Thursday, March 31, 2016

MInimum Wage Nightmare


I just heard on the news this morning (accidentally while looking for today's weather), that California's politicians approved a $15 per hour minimum wage. They call it "economic justice". I call it "economic illiteracy". California politicians say they want to "be an example to the rest of the nation". OMG help us!

This is a sad example of "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen", which the great economist Frédéric Bastiat wrote about over a hundred years ago. The benefit to those who get those $15 per hour jobs is highly visible and highly touted in the Political Theater. What remains invisible and are all the jobs that are lost when companies have to cut the bottom-end and entry-level jobs in order to pay the raised wages. What is not seen are the entry level jobs and new small business that simply never get started because labor costs are too high. 


What is hidden from view is the fact that higher labor costs force companies to automate much of their entry-level jobs that formerly were a step up for many of the most needy in our society. The automation we encounter at gas pumps and grocery store check-outs is a direct result of minimum wage laws. When government uses force to impose higher wage prices on business, owners and managers look for ways to cut costs. Automation is one way to cut labor costs. Minimum wage means jobs will be cut. The other invisible cost is the necessary increase in end prices to consumers - that mostly hurts those who can least afford it - the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.


And we sill haven't learned. Liberals haven't learned. Conservatives haven't learned. 
The Left claims to care about the poor and downtrodden and "economic justice". Yet they mostly care about what LOOKS like a good idea. Never mind that minimum wage laws hurt the most poor and the most helpless in society. Leftists wring their hands over the growing gap between the 1% and the 99%, yet minimum wage laws create and feed that unnatural divide between the haves and have-nots, a divide which the free market could NEVER create on its own.


The Right claims to be in favor of limited government and free markets. But, they contradict that principle by their belief in the need for a "mixed" or "controlled" economy. The minimum wage laws expand the power of Big Brother, and enable more and more regulations to be piled on top of the small businesses that the Right Wing claims to support.


Sorry folks, you can't make the world better with force.
https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/01/walter-e-williams/bunch-liars-minimum-wage/


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Heat Death of the Universe? I wouldn't bet on it.


I just read the New Scientist article "When will the universe end? Not for at least 2.8 billion years".

The article is a "Reader's Digest" adaptation (I like to say "short-attention-span version") of a paper that can be found in the General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology section of the Cornell University Library, "Observational support for approaching cosmic doomsday".


I encourage everyone to take a quick scan of that paper. It shows how many of these popular woo-woo science articles come from conclusions drawn from a study of groups of models. Groups of models that are based on mathematical conjectures built upon the assumptions of The Big Bang narrative; a reality born of an immense explosion caused by "random fluctuations", followed by an "Inflationary Period", continuing with an "Expanding Universe" which consists of a 4-or-more-dimensional space/time "fabric", populated mostly by dark matter and dark energy, along with a little baryonic matter which is no more than a sub-atomic particles that pop in and out of existence at the quantum level, held together by fields of attractive force. Isn't that the overall picture we are asked to accept?

Drawing heavily on Bayesian probability theory, this paper brings together a group of cosmological models and draws conclusions after assigning probability values to each specific model. But, but, ... 

The very idea of "heat death" contradicts the law of conservation of matter and just about every other "law of nature" that we can articulate.
That's why scientists who discuss black holes, big bangs, quantum randomness, dark matter & dark energy, string theories, multi-universes, etc. always have to say "this is where the laws of physics break down". Oh really?

The ridiculousness of this kind of thinking is paralleled in many parts of modern cosmology (and religion of course). Einstein explained gravity with the idea of "gravity wells" created by the curvature of space. A more massive object attracts a smaller object because it bends the space/time "fabric" downward to create a 3-dimensional "well" that the smaller object is sucked "down" into. How is that not explaining gravity with gravity? Your doctor might be very smart, but if you hear him say, "your skin is inflamed because you have Inflamed Skin Syndrome", you better ask some more questions.  

You haven't explained anything if you use a word or concept to define itself. It's the old "tortoises all the way down" fantasy. You think you are being logical because of all your beautiful mathematical formulae scribbled across multiple chalkboards, but you are kidding yourself. Just because you can make great observations and calculations, that doesn't mean you have a grasp of reality. Ptolemy proved that you can have a beautifully complex and even largely workable model of reality that is completely wrong. His beautiful conceptualization was just a house of cards waiting to fall as soon as reality tapped him on the shoulder.

