Shut down the government

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The last time Republicans forced a shutdown of the government of the United States, life improved. Those who depend on entitlements for their existence tended to stay away, leaving society to those who are fully participating.

Many of us have a simple rule: if I must go to work, and pay taxes, so must you. We do not care if life has handed you a weak hand at the poker table, because although we do not talk about it, all of us have had to overcome some difficulty and find none to be truly insurmountable.

We also have seen how this country has swelled with people who quite simply do nothing but take. They demand the handouts, and if they do not get as much as others, they demand more. They feel they are owed these for various reasons related to their sense of being victims of the rest of us, but are unwilling to do anything to fix this situation. We now have a permanent class of dependents who will take anything they can get and are oblivious to the consequences.

Our elites do not notice because to them, the additional taxes represent a less significant chunk of their actual income, since their needs are met at a much lower level than what they take in. A man who makes $40,000 a year will feel more taxes acutely, but someone who makes $200,000 and needs $80,000 to live will not notice as much when taxes take a bigger bite. The man making less, who lives among those that government supports, will more acutely feel the pain of seeing others do as well as he does for doing nothing. Soon he will join them, unless he stubbornly insists on making his way alone for reasons of pride.

Government and its allies among the dependents has made itself rich and powerful on the backs of the middle classes. They are the cash cow which gives it power, and which it has now milked to the point of dryness. Once we had extra money, in part because our society functioned so well that we did not need every cent possible to buy insurance, private security, private medicine and private schooling to keep our families away from the dystopic chaos. Now, thanks to government incentives, our basic services are rotted away and we need every cent we have.

John Boehner thinks it a terrible idea to defund government and as a result shut it down. He could not be more wrong: the source of all of our problems originates in the ability of government to justify itself using humanitarian concerns, take whatever it wants, and then make itself more powerful. Shutting down government would savage the dependents and make the ordinary person who does the right thing more powerful. We might even make alternatives for everything that government does, at which point paying taxes becomes irrelevant. We can simply let the diseased and broken government die and create a new society based not on subsidizing the entitlement dependents, but on protecting those who do the right thing.

If we remove funds from government, its hold over us diminishes. Our problem now is not a lack of laws, but too many laws and no purpose and no sanity. Let us remove the bad laws, and the entitlement state which controls us, forcing our society to renew itself by reclaiming its institutions from this cancer.

Bait and switch

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In the beginning, communities recognize common interests and form small governments to accomplish shared needs more efficiently than each person individually performing them.

Communities contribute resources to build a strong policing force, deterring bad behavior more effectively than ad hoc gatherings of friends and family to brutalize miscreants after unwelcome acts have left their mark.

While the community and government are small, it is a bargain to contribute towards a sustainable and inexpensive system that serves the interests of many.

As government grows, it is increasingly able to unchain itself from the concerns of the community. Soon it establishes laws mandating citizens fund its arbitrary initiatives, and then government can thrive independently under threats of jail and property confiscation. At this point, government becomes a self-interested force much like a large corporation or special interest group.

Agencies gradually become large and recognize their lifeblood is collecting money from the wealthy and middle classes, focusing on money gained from citizens more than their established purpose. Some use a form of gerrymandering to win a democratic majority by funneling the income of the wealthy and middle class to the unproductive poor, while agitating the poor by claiming the wealthy and middle class pay no taxes.

The latest data show that a big portion of the federal income tax burden is shouldered by a small group of the very richest Americans. The wealthiest 1 percent of the population earn 19 per cent of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax. The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent — those below the median income level — now earn 13 percent of the income but pay just 3 percent of the taxes. – AEI

Mature government institutions are unelected, unreviewed, and not subject to any standards. As self-serving entities without responsibility to the public, each desires expanding their size, power, and control over the citizens that serve it and are forced to sponsor its complex system that extracts their income and takes what it can without concern for the actual cost of services used. Government becomes a 50% tithing scheme, no longer a modest cost-saving servant acting on behalf of the community.

