Patrick's Politics


By Patrick   Follow   Sat, 31 Dec 2011, 12:24am   15,786 views   50 comments
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Principles of human nature: how people are.

  1. Self-interest affects perception and reasoning.
    People start from their desired conclusion, and then work backwards to find a reasoning that fits it.
    Once any action is performed, the mind automatically starts to come up with reasons to justify it.
    It is difficult to be truly honest to yourself, or even to perceive a reality that threatens your desired conclusions.

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it. -- Upton Sinclair

  2. Self includes certain select other people.
    Self-interest includes the interests of your family, your team, your country, etc. The division of people into "my people" and others is basic to human thought.
    People are more comfortable with and identify with people from their own ethnic and economic backgrounds.
    Most people adopt the beliefs of their social crowd, to minimize the stress of independent thought and the fear of rejection.
  3. The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.
    People intuitively feel the difference between good and evil, even though self-interest obscures it.

    "If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" --Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  4. What is unspoken is hard to hear, but it's always the most important point.
    Honest opinions often cannot be spoken because of embarassment or political correctness constraints. See the case of Juan Williams.
    Those unspoken opinions are the true explanation for much otherwise inexplicable behavior.
  5. People prefer simple explanations and stories instead of critical thought and subtleties.
    Critical thought means looking for mistaks in what you are taught, which can be uncomfortable, especially when it requires that you challenge widely accepted authority.
    The world is composed of shades of grey, and they are difficult to distinguish.
    The bible is popular partly because it is a series of simple explanations and stories.

    Most people don't do math very well. Math is hard work.

    "Please give us a simple answer, so that we don't have to think, because if we think, we might find answers that don't fit the way we want the world to be." -- Terry Pratchett in Nation
    "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." -- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

  6. Most people don't have time for politics.
    Whatever it is, they usually don't care unless it affects them.
    They're busy with work, family, shopping, etc.
    That means the people who actually do care have more influence than those who don't.
  7. People are social animals.
    All human rights and obligations exist in a social context.
    Your right to swing your fist is limited by where the other guy's nose is.
    No success was ever achieved alone. Succes is always a combination of individual effort and social context.
    People are acutely aware of their status and most consumer spending is to increase status.
    The rich are worshipped as examples of what we want to be, even as they continue to exploit us. The American dream creates self-blame that protects the rich from responsibility:

    America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”
    Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.
    Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
    --Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

  8. People are motivated by money and status, but also by the desire to help, and to be fair.
    Homo economicus, the "rational economic man", is a myth used by economists.
    In reality, the ultimatum game proves that the motive of fairness is greater than the motive of direct personal gain.
    The existence of Linux and the Wikipedia are testaments to the desire of people to be helpful.
  9. Fear is an even stronger motive than money, status, helpfulness, or fairness.
    People willingly give up their rights and hand control to self-interested authorities when confronted with fear of death, as after 9/11.
    Even if you yourself are not afraid, if your neighbor is afraid, he will supress your rights because of his own fear.

    Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger." -- Nazi Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

  10. Human history is a series of revolutions against hereditary aristocracies.
    The rich use governments, corporations, and religion to gain ever more wealth and power.
    They entrench themselves and their families by law as the non-productive owners of all land and other assets, while everyone else does the actual work.
    The more they have, the more interest and rent everyone is obliged to pay them, until finally the people revolt.

    For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance, but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. -- Matthew the Evangelist

    And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. -- John Steinbeck

    See the French revolution, Russian revolution, many others. Read Ibn Khaldun.

Goals: how things should be, given how people are.

  1. An end to hereditary aristocracy in America.
  2. Deflation. The goal of all economic policy should be gradual deflation. Lower prices reward savers even if interest is 0%. Deflation is perfectly compatible with economic growth. People buy more when prices fall.
  3. Government that represents the 100%, not just the 1%.
  4. Minimal laws, well enforced.
    The average person should be able to read and understand all the federal, state, and local laws that apply to them.
    The total number of laws should also be limited to an amount that is possible to read in a month: one large book.
    There should be elementary, middle, and high school courses in law.

    If a law is on the books, it should be well enforced or else people lose respect for the law. For example, every single car that speeds should get a ticket, every day.

    Most licensing and zoning laws are designed to protect entrenched interests against new entrants and new business models, so licensing and zoning requirements should be the absolute minimum that are truly required to protect public safety. See http://www.ij.org/
  5. "Jury nullification, that is, the right of jurors to judge the law as well as the facts, is a right of the people and the courtroom norm." -- Ron Paul
    Jurors should be allowed to decide that the law itself seems unfair and should be contested in a higher court. Maybe they get overruled, but at least they get to slow down what they consider to be bad laws.
  6. Near-absolute freedom of speech.
    All non-commercial file sharing in the internet should be legal, as the Pirate Party wants. Copyright enforcement is practice for suppression of political speech.

