Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

The Whole Earth Simulation Model

April 30th, 2010

Are you ready to imagine a world in which everything is controlled by mathematical models similar to the “global climate models” that have led to global warming hysteria?

Can you imagine a “…model that uses in real time things like financial transactions, health records, travel details, carbon dioxide emissions and so on to build a model of not just the planet but the entire society that populates it.”

From MIT’s “Technology Review” this is the vision of Dirk Helbing at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He envisions obtaining a billion euros from the EU for his “Living Earth Simulator”.

University professors and government bureaucrats using a “…simulator will look for economic bubbles and collapses, warn of global pandemics and suggest how to tackle them, it will model and predict the outcome of regional conflicts and determine the effect of our behaviour on the climate. He even wants to create ‘situation rooms’ in which global leaders can view and manage crises as they occur.

Well, maybe it’s just an academic’s fantasy. After all, the models can’t really even predict tomorrow’s weather, the climate models are junk … but wait! This thing would really appeal to the government control freaks. Here’s their scientific justification for regulating everyone and everything. This is statist gold!

And the interesting thing about this is that it would all be in real-time. This would require the whole world to devote itself entirely to reporting to the government-academic complex the details of every activity they engage in … which would almost entirely consist of reporting the details … which would be the details reported … which would mean that the models would enter an endless feedback loop of self-detailing confusion.

So we have nothing to worry about, do we?

Who’s Afraid of Whom?

April 28th, 2010

So Obama calls out the swat team to suppress and terrorize a local tea party in the vicinity of where he’s speaking? Look at the terrorist tea partiers here. Courtesy of Andrew Brietbart’s Big Government Blog, originally filmed by SharpElbows.Net”

If the government fears the people it is inclined to become repressive. If the people fear the government, the government is already repressive. Either way, the situation is extremely grave.

Exploding Growth of Free Market Healthcare

April 28th, 2010

What happens when the world’s only provider of free market medical care converts to a socialist system? Where do the patients go? Where do the doctors and nurses go? Where do the researchers go?

They won’t be allowed to operate in the U.S. in competition with government regulated facilities. They’ll go abroad to open and operate private, free market medical services. Medical tourism takes off.

As an investor I’m betting on a big surge in for-profit offshore medical services. The demand will be overwhelming because the U.S.A will no longer provide high quality free market medicine for Americans and foreigners alike. The only alternative will be privately owned facilities in countries like Mexico, India, Thailand and elsewhere.

Obama, Reid and Pelosi can get their offshore care in Cuba.

Illegal Immigration — A Sensible, Workable Solution

April 27th, 2010

On October 30, 2007 I wrote a post (click here) suggesting a practical, common sense solution for the problem of illegal immigration. Essentially, I proposed a system whereby those who wished to work temporarily in the U.S. would purchase an insurance policy. This policy would have several purposes:

1) The policy would pay for any extraordinary public or private expenses that the worker might cause due to criminal activity, hospitalization, welfare costs, etc. Mexicans now pay “coyotes” (human smugglers) from $2,000 to $3,000 for transport across the border. This same sum would pay for quite a handsome insurance policy for a year’s work. A U.S. based employer might be willing to pay all or part of this policy premium.

2) The policy becomes a legal immigration document. No additional bureaucracy would be needed. It could all be done through private insurance transactions, leaving the worker free to enter the country and leave at the expiration of his work or the policy’s one year term.

3) There could be a rebate at the policy’s expiration if no claims were paid from the insurance. This would be an additional incentive for the worker to return home when the policy expires.

The original article, linked above, discusses the benefits of this approach from the viewpoint of those who oppose Mexican illegal immigrants on cultural or economic grounds, and by those, like vegetable growers, who want the benefits of Mexican labor.

This is a solution that doesn’t involve shouting.