Under a large government, schools no longer attempt to educate, but rather to make children allegiant to the tax collecting state and agree with the worldview that large organizations rightfully govern a person’s life. Schools once taught the essential facts of the world and familiarity with the great works of civilization, but now indoctrinate and teach obedience to fashionable values convenient to the state. Basic skills drop, yet returning to earlier ideas and methods of teaching with proven success is forbidden.

Once government dominates society in such a fashion, mentioning the extent of its control becomes taboo. This creates a number of ripple effects as other types of market actors follow the pattern that government has instituted.

Our religions long ago gathered to provide spiritual insight, pause for sacred considerations, and foster togetherness on our mutual destiny, but now only gather masses to fleece them of money.

We previously had media that informed the community about important events and took care to truthfully and insightfully convey their broader meaning. People took this orientation for granted and soon factual content was replaced with triviality, celebrity drama, superficial and semi-fictional depictions of events to enforce ideological beliefs and maximize paralysis so readers and viewers can be shown profitable advertisements.

With our foundations devastated, we would likely do better starting our institutions anew, this time remembering that they either serve the needs of the community or mutate into aggressive and selfish parasites acting against our interests.

Passing the Buck

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Everyone recognizes the gross violation when a guy is driving a car that bellows smoke like a mobile chimney. His car isn’t maintained and he knows it, but does nothing about it. His life is likely the same mess of moving wreckage everywhere he goes.

Politicians recognize the specific offense of pollution, as if it is unusual and isolated from a mindset and spirit, rather than the general problem of disorganization and its wider consequences. They then attempt to limit its harm by winnowing the population through mandated periodic emissions tests administered at the time of vehicle registration renewal.

Offenders aren’t even 1% of the population, but everyone else becomes engulfed in a dragnet of implied guilt that requires all to prove that even new and well maintained cars are innocent of pollution. This process involves going to a service station to pay a worker to inspect and approve the car, and then visiting a government office to wait among a large crowd to eventually pay for a sticker proving lack of violation. Everyone is required to waste hours of waiting in order to be legal, and then repeat this dreadful process every year or two.

Garages are pleased to have state mandated emission inspections. They are guaranteed a generous fee for a few minutes of work, and can open garages that run exclusively on the long lines of people who need to be certified as innocent of pollution. When run efficiently, a single garage bay can earn several hundred dollars an hour. The emission tests can be easily faked and their steps skipped to maximize the number of cars processed. If your car is in violation, you can pass with a small bribe.

Citizens just want to get through the exam. They see it as ludicrous and don’t care if the check is faked and skipped. They want to minimize the amount of their time wasted by government policies.

Garages want to take advantage of government policies that guarantee them customers and healthy margins. Individual garage employees see how the mandate annoys citizens and that bribes to speed the process and pass defective vehicles are a good way to earn a side income.

Governments don’t care about the practical costs of their policies or their lack of correspondence with stated purpose. They earn money from mandatory obedience, expand their breadth of authority, and can claim to have solved the problem despite it continuing to appear.

By not going after observed offenders and instead creating a thoughtless system mandating everyone prove compliance, government has created a gap so distant from reality that it was almost immediately filled by innovative bribe takers and resentful citizens, somewhat reducing the new imposition on their lives but utterly failing to solve the original problem.

So it is with democratic policies decided upon by diverse committees seeking popular appeal and not actual solutions. Those who had a hand in the law will use it to promote themselves in the next election as protectors of the people and the fragile earth.

They would be best remembered as big talking hucksters who promised to fix problems, weren’t sufficiently concerned or smart enough to figure them out, and instead left behind a maze of new obstacles and a cloud of smoke as the next snake oil salesman took the stage with a warm smile and an assortment of new offerings crafted for a credulous public.