    National Security Letters and gag orders are direct attacks on the first amendment and must never be allowed under any circumstances whatsoever.
    Government should not be able to read your email or spy on any non-public digital content without a judge-signed search warrant as specified in the Fourth Amendment:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  7. True equality of opportunity.
    America has the lowest social mobility in the developed world.
    If you were born poor in America, you are almost certainly going to stay poor.
    If you were born rich, you will almost certainly stay rich.
    To really have equal opportunity, every child must get excellent health care and excellent education through high school, with explicit instruction on how social class and the business world works.
    What we have now is a farce:

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." --Anatole France

  8. Freedom from your boss.
    Most adult human life in America is wasted in boring jobs, a kind of slow death for hundreds of millions of people.
    Corporations and governments use dependencies to control you and make you work for them, especially mortgage debt, but also health care costs.
  9. Freedom from your teacher.
    Untold years of childrens' lives are wasted in boring classes.
    If they learn the material and can prove they know it through testing, they should be free to leave the class so the teacher can help those who don't know it.
  10. Freedom from cars. We must make it possible to live and work in America without ever being required to buy a car or buy gasoline.
  11. Freedom from debt.
    Both personal and national debt are bad, except when they increase your future income more than the cost of the loan. Mortgage debt should not be subsidized or guaranteed by the government.

  12. Non-intervention abroad, to save trillions of dollars and to maintain foreign goodwill.
    Aggressive wars, even when called preventative, and even when they pertain only to trade relations, are forbidden. --Ron Paul
    We should not have army bases all around the world.
    It's called "national defense" for a reason. It's to defend our own nation, not to impose our ideas or commerce on other nations.
  13. An end to all subsidies. Subsidies harm the public in two ways: first, they cost tax money, and second, the use that tax money to increase demand, which increases prices. Instead, if the people have decided we need more of something, the government should help increase the supply of it, not the demand.

Means to those ends: how to achieve the goals

  1. Taxes on non-productive rent-seeking, not on income from productive work.
    Most wealth in America is inherited, not earned.
    Wealth should be the result of your own personal productivity, not a redistribution from poorer people to the rich via mere non-productive ownership of other wealth, especially landowning.
    If you could be in a coma and still earn money, then that income is non-productive rent-seeking and should be taxed:
    land rent, interest, dividends, capital gains through mere ownership of stock, inheritance.
    There should also be a 0.1% financial transation tax on stock and bond trades to discourage fast trading.
    Income earned through actual work should not be taxed at all, nor should there be any sales tax.
    There should be unified land ownership and land tax records for the whole country in a standardized and free digital format.
    A tax on land values is good for the environment too.

    Hereditary bodies... always on the watch for their own aggrandizement, profit of every opportunity of advancing the privileges of their order, and encroaching on the rights of the people. --Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823.

  2. Physical gold and silver money by weight. No dollars, just grams, coined by the government in standard amounts, always 99.9% pure.
    Though gold and silver money will not end credit problems, they will guarantee that savings preserve value.
    No national debt. All government operations should be funded out of already-collected revenue.
    No bonds. It costs taxpayers twice as much for everything when they pay interest.
  3. The option to join Medicare by paying in, with a 10% co-pay.
    This is the biggest step in freeing you from your boss, and that's why the US Chamber of Commerce opposes it.
    If you have a family, the ability to start a small business requires that a government catastrophic health insurance option exist. Minor and optional procedures should not be covered, but paid for out-of-pocket.
    Except in life and death emergencies, all medical bills should be presented in advance of treatment so that the consumer can make a choice.
    Insurance companies should also be obligated to immediately state the exact amount of coverage given a medical billing code.
    Fee-for-service just encourages more unnecessary services to get more fees. Instead, your provider should get a fixed amount of money each month from your insurer.

    There should be a SMALL set of STANDARDIZED health insurance plans.
    So there would be plans A, B, C, D, and E and every member of plan B, for example, would cover exactly the same stuff and have the same out-of-pocket costs. Only the premiums would be different, making it obvious which plan is better.
  4. No mortgage interest deduction.
    Debt for consumption is harmful, though debt for production is sometimes helpful.
    Government should never encourage debt for consumption.
    The government should publicly acknowledge that lower house prices are better for buyers. Deflation is good.
    No Fed, no Fannie, no Freddie, no FHA.
    Mortgage lending should be based on rental value, not on comps, so that
    the borrower can always rent out a house rather than default on the loan.
    There should be an open and transparent market for housing, with all bids verified and published.
    Sellers should be legally obligated to accept any payment that meets his published asking price within 30 days.
  5. Legalization of marijuana.
    Prison guard unions oppose legalization because they like having all those prisoners.
    Mexican drug cartel violence is 50% driven by marijuana profits.
    The same laws about alcohol should apply to marijuana: no sales to minors, no public intoxication, no driving while high.
  6. Recording police action.
    It should always be legal to record the police with cameras. Police should never be allowed to forbid photography of arrests and other law enforcement.
  7. Free speech for prisoners. All prisoners should be allowed to talk to all reporters at least once per week for one hour, no matter what they are accused of.
  8. All non-commercial file sharing should be legalized as free speech, no matter what the content of the file.
    Copyright should be 10 years maximum, since copyright is censorship.
    No "Mickey Mouse" extensions to copyright to protect Disney profits at the expense of the public.
    Repeal of DMCA as unconstitutional. DeCSS DVD decryption software should be free to download in America under the First Amendment. It must be made legal to play movies on any device you choose, in any manner you choose, skipping the bogus "FBI Warning" and previews and going directly to the beginning, middle, or end of the movie if so desired.
  9. Patents should be abolished.
    Most patents are non-productive rent-seeking.
    Drug companies spend only about 15% of revenue on drug research.
    Drug research should be publicly funded and published for use globally without royalty payments. Taxpayers would end up paying much less with public drug research.
  10. Corporate personhood should be abolished until Texas executes one.
    Corporations should not have any of the constitutional rights of natural people, because corporations are not people.
  11. All workers in a publicly traded corporation, even temporary, contract, and janatorial workers, should get a vote on how the company is run.
    Everyone who is being paid by that company, no matter how indirectly, should get to vote.
    Workers should get half of the votes, and shareholders should get the other half.
  12. Long euphemisms and spin should be banned in government names. All program and law names should be as short and spin-free as possible. Welfare should be called exactly "Welfare" and not "Temporary assistance to needy families".
  13. Unemployment benefits should come with the requirement that the recipient work half-time for them in roadside cleanup or graffitti removal. The work requirement should be no more than half-time so that the recipient still has time to upgrade skills and to search for a real job.
  14. If we must have elected Congressmen, we should at least have public campaign funding for anyone who can get signatures from 1% of registered voters in their district or state.
    Congressmen and their staffs should all be forced to leave DC after two terms, and it should be a serious crime for any of them to join or advise any lobbying firm or to use their connections or influence in DC.
    Congressmen must be required to READ the laws before signing them.
    We should frequently scramble people in power to prevent corruption. See "The Evolution of Cooperation" by Robert Axelrod.
    We should ultimately aim for direct democracy via the web, or for sortition, the random selection of Congressmen from the population.
  15. Children should have the ability to test out of any subject and have more free time. There should be a required course in lending, compound interest, and the evils of borrowing from a payday lender.
    Many working mothers depend on school as a kind of day care though, so maybe kids who test out of a class should still be in school, but allowed to be in the library, or the gym, or working on a personal project.
  16. No privately owned bank or other financial institution should under any circumstances ever receive a grant or a loan from the public, or any guarantee of their debt, or any bailout.
    No privately incurred debt should ever be purchased, or guaranteed, or paid off by the government.
    No bank should ever have more than 1% national market share.

