Monday, January 31, 2011

Will the Egypt riots spread to Cairo, Illinois?

Sharon writes at Casaubon's Book "It all comes back to food" about the riots in Egypt.

I think Dmitri (Club Orlov) called it, when he described the uprising in Egypt as people who had lost faith that their government could do something for them.

That hasn't happened in the US, yet, on any kind of grand scale.

But it could.

I recall the feeling back in 1992, when paperback book prices jumped a dollar. I forget, that might have been when they went to 5.99 or 6.99. I remember the anger of the moment, though all I did was make a pointed and blunt, moderately courteous comment to the B. Dalton store clerk.

I picked up a 2 lb package of Wal-Mart popcorn today. $1.44 isn't bad, and it works decently in my air popper. But I recall a few years back, that package was $0.77. Bread has gone from ninety-some cents to $1.20. Etc. And these are all mild price increases.

Forget worrying about clobbering farm ground with non-productive urban sprawl. Worry that we have designed our cities and workplaces to require the expenditure of cheap energy to get from shelter to work to shopping to recreation to school. You are right, probably the first impact of loss of cheap energy will be food supplies and other essentials - they don't make toilet paper here in Oklahoma, as far as I know, nor enough coffee or peanut butter for the whole state.

But dealing with local food security is probably minor, compared to the hidebound thinking of city planners, housing developers, and business planners. If energy prices rise significantly again, the first steps will be to conserve, share rides, etc. But there are limits to what can be done. Very few businesses participate in planning how much housing nearby is available for their work force, nor whether there is grocery shopping and entertainment nearby.

I don't like government programs for the same reason I don't like dictators. Any mistakes are too horrid to be believed. The cumbersomeness, inefficiency, and extended time it takes for Democracy to accomplish anything means there is a good chance that the best things never happen - but many of the worst things likewise end before starting. If every community addresses a given problem, such as food security, so many things might be tried that surely some approaches will help. When a community notices a mistake, they can be fairly agile in correcting the problem. Correcting a problem in a program at the national level, well, we mostly just have to live with the errors.

And, yes, Obama's stated policy of 'streamlining' regulation and rule making scares me, as it disconnects from much of the apparatus for stopping bad ideas from harming the nation. Recent actions by the EPA, FCC, and other agencies show this stated policy is and has been in force under President Obama.

If Orlov's premise is correct, that only belief that our government can provide assistance is keeping Americans from taking to the streets in protest, then the disregard of Obama and others in government for what is harmful and contrary to the will of the people is particularly scary; President Obama could be in the middle of the process of throwing away all the stability of 200 plus years under the US Constitution.

Ending the unsustainable extended jobless benefits without putting people back to work (you know, drop business taxes, eliminate burdensome business regulations that don't work, and disband intrusive government interventions), that would be a step in eroding confidence that the government could help us. Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid payments could embitter our elders, and those that have come to depend on government handouts; again, increasing the odds of disaffection for the government.

I expect we will see protests in the street, from those sympathetic to the Egyptian people, and probably also from those that identify with the class differences and lack of government service to those that need it - the poor. I don't think government payments are the best help, or even useful. But the government can assure that the poor have access to jobs, shelter, and that businesses of the poor are able to compete with businesses run from more affluent neighborhoods.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Arizona Shootings, Jan 8, 2011

First off - the shooting in Tuscon, Arizona, was criminal, and unjustified.

Several aspects of that shooting come to mind. At this time, I haven't seen any motive or agenda, and all I know about the shooter is that a second actor is being sought.

1) 12 people were downed by the reputed lone gunman. While Fox News (the report I saw) harped on and on about what that might mean about beefing up security for other Congresspeople and Senators - I can't get away from one glaring fact.

12 people were hurt because only 1 person had a gun. And the one with the gun was not the one defending his family and neighbors.

15 years ago Arizona had an open carry policy - I once did a double take, standing in line at my bank, behind a gentleman with a six-shooter on his belt. Surprisingly to some, but not to me, no one was shot that day. I don't know what Tuscon does, that may be anywhere from open carry to a Disarmed Victim Zone. The crowd at Congresswoman Gifford's event yesterday certainly failed to protect themselves and their neighbors.

2) Lawless behavior. Shooting someone is a lawless act, unless protecting oneself or family or others from imminent danger. The shooting in Tucson was certainly lawless.

The outgoing 111th Congress under Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid, in collaboration with President B. Hussein Obama, set a lot of 'precedents', they bent a lot of rules, and if they didn't violate laws and the US Constitution, they certainly appeared to. That is, the past Congress could be said to have been 'lawless', in a manner similar to the shooting in Arizona. Certainly, ObamaCare bids fair to directly cause the death of thousands or more, through denial of services and "death counseling" to those already troubled and depressed. I imagine that the case will be made that when Congress acted lawlessly, to the satisfaction of one citizen of Tucson, AZ, that constituted tyranny - perhaps the main reason the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution assures each and every citizen the right to possess and own the means to confront tyrants. Acting against a tyrant - such as the good Congresswoman as a representative of the apparently lawless 111th Congress is against the law. There is no question about that, the 2nd Amendment doesn't provide any basis for taking the law into one's own hands. The 2nd Amendment merely assures that when any citizen is convinced of the need to act, that citizen has the means to act, even though doing so is legally murder and carries the penalties associated with murder. The intent is to avoid tyranny - lawless behavior - in government.

Was this shooting related to the Congresswoman's record, her association with the 111th Congress or the incoming 112th Congress, or her identification with the Democratic party? I don't know, and whatever is released or claimed, the truth may never be known. For all I know, this shooting was an infantile bid for attention by someone that should have known better.

3) This last point bothers me a lot. President B. Hussein Obama is on record as claiming to "not let a crisis go unexploited" or words to that effect. This shooting of a 'moderate Democrat' could turn out to be a wedge the Administration under Obama uses to disrupt the grand plans of the incoming Tea Party and Republican lead House of representatives. Could President Obama have instigated the shooting, coming as he does from Chicago, the home of Mayor Daley and Al Capone? Could the Democratic leadership have been sending an unsubtle message to so-called 'moderate' Democrats - about straying from the party line?

Granted, Arizona has several issues from state solvency and federal (unfunded or underfunded) mandates, to illegal immigration and state sovereignty. Could this shooting have been related to one of these issues, or illegal drugs? Yes, certainly. And I pray that President Obama hasn't begun shooting Congresspeople that might not agree with him.

What I am convinced of, is that we need less lawlessness, and especially the appearance of less lawlessness, in this next congress. And I pray that the Congresswoman from the 8th district of Arizona is a major player in this new congress. All the best to her, and the families of those injured or killed in Tucson yesterday.