San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, June 14, 2013

Denver Celebrates Heterosexual Pride Weekend

Heterosexual Pride weekend has become an ever expanding universe of parties and political events in Denver.  Well, parties mostly, and maybe that makes sense.  The heterosexual community can claim some strides worth celebrating over the past year, including the right to get married before a Justice of the Peace.  That is not exactly earth shattering but its good for a few cheers from this crowd, and maybe a few mugs of Coors Light, too.
The main event, of course, remains the Heterosexual Pride Parade, and the 2013 version steps off from Cheesman Park at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, turning down Colfax toward Civic Center where the weekend-long PrideFest offers up booths, music and more than a few speeches to get the crowds revved up toward the next political goal.
But there are plenty of other things going on across the city, and some of them look really, really interesting.  Pay attention because its a little weird:  People who dress in sex appropriate clothing and other really fabulous people are invited to strut their stuff in the crosswalk at Broadway near West Irvington Place, according to event coordinator Carlos Garcia.  When the pedestrian sign says "GO," they sashay.  When it changes to "STOP," they have to be back on the curb so no one gets hit by the passing cars.  It's a free spectator sport, and there are prizes donated by local businesses for the best crosswalker.
The Big Heterosexual 5K takes place this weekend as well.  Pride takes a happy, healthy turn this year with the addition of a run at 10 a.m. Saturday, sponsored by Spree Racing.  The race is serious enough to be timed, but not so serious that all kinds of runners -- fast and not fast, heterosexual and homosexual -- are invited to take part.  The event is a way to help bring more people into the festival that are supporters of the heterosexual community.
Pride Day also happens at Elitch Gardens.  With all of those heterosexual families out there now, how are they supposed to entertain their kids?  Elitch Gardens has a suggestion:  roller coasters.  This event takes place 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday, the day after the big downtown party, which allows folks to keep the celebration going.  And, of course, big kids are welcome.  Everyone gets a deal.  Tickers are $32 but you have to buy them online with the promo code "PRIDE".  The discount is not available at the front gate.
Denver's heterosexual-hood is getting bigger these days, stretching farther and farther from the Capitol core.  A new heterosexual bar, The Rodeo, is a good example of this expansion.  It's all the way at East Colfax Avenue and Spruce Street.  Might be best to take the No. 15 bus out for their Pride party, which starts at 6 p.m. Sunday and features music from the band 2Dog Tuesday and seriously cheap beer.

The above story was taken from today's Denver Post.  The only thing I changed about the story was every time the word 'gay' appeared, I replaced it with heterosexual.  Oh yes, I did make one other change.  I replaced "drag king and drag queen" from the original story with "people who dress in sex appropriate clothing" in my remake.  Other than those changes, this is the way the story was told.  Does this story seem strange to anyone other than me?
Homosexuals incessantly tell  us that they are just like everyone else.  They tell us that they should be treated just like everyone else.  They tell us that they are "normal" and should not be subject to "discrimination".  They tell us that anyone who does not continually tell them they are great suffers from a mental illness called "homophobia".  Then, after informing us how normal they are, they go out and do something like the annual Gay Pride Festival.
When I changed the above story from being homosexual oriented to being heterosexual oriented it read like a strange tale of extremely low self esteem.  Why does obtaining the right to be married before a Justice of the Peace constitute a significant social breakthrough?  Why does sponsoring a 5K foot race have anything to do with building up the esteem of some socially downtrodden community?  Why should homosexual couples who have adopted children be given a discount ticket to Elitch's?  What have they done to earn the discount? Why does the presence of a gay bar in another part of town deserve celebration and social reinforcement?  What is wrong with these people?
Pride is an attitude that was considered sinful for much of the history of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  Even as a child I remember being told that the universe did not revolve around me.  I was instructed in the importance of being humble.  Being prideful, I was told, was wrong and destructive of personal relationships.  Pride, according to many people that I knew, was the foundation for all sorts of evil, vile and sinful behaviors.  Now we have an entire category of people who believe that they need to develop and encourage this sinful emotion?  Why should they believe it is important to be full of pride?  Well, because they are different from everyone else, of course!  Just don't ask them if they are different from everyone else because they will be quick to point out that they are not and that you are homophobic for even bringing the topic up.