Mathematics (along with its study of statistical logic and probability theory) only becomes useful when your terms can be correlated to matter or the motion of matter. When you use a "random" variable in your equation, that doesn't translate to a "causeless" event in reality. When your equation puts out negative numbers or irrational numbers, it's a good hint that you are no longer correlating to real matter or motion. For example, when I have 40 apples in a basket, and I subtract 40 apples, the answer to that simple arithmetic is Zero. But, just because the 40 apples were real and the motion of removing the 40 apples was real, that doesn't mean that there is such a thing as "zero apples". Zero is a very useful concept, but it is not a real thing or action.

When physicists take real observations of matter and motion, and put them together to create a mathematical model that results in "heat death", that doesn't mean "heat death" has to be a real thing or a possible event.

What ingredients go into these "Heat Death" computer models? Models that predict events that will happen billions and billions of years from now, and that will encompass the entire Big Bang universe? 
Each model recipe includes:
• 2 cups Empirical Data (finely diced with plus and minus margins of errors)
• 1 bunch of statistical probability formulae (to taste)
• 1/2 cup crumbled assumptions (the more inner contradictions, the better)
• 2 Tablespoons (heaping) of random fluctuations
• Grease the pan with "a family of cosmological models featuring future singularities".
• Lightly flour the pan with your choice of statistical probability philosophy.
• Serve cold to friends hungry for reinforcement of their assumptions of indeterminism and finity.

"Does probability measure the real, physical tendency of something to occur or is it a measure of how strongly one believes it will occur?"

Saturday, June 13, 2015

What Did We Learn From The Revolutionary War?


The upcoming 4th of July holiday makes me relate our current problems to those "days of yore". What about today's conflict over immigration? What about the insistence by R's and D's alike that we need a "mixed" marketplace? Does top-down regulation and control deliver on its promises? Or, like libertarians like to say, does every government program exacerbate the problem it claims to be curing?

The Revolutionary War was fought in part because of all the trade restrictions that England was heaping on the colonies. There were lots of restrictions, fees, taxes, and regulations that were in place to stop newcomers from starting up new businesses. This mercantilist mentality made sense to many people, because they thought that newcomers were going to hurt the businesses that they had grown accustomed to. The restrictions not only hurt new businesses, the restrictions also hurt consumers the way any monopoly hurts consumers; prices and shortages increased while quality declined. Also, the burden on creativity kept new inventions and innovations out of the marketplace. . . All in the name of benefitting the existing businesses.

There are so many parallels we can draw between these restrictions on newcomers in businesses and restrictions on newcomers we call "immigrants". Restrictions on immigration are just another form of welfare. These restrictions benefit the existing populace. In effect, this creates a monopoly that raises prices and dampens creativity in the marketplace. Never mind that the marketplace we're talking about is what we call "the US population"; we are shooting ourselves in the foot by creating a monopoly on "citizenship" for the current residents of the US.

For every one privileged person who is "protected" and "supported" by immigration or business restrictions and regulations, there are hundreds and thousands of people who are being hurt by such an enforced monopoly. Taxes are raised to support these laws, politicians get expanded powers, freedoms are jeopardized, busybody neighbors spy on neighbors, new businesses are stifled, prices are pushed up, the variety of goods and services is limited, creative market solutions and innovations are smothered, and on and on. It's what government does to everything it touches; the benefits are visible, while most of the costs are invisible. When future prosperity and happiness are thwarted, you don't see a crater in the ground where that future was going to sprout.

"Since no one but you can know what's best for you, government control can't make your life better." Harry Browne

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cosmology, the Lab, the Church, the State


Last year (2014) the headlines in every hodunk town paper and website blared headlines about scientists finding "the most definitive proof ever" that their Big Bang theories are on the right track. Turns out the "evidence" was nothing but mis-readings from interstellar dust.
Funny that there aren't any headlines with a retraction of last year's B.S.

