Destruction Machine

My youngest is destructive. I once said that the Death Star’s planet destroying beam was composed of the will of a thousand toddlers. I continue to hold that view. For humors sake and for the sake of venting some of my frustrations I have decided to start cataloging the various things he and the other children have broken.

  • 46″ LCD television set - irreparable screen damage
  • XBOX 360
  • 2 PS3s – both of which no longer play discs due to multiple disc insertions
  • Wii – no longer plays discs due to multiple disc insertions
  • Television stand doors broken off
  • Drawings on car using rocks
  • Scratching paint on car while jumping on hood
  • Tweeters pushed in on several speakers
  • Chest of drawers paint scratched
  • Toilet with foreign object preventing normal operation
  • Car rear view mirror ripped from window
  • Book case doors bent
  • Countless movie and music discs scratched beyond usable condition
  • Laptop keyboard keys removed (2 laptops)
  • Laptop dropped – hing beyond repair
  • Potted plants dumped
  • Antique Ball glass jar
  • Rolltop desk drawer
  • On and on :)

I am thrilled that my kids want to explore and learn about how things work. I’m laughing now but at times I certainly do have my patience tested!

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Riding Free

I recently found the courage and will to finally go get my motorcycle endorsement. I was nervous and slightly frightened. No longer would I have the roll cage and four wheels to rely on for safety. I tend to be fairly careful but being on two wheels feeling exposed was daunting to me to say the least.

But I wanted to learn. It is something I have always wanted to do but one convenient excuse or another made its way to the front of why I couldn’t or wouldn’t go out and simply learn. I suppose if it hadn’t been for my work at the truck company I wouldn’t have learned to drive a clutch either. Hey, why learn on a 5 speed when you can learn on a 10?

I took the introductory class via the Pacific Northwest Motorcycle Safety club for a nominal fee. It was a two day course starting on a recent Saturday beginning with videos and some reading material in class. After about noon the first day they had us out on Suzuki 250cc street bikes learning how to mount and dismount. By the end of the first hour we were picking up our feet and putting them up on the pegs. The first time I did that I knew riding was for me. The rest of the course was spent learning incrementally more challenging tasks like maneuvering at slow speeds, shifting, turning, and avoiding obstacles. By the end of the course I was confident enough to ride on my own.

The weeks after I spent dreaming of my motorcycle course and wanting to get a bike. What kind do I want? How much to spend? On and on I mulled over this or that. I sat on numerous bikes testing out Triumphs, Hondas, Suzukis, and Yamahas. I took into consideration ride height, comfort, excitability, on and on. Eventually I settled in on a Harley Fat Bob. It looked right, felt right, and was right for me. I wasn’t confident enough to drive it home but once it was home I took it out down the street and back learning the various things about the bike like shift positions, engine speeds, breaking, and about gear. Oh man, gear. It accounts for 75% of the ride comfort. It may be a no-brainer to an experienced rider. To me it was mind blowing. My first pair of gloves was a cheap leather pair with holes punched in the top. At 50mph on a 35-degree night that is painful.

Since the beginning of April I have been commuting on my bike from home to the ferry terminal. It’s been an immense amount of learning and confidence acquiring. It has also been an immense amount of fun. I hope that  have what it takes to go on some cruises around the peninsula later this year.

My kids love seeing me on my bike as does Crystal. I feel it has been a welcome addition to my crazy list of hobbies.

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Current Times

It’s Tuesday. A February Tuesday in the Pacific Northwest. I would say that normally this means rain and a dreary sky with shivering temperatures, puddles resembling ponds, and rare time spent outdoors. But not today. No, for the last few days we’ve had some gloriously clear skies. I am not one to complain about the weather. Most certainly not. Complaining about it does nothing. However, it does certainly raise my spirits as assuredly it must for those around me. Walking through the man made forest of sky scrapers on my way to where I spend countless hours engineering software it definitely serves me well to look past the Sound and see snow capped peaks and forests.

Today my boss comes into my office with a bottle of Glenmorangie Scotch Whiskey letting me know that the ad framework I have been working on and integrating with my team into our applications and an eventual SDK has been fantastic. As I sip it smoking a fine cigar I am quite pleased that I have been blessed so much since embarking on my software engineering ride. It has not always been smooth. There have been hard times, late hours, on and on. It feels good to know that what I trade my precious time with my children and wife for to earn a living is worthwhile and appreciated. This makes an excellent opportunity to take an expand my horizons both professionally and privately.