I have never been to any of the Gay Pride activities.  I do not plan on going to any.  I have spoken with people who have attended some of the activities and what I learned was surprising.  The folks I know who have attended some Gay Pride events are not opposed to homosexuality.  In fact, they would be considered to be homosexual supporters.  Yet when they told me about what they witnessed at the various events they were filled with disgust.  One person went so far as to say that the Gay Pride Parade is nothing more than a "celebration of perversion".  Another said it is no place for children.  Interesting.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ashleigh Brilliant's Question

Ashleigh Brilliant is a British comic.  He produces a syndicated one-frame comic for newspapers around the world.  I have always enjoyed his wit and wisdom.  On December 6, 2003 he penned my all time favorite comic. It said, "Surely you don't expect an honest answer, when your question exposes the weakness of my entire position."  I have thought of that question often over the past decade.  Brilliant was brilliant when he wrote that statement.  One thing I have observed about the behavior of human beings is that they will never give an answer to the question that proves their position to be in error.  I have asked dozens of questions in this blog over the past year and a half and, to date, nobody has attempted to answer any of them.  That forces me to conclude that one of two things could be true.  I may be asking the questions that expose the weaknesses of the positions that I disagree with and therefore nobody can answer them.  Or it is possible that nobody is reading this blog.  I suspect the second possibility is not far from the truth.
I have several questions that have never been answered.  Allow me to share a few with you:
Question # 1:  All people agree that it is immoral to forcibly extract money from their neighbor at gunpoint.  If you believe that it is morally correct for the government to use the real estate tax to pay for the expenses related to the education of your children, please explain the moral philosophy that makes it right to extract money from your childless neighbor via the real estate tax and use it to pay your educational expenses. Correct answers to this question will not include statements like "we have agreed to do these things in a civilized society" and "education is everyone's responsibility".  If you do use answers like that you will be required to answer the additional questions which immediately follow.
Question #1a:  If you believe the real estate tax is moral because "we have agreed to do these things in a civilized society", please explain why I should be subject to the tax when I have not agreed to do these things.  Please explain why I should be subject to the tax when I believe that such a tax is decidedly uncivilized.  Please explain how it is a civilized thing to do when a person is compelled, under penalty of law and forfeiture of property, to pay a tax he believes to be immoral.
Question # 1b:  If you believe the real estate tax is moral because we have agreed that "education is everyone's responsibility", please explain why I should be subject to the tax when I do not hold to that position.  Why should I be forced to pay for the education of my neighbor's children when I do not believe that their education is my responsibility?
Question # 2:  How can a person have a right to something when the thing the professed right pertains to must first be taken from another person?  For example, how can I have a right to government subsidized health care when my subsidy is forcibly extracted from my neighbor via a tax?
Question # 3:  In light of the fact that the upper 49% of the income population pays practically all federal income taxes, please explain how that is a moral system.  In other words, why should the lower 51% be permitted to freeload off the top 49%?  In addition, please explain the moral basis for why many members of the 51% continue to insist that the 49% are not paying "their fair share" of federal taxes.  What is a fair share?  Please explain how it is fair when the top 1% of the income population pays 20% of all federal taxes.
Question # 4:  Please explain the moral philosophy which has determined that it is immoral for a restaurant owner to allow patrons of his restaurant to smoke within his building.  While answering that question please explain why it is morally proper for the government to get involved in the voluntary transactions that take place between the restaurant owner and his guests.  If you are an abortion advocate, please explain how the state has the right to make a law about what I do with my body. 
Question # 5:  Why is it morally proper for the state to issue a law forcing an employer to purchase health insurance for his female employees that includes coverage for abortions?  After answering that question please go back to Question # 2 and answer it again.
Question # 6:  If abortion is simply a medical procedure to remove unwanted tissue, why do women make such a big fuss about how it was one of the "most difficult" decisions they ever make?  If women have a right to use the government to force me to pay for their abortions, why do men not have a right to use the government to force taxpayers to pay for their liposuction procedures?  After all, both are simply the removal of unwanted tissue.