    Mortgage lending should be limited by law to the amount that can clearly be paid back by renting the place out and subtracting property tax and maintenance. That would prevent all foreclosures, since you could always rent the place out to cover all expenses.
  17. Interest must always come with risk.
    If your deposit is to be available on demand, then it must be held at the bank for you, and you will not get interest, and will probably pay a storage cost.
    Deposits lent out (participation in risk for return) will not be available on demand, but rather only after a certain term, as with a CD, and may lose value if the loans are not repaid.
  18. Urban commuter rail should be publicly funded by taxes on land values within several miles of any station.
    The land values will go up when the trains are free, and the cost of ticket collection will be eliminated.
    Highway traffic and deaths will be greatly reduced, and businesses near the stations will get much more business.
    Security on free trains must be very good, or people won't ride the train. Fear motivates more than greed.

    End of all medallion sales for taxi operations. It should be completely free to operate a taxi and would greatly reduce car trips and parking.
    Taxi drivers should have to print out the exact cost to your destination before they start moving.
    All traffic laws and road construction should give pedestrians the highest priority, with bicyclists second, and cars third. This will lower our dependence on foreign oil, make us healthier, improve air quality, save money, and allow more personal interaction.

  19. Hate speech must be legal, however repulsive it may be, or we risk further erosion of free speech. There should be no such thing as a "hate crime". There is only assault, which is already illegal. You cannot legislate good will. The motive for an assault is irrelevant. The assault itself is what must be punished.
  20. Government encouragement of locally generated power and food until half of it is local.
    Local production may not be as efficient, but it removes dependency on centralized sources of control or on foreign powers.
    Heating and cooling via deep heat exchangers and wastewater heat recovery.
    Local fruit trees, especially in schools. Required middle school classes on food production, with actual hands-on work and eating of the harvests.
    Girl Scouts should be allowed to personally bake and sell their own cookies, rather than being dependent on centralized corporate control for the benefit of the 1%.

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  1. Patrick


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    11   9:12am Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike (2)  

    I'm just saying we should make it possible to live without that particular dependency, because it's one of the ways we are enslaved to corporations, which in turn are dependent on foreign and anti-democratic places like Saudi Arabia.

    There are many ways to defeat that dependency. Public transit is one, but publicly funded high-speed internet might be another. ISPs are terrified of losing their high-priced relatively low-speed service, so are working to make it illegal for any local government to provide an alternative:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-15/the-case-for-publicly-owned-internet-service-commentary-by-susan-crawford.html?source=patrick.net

    wthrfrk80 says

    Will you run for office?

    Not unless it's possible without taking money from private parties. That would be selling out even before getting started. But just blogging and getting these ideas out there is also useful. Maybe the blog can help found a party.

  2. freak80


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    12   12:12pm Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    I like the idea of telecommuting. Seems like so many jobs are just sitting in front of a computer sending emails anyway. Still nice to have "face-to-face" contact, though.

    Why not have "multi-use" zoining? I can't think of a reason not to have condos and offices in the same area, if not in the same building. Especially since so much "heavy" industry (with its need for large-scale facilities) has gone overseas. No reason that office work can't be decentralized. In the company I work for, it already is decentralized.

    I'd love to "commute" by elevator and internet connection.

  3. Patrick


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    13   12:32pm Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    I like multi-use zoning, but it's very often prohibited by cities. Learned this in "The Geography of Nowhere" by Howard Kunstler.

    In theory, I think zoning is supposed to "protect" residential areas from having any businesses in them. But in reality, it's not just the house owners but also business owners who, say, don't like the idea of a corner shop competing with their supermarket. And since the supermarket is probably much richer, it can influence the laws to prohibit the corner shop.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoning_in_the_United_States

  4. leo707


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    14   3:43pm Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    Not sure what you mean by difference between method and implementation. I was just thinking of pushing for specific laws. You mean maybe using the internet to organize support and voting?