One little article has snuck out there because someone leaked the news that scientists wanted to keep secret. 
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26883-leak-suggests-big-bang-find-was-a-dusty-mistake.html#.VMzXJt3AOiF

States keep taking our dollars and pumping billions into useless research to support the "Standard Model" of the very large and the very small. They spend our money propping up "The Big Bang" with mathematical models but zero good evidence. They also blow billions on the "Standard Model" of the extremely small. Particle Colliders are searching for the "Higgs Boson", a.k.a., "God Particle" which again is supported by imaginative mathematics, but no good evidence. In fact, the evidence (and common sense, ... and logic) flies in the face of everything modern mythologists have to say about the extremes of small and large in this universe.

All of this confused thinking by very intelligent minds is caused by the belief in a finite universe. In other words, a universe that has a beginning and an ending, in both time and space. Because humans are justifiably uncomfortable not seeing the end of something, academic "leaders" claim to find the edge of the universe or the smallest particle. But every time we build a better telescope or electron microscope, we find that the universe extends beyond the claimed limits found by our old technology. 

That's gone on for so long that now they need a newer fuzzier idea to claim that the universe dances to the latest human ideas; They say that the Big Bang "created" not just matter, but time and space, and there was no time or space before the Big Bang. The universe is expanding not so much like an explosion, but like a balloon. And our 3D universe is comparable to the 2D universe of the balloon's surface as it expands. In the small realm, they now have Quantum Physics that also goes beyond matter, with "random field fluctuations" said to "create" particles as they pop in and out of existence. All of this violates the first law of Physics; Matter and Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. So then they say, "in our very large and very small observations, the laws of physics break down". WTF? Well then don't pretend to be following any f-ing rules. When you find a paradox, it's nature's way of telling you to go back and check your premises.

It's an idea worthy of the strangest religious fantasy. Just as in the religious churches, anyone standing outside of the church of science is told that they can't understand the complex and "beautiful mathematics" that prove all of these ideas. "It's a beautiful mystery." Just believe us and send money. 

Just like the state does not follow it's own rules, the Constitution, and the church has to constantly reinterpret it's own rulebook, the Bible, scientists who hypothesize about the very nature of the universe have to keep rewriting their rule book. A sane person quits the game when the rules are constantly changed by those who want our money.

Something smells fishy, and it needs to be ridiculed with humor more than argument.
▶ George Carlin on God and Politics - YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSS5oTM_YGQ

As an old saying goes, "the wounded deer jumps highest". 
Likewise in the plant world; the sickly or damaged plant goes to seed earlier than the healthy plants.
Sometimes when something is dying it has a burst of energy as a last-ditch attempt at life.
I say that what we are seeing in the burst of activity of states, churches, and cosmology is actually their death throes.

Our great-great-grandchildren are gonna see a fantastic New Enlightenment of peace, creativity, sanity, technology, natural health and prosperity,
... as long as these myths don't take the human race with them as they flail about dying.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Organized Religions and "Literal" Bible Translations


Even though I am a-religious as much as I am a-political, that doesn't mean I am not well-read on the subject. I sometimes have to explain things about the religion I was taught for my first twenty years on the planet. Non-Catholics think that their doctrines and practices are better aligned with the "literal" bible. Although I don't go shooting my mouth off unless provoked, I have plenty to say to my good protestant friends.

Catholics have plenty of well-thought-out and long-debated biblical as well as traditional reasons for everything that they do, think, and believe. That said, I made the hard moral choice of deserting the Catholic church around the age of 22. I didn't do that because I thought I had all the answers; I just knew that organized religion's answers were wrong. Wrong in the sense that the Bible was written in a mystical and allegorical form, and all modern churches (unlike the original varied Christian groups) interpret the Bible like a bunch of lawyers. That's not what I call "Love". And if God is Love, then there's something extremely wrong with making legalistic claims concerning what is "biblical" or "non-biblical". 

Love is flexible, humble, tolerant, energetic, patient, creative, and kind. When apologists claim that "yes, God has perfect love, but he also has perfect justice", ... that's just an excuse for their own malice, intolerance, and laziness. When perfect justice is tempered with perfect love, you get perfect mercy. That's perfectly obvious to anyone humble enough to stop acting like a lawyer and politician. Politics is lazy and uncreative. Love is always active and on-the-ball.