Serious Mistreatment of Wounded Soldiers

April 26th, 2010

The NY Times reported mistreatment of severely wounded soldiers. The Warrior Transition Units, having responsibility for treating some 7,200 wounded or psychologically damaged soldiers were supposed to be an improvement over the disgraceful conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center which were revealed in 2007. The article describes serious mistreatment of soldiers assigned to these units.

If the report is to be believed, it is evidence of mismanagement and incompetence at the highest levels of the military hierarchy. It is simply inconceivable to me that this breach of duty and human decency could be the result of callous disregard by those responsible, but maybe it is. No matter whether it is callousness or incompetence, it needs to be fixed — pronto.

These soldiers deserve no less than the best treatment we have to offer them.

Honey and Sugar in Your Tea

April 17th, 2010

Tucson Tax Day Tea Party was a sunny, mellow affair, very similar in tone to last year’s rally. The bite was still there — throw the bums out, reduce the size of government, reclaim liberties — but perhaps a little exhaustion from loss of the health care battle had set in. These things do go in waves, ebbing and flowing. But gathering 1,500 to 2,000 people in this town on a workday is nothing to ignore.

The news outlets were not in evidence when I was there, but KVOA’s web site reported the event in an unbiased fashion, and no newsworthy infiltrations were seen — nor were they realistically expected. Tucsonans don’t do such things.

KVOA reported that:

The head of Pima County’s Democratic Party watched the rally from his office across the street. Jeff Rogers says, “I think maybe we ought to celebrate this day and say taxes are the price a civilized society pays for education, teachers, police officers, firefighters.”

Interesting, isn’t it, that none of the functions mentioned by Mr. Rogers is a proper function of the federal government, despite its meddling in education and increasingly threatening police powers. Odd, too, that Rogers didn’t feel confident enough to walk out onto the plaza himself, among the “mob”, preferring instead the relative safety of his office.

Monkeys Manage Arizona’s Fiscal Affairs

April 16th, 2010

Earlier this week I started to prepare an article about Arizona’s government spending, observing that over 20 years the population has grown by 80+% while the state government’s expenditures have tripled. As a result, per capita spending has risen from $500 to $803, a 60% increase. So then I sought to figure out where the extra money was going. No luck. Arizona’s budgets and government expenditures are a black box. The web site published by the state is virtually useless, providing no useful detail at all, and no useful historical data for comparisons.

A comprehensive report describes government spending transparency via. web sites in each state. Arizona ranks at the bottom of that list with a virtually useless website. The only states ranking worse than Arizona were those having no web sites at all.

At this week’s tax day tea party I was able to confront two Arizona legislators, asking why this shouldn’t or can’t be corrected. State Representative Vic Williams, a purportedly conservative republican opined that: (summarizing)

The creation of such a web site would be impossibly complex and expensive. He thought it would cost millions of dollars and wouldn’t work anyway given the complete mess that exists between the state’s incompatible and obsolete computer systems. And he says various departments are constantly swapping allocations and spending in such nimble ways that there is no way to it can be accurately accounted for.

I asked Rep. Williams if this wasn’t evidence of a serious management problem that should be corrected. If spending is, indeed, so chaotic as he claims,then there is not only no transparency, there is no control or accountability either. He shrugged and excused himself.

Later on I confronted State Senator Frank Antenori with the same question. Senator Antenori stated that the state does, indeed, have a web site that provides department level data, but to get details of what the money is actually spent for (staffing levels, salaries, pensions, benefits, equipment, and detailed by program, etc.) I’d have to request the information from each department. He thought this was sufficient transparency — so I’m sending him a link to the survey, above.

Combining the blasé attitude of at least these two legislators toward informing citizens of what actually goes on in the government with the miserable opaqueness of these operations, it is no wonder that Arizona finds itself in fiscal difficulty. The state’s fiscal house resembles the monkey house at the zoo — but at least that has an outside view.