    OK, well...

    You have solutions, i.e.- your ideas for new laws. Now, how do you get those laws enacted? Could be internet organizing, etc., but with some of the sweeping changes you identified, as solutions to other problems, are going to be very difficult to pass into law. What is the overall plan to get this to happen?

    Also... Patrick says

    4. Minimal laws, well enforced.

    Runs contrary to the way we currently create the laws. There would need to be an entire rewriting of the legal system.

    We currently operate under common law. Basically common law runs off of a general "rules", then specific situations brought to court refine the law. Hundreds of years of laws and rulings on the laws can not be summarized into, "[A]n amount that is possible to read in a month: one large book."

    While I agree that law currently is perhaps too complicated, it may have to be that way. Take a simple law like "Do not steal". There are a million things to steal, and a million motivations to steal. Is a person stealing the retirement savings from 10,000 people the same as a starving person stealing bread? No. These and all permutations need to be covered under law. Common law does this by giving the general guideline "Do not steal", then as cases come up evaluating them in relation to all past cases in an effort to be "fair". I don't even want to guess how many law volumes cover just theft.

    Perhaps what should be focused on is not so much the volume of laws, but how laws effect people and more "fair" laws. Currently stealing the life savings of 20k people, driving some to poverty and suicide, does not seem to be viewed as much worse than someone who breaks into one house and steals the TV and silverware.

    Also, as evidenced in these forums semantics can cause big misunderstandings. Laws have to be very clear. That is why they seem to be written in almost another language entirely. Can laws be written to be better understood by the average person? I don't know perhaps, but it would have to be done in a way where the clarity is not lost. I know... I know... there are often very ambiguous laws written. That is not a fault of legalese, but because the legalese is specifically written because the law makers want the law to be ambiguous. Perhaps there should be no ambiguous laws?

  5. leo707


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    15   4:04pm Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    8. People are motivated by money and status, but also by the desire to help, and to be fair.
    Homo economicus, the "rational economic man", is a myth used by economists.
    In reality, the ultimatum game proves that the motive of fairness is greater than the motive of direct personal gain.

    I don't think that is the conclusion of the ultimatum game. That is only the case because both people in the game have power. Play the same game but give one person both the ability to split the money and to accept or reject the split. I think that the outcomes would be entirely different. I don't know if there are any factory owners in China ,who through their own sense of fairness, are giving pay to their powerless factory workers that equals their own -- or even comes close to their own for that matter.

    I think that, while there are other factors for some individuals, most people are more "rational economic men" than not.

    This idea that people have an innate desire to be fair, particularly as groups grow beyond the tribal level, seems to not have much basis in history. Would we have the growing economic divide if the top 1% were concerned with what is "fair"? Would there be more than 4-5 of Forbes richest 400 joining Warren Buffet in his comments on fair taxation?

    To me this seems very similar to the "just world hypothesis".

    *edit*

    Oh, I just wanted to add that I do think people are hardwired to understand what is fair. I just don't think that they are hardwired to be fair to others even at their own economic expense.

  6. leo707


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    16   4:17pm Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    5. Jury nullification, that is, the right of jurors to judge the law as well as the facts, is a right of the people and the courtroom norm. -- Ron Paul

    I am not sure what this one means. Is Ron Paul saying that jurors should be able to remove laws from the books?

    So, after you work long and hard to get prisoners the right to freedom of speech a jury could hear a case and end up throwing out your law? If that is the case I don't think it is such a good idea. Even though I would love to get the chance to be on a jury and throw out a law.

  7. leo707


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    17   4:23pm Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    13. An end to all subsidies. Subsidies harm the public in two ways: first, they cost tax money, and second, the use that tax money to increase demand, which increases prices. Instead, if the people have decided we need more of something, the government should help increase the supply of it, not the demand.

    I don't understand how the government is going to increase the supply without a subsidy.

    I agree that many of the current items subsidized are ridiculous, but I think the problem there is more lobbying and campaign finance than the actual subsidy program.

    Patrick says

    17. Government encouragement of locally generated power and food until half of it is local.
    Local production may not be as efficient, but it removes dependency on centralized sources of control or on foreign powers.
    Heating and cooling via deep heat exchangers and wastewater heat recovery.
    Local fruit trees, especially in schools. Required middle school classes on food production, with actual hands-on work and eating of the harvests.

    How can this encouragement happen without government subsidy? Oh, I also agree that we would be better off if these programs were encouraged.

  8. leo707


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    18   4:28pm Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    2. Physical gold and silver money by weight. No dollars, just grams, coined by the government in standard amounts, always 99.9% pure.
    Though gold and silver money will not end credit problems, they will guarantee that savings preserve value.
    No national debt. All government operations should be funded out of already-collected revenue.
    No bonds. It costs taxpayers twice as much for everything when they pay interest.

    I am not totally sold on the gold standard. Perhaps I don't know enough about it. It just seems to me that it has it's own set of problems -- some similar to fiat money. I feel that a fiat money could be more "viable" than our current system is. Basically, both gold standard and fiat need to be carefully managed or they could be abused. I just have not been convinced gold is inherently any better.

    Also, how would we even get back on the gold standard? It would have to be way more complicated than passing a law.

  9. Patrick


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    19   6:46pm Fri 17 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    leoj707 says

    Basically common law runs off of a general "rules", then specific situations brought to court refine the law.