The big "evil" that Protestants condemn and hate Catholics for is the Catholic acceptance of tradition as a guide to interpreting their practices and beliefs. Non Catholics also follow their own traditions in bible interpretations and practices, but they claim that they are not guided at all by tradition. Catholics are just more honest, that's all. Martin Luther dumped a few of the Roman traditions and started down a different path, but a path filled with "tradition" nonetheless. Let's call it what it is.

Protestants claim a "literal" interpretation of the Bible. That is shown to be a lie when even "experts" within the same denomination (including within the Catholic church) disagree strongly on what the "literal" words say and mean, and what the doctrine and practices ought to be. That's why Christian churches keep splitting off even to this very day. We have a church in Allegan that branched off from the CCC church about fifteen years ago. 

Our neighbor city of Holland has a rich history of splits. I read somewhere that after Van Raalte established the Reformed Church of Holland, people kept splitting away and moving inland. That's why the little inland towns of Zeeland, Drenthe, Vriesland, Hamilton, Byron Center, Borculo, Blendon, Jamestown, etc., all have off-shoots of the original Holland church. They didn't change the original Holland denomination name to "First Reformed" until all these other 2nd, 3rd, and 4th church groups split off over arguments about what the "literal" Bible meant. Maybe it means different things to different people. Duh? And maybe that's okay.

If you ever studied a language, you know that there is no such thing as "literal", especially in ancient languages. If God wanted to make his message clear with a miracle to keep the Bible pure over years of copying and translating, why couldn't God simply send his message by a single e-mail or letter to each human being on the planet? It's not any more far-fetched than the immense miracle it would take to keep the Bible books "true" and "literal". And that obviously hasn't worked well, given the historical and ongoing splits within Christianity.

Everyone else's belief is labelled "heresy". Every single thing that Protestants and Catholics believe now was once a heresy; the Redemption, Communion, Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus as a physical being, the Trinity with the idea that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are the same "substance", Hell as a place for more than just the fallen angels, ... and on and on. Hundreds of details of Bible translation have been the subject of constant hatred and killing over the years. And it continues today.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

1000's of soldiers who died to keep me free!


My sister who has a soldier son wrote in an e-mail, "1000's of soldiers who died to keep me free!"

I have no wish to argue with a mom who worries about her son's safety as he does the politicians' dirty work. So, I won't reply directly. I'll put my reply here, where hardly anyone will ever see it.

I have this to say about those thousands of soldiers.

I wonder if you can explain how soldiers dying keeps you free?

It would help me to hear what you think, because I don't understand that common saying.
I know we're taught that in school, but the more I study history, the more I find out that we were lied into almost every war.

So, maybe American soldiers have died in vain repeatedly, but that thought is too terrible to bear. 
So, maybe we need to say, "they died for our freedom" to sooth our wounded consciences.
I'm not saying that I know anything. I'm just suspicious when I'm told to believe something without explanation that makes moral sense.

I'm just being curious, because I've searched and searched for a good answer to this sad question. I care about moral truth, not the lies coming from the mouths of millionaire politicians. Voting gives creeps in D.C. the "mandate" to dream up more and more battlefields where they can send our kids into harms way. And cheer-leading chants like "they died for our freedom" keep people coming back and flipping those levers in the voting booth. A never-ending cycle that feeds on young soldiers, thanks to our gullibility.

What good did the Iraq war do? For one thing, of interest to a Catholic; there was a Catholic presence in Iraq under the old regime, but now the Shia have driven out all Christian groups. What good is the Afghan war doing? And Pakistan and Syria and now we're supposed to fear and hate the Russians once again. Many US politicians would love to start a war with Iran, a country that hasn't attacked anyone else in over 200 years.

I hate seeing flags at half-staff and I'm sick of seeing that symbol of wasted young lives. I cry at the sight.
It makes me sad, angry, but most of all confused. I think that war will not end until politics ends. Just my dream.
I wonder what lies our young soldiers are being told nowadays, because there are always lies behind the scenes.
We don't find out the truth until many years later.

I'm sorry if this is a touchy question. But I don't know the answer. 
Thanks for listening,
Rick

PS - It's interesting and sad to read Major General Smedley Butler's 1930 essay "War Is A Racket".
He was the most highly decorated US soldier ever at the time of his retirement. I think he might have something valuable to say.
His suggestions included that war financiers should be conscripted to fight in the front lines, with the young boys. He also suggested that boys on the front line be included in the decision-making process for choosing battle strategy. And, he suggested that the US military never be allowed more than 200 miles from the US coastline, so that the military can only be used for defensive purposes.