(caption: Arizona bureaucrats who manage the state budget)

Sen. Antenori wanted me to congratulate him for his role in reducing the budget this year by a claimed 20%. But I can’t even figure out whether the budget has actually been passed and signed by the governor. Also, I’d ask the Senator: a) What about the proposed 17% increase in sales taxes on the ballot next election, and b) What percentage growth in spending occurred each of the past five years? How was this extra revenue spent? And finally, having claimed a 20% reduction, I’ll congratulate him when he hacks off another 25% from the remaining budget.

And don’t you dare tell me this would jeopardize education and public safety.

Taxes Are a-Coming, Cho-Cho-Cho!

April 15th, 2010

This is an interesting discussion about the tax train coming at us. And it doesn’t take an ear pressed on the rails to detect it. Just stop, look and listen, as the signs used to say.

To summarize, if the economy stays beaten down, which it will given the tax increases and spending blow-outs already in place, the congress won’t dare raise additional taxes. But if the economy does improve, despite these measures, then congress will blithely impose immense new taxes to squash the economy back down again.

It doesn’t look good either way.

Obama’s Latest Grovel to Chinese Communist

April 12th, 2010

In case you missed it, our Sun God president once again grovels, first to the king of Saudi Arabia, then to Japan’s emperor, and now to a vicious communist Chinese leader, Mr. Hu Jintau. Maybe he should just prostrate himself naked before his masters. This guy is a disgrace to every American.

By the way, it’s the Japanese that bow. The Chinese don’t do that, you ignorant fool.

Fed. Govt. Wastes $99 Billion on Climate Religion

April 12th, 2010

CBO Reports Federal Govt. “climate change” related Expenditures total $99 Billion over the past decade. About on third ($35.7 Billion) of that is appropriated in the Sun God’s stimulus package. If climate science were “settled,” then why the huge expenditure? See graph below:

I’d guess that’s a lot more than Exxon and “Big Oil” spent over the decade on contrary research and advertising, wouldn’t you? The government dipped into your pocket and spent $330 dollars per person, or almost a thousand dollars per family of three to pump up and support the global warming religion.

So much for separation of Church and State.

Border Patrol Arrogance vs. Competence

April 5th, 2010

On trip last week from Tucson to San Diego and back we were stopped eight times at Border Patrol checkpoints. On one of these occasions, my brother driving the car, seeing no sign from the officer that he wanted us to stop, ran through the checkpoint at slow speed. The officer banged his fist on the top of the car and ordered us to stop. It was obvious that he considered this a gross violation of his considerable authority. He pointed out the stop sign ahead of us. I pointed out his passive behavior and he challenged me to characterize it more fully, obviously trying to pick a verbal fight. I was at a loss for words and said nothing, but pointed out that he was standing a distance away from the stop sign. He questioned us about where we came from, where we were going, and our citizenship then let us pass.

(an Arizona checkpoint on I-19)

Now one might accept this as just one more very minor example of inconvenience in the interest of border peace, drug control and crime prevention. My wife scolded me for being so petulant in the face of authority. But this same cardboard cutout, bang on the roof, demand that I recognize the authority of a FEDERAL OFFICER had occurred to me on a prior occasion. So this time I was doubly annoyed.

We are being conditioned to accept ever increasing scrutiny by government agencies. This includes air travel pat-down searches, automated traffic enforcement cameras, border patrol and DUI road-blocks. There is recurring buzz about the usefulness of government issued ID cards for everyone.

A Government Accountability Office report released in August 2009 concluded that Border Patrol checkpoints may help the mission, but due to inadequate data collection nobody really knows for sure how effective they really are or what they cost to operate. So there is no way to even evaluate whether these nuisances are worth the hassle. Like DHS’s airport security measures, the border patrol checkpoints certainly annoy a lot more honest citizens than illegal aliens.

So the question becomes, should honest citizens resist these seemingly petty infringements upon our liberties? What do we citizens imply (or invite) by putting up with one annoying infringement after another? When does an annoyance become the seed of a tyranny?

Vigilance is the price of liberty.