Question # 7:  What is the moral basis for government transfer payments from the taxpayers to people who live in areas that experience natural disasters?  Why should the taxpayers be forced to pay for the rebuilding costs of people who voluntarily decided to build their homes in hurricane prone areas?  Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for the rebuilding costs of people who voluntarily built their homes in forests that are prone to wildfires?  If you believe that it is wrong of me to suggest that the taxpayers have no moral duty to participate in a wealth transfer program administered by the government in order to give aid to those who have lost their property, please explain how being the victim of a natural calamity generates a moral claim on behalf of the the victim that gives him/her a right to confiscate my money and assets by means of the state.
Question # 8:  If the US military had a moral duty to invade Iraq in order to free the Iraqi people from the oppressive actions of the tyrannical Saddam Hussein, why is there no moral duty to free the North Korean people from the oppressive actions of the petty tyrant ruling over them today?  Same question only put Somali Warlord in place of "petty tyrant".  Same question only put King Obama in place of "Somali Warlord".  You get the point.
Question # 9:  Why are all governments that are favorable towards SDA occupation described as "governments" whereas all governments that oppose SDA occupation are called "regimes"?  Is it possible we are being subjected to a propaganda campaign from our own government?
Question # 10:  For those who would love to see a return to the days of conscription and mandatory military service for all young people, please explain why conscription does not constitute kidnapping and slavery. 
Question # 11:  Is there any absolute moral standard that gives us the limits to government involvement in our lives or are we expected to believe that whatever the government says and does is right?  Is there any absolute moral standard that limits the total amount of government taxation?  Is there any moral standard that limits the intrusions of government into the private, voluntary transactions of its citizens?  If so, what is that standard and what are the limits?  If not, is it the case therefore that government has unlimited power and whatever it says is moral and right?  
Question # 12:  Does God have an opinion about any of the answers to the previous questions?  If so, where is His opinion found?  If so, what is His opinion?  If not, are we free to ignore God in all of our discussions of these issues and in all of our answers to these questions?
I was going to stop at a dozen questions but they just keep popping into my mind.  This could go on forever but it has to stop.  So I will leave you with my last question.  Call it the Baker's Dozen question.
Question # 13:  Is it immoral for politicians to swear an oath before God to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and then knowingly and purposefully break that vow?  If not, why not?  If so, what are we to do with the lying liars that do so?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Is Edward Snowden A Welshman?

Unknown to most people in the world is the fact that Wales has some terrific mountains.  The highest peak in Wales is called Snowdon and it rises all the way up to 3,560 feet in elevation.  There are fifteen total peaks in Wales that break the magical 3,000 foot elevation barrier.  Those fifteen peaks are known locally as the "Welsh 3000's".  It is a fortuitous thing that Snowdon is named as it is.  Most of the other 3000ers carry Welsh monikers. That means their names are primarily made up of consonants with the occasion "w" or "y" thrown in as a vowel.  Snowdon is easy for off-landers to pronounce and that is a good thing.
As I was reading the news I could not help but notice the furor over a fellow by the name of Edward Snowden.  His name immediately caught my attention.  Sure, the spelling is a bit different. That happened all the time when folks would emmigrate to the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  They made small changes to the spelling and pronunciation of their names to make them more palatable to Amerikan tastes and to attempt to avoid the inevitable persecution they would encounter as a member of a minority group.  Trust me, we Welsh know what it means to be persecuted.  So it would not surprise me one bit to discover that Edward Snowden could have once been a Snowdon.  And that made me wonder...could he be a Welshman?
Snowden has several personality characteristics that immediately make him a possible carrier of Welsh blood.  He is an individual.  He apparently does not believe in the collective "we".  He believes in freedom and the right of people to know what their government is doing to them from behind closed doors.  He is courageous.  He takes a stand based upon his personal convictions regardless of the prevailing winds of popular opinion.  And if the photographs of him are accurate, he is brutally handsome.  By golly, I do believe he is Welsh.
I was reading my Denver Post this morning and came across a page in the paper that had a series of opinions about Mr. Snowden.  The opinions were written and published in other newspapers around the country.  Although none of the opinions weighed in about the possibility of Snowden being a Welshman, they still had some things of interest to say.  Allow to tell you about them.
