that he has defeated Christian theism because he has taken down the evangelical doctrine of free will.  What he does not realize is that the doctrine of free will was taken down long before he came upon the scene.  Although generally unknown to Christians today, the doctrine of free will was declared heretical in the fifth century AD.  Saint Augustine was the primary theological leader of the Church at that time and he opposed the teachings of Pelagius.  The followers of Pelagius became known as Pelagians and they were the precursors of today's Arminians.  Chief among their various errors was the heinous doctrine of the free will of man.  The Church called a council (Council of Ephesus in 431) and the Pelagians were declared heretical and apostate and excommunicated from the Church.  The official position of the Christian church at that time was compatibilism.  The Church asserted that the decree of God was sovereign over every detail and decision of each man's life and, at the same time, each man exercised his volition when he thought and acted, never doing so under compulsion.  Compatibilism was the doctrine of the Reformers and the Puritans.  Compatibilism was the doctrine of the churches in colonial America.  It is only in recent times, when American Evangelicalism has taken over the Christian church, that so many historical doctrines like the doctrine of compatibilism have been ignored or abandoned.
Does Stenger's illusory free will pose a problem for Evangelicals?  It most certainly does. Since Evangelicals firmly believe that man must have a free will to be held morally accountable by God, if man's will is not free God becomes a tyrant when He judges men for things they could not prevent or avoid.  Does Stenger's illusory free will pose a problem for those who believe in the historic Christian faith?  Not in the slightest.  In fact, although Stenger probably is not aware of this, the Apostle Paul already addressed the alleged free will illusion.  It is found in Romans 9.
In chapter 9 Paul is writing to the Romans about the doctrine of predestination.  As predestination is a very unpopular doctrine with Christians today, this part of the Bible is usually ignored.  Paul lays out a very simple argument.  First, God sovereignly controls whatsoever shall come to pass.  This is known as the doctrine of God's sovereign decree.  In regards to who receives the savings grace of God and who does not, God makes that decision with no regard to the actions or will of men.  This is known as the doctrine of predestination.  Paul anticipates the negative response of those who believe in the necessity of free will and who see that his doctrine is in serious contradiction with their doctrine of free will.  If God elects some and condemns others, He is not being fair.  That is unjust.  Paul writes, "There is no injustice with God....so it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy."
Anticipating a further objection Paul asks a rhetorical question when he writes, "You will say to me then, Why does He still find fault?  For who resists His will?"  That question reveals the heart of Stenger's argument.  According to Stenger God cannot righteously judge men if they do not have free will. God cannot "find fault" if men have no free will and "cannot resist His will".   According to the Apostle Paul, writing under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?  The thing molded will not say to the molder, Why did you make me like this, will it?  Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?"  
Stenger has done the Church a tremendous service.  I hope that his teachings on the illusory nature of free will find wide acceptance in the Church, because they are true.  Men do not have free will.  It is time for Evangelicals to abandon that heretical doctrine.  However, Stenger is dead wrong when he asserts his determinism.  The doctrine of compatibilism teaches us that there is no contradiction between the predestined actions of men and the non-coerced actions of men.  The fact that man does not have free will in no way impacts the fact that God can righteously judge every man for his deeds.  Stenger would do well to consider that fact, and his future.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fox News' Obama Hatred Blinds Them To Truth

I was working out at the gym the other day when a report came on the television that caught my eye.  I was walking on a treadmill in front of a television tuned to Fox News.  I usually appreciate Fox News for its somewhat consistent disparagement of the welfare state.  I frequently do not appreciate Fox News for its general support for the warfare state and the abolition of the Fourth Amendment via the Patriot Act.  Still, since I am a captive audience while working out at the gym, I will often watch the news as I am walking on the treadmill.  That day was no exception.