Working around the middle class

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When you are entirely dependent on one entity, you have two choices: either you can work toward its ends and have it reward you, or work around it and find some way to protect yourself from its wrath.

In democratic societies, the middle class becomes the entity on which society at large depends. From the middle classes come the professions, the small businesses, the business and military leaders, police/emergency and the clergy. The middle class also provides the bulk of taxes and other social benefits.

Politicians need a way to work around the middle class. Inevitably they follow a script that seems to work eternally: find a value that sounds good, get the middle classes excited about it, then use that as a signature on a blank check. The inevitable targets are: the poor, minorities, and those who don’t fit within society.

In the case of America, the forces that be must have smiled when the Great Depression hit, just as they did when the Slavery crisis hit. You want us to protect the poor? Just sign here. And once you have signed, we have the power to do anything we want in the name of this task.

Note that “in the name of” resembles “for the purpose of” only incidentally. A child caught spraying his sister with the hose will claim he was watering flowers. Humans learn early on in our bag of simian tricks to assign our acts to whatever big justification we can find. God, ending poverty, homework, and other social goods figure large in that equation.

Once the middle classes — from a sense of obligation brought on by the guilt of their unequal wealth — signed on to the anti-poverty agenda, it began its growth spurt. First charity, then agencies to enforce, then expansion to civil rights and beyond. Now anti-poverty comprises the main focus of our government and its expenditures. Why? Because it is an unquestionable path to power, and if you object, you are a racist or a classist. It’s Soviet-style power hidden within a shopping mall.

Those who wanted power found the magic ticket to it with anti-poverty. The middle classes could be avoided because it was the middle classes themselves who demanded something be done about poverty. Now, to those of half intelligence who want power and wealth for its own sake, it seems the gravy train will never end. Except that it will when they run yet another society into the ground with this trick.

Google begins government-style censorship of politically incorrect topics

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Many of you may be familiar with White Girl Bleed A Lot, the book by journalist Colin Flaherty that details how some black people are forming racial retribution groups and staging race riots, but more importantly, how our media absolutely refuses to cover this fact out of fear of being “racist.”

Flaherty, who is not racist, does not blame African-Americans as a whole for these riots, which generally target whites, Asians and homosexuals. He points out that this is probably a minority of the African-American community. With that in mind, he asks, why can’t we talk about what’s really going on here? Why do we have to call these people teens and pretend they aren’t race riots, when it’s obvious they are race riots?

White Girl Bleed A Lot branched to become a website, a podcast and a series of videos. That’s where the trouble came in. In lock step with the mainstream media and the US Government, giant search engine company Google is now also censoring any mention of America’s race riots, as Flaherty writes in his email update:

We get a lot of traction from Facebook and YouTube. They are great for spreading the word about the racial violence and denial in White Girl Bleed a Lot.

But people who cover racial violence get kicked off YouTube and Facebook all the time. A month ago I did a story for Breitbart about a video of a child beaten on a school bus.

Within two hours, the video had 30,000 hits.

That is a lot. here is what they banned: Black mob violence on the bus.

YouTube pulled it down. It said I was violating their terms by somehow glorifying racial violence. It did no good to explain I was exposing racial violence, not the other way around.

And Google, of course, has threatened a lot of web sites that talk about racial violence. Including places where I write, like WND.

So we are probably short-timers there.

This is worth noticing because we have industry, media and government acting toward the same agenda.

This agenda isn’t racist; it might appear “racist” to some, but more likely it’s just rocking the boat. That is, it refutes the idea that everything is going swimmingly with our current direction as a civilization.

In a healthy civilization, pointing that out is a matter for discussion.

In a dying civilization, pointing that out is the ultimate sin.

Which is it? To find out, I certainly won’t “Google it.”

Houston cuts the wrong programs to benefit the wrong people

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When I was a very young child, I really disliked the idea of democracy. You can even see what happens back then: if you get up in front of the class and offer them a choice between a more interesting semester later, and free ice cream now, ice cream wins out.