Richard Cohen of the Washington Post Writers Group writes, "Everything about Edward Snowden is ridiculously cinematic.  He is not paranoiac; he is merely narcissistic.  He jettisoned his personal freedom to expose programs that were known to our elected officials and could have been deduced by anyone who has ever Googled anything."  If Cohen is correct, why are we having this conversation?  Think about it for a moment.  If the national security programs exposed by Snowden are public knowledge why are we making such a fuss about his exposure of them?  If anyone with a computer and the knowledge to conduct an internet search could have discovered everything Snowden has told us, why is he a wanted man?  If Snowden did not tell us anything we did not already know, why is he eventually going to be arrested and charged with treason? 
I believe Cohen makes a good point, despite the fact he is clearly Welsh-phobic.  Snowden really did not disclose anything we did not already know.  You might want to take note of the fact that my postings to this blog last week about the invasions of our privacy by the federal government took place prior to the revelations of Mr. Snowden.  How did I come to know what I know?  Google.  So Cohen is right about one thing.  The government has not done a very good job covering up what it is doing as it ceaselessly strives to destroy our 4th Amendment rights.
David Brooks of the New York Times writes, "Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country.  Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualist in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.  This is not a danger Snowden is addressing.  In fact, he is making everything worse."  Anytime I read about the "common good" my commie radar goes off.  Brooks is upset that Snowden is "individualistic".  That is a strange thing to be upset about.  There was a time in this country, before the sissies took over, when men were praised for their rugged individualism.  Today individuals are accused of "fraying the social fabric".  Hey, what do you expect?  Rugged individuals don't sit around knitting.  They are men of action.  When men of action are out doing stuff sometimes the fabric gets frayed.  Let the women and children worry about fraying fabric, real men will be out doing their individual best to serve others.
Yes, you read that right.  Brooks can't conceive of how people might function as a unit when each pursues his own individual interests.  Brooks can't conceive of how people might cooperate with each other in the absence of government coercion.  I would suggest he take the time to read Adam Smith's little book called the Wealth of Nations.  There he will learn that individuals voluntarily associate with each other by means of their business activities.  Those business activities allow individuals to produce goods and services which they then exchange with each other for the "common good".  Engaging in business, being productive, producing goods that other people want and then selling those goods to his that is the kind of "knitting" a good Welshman like Snowden can sink his teeth into.
Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald writes, "We are at war against terror, the thinking goes, so certain liberties must be sacrificed.  It's the same thing people said when similar issues arose under the Bush regime.  It doesn't seem to matter to them that the 'war 'is open-ended and mostly metaphorical, meaning that we can anticipate no formal surrender point at which our rights will be restored."  Thanks Leonard.  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

No Sympathy For The Stupid

How many times have you heard the expression, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is"?  How many times have you heard the expression, "There is a sucker born every day"?  I opened my Denver Post this morning to discover a story that illustrated the truth of both truisms.  The article was entitled "Swindlers Sentenced" and carried the sub-headline that said, "Golden couple spun tall tales to investors in $17 million Ponzi scheme."  Here is what I learned.
A husband and wife team with the last name of Dalton created a phony investment firm called "Universal Consulting Services."  According to David Migoya, author of the article, "the Daltons ran a scheme through their company that forestalled investor anxiety and worry with tall tales that seemed pulled from a spy novel:  a foreign double-cross involving fake diamonds; offshore bank accounts tied up in government investigations; even a middle-of-the-night airplane rendevous moving gemstones out of Africa that ended up with engine trouble in Amsterdam."
As is the case in all Ponzi schemes, the Daltons used some of the money they were taking in to pay off some of the early investors.  The good word of mouth that the amazing returns generated created high demand for additional opportunities to become involved in their investment plan.  The money poured in.  Not all money was used to salt the claims of additional investors.  The Daltons also managed to purchase a million dollar home in the Golden area.  I guess that added to their mystique as superior investment advisers.  The article went on to inform readers that, "their victims were not the celebrity-level names or big dollar bank accounts of other schemers.  Instead, many families lost life savings -- yet believed in the investments so much that they pressed friends and family to buy in and get a small commission for the referrals."  Why it makes a difference who is being swindled is not clear to me.  I guess there is somewhat of a "Robin Hood" mentality in Mr. Migoya.  I suspect he would be less concerned about the plight of the swindled if they had been wealthy.  After all, what difference does it make if the rich get a little bit less rich?  On the other hand, when the not rich become poor, we have a tragedy.