A report came on, I forget the particular show, in which the host made the assertion that King Obama was "propping up the stock market" in order to increase his approval ratings and pad his future legacy.  The reporter went on to warn us listeners that the present increase in stock market indices was illusory at best.  I heard that the bull market in stocks is a fabrication of government economic policies that will inevitably result in an economic collapse.  Don't believe in this market, I was told.  Get out of stocks now, I was warned.  Why should I avoid the stock market at all costs?  Because King Obama was the wizard behind the curtain pulling all of the levers responsible for the current bull market in stocks.  Eventually it would be recognized that he is as impotent as the Wizard of Oz and the entire economy will come crashing down. 
Not long after I saw that report I overheard a couple of people talking in a public setting.  They were also talking about how the bull market in stocks we are presently experiencing is not real because it is being created by government minions under the leadership of King Obama.  They reinforced each other's belief that investing in the stock market is a fools game while Obama is at the helm.  Later that day I was reading some information on the internet and I came across the argument that the present bull market is being caused by excess dollars, created by an Obama friendly Federal Reserve, finding their way into the stock market.  This excess money is allegedly creating a buying frenzy on Wall Street that is responsible for the recent rise in stock values.  The internet article warned me that the stock market was clearly in a "bubble" and a crash was imminent.  The best thing to do was to stay out of the stock market and buy gold.
All of these dire warnings about the stock market struck me as being very strange.  Is King Obama really concerned about creating a stock market bubble?  Is he really manipulating the markets to make himself look good?  Most importantly, I wondered to myself, is excess purchasing media finding its way into the stock market and creating a buying frenzy in stocks?  Is Fox News onto something important when the folks there warn us viewers to stay out of the stock market for our own good?  I just had to know.  So I did a little research of my own.  The following table shows you what I found:

                 Year          NYSE Dollar Volume/Mo         M2 Growth         S & P 500    
                 2005                        1.49                                 4.2                   +4.9%
                 2006                        1.86                                 5.8                 +15.8%
                 2007                        2.36                                 5.8                   +5.5%
                 2008                        2.34                                 9.9                  -37.0%
      Four Year Average:           2.01                                6.4                  -2.7%
                 2009                        1.46                                 3.7                 +26.5%
                 2010                        1.48                                 3.5                 +15.1%
                 2011                        1.51                                 9.7                       0 %
                 2012                        1.13                                 7.9                 +15.7%
      Four Year Average:           1.40                                6.2                +19.1%

The first four years (2005-2008) on this table make up the second term of King George Bush.  The second four years (2009-2012) make up the first term of King Barak Obama.  The first column of information is the total dollar volume of all stock transactions on the New York Stock Exchange per month for the year shown.  The figure is expressed in trillions of dollars.  The second column is the growth in the monetary aggregate known as M2 for the year shown.  The last column is the return on the S & P 500 stock market index for that particular year.  I have averaged the data for each of the two kingdoms.
Now we all know that Fox News hates King Obama.  I believe we also all know that Fox News loved King George.  But there comes a point where we have to put aside our personal hatreds and examine the facts for what they are.  Fox News has embarked upon a successful campaign to convince conservative citizens of the Socialist Democracy of America that the present bull market in stocks is the result of market manipulation by Obama.  In particular, Fox News has asserted that stock prices are rising because of excessive amounts of money going into the stock market and creating a buying frenzy that is, in turn,  causing prices to rise.  Does the above chart prove the point?  Hardly.
The average monthly dollar volume of stock transactions during King George's last term is almost fifty percent higher than the average monthly dollar volume of stock transactions during King Obama's first term (2.01 with Bush vs 1.40 with Obama).  Furthermore, King Obama's term has seen a reduction in the dollar volume of stock transactions since the present bull market began to be recognized in 2012.  Notice how volume is the lowest of the last eight years in 2012.  That hardly looks like a frenzied market to me.  In fact, January numbers are in and the NYSE volume for the first month of 2013 is even lower, at 1.11 trillion dollars.  If Obama is manipulating the market by causing a stock buying frenzy on Wall Street he is sure doing a good job hiding his activities.