    But the rulings are not law. They are specific interpretations of law. The actual laws passed by Congress do not grow with rulings. So we could limit the actual laws on the books as laws into a smallish number that could be read in one month.

    leoj707 says

    Perhaps what should be focused on is not so much the volume of laws, but how laws effect people and more "fair" laws.

    I believe the complexity of the law is routinely used to hide unfair parts. Jack Abramoff gave some great examples of this in an interview, pointing out that if people can't understand the law, they can't effectly object to it.

    leoj707 says

    I don't think that is the conclusion of the ultimatum game. That is only the case because both people in the game have power.

    It is always the case that both parties in any transaction have some power. You can simply refuse to cooperate with a situation that you think is too unfair. I still maintain that the point demonstrated by the ultimatum game is that the perception of fairness is immensely important, and completely ignored by the theory of homo economicus.

    leoj707 says

    So, after you work long and hard to get prisoners the right to freedom of speech a jury could hear a case and end up throwing out your law?

    I think a jury should be able to conclude that a law is unconsitutional.

    leoj707 says

    I don't understand how the government is going to increase the supply without a subsidy.

    The government itself can temporarily get into whatever business is not producing enough. If we don't have enough oranges, there could be government orange groves.

    We have government elementary schools for exactly the same reason.

    leoj707 says

    How can this encouragement happen without government subsidy?

    Lots of ways to encourage local food and energy production without subsidies: Educational campaigns, government-provided fruit trees or local energy machinery, taxes on food and energy imports.

    leoj707 says

    I feel that a fiat money could be more "viable" than our current system is.

    We have fiat money right now. It is created from nothing, just by the power of government (well, the Fed) saying "Let it be so." Which is "fiat" in Latin.

    leoj707 says

    Also, how would we even get back on the gold standard? It would have to be way more complicated than passing a law.

    First, the Fed must be completely prohibited from issuing any more dollars. Then the government must allow people to pay their taxes in gold at the current exchange rate. Finally, the government must commit to burning dollars to maintain their value as the economy moves to gold.

    France did finally destroy the old Franc, and made a bundle doing it:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/world/europe/as-old-francs-expire-france-makes-a-small-mint.html

  10. leo707


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    20   2:01pm Thu 23 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    Recording police action.
    It should always be legal to record the police with cameras. Police should never be allowed to forbid photography of arrests and other law enforcement.

    FYI, looks like BART is moving in the right direction. Only thing is that the camera should activate as soon as a gun or taser is drawn.

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/crime/2012/02/bart-cop-cams-put-more-eyes-clashes

  11. leo707


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    21   5:50pm Thu 23 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    I believe the complexity of the law is routinely used to hide unfair parts. Jack Abramoff gave some great examples of this in an interview, pointing out that if people can't understand the law, they can't effectly object to it.

    That is a good point, but I just don't know if law can actually be simplified enough. Some things by their nature are complex, and can not be simplified.

    Patrick says

    I think a jury should be able to conclude that a law is unconsitutional.

    I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree on this. I would hate to think of what may happen when 12 people are brought together and they think like this:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-passionate-defender-of-what-he-imagines-c,2849/

    Patrick says

    The government itself can temporarily get into whatever business is not producing enough. If we don't have enough oranges, there could be government orange groves.

    We have government elementary schools for exactly the same reason.

    OK, I see where you are going with this. I don't think that the school system is comparable to oranges, but I could see how this would work.

    We would need to be careful that the government only actually gets into businesses that are truly needed, and the exit strategy for the government should not include selling the business off for pennies on the dollar.

    Patrick says

    Lots of ways to encourage local food and energy production without subsidies: Educational campaigns, government-provided fruit trees or local energy machinery, taxes on food and energy imports.

    Government provided fruit trees/energy could be a subsidy; depending on who the trees and/or energy was going to. Also, educational campaigns could effectively be subsidized advertising.

    Patrick says

    We have fiat money right now.

    Yeah, I understand that we have a fiat currency now, I did not phrase my comment that well.

    What I meant to say is that our current fiat currency is perhaps not optimally managed, and could be managed in a more viable manner.

    Patrick says

    First, the Fed must be completely prohibited from issuing any more dollars. Then the government must allow people to pay their taxes in gold at the current exchange rate. Finally, the government must commit to burning dollars to maintain their value as the economy moves to gold.

    France did finally destroy the old Franc, and made a bundle doing it:

    Well, the old Franc died to be replaced by another fiat currency. The Euro is a good example of moving to a different currency.

    I am still not convinced that a gold standard is much better than a fiat money supply. I will have to look more into it.

  12. Patrick


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    22   6:03pm Thu 23 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    leoj707 says

    I just don't know if law can actually be simplified enough.

    I think it could. Though of course the interpretation, common law, etc could get very twisty. But the basics should and could be simple enough for everyone to quote.

    There's a nice quote by Josephus, the Jew who escaped to Rome while ancient Israel was being sacked, to the effect that every Jew knew their law very well, so they had no need of lawyers, but the Greek law was so complicated that no Greek could defend himself in court.

    leoj707 says

    I would hate to think of what may happen when 12 people are brought together and they think like this

    I'm not saying that just 12 random people should be allowed to make the law, but they should be allowed to decide that the law itself seems unfair and should be contested in a higher court. Maybe they get overruled, but at least they get to slow down what they consider to be bad laws.

    leoj707 says

    Government provided fruit trees/energy could be a subsidy; depending on who the trees and/or energy was going to.

    Yes, I need to define subsidy better.