There’s an additional layer to this which is that government itself is a contractor of the American people, and like most poorly-managed contractors, it has found a way to pad the billing and expand itself at its employers’ expense. Since 1950, the great government jobs program has been entitlements: welfare, social services, civil rights, immigration, anti-poverty and behavioral modification.

Let’s take a relatively harmless example. The government decides smoking is bad so launches an anti-smoking initiative. This requires advertizing in media, which in turn requires a staff and some media experts. Then the team decides it might do better with street-level interactions like handing out flyers. It hires another 500 people. Then they expand into the schools, and need graphic designers for posters, education experts, and lots of special contractors to help. Then they discover that pre-teens are smoking, and begin a program for that. More people are hired, offices rented, contracts signed, and products ordered.

What does this tell us? Government never gets smaller, and it acts for its own best interests more than ours. Government is based on what it can offer as a plausible excuse to the voters. “I’m doing X because of Y reason,” says government, and Y had better be big, emotional and receiving mass support because then — it’s a blank check. This is why government loves equality-based issues and anti-poverty initiatives. They are wars that can never be won, thus will always employ people until the voters wake up which (looks at window at zombies staggering past) is unlikely.

But there’s a flip side to this: what does government do about actual problems, as opposed to those that simply look good on paper?

Think about it from government’s perspective as an employee. If you’re working on a job, and what you want is a raise and job security, what kind of problems will you elect to take on? We already know that easy, perpetual problems that justify more expansion are popular. But on the flip side, programs that require solutions that can visibly fail are ignored until it’s absolutely the last minute.

One such problem is unraveling in Houston’s trendy West University neighborhood:

The recycling center closure and the proposed collection rate increases are responses to a decrease in the revenues that fund the city’s solid waste services, Peifer said.

“Over the course of the last few years, commodity prices for the sale of recyclables went down 72 percent,” Peifer said.

The recycling center also has seen a 25 percent reduction during the last four years in the volume of materials dropped off there.

So far this looks open and shut. Both revenues and usage dropped. However that doesn’t tell the whole story. Usage dropped in part because hours dropped and there was frequent construction around the recycling center, turning a 15-minute errand into a 45-minute errand. That’ll keep a quarter of the people at home.

Further, note how the response here is different than that of a business. When a business experiences revenue and usage drop, it tries to raise those numbers by being more competitive. In government, what has happened is that an easy perpetual problem has become a hard finite one, and so there’s a chance to actually fail, and so it is abandoned.

Luckily not everyone was fooled:

“The specious and simplistic argument that not enough residents use the facility to justify the expenditure gives lie to the moniker ‘The City that Recycles,’‚ÄČ” [immediate past chairwoman Jan] Kellogg wrote in a letter to Mayor Bob Fry.

“I would argue that if there were any interest on the part of the council or its staff, that the center could be more profitable, but no such dialog ever occurs. Closure is presented as a fait accompli.”

Kellogg noted that consultants who recommended the closure suggested it be done in conjunction with enhancement of the city’s current recycling program, including the resumption of yard waste pick up.

What Kellogg is proposing here is a simple solution: if you close the recycling center, find another method of achieving recycling. That’s common sense, business sense, and how anyone would handle this situation, except government.

The best part about this situation is that it’s nobody’s fault, like most modern problems. The government employees are just trying to move up the ladder to the American Dream. The voters are just trying to pick a plausible-looking solution in the few hours they have per year to consider such things. And people who recycle are trying to find a way to do it that doesn’t require them to be fanatics.

To Europeans, this must be baffling, since recycling seems a gospel there. But in America we have a different gospel — the equality of all people — which mutated into civil rights in 1968. Thus our focus is not on recycling, but on amnesty programs, affirmative action, diversity initiatives, diversity training, political correctness in education and immigration (Houston is a “Sanctuary City” where the police don’t check your citizenship status).