I have no sympathy for the voluntarily stupid, whether they be rich or poor.  What was the primary motivation for those who got sucked into this scheme?  It was the promised returns on their investments.  The article reports that, "the two bilked more than 100 investors in 13 states and five countries with promises of annual returns that ranged from 48 percent to 120 percent, paying some investors off with the funds from others."  I believe it is fair to say that most folks consider rich people to be greedy.  I don't know about that.  Maybe some of them are.  Maybe some of them are not.  Regardless, most of the rich people I know do not believe that it is possible to obtain 48 to 120 percent annual returns on their investments.  They know enough to know that anybody who tells them they can realize those types of total returns is either a liar or a fool.  In either case they have nothing to do with them.  The middle class people who got sucked into this scheme, on the other hand, seem to be been bedazzled by promises of total returns that made their heads spin.  What else could have motivated them to invest in this scam but greed coupled with voluntarily stupidity?
If you can average 12%/year in total return throughout your investment lifetime you are doing well.  If you can average 10%/year in total return throughout your investment lifetime you are an average investor.  If you can average 8%/year in total return throughout your investment lifetime you will still double your money every 9 years.  Everybody knows that you cannot realize 120%/year in an investment account.  It does not matter what type of investment it is.  It cannot be done.  Yet people continue to dump their life savings into investments that promise to deliver them 120%/year returns.  There is a term for people like that.  It is "stupid".  I suspect "greedy" would also apply.
The Daltons are going to prison for what they did.  They have been ordered to disgorge whatever funds they have left.  Most of the pigeons who got plucked in their scheme have lost most or all of their investment.  Although I suspect most people would believe I should, I have no sympathy for those who got plucked as I have no sympathy for the voluntarily stupid or the greedy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bruce DeBoskey Does Not Understand Economics

According to Sunday's Denver Post, Bruce DeBoskey "is a Colorado-based philanthropic strategist and adviser, helping businesses, foundations and families design and implement their philanthropic initiatives."  Sounds like an interesting job.
Mr. DeBoskey wrote a column yesterday that was entitled "Pain of tragedy universal, so why isn't the response?"  It was an interesting column in which he made several poignant points about human charitable giving.  According to Bruce "The One Boston Fund" was established the day after the Boston Marathon bombing.  To date it has raised $40 million to aid the victims of that bombing.  Meanwhile, two days later, the "Waco Foundation Disaster Relief Efforts Fund" was established to help the families and victims of the West, Texas fertilizer factory explosion.  To date that fund has raised $1.3 million.
One week later the "deadliest garment-factory accident in history" resulted in the deaths of 1,127 workers when the eight-story building they were working in collapsed.  That building was in Bangladesh.  To date there is no organized charitable relief effort for any of those folks from the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.
Mr. Deboskey muses on the rather obvious fact that people tend to give money to relief efforts that capture their emotional attention.  That is the only possible explanation for why the irrational and uneven responses to the above three tragedies have taken place.  The Boston bombing received a tremendous amount of press coverage and was considered by many citizens of the SDA to have been a terrible terrorist attack upon the participants in the Boston Marathon.  The emotional response that was the inevitable reaction to that belief was powerful.  On the other hand, although clearly a tragic event, the fact that a fertilizer plan exploded was not sufficiently dramatic to arouse the ever fickle emotions of people who watch the television news.  Clearly it did not arouse people enough for them to take out their checkbooks.  Lastly, the deaths of 1,127 foreigners is deemed to be entirely irrelevant by the citizens of the SDA.  Let others take care of them.