    I'm pretty sure that the reason all current governments have fiat currency is that it gives governments power over foreigners and power over their own citizens.

  13. Dan8267


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    23   8:24pm Thu 23 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Patrick says

    I'm not saying that just 12 random people should be allowed to make the law,

    Actually, I do think that would be better than the system we have now.

    And if we add any non-random, but constructive selection say by taking science, math, and economic literacy tests, then we can improve the results.

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    24   9:20am Fri 24 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    I'm not saying that just 12 random people should be allowed to make the law, but they should be allowed to decide that the law itself seems unfair and should be contested in a higher court. Maybe they get overruled, but at least they get to slow down what they consider to be bad laws.

    OK, this I can buy into.

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    25   9:32am Sat 25 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    Dan8267 says

    Actually, I do think that would be better than the system we have now.

    Dan mentioned in an earlier thread that an electronic voting or controlling system might better our future. I have also envisioned the computer and information age might allow the masses to become more aware of the growing corruption in the ruling classes, then subsequently become involved via the keyboard and balance that power. Until then we are relegated to the following chart.

    From the top looking down you see only shitheads. From the bottom looking up, we see only assholes .

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    26   9:47am Sat 25 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    TMAC54 says

    From the top looking down you see only shitheads. From the bottom looking up, we see only assholes

    Good one.

  17. TMAC54


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    27   11:15am Sat 25 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    " Wag the Dog " should be required study in Junior High School.
    This is no longer funny. The assets we paid for, by bailing out Ferdie & his furberger will be sold to the "CRONY PARTY" exclusively.

  18. freak80


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    28   10:42am Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    Means to those ends: how to achieve the goals
    Taxes on non-productive rent-seeking, not on income from productive work.
    Most wealth in America is inherited, not earned.
    Wealth should be the result of your own personal productivity, not a redistribution from poorer people to the rich via mere non-productive ownership of other wealth, especially landowning.
    If you could be in a coma and still earn money, then that income is non-productive rent-seeking and should be taxed:
    land rent, interest, dividends, capital gains through mere ownership of stock, inheritance.
    There should also be a 0.1% financial transation tax on stock and bond trades to discourage fast trading.
    Income earned through actual work should not be taxed at all, nor should there be any sales tax.
    There should be unified land ownership and land tax records for the whole country in a standardized and free digital format.
    A tax on land values is good for the environment too.

    I get what you are saying about land ownership. Land wasn't created by any person, so it shouldn't "belong" to anyone. I guess that's why we have property taxes. I agree that it's not good to have a small portion of the population controlling a large portion of the available natural resources that they didn't create.

    On the other hand, making land and natural resources productive DOES require work, investment, and risk-taking. Maybe we should make a distinction between "bad" asset ownership (hoarding land and natural resources) and "good" asset ownership (owning stock in a business that makes said land and natural resources productive).

    I like the Norwegian model for oil production: the oil belongs to all Norwegians, so oil production is done by the state oil company that puts some of the profits into national pension plans, etc. Nonetheless, private investors anywhere in the world can buy shares, which helps do the work of getting the oil out of the ground. It's an interesting marriage of capitalism and socialism.

    Even U.S. oil companies pay royalties to the Federal Government, right? I agree with that policy, since the oil companies didn't actually create the oil. In one sense, the oil on U.S. soil belongs to all U.S. citizens. Nonetheless, actually getting the oil to market is a huge undertaking. People should be rewarded according to how much they help out in this effort (by direct labor, engineering, investment, risk-taking, etc)

    Also agree that inheritance taxes should be stiff on ALL assets. There's no fairness in being part of the "lucky sperm club." We don't want a de-facto hereditary aristocracy.

  19. freak80


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    29   10:58am Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    If you could be in a coma and still earn money, then that income is non-productive rent-seeking and should be taxed:

    Hey now, don't knock earning money while in a coma. I'm funding my 401k right now so I can do just that when I retire. (Hopefully I won't spend my retirement in a coma, but I'm preparing now just in case).

    I do think we should close the "Buffet Loophole" that allows certain ultra-high net worth individuals to pay a lower tax rate than their middle-class secretaries. The refusal of the current Republicans to do this shows just how "far right" they've become.

  20. Patrick


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    30   11:16am Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I like that "lucky sperm club" comment. That's exactly how it is.

    I do need a better way to distinguish good income from bad income.

    The money you yourself earned from your own work should be completely untaxed, and you should accumulate enough that you can spend down the principal in retirement without getting to zero before you die. But if you can live forever in a coma from the interest, it's definitely not productive work anymore.

  21. freak80


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    31   11:59am Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Maybe income generated from:

    - control of "zero-sum" assets like land and natural resources = bad income

    - a (legit) business you started = good income

    - investing in a (legit) business = good income

    - working for a (legit) business = good income (like you've been saying)

    - inheritance (assets I didn't earn) = bad income (like you've been saying)

    I'm just brainstorming...

    I guess where I differ from you is on income from investments in non-zero-sum assets (like stocks). In theory there are no hard limits on human ambition, innovation and creativity. Unlike land and natural resources (which ARE zero-sum, at least until space travel becomes cheap).

    That doesn't mean capital gains should be taxed less than regular income. Agree it's crazy for Buffet to pay a lower tax rate than his secretary.

  22. Patrick


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    32   12:15pm Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    OK, what about just taxing land values, natural resource usage, and inheritance?

    Would it be enough revenue?

    Would it stop the formation of a hereditary aristocracy?