We’re spending our money on all the wrong things. If anything, our plan should be to expand recycling to anywhere there’s a waste bin, including every home (only 100,000 homes in a city of five million so far have curbside recycling). Instead, we’re spending on it vote-buying programs that are basically straight out of 1965: give money to the poor, create a vast apparatus to enforce equality, chant propaganda in every classroom, and set up lots of aid that requires millions of government workers to apply it.

The problem here is both in the contractor and the employer. The contractor is doing what contractors do when badly supervised. The employer, which is We The People, is pretending it can afford to be an observer and critic but not active participant. Then again, We The People also have shown that its judgment is pretty poor, so perhaps the answer is we need some delegated leaders with greater intelligence and nobility of soul to do what the herd can’t do for itself.

The creeping hand of power

mission_creep“Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” they told me in high school, with stern expressions to let me know I had been exposed to profundity.

I have a different supposition: Power is a virus. If not taken out of the hands of individuals and directed toward some abstract but realistic goal like the growth of a civilization, power serves only itself — but it does so through the individualism and self-importance of unorganized people.

This is where politics leaves politics itself, because now we’re talking about the nature of power, not values (right, left) or manipulation (compromise, spin, ideology). We’re talking about how the human herd organizes itself, and not what it intends, but what corrupts its intention.

Now, all of this is out the window if power has a goal. Power with a goal is a three way switch — did it: (a) come closer to achieving the goal, (b) move farther away from the goal, or (c) do nothing? For all practical purposes, #b and #c are so close together that they get measured the same way. This is what holds power in check; comparison to the objective.

However, where there is no goal or only a vague maintenance-style goal like we have in the modern west, power has nothing to check it. Like a government employee or non-profit, it has no measurement of its success or failure; it just is. It keeps meeting its own internal goals, and so it assumes it is OK.

Wherever this kind of power goes, it expands. This can be a volunteer group, a friend group, a government, a non-profit, a corporation or even one aspect of your own mind. Once power exists, and has no outlet (goal), it starts working to further itself — because if it doesn’t do that, or stagnates, it declines (options #b and #c above).

Bureaucratic institutions never get smaller, only bigger. When a need arises, a bureaucracy is created. It begins addressing that need. Unless it can fix the situation immediately, it sets in for the long haul. At this point, it starts working to perpetuate itself. The situation is removed, and replaced by internal goals and external appearances.

Each year, the bureaucracy needs to find a way to justify itself. It can almost never do that by pointing to what it has been doing all this time and saying, “Yep, we’re just doing the same stuff, year after year.” People mistake that for option #c, stagnation, even though for most non-immediately-solvable problems the answer is to keep doing the same stuff that is known to ameliorate them, or do nothing about them and design around them (this is difficult).

As a result, the bureau must come out with a new initiative ever year. It’s doing that to defend the jobs of the people who work for it. A consequence of this however is mission creep, or the tendency to keep tacking on new goals as “sub-items” of whatever ostensible goal it was founded to have.

This means that every year, the bureau gets bigger, hires more people, and does more stuff. This is a form of entropy because it is becoming less organized, less effective, and more likely to be internally “gamed” by people who are fulfilling its internal demands, which are a step removed from actually addressing the problem. If the managers are check-writers are happy, the organization has succeeded; the actual problem is a secondary concern.

You might then ask, why does government turn leftist over time, and why are most government agencies leftist in outlook? The answer is that barring agencies which deal with specific reality-based concerns, like economics or the military, government agencies need to perpetuate themselves.

Conservative politics favor results over intentions, and as a result, will never expand government or give infinite job security to its employees. Conservatives are neither pro-government or anti-government, but favor the right tool for the job. The minority of problems are best served with permanent government agencies, hence most people see conservatives as “anti-government,” even though that’s illogical in a government-based system.