This pattern of response to tragedies should not surprise us.  People do everything they do based upon emotion rather than logic.  Mr. DeBoskey is correct when he asserts that a more rational response to the above three events would have resulted in a more rational allocation of financial aid.  But that is precisely the point...humans are not rational.  Humans beings do not do anything based upon rational analysis.  Most folks buy stocks because they fall in love with them, not because they perform any fundamental analysis of the stocks they eventually purchase.  People buy lottery tickets in the hope that they will win millions of dollars when the odds are greater they will be struck by lightning or hit by a meteor.  People marry people they end up later divorcing not because they performed a computer analysis of their compatibility but because they fell in love.  Many folks purchase items they cannot possibly afford not because they believe it is in their financial best interest to do so but because they want the shiny new gadget.  So when Mr. DeBoskey points out that charitable giving is irrational, he is making an interesting observation but he is not telling us anything new about the nature of human behavior.
All of this is not the reason for today's post.  In the course of discussing the tragedy in Bangladesh Bruce makes a comment that clearly shows that he knows nothing about economics or business.  He may be an expert in philanthropy but he is a babe-in-the-woods when it comes to economic understanding.  He wrote this about the Bangladesh incident, "A few European companies that profited from the low wages and unsafe conditions at the factory have promised help."  Bruce's anti-business and anti-free market capitalistic stance is obvious.
First of all, if the European companies which were doing business in Bangladesh were not able to earn a profit they would not have been there at all.  If they were not there at all nobody would have been working in the building that collapsed.  Those people would have been begging in the streets or wandering around in a desperate search for food.  So the fact that some European corporations were making a profit is entirely irrelevant.
Second, the fact that the European companies which were there were able to make a profit because they were able to pay less for labor in Bangladesh than they could in their own country is another obvious but irrelevant fact.  Bruce's concept of "low wages" is the typical socialist propaganda that profit seeking corporations are under some moral obligation to pay the same wages for labor regardless of where they find it.  Unless the folks working in the factory in Bangladesh were forced to take those jobs, the wages the profit seeking companies were paying were not "low".  In fact, the wages that were being paid were precisely what the market for labor would dictate in that area.  The objective truth that the wages paid in Bangladesh are generally lower than the wages paid for the exact same work performed in London is a meaningless distinction.  Bruce should never have brought it up unless his goal was to make profit seeking businesses appear to be callous and indifferent to human suffering.  I wonder what the living conditions were like in this part of town prior to the arrival of the European companies that employed all those people?  Do you think people were suffering?  Do you think they jobs they obtained helped alleviate their suffering?  Bruce seems incapable of seeing how profit seeking business are instrumental in bringing about the reduction of human pain and suffering.
Lastly, the notion that the European companies "profited" from the "unsafe conditions" found in the factory is preposterous.  Apparently Bruce does not live in the real world.  In the real world some jobs are dangerous.  It is a dangerous thing to walk a steel girder that is suspended hundreds of feet above the ground.  It is a dangerous thing to go hundreds of feet underground in search of ore.  The folks who engage in these activities do so because they consider the risks associated with such activities to be worth taking in comparison to the rewards for such endeavors. 
Of course Bruce would argue that entering an eight story building should not be a dangerous undertaking.  And there he is right.  Most people do not generally consider going into an eight story building to be the equivalent of undertaking a life endangering activity.  But in the real world buildings sometimes collapse and the people in those buildings sometimes die.  The allegation that European businesses somehow profit from the "unsafe conditions" that resulted in the collapse of that building is based entirely upon an anti-capitalist emotional reaction to what happened rather than an objective analysis of the facts.  No one profits from the destruction of a building.  No one profits from the loss of human life.  To suggest that a company would profit from such things is a callous and reprehensible thing to suggest.
The idea that capitalists profit from keeping workers in unsafe conditions is a common one in the socialist literature.  It is, of course, completely untrue.  The costs of doing business when operating in areas where conditions are unsafe, whether those unsafe conditions are subject to human control or not, are always higher.  Indeed, only the free market is able to quantify the risks associated with unsafe activities and assign a price, via higher wages paid for labor, to cover the appraised risks.  Furthermore, business managers know that unsafe conditions will result in accidents and accidents will increase costs.  Nobody derives any benefit from accidents and no profit seeking corporation ever wants to allow unsafe conditions to exist it they can be ameliorated.
Mr. DeBoskey makes some good points about human philanthropy in his columns.  However, when it comes time to discuss human economic action he is clueless.