  23. freak80


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    33   12:39pm Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    All very good questions.

    Inheritance taxes should (in theory) prevent a hereditary aristocracy.

  24. freak80


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    34   12:44pm Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    I forgot one thing: the need to (somehow) keep wealthy individuals from buying politicians who promise to abolish inheritance taxes ;-)

  25. leo707


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    35   12:46pm Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    You could probably just drop the second half of your statement and leave it at:

    wthrfrk80 says

    I forgot one thing: the need to (somehow) keep wealthy individuals from buying politicians

  26. freak80


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    36   12:47pm Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Maybe that's the ultimate need: preventing a hereditary aristocracy.

    How we do it might be more academic.

  27. Patrick


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    37   12:47pm Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    That's where direct democracy comes in.

    I think it would not be too hard to let everyone vote on every law, via the web, in a completely secure, private, and verifiable way.

  28. freak80


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    38   12:53pm Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    That's where direct democracy comes in.
    I think it would not be too hard to let everyone vote on every law, via the web, in a completely secure, private, and verifiable way.

    Sounds good at face value. But doesn't California have a lot of "problems" with "direct democracy" (ballot initiatives that go by names like "proposition X") already? I don't live there, so I don't know how well that system works.

    Also there's the "two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch" issue.

  29. Patrick


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    39   5:59pm Mon 27 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Here are some proposals to prevent corporate money from gaming the proposition system:

    • No out-of-state contributions. This includes people and corporations. Nor can they funnel money to PACs in California who then give to the campaign. The original source of all contributions must be from inside California.

    • Corporations not headquartered in California cannot donate money to a proposition campaign.

    • Strict limits on the amount of money that any entity can donate, maybe $10,000 for people and $25,000 for a corporation, non-profit, or PAC.

    • Propositions must be clearly written and understandable by a high school graduate. They cannot imply one thing but actually do another. The basic idea should be clearly explainable in no more than a short paragraph.

    • Funding, costs, and hidden costs of a proposition must be accounted for. Unfunded mandates from propositions are a major contributing reason for the current budget crisis. It needs to stop.

    • Lower the percentage of signatures needed to 2%. Ban paying people paid to collect them. Direct democracy means you care enough about it to get in the streets and do it yourself without pay.

    From http://ivn.us/2010/05/27/reforming-californias-broken-proposition-system/

    The "two wolves and a sheep" thing doesn't seem to happen in the US. It's more like sheep voting to sacrifice themselves hoping they will become wolves one day.

  30. Biff Baxter


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    40   2:06pm Fri 24 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (2)  

    Somehow this ended up in the real estate forum. Clearly someone made a boo boo.

    Many of these ideas parallel ideas put forth by Karl Marx and Ted Kaczynski. That is to say, regardless of their intention they simply don't work. Standard chalkboard fantasy that reality has a habit of beating the living shit out of.

    Patrick says

    Most people don't have time for politics.

    I don't waste my time screaming at a wall. Nobody here is having any effect on politics. Absolutely nobody. Not one person. Nobody. Zero. There are ways to be politically effective and this is not one of them.

    Patrick says

    Legalization of marijuana.

    You must be woefully uneducated about addiction. That level of ignorance is dangerous.

    Biff

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    41   2:27pm Fri 24 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (5)   Dislike  

    Biff Baxter says

    Many of these ideas parallel ideas put forth by Karl Marx and Ted Kaczynski.

    Congradulations, your logical fallacy has been genetic!

    FYI, Karl Marx wrote in his book The Communist Manifesto that we should not have children working in factories as it was done in 1848. Do you disagree with this idea because of who wrote it?

    Biff Baxter says

    I don't waste my time screaming at a wall. Nobody here is having any effect on politics. Absolutely nobody. Not one person. Nobody. Zero. There are ways to be politically effective and this is not one of them.

    Yes, sharing political ideas and goings-on in a public forum is entirely ineffective. That is why news outlets, town halls and politicians never have political discussions in the view of the public, and totalitarian regimes the world over and through time have entirely ignored it when citizens have gotten together and shared political ideas.

    Yes, this type of forum has "absolutely...zero" effect on politics.

    Biff Baxter says

    Patrick says

    Legalization of marijuana.

    You must be woefully uneducated about addiction.

    You must be woefully uneducated about marijuana and the effects of prohibition.

    Yes, that level of ignorance is dangerous.

  32. mell


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    42   3:46pm Fri 24 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Biff Baxter says

    You must be woefully uneducated about addiction. That level of ignorance is dangerous.

    Biff

    It's by far one of the least addictive substances out there - addiction is absolutely a non-issue here. Actually most illegal drugs are not very addictive compared to alcohol and tobacco. Not to mention shopping, gambling and sugar ;)

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    43   3:49pm Fri 24 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    mell says

    Biff Baxter says

    You must be woefully uneducated about addiction. That level of ignorance is dangerous.

    Biff

    It's by far one of the least addictive substances out there - addiction is absolutely a non-issue here. Actually most illegal drugs are not very addictive compared to alcohol and tobacco. Not to mention shopping, gambling and sugar ;)

    Video game addictions have killed more people than marijuana.

  34. Patrick


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    44   5:26pm Fri 24 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Biff Baxter says

    You are stupid so I'll type slowly...

    Comment deleted for direct insult.

  35. curious2


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    45   9:04pm Fri 24 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (4)   Dislike  

    Thanks for this manifesto and the included quotes, a good start and already a good read.