The result is that government turns leftist because leftists favor intentions over results. Intentions are what bureaus do best; they announce the new initiative, hire more people and spend more money, and when the problem goes unsolved, they haul out their mission document and show they’ve met their internal targets, even if their external ones went unaddressed.

Leftism builds more government. It allows government to justify itself by intention, and thus to grow itself. Power is a virus, and it is expressed by finding more dependents that require it so that it cannot be removed. This is a fundamentally defensive strategy.

Think about government welfare programs. When does the number of welfare recipients decrease? Never, if the welfare program can help it. If the number drops, so does the number of employees, the budget, the perks, and the job security. So any welfare program will find new dependents every year and if they aren’t there, it will invent them by expanding its mission. If society ever runs out of poor, the welfare agencies will quickly expand to covering people with mental stress, exhaustion, compulsive masturbation, etc.

Power likes to be leftist and have good intentions because that lets it expand. This seems to be why all governments except monarchies quickly plummet into oblivion. Even the totalitarians come to love their dependents, and soon they have converted society into a trough with no visible means of support. Shortly after that, the bill comes due, and it collapses.

Overly Attached Government

overly_attached_girlfriendThe internet meme “Overly Attached Girlfriend” (OAG) ridicules one of the artifacts of modern dating, which is that it creates conditions so desperate that people become obsessive. We find it easy to write them off as crazy because it is easier than noticing the whole process is crazy and that, by extension, we’re most likely doomed.

OAG reveals a more fundamental truth of humanity however, which is how we become obsessively joined. This can happen between individuals, or in groups. It has two components: that which wants to join destroys something that you need, and then replaces it with itself.

In the case of modern society, what is destroyed is your concept of self-worth. This takes several steps.

First: Someone makes language that tells you what is “good” and “bad,” and carefully excludes everything else by making bad into “not-good” as opposed to “the opposite of good.” My way or the highway.

Second: Someone begins doling out praise to those who are good, and does so in a way that attracts lots of people. It’s a lottery, and humans cannot resist playing. So even though these people are perhaps not society’s best and brightest, it’s hard to deny the appeal. Later they begin criticizing “bad” as well.

Third: These people agitate against all social standards, values, mores and even common sense. They do this so that one factor and one factor only determines success: how well people like you. This salesman’s paradise has a secondary effect in that now, by calling someone “bad,” you not only isolate them but make them impoverished.

What has happened is that your sense of who you are and why you’re worth having around has been replaced by obedience. Even worse, you are now addicted to the praise from your masters. Without it, you wonder if you are not indeed actually a bad person, or at least a not-good one, thus a loser.

Overly Obsessive Government is a side effect of this process. As society declines, government rises. When you no longer have social standards, you need more police and bureaucrats to make laws and pass out fines. Soon most of what you do is interact with government or the secondary authorities created by its rules.

Conservatism is not anarchistic; it is something even more radical. Ours is the notion that tradition, and abstract concepts that correspond to reality like “the good, the beautiful and the true,” are better rulers than police forces or bureaucrats. We recognize the need for some government, but not moral government and definitely not government which can invent new uses for itself, justify increasing its size, and then repeat the process ad infinitum.

The grim fact is that no society can be policed. If people are fundamentally of such selfishness and individualism that they will do what is immoral or destructive the instant they are not watched, you would require at least one infallible police officer for every citizen. You could set up a “transparent society,” but without a legion of pathologically honest angels to watch the video screens, it would be useless.

OAG is the symptom, not the cause. The cause is the Crowdist desire to replace your self-esteem with their definitions of right and wrong, thus making you their puppet. But OAG is now their tool, and it was always their intent, because a removed social order must be replaced by a strong force.

Whenever you hear political discourse, it helps to automatically re-spin it using these ideas. Do we need government in every circumstance? How will government make dishonest people into honest ones? There is no replacement for having people of quality and integrity at every level of the process, because they (and not OAG) are the backbone of a thriving society.