What about the growth of the money supply?  Is it not true that King Obama is wildly inflating the money supply?  The fact is that the supply of money as measured by M2 actually rose more quickly under King George than it has under King Obama.  Fox News reports that the stock market is in a speculative bubble because of an increase in purchasing media and frenzied market activity is wrong on both counts.  How could a national news organization have missed something that is so simple to check and easy to understand?
Presuppositional bias is the answer to that question.  Fox hates Obama.  The stock market is rising.  That is good news that they would rather not report.  So rather than report good news, Fox changes good news into bad.  The stock market is going up not because of economic growth.  No the stock market is going up because of political manipulation by Obama.  Fox knows that many of their viewers are horrified at the prospect that the stock market might drop again.  Terrified by recent memories of stock market crashes, the folks at Fox set out to find the reason behind the current bull market which they have incorrectly assumed must be the result of a bubble/mania.  If something bad is happening it must be the result of Obama.  It does not matter that the facts do not back up the story.  Obama is a bad man and he must be criticized for the recent increase in stock values which are, amazingly, seen as a bad omen.
The present bull market in stocks is real.  It is not a bubble.  It is not a frenzy. It is not based upon more monetary inflation than previous periods of time.  It is most certainly not based upon huge amounts of money pouring into the exchanges.  In fact, this market has consistently risen despite very low volumes.  The economic understanding of the folks at Fox News needs to improve.  Did you notice when the highest volume of trading took place in the markets in recent years?  2007-2008 were the two years with the highest dollar volume.  Notice how poorly the stock market did during those years.  High levels of trading does not necessarily mean stock prices are going up.  Fox News should know that.  Maybe they do know that.  But Fox News' hatred for Obama blinds them to the truth.  Do not believe what they are telling you about the stock market.  It is not true.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Carnival Triumph Cruisers Are Sissy Complainers

By now everyone is familiar with the Carnival Cruise liner Triumph which experienced an engine fire resulting in the ship being adrift in the Caribbean sea for slightly less than five days last week.  When I first heard of the story I wished I had booked passage aboard that boat.  What a grand adventure it would have been.  Four luxurious days at sea followed by another four days being towed back to port by a group of tugboats with no power on board the ship sounded like great fun to me.  It would have been equivalent to a nice five day backpack....only at sea and on board a luxury boat.  You can imagine my surprise when I saw interviews of the people who were disembarking the boat.  They talked about their adventure as if they were survivors of a Nazi prison camp.
Here are some of the phrases I have read or heard in regards to the event:  "they became comrades in a long, exhausting struggle to get home....personal bonds formed during a cruel week at sea....when it was over many passengers were grateful for simple pleasures."  People interviewed complained that "we had to wait in line for up to two hours to get food" and "we couldn't flush our toilet and the shower backed up on the floor, making the carpet wet."  A large photograph of two Yuppie women exiting the ship showed them dressed in Yupppie workout gear over which they were wearing plush white bath robes that had previously belonged to Carnival.  They were exulting in their release from the boat as if they had just had death sentences commuted.  I wondered, as I looked at the picture, did they steal those bath robes?
I am amazed at how sissified the citizens of the SDA have become.  Folks from other countries rightly poke fun at how physically soft and mentally weak Americans are.  An event like the Triumph proves them to be correct about us.  We are a nation of sissy complainers who are ill prepared for even the slightest physical challenge or difficulty.  There were no serious medical issues on the ship.  Of the thousands of people on board there were only two who had medical conditions that needed to be treated.  Both of those people were evacuated via helicopter.  I saw an interview with one of those two people.  It was a woman who needed dialysis.  All she had to say was that the evacuation process terrified her and she thought she was going to be dropped into the sea to drown.  What a sissy.