    A few minor quibbles:

    Patrick says

    Human history is a series of revolutions against hereditary aristocracies.

    Actually that seems to overlook wars of conquest, migration, plague and famine, and political collapses (USSR).

    Laws in any complex society with wealth will inevitably grow complex, but you're right to believe the overgrown thicket needs pruning. Our current structure produces ever more legislation because it is driven by politicians' campaigns and egos. I suggest that all legislation should have a sunset period of 20 years maximum, and all penalties should require a 3/4 popular vote within two years of enactment.

    Regarding hate crimes and jury nullification, a little history may illuminate slightly. For thousands of years, criminal law has considered both intent and action, e.g. the difference between murder and manslaughter comes down to intent. For centuries, juries have had the power to nullify in individual cases simply by acquitting; there is no appeal from an acquittal. I think Ron Paul's point was that nullification should be part of the jury instructions, to encourage more nullifications. It's a double-edged sword though regarding enforcement, as a case from Maine illustrates very sadly. A bunch of high school football players and their friends saw a slight middle-age guy near a bridge, decided to bully him, and threw him off the bridge; he couldn't swim, so he drowned. At their trial, they invoked the "gay panic" defense, claiming he had made a sexual advance towards one of them, and somehow they all flew into a panic of standing their ground. (I don't know if he was even gay or not, but they claimed he was.) The jurors prayed, then acquitted. Around the same time, in NYC, three teenage boys stabbed to death a gay man because they were trying to clean up their neighborhood, after their parents had complained of too many gay men hanging around, and a judge (in Texas and, IIRC, another in Utah) said he wouldn't impose the same sentence for the murder of a homosexual or prostitute as for a regular person. My favorite quote on this particular subject was from a guy in Texas, who was arrested for assaulting an undercover cop: he demanded to know why he was being arrested, and upon being informed that he had assaulted a police officer he said, "Well I apologize for that, I thought he was a damn queer." (The arrest was part of a sting after a series of anti-gay assaults.) There have been similar attacks against immigrants, for example, by people who think they are "doing good" by committing these crimes and sometimes juries and even judges agree. Hate crimes legislation responds to that problem by saying it isn't acceptable and may even be worse than the typical random bar fight based on nothing.

    Regarding fiat currency, it is a double-edged sword. America had the gold standard for most of the 20th century, with one devaluation by FDR, and then Nixon ended it. Theoretically a fiat currency can have powerful advantages, but in practice it seems to produce mostly inflation. The results aren't always obvious though, for example the fiat USD held its value better than gold during the 1990s. If government can maintain sound fiscal and monetary policy, then a fiat currency is better than gold.

    Lastly, a thought on advertising and mandates. "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." If you build a worse mousetrap, you need to advertise, in order to fool people into buying yours instead of the better one. If you build an absolutely dreadful mousetrap that nobody in their right mind would buy, you need to buy politicians to make it mandatory. As Dennis Kucinich observed, the Capitol is an auction where policy is sold to the highest bidder. For the reason just explained, the highest bidder is always the one that takes the highest markup on the worst policy, i.e. the policy that makes you pay the most in exchange for the least value. This may be the most basic argument for limiting government generally, i.e. it inevitably tends to get captured by the most destructive lobbyists (FKA special interests).

  36. Honest Abe


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    46   1:29am Sat 25 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    TMAC - about your pyramid where most people are pooped on. So whats your point?

    If you're on the bottom, what are you going to do about it? Get pooped on and complain, or do something about it?

    Libs do the former, everyone else the latter. And there you have it in a nutshell.

    Obama complains about America and offers 'hope and change' but doesn't deliver. Vote him OUT for his non-delivery and lack of success.

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    47   11:24am Sat 25 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    Honest Abe says

    Libs do the former, everyone else the latter. And there you have it in a nutshell.

    And here we see a twist on the seppuku knife of self-blame that Kurt Vonnegut and Patrick wrote about: the poor blame themselves, but then, when the resulting cognitive dissonance becomes too much, they blame scapegoats and each other. Everything is the fault of the other tribe/party/faction; the solution is to eliminate/incarcerate that tribe/party/faction. Divide and misrule.

  38. stevenjbailey


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    48   6:24am Mon 27 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Patrick both my wife and I like your politics!

  39. freak80


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    49   8:46am Mon 27 Aug 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    curious2 says

    the poor blame themselves, but then, when the resulting cognitive dissonance becomes too much, they blame scapegoats and each other. Everything is the fault of the other tribe/party/faction; the solution is to eliminate/incarcerate that tribe/party/faction. Divide and misrule.

    Hey now, don't knock the American system. Why do you hate America? Why do you hate freedom? ;-)

  40. cc0


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    50   9:28am Thu 13 Sep 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    Critical thought means looking for mistaks in what you are taught

    I thought this was hilarious and checked the comments to confirm that it was intentional. Now I'm just very confused.

    Patrick says

    Strict limits on the amount of money that any entity can donate, maybe $10,000 for people and $25,000 for a corporation, non-profit, or PAC.

    Nothing with a fixed monetary value will ever work as long as we do not have sound money. In 30 years, the value of those amounts will have fallen to about 50% of their present-day value.

    I heard one proposal that would allow unlimited funds to be given to a candidate, but the funds would all be given anonymously and could be taken back at any time. I thought this was at http://rootstrikers.org/ but I can't find any references now.

    This article covers some of the finance issues though: http://harvardmagazine.com/2012/07/a-radical-fix-for-the-republic

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