Excerpt: "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

Monday, July 29, 2013

Politics is a Barnacle on our Ship of Progress

After I made some anti-political statement on e-mail, I got a reply from a friend. He said, "Doogie for President, Congress and Senate!" 
I answered: 

Thanks, but no thanks. The best we can do is ignore politics and spend our energy working, studying, and playing with our close family & friends. That's what matters. That's what is the answer.
People always ask, "okay, I agree government is evil and we need to get back to the free market, but HOW?" The answer is, "it's a multi-generational project". We have to build a better tomorrow through our children.

Once a majority (or even a decent-sized minority) of humankind recognizes a mistake, whether moral or practical, it does not and can not go back.
No one will ever again believe that the world is flat (I'm speaking of sane people and the Western world that came out of the Enlightenment).
No one will ever again be able to say "it is proper that a wife obeys every command of her husband, and he should beat her if she disobeys".
No one will ever again treat children as property to be disposed of.
 No craftsman will ever again think that it's smart to beat their apprentice about the ears for getting something wrong.

We're only a couple hundred years into these kinds of ideas. The Enlightenment was horribly crushed by the World Wars. We are just now beginning to see the light again. Barely.

No teacher will ever again try to beat or "spank" knowledge into a kid. The reward / punishment model of child-rearing and education may work okay for training dogs, but we need a "love and intelligence" model for dealing with children. We're barely getting started on that idea.

No one will ever again proclaim that human beings can be bought and sold as property, like cattle. We're still working on that as well; we may not have chattel slavery any more, but taxpayers are "50% slave" because our labor and property gets syphoned off to the warfare / welfare redistributionist state. 

These things might still happen, but no one will do it openly. No one will argue for the legitimacy of these wrong-headed ideas.

Once humankind has a "big realization" and starts to discuss it and write books about it, you can figure another couple centuries before the idea spreads throughout the population. So, Laissez Faire ideas (pro-property and anti-coercion) started in 18th century Europe, and Divine Right of Kings was soon thrown in the dustbin of history. But the idea is moving forward in fits and starts. 3 steps forward, 2 steps backward - because so many people are benefitting from the idea of "we need a powerful authoritarian central hierarchy to protect us from thugs on the street and greedy bastards in business". So, we create the world's biggest mafia to protect us from the mafia.

This new idea of a society shaped not by central planners, but by free individuals trading ideas, products, and services has caught fire in some intellectual circles (see here), and is very slowly moving into the general population. (Check out this free mp3 book, "The Market For Liberty" written by a husband & wife team. Very cool.) It will be another two or three generations before the idea will take hold, and then people will look back at our governments and just shake their heads and say, "how could anyone have believed such things, couldn't they see how obviously wrong-headed this idea was"?

So, we progress very very slowly. It's not inevitable (as Marx theorized), but a few good people can move the ball forward. We have to stop sending our kids to the state schools. That's one primary step. Teach our children well. Not with carrots and sticks. We need to learn how to recognize coercion everywhere. And point it out. Even within ourself. Government is a faulty, fake, lying relationship. And we need to get all of that type of fakeness out of our everyday relationships.
We need to stop using aggression, dominance, threats, and other coercion in our own lives, especially when it comes to children. The only reason people think government is "normal life" is that they grow up immersed in a sea of coercion and dominance.

Once the world brings forth a generation where most kids are raised with love and intelligence, these kids will grow into adults who do not recognize any dominant social structures like states or gangs. They will trade ideas, goods, and services in a free and non-violent marketplace. Society's "leaders" will be those who have earned respect by being the best and the brightest. We will vote for these "leaders" by purchasing their ideas, products, and services. These leaders of art, industry, and science will write books and give lectures to spread their ideas and opinions, not club people over the head and put them in prison.

Humankind won't be perfect. The world won't be a utopia. But we will be finished with "opinions at the point of the gun". And we will never look back.

Thanks for listening,
Rick Doogie

"The place to improve the world is in one's own heart and head and hands." Robert M. Pirsig
 The Story of Your Enslavement - YouTube