Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ready to move on

Sorry, but I'm discontinuing posting here, at least for now. Almost all post here are copies of posts at my site

I began using this site so that people could give feedback to my posts, but that does not happen often enough for the trouble.

I may start posting at a newer, more popular social sharing type of site. If that happens, I'll make a note of the link in a final post here.

Thanks for reading, and a special thanks for those who did post comments or shared these posts.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bernie Sanders, FDR, and the Export-Import Bank

Senator Sanders followers love his attacks on Hillary Clinton. They love his promises of free things: free college educations, free medical care, and free money without working.

They love his alleged Socialism.

When asked who his hero is, Sanders said FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President-for-life from 1933 until he died in 1945.

Yet Sanders voted, along with Tea Party Republicans, against renewing the Export-Import Bank of the United States (ExIm). According to Sanders, ExIm is just corporate welfare. Sanders says the government should not own a bank that finances exports and provides jobs for American workers.

Um, might I point out that under Socialism, the government is supposed to own businesses, including banks? That pushing for state (as in California, or Oregon) owned banks is something that lefties and socialists have been pushing for recently?

The federal government actually makes money from ExIm. So it is not really a subsidy for corporations. It makes money from corporations. At the same time allowing businesses to make money exporting American products, creating jobs for U.S. workers.

But Senator Sanders (a certified member of the Establishment since 1980) gets confused easily. He calls this confusion "having principles." Is Socialism one of his principles or not? Don't ask, he'll wave his hands in the air, act indignant, and change the subject.

Did he ever retract the FDR is his hero statement? Let's take a good close look at that. Unlike Sanders, Roosevelt was a lifelong Democrat, though his uncle, President Teddy Roosevelt, was a Republican. FDR was not an independent.

And talk about Rich. FDR was born richer than Hillary and Bill will ever be.

And talk about militaristic. FDR was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913 when he was just 31 years old. His qualifications? He was from a rich and powerful family. On his mother's side, the Delano fortune came from running opium into China. His father was one of the Robber Barons in coal and railroads.

But FDR presided over the complex system of programs that came to be called the New Deal. In some ways it was socialist, but there was also a fascist element to it. In any case:

Franklin Roosevelt (by executive order, without help from Congress) created ExIm in 1934.

Sanders can't think straight. But he is one of America's longest reigning politicians because he is really, really good at making promises and at lying.

No serious American leftist could support Senator Sanders based on his actual voting record in Congress. He gives a good stump speech. It sounds like he is a leftist. It sounds like he is for the poor, impoverished, college-educated white male voters that fund and power his campaign.

But look at his votes at the beginning of the Great Recession, and you can see why it would be folly to make the man President. In 2008 things fell apart for a variety of reasons, not just because some banks were too big, too stupid, and too greedy.

The important thing for Government was arresting the downward spiral. Poor people and working people are the ones hurt worst by a downward spiral. A family with $100 million can lose 90% of it and not starve. But for most people losing a job will wipe out any savings or assets they have, and may scar them for life. And if things got as bad as during the Great Depression, masses of people would have been dying in the streets

The first thing FDR did when he took office in 1933 was rescue the banks. Why was Senator Sanders against rescuing the banks in 2008-2009? Because he doesn't like big banks. Like anyone much does. He was willing to let America go down the tubes just so he did not have to go on record as doing what his hero did, saving the banks. Same for the auto industry. And again, the bank-saving plan turned out to be sound, eventually earning the government more than it put in.

So why is Bernie such an idiot? You might speculate he took too many hallucinogens between when he arrived in Vermont in the 1960s, the son of a rich Brooklyn business owner, and when he emerged from the fog in 1980 to take his first decently-paid job as a politician.

I don't know about the origins of Bernie's mental and emotional disabilities, but I have an analogy that explains how his current personality operates. He is like a foody who goes into a party with a giant smorgasbord and notices some offending food. He waves his hands, twists his face into a parody of an insane person, declares everyone at the party unclean, and walks out.

But what particularly saddens me is all the leftists who have fallen for his BS. College students I can understand. They are typically privileged children of privileged parents, and he has promised them more privilege, not having to pay for college, not having to make any contribution to society, just reaping the rewards of high-paying jobs requiring college degrees.