What hardships were the "survivors" subject to?  There was no air conditioning.  Boo Hoo.  It was the Caribbean sea in the middle of the winter.  I could not be that hot.  Many of the folks on the lower decks had non-functioning toilets.  Those folks were issued plastic bags and instructed on how to use them to collect their bodily waste.  How horrific!  Have these people ever had to poop in the woods?  Come on, it is not a big deal.  Others complained that some sewage had backed up and the odor, especially on the lower decks, was unbearable.  Oh my.  I wonder if any of those folks are aware that millions of people living in crowded cities at the start of the industrial revolution lived their entire lives in the presence of open sewers.  I wonder if any of those folks are aware that millions of people in undeveloped parts of the world today also live their lives in the presence of open sewers.  These catastrophy victims still received three meals a day but they had to wait in long lines to get the food.  Nobody complained of a lack of water or drink.  Apparently fluids were in ready supply. That just does not sound like a lot of hardship to me.  At least it is not as much hardship as a week backpack into the Colorado mountains.
Many of the folks on the lower decks had the good sense to adapt to their conditions and drag their mattresses to the open decks of the higher floors where they set up camp.  Deck chairs were commandeered, sun screens were constructed, and the guest/campers settled in for a couple of days adventure on the low seas (the seas were placid during this entire event).  This should have been a fun event, akin to being a kid and setting up a fort in your living room with chairs, sofas and blankets.  However, what this event should have been and what it turned into are two different things.
I do not know how many people made the best of the situation and turned it into an adventure they will never forget.  I hope the great majority did so.  The television reports I saw, however, were carefully crafted propaganda messages from people who hope to hit the litigation lottery.  Yes, you guessed it, even before the ship had docked at port there were hoards of cruise ship chasing lawyers lining up to turn the shipboard adventurers into victims of some evil corporate plot. The lawyers had contacted the media in advance and everything was set up when the ship arrived.  Clients were put into groups, coached on what to say, and placed before the cameras to detail the "horrors" of their four days adrift at sea.  They described how terrible the event was.  Several groups of ladies talked about how they barricaded themselves into various rooms on board ship to protect themselves from rampaging gangs of rapists.  Of course there were no reports of any violence on board the ship at all.  But they were convinced that violence was imminent.  Even though the seas were calm one lady claimed that the ship was "listing" so severely she thought it was going to topple over.  One lady complained she was awakened by the smell of smoke and became convinced they were all going to burn to death in a great fire.  Of course, the engine room fire was quickly contained and not a single person was treated for injury as a result of smoke inhalation.   Nevertheless, all of the folks who were interviewed were convinced they would never see land or loved ones again.
Lawsuits have already been filed.  It will be interesting to see how many people of low moral character decided to join in and sign up with the "class" action suit filed on their behalf.  The attorneys spoke before the cameras and declared that Carnival Cruise Lines is an immoral profit seeking business that puts profits before customers.  Of course those lawyers ignored the fact that the Triumph had just been examined by a government health certification bureau and granted a 97 out of 100 score.  Of course they ignored the fact that another government regulatory bureau had examined the mechanical systems of the ship just a couple of months earlier and pronounced it seaworthy.  Most importantly they all ignored the fact that sometimes unforeseeable accidents happen.  Because the lawyers and their clients are greedy monsters they have all made the conscious decision to believe that there are no such things as accidents and anytime something happens that brings them inconvenience they are victims of a horrible tragedy in need of cash compensation.  What a bunch of pathetic losers.
Was there ever a day when the majority of the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of America did not consider it their right to have an incident and accident free life?  Whatever happened to that spirit of adventure that turns the unexpected into a joyous exercise in adaptation and improvisation?  Nobody died on the Triumph.  Nobody was injured on the Triumph.  Everybody aboard the Triumph got a couple of extra days added to their cruise package.  Those extra days were under unique circumstances.  I suspect most of those people on board will be bragging about how cool it was before a year has gone by.  Carnival graciously agreed to cancel all charges for the cruise.  In addition they went above and beyond the call of duty and gave $500 to each customer.  They also gave each customer a voucher for a free cruise in the future.  Still it is the complainers and their attorneys that dominate the news reports.  What a bunch of sissies.