But leftists and even progressives should know better. They should be able to check voting records and do a little bit of critical thinking. Instead most have just been caught up in the hatred Bernie peddles.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rock, Paper, Scissors

There is no guaranteed winning choice in most complicated situations

People like the idea of causality. We use phrases like "A happened because B caused it." Given that there are causes, making choices is important. "He is rich because he bought Microsoft stock when he was young." Or "She left her keys in her car, of course it was stolen."

Without denying that there is causality, few people have failed to notice how complicated the world is. Causality is clear in simple Physics experiments and in many of the simple aspects of life. We can reasonably expect a car to start when the ignition is switched on, and if it does not, we can seek a cause, or hire an automobile mechanic to find it.

But life is complicated. Some things that tend to have many causes and effects that are hard to sort out are biology, economics, and anything that involves human relationships or a large number of human beings.

The game Rock, Paper, Scissors helps teach children important lessons about the complicated world. Rock smashes scissors, which cut paper, which wraps the rock. Rock wins against scissors but looses against paper. Each of the three choices can be a winner or loser depending on what the second player decides to choose.

In a fair game the two players reveal their choices (made by hand signals) at the same time. There can be strategy involved, based on expectations about how one's opponent will play (like realizing an opponent never repeats the same choice twice in a row). But generally with two players each will win about half the time. And so loses about half the time.

In the rest of life situations are usually more complex, but one central theme remains true: no strategy, tactic, or individual choice will always work. The term for this quality is "indeterminate."

We try to keep the complexity at bay by making things simple for ourselves. Most common screws work with either a Philips head or slot head screwdriver. Most people prefer driving cars with automatic transmissions rather than trying to manually chose the right gear all the time. Most people choose a political party and vote for that party's candidates rather than spending a lot of time investigating each candidate in each election. And mostly that works. Despite their complexity, most modern bridges that get built don't fall down, most of the time.

But when two humans, or two groups of humans, clash instead of cooperating, there will be a loser. There are also losing choices because the future is indeterminate.

Gambling and investing are a case to point. "Alice" has $1,000 that she does not need to pay bills. She owes $2,000 on a credit card at 12%. She has been thinking (at the urging of more affluent friends and family) of opening a brokerage account and buying her first stock shares, say Microsoft or Facebook. She also has a friend who bets on horses and is certain that she can get $8,000 for her $1,000 if she will just bet on Whipping Star in the 3rd race. Or she could just keep the money as cash.

I would advise her to pay down the credit card. 12% interest saved, guaranteed. We won't know Alice's best move until some time later. If Whipping Star does win his race, we'll know that was the best choice, but there was no way to know that in advance. Even fixed horse races sometimes go awry (as when a dope-up horse breaks a leg). In a year a particular stock might be up over 12%. In a year we can certainly retroactively pick stocks that went up over 12%. But no one knows in advance, with absolute certainty, how well any company's stock will do in any given period of time. Stocks go down as well as up.

Uncertainty rules in relationships. Can you trust Judas? Should you date the blond clean-cut medical student? Who is a good mentor, who is trouble best avoided?

Then there is war. A nasty business all around, and filled with uncertainty. Great generals sometimes lose battles, incompetent generals sometimes win, and wars seemingly won can turn into defeat. The strategy that won the last war may be a losing strategy in the next war.

Paper, rock, scissors. You can win by cheating, if your opponent does not know you are cheating. The basic cheating method is choosing shortly after your opponent has shown her hand.

Cheating reality is a lot harder. Cheating in a poker game can have much worse consequences than simply losing the game. Cheating in business can land you in jail. Cheating in a relationship can be the end of a relationship. Cheating can often be beaten by not cheating, and by refusing to play with cheaters.

Scissors, paper, rock. Everyone has a childhood, but not everyone learns the same lessons from childhood, even when you account for differing environments or parents.

Given the complexity of reality, it is best to keep on one's toes, so to speak. Understand the present as best you can. Anticipate the future as best you can. But don't be too surprised by the unexpected. Being flexible rather than rigid is a good general strategy, but even that does not always work out in life.