For example, I have enrolled my family at the local YMCA. Henry is in a tumbling class getting to play with other children around his age. He is learning to move and listen to instruction from people other than his parents. He, no they all are, growing at a phenomenal rate. Crystal bought him some sneakers recently and boy, has he inherited his father’s massive feet! He is a kind boy and I hope to instill in him my own fascination with critical thinking appreciation of liberty and freedom. His current likes are things like Legos. He loves trucks and trains. His drawing are increasingly complex and intricate. We have taken steps to limit movie and game times to encourage imaginative play always taking the time to explain things and answer any questions he has with honest answers. This last Christmas we explained that there is no Santa Claus but he refused to hear it. We decided to play along and told him that the idea of Santa Claus was a reward for our good deeds of the year. That Christ is the ultimate arbitrator of these things and that gifts were merely a superficial nicety to enjoy our short stay on this globe. It is fascinating to hear him because he truly grasps these topics. He likes to help me and I have changed the oil with him in our cars.

I try to always find ways to include all of the children trying to spread what little time I have with them so they get a chance to learn and see life around them. Helen is without question my princess. She is also kind and loving giving me kisses and hugs when I come home from work. She wants to learn at Henry’s level but becomes frustrated. She definitely spells and sounds out letters which Henry has difficulty with but for Henry it is no matter. She loves her doll house and will often play alone but will not shy from an oppurtunity to run with the boys. She loves animals. We adopted two kittens over the holidays: Charlotte and Watson. She will carry them gently petting and talking to them. That kind, nurturing spirit within this precious little girl is already developing.

Harrison is our current little monster. I insist that he is the most destructive of the three. Whether it is his desire to garner more attention or that he has two siblings teaching him much faster than if he had been alone he is always observing and imitating. He walks and says words. I admit that Crystal understands him much more than I but he is a wonderful little boy. He, I think, looks like me which makes him amazingly special in my heart. I often wondered after Henry how could I love any more children. It is possible to increase my love with each child to love them equally. I had no idea I had this capacity to love.

I have been taking the time to take care of myself a little better. Pay a little more attention to how I present myself. Relax by reading a book and learning. Expanding my horizons doing things that I felt exceeded my comfort zone. Recently I acquired a motorcycle license after taking a weekend class. It was wonderful to step out and accomplish something like this which I probably would have been putting off indefinitely. My mother-in-law dropped off an antique kerosene heater for which I replaced the wick and purchased fuel and got it working again. I finally bought a shot gun which I have always wanted but waited on for one reason or another. I have made mozzarella cheese and plan on making more of it before I graduate myself to cheddar or other delicious dairy derivatives.

It is all these little things that add up to who I am, I suppose. I have been effective in removing seemingly negative or non attentive influences and acquaintanceship and attempted to strengthen the opposite. Crystal and I surround ourselves with folks who push us to be better. To be more. To accomplish more. My beautiful wife has been inspiration to me. She takes care of the family and the home creating an inviting place to weather the storms. She toils and creates things we eat and use. I see with the years that we grow closer together as we allow each other to be better at who we are.

I am not sure where things will be in the coming months. I have currently a couple projects that are interesting and we shall see how they progress. My music has taken a break as I experience a few month writer’s block. I was not sure if I would ever venture into the world of starting my own company again but here I am. A little wiser taking what I have learned, am learning, and will learn and applying it a little more gracefully. It is an exciting time for sure. Unfortunately, I cannot give out any details as it is under wraps but in six months time I can’t wait to share.

I have several books on my list of reading. I am currently engrossed in Slavomir Rawicz’s The Long Walk having taken a break from The Bastiat Collection. I have a couple books to read which a friend has lent me which I need to read as well. On my nightstand is Mises’s Human Action which calls to me. When I am not reading I am playing a game or two here. Crystal and I have been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic which has been a fascinating and fun way to spend time together as an alternative to watching movies. I will admit that it is hard to put much time into anything and the thought has crossed my mind that sometimes I (or we) stretch ourselves a little thin.

In the world the financial markets are tumultuous. From my interpretation of events it seems that massive deficit spending on a global scale has indebted most countries into a corner of artificially created boom and bust cycles which wreck havoc on one malinvested sector or another. I have searched far and wide to better understand these things and if it is not obvious, I feel that the Austrian understanding of these issues is the best. This, however, is unpopular because the solution of such an understanding is painful to undertake and will eliminate the illusion of bureaucratic supremacy. I have mentioned this here before: degrees and so-called experts supporting the status quo are not the solution nor is their opinion any more valid than an unacknowledged blogger, alternative news journalist, or a critically thinking you and I. I find it fascinating that the people who argue in its defense are complicit, lack understanding, and have much fear. It pains me for it seems that many will relinquish principle, freedom, and liberty to maintain the illusion of safety in all areas of life. I do not preach, but the facts simply do not support a world view which most people seem to idealize. The painful aspect of liberty, freedom, and self governance is personal responsibility and action without relenting to the false security brought by redistribution and protectionism. So many laws, deception, ommision, and tyranny run rampant; have they always?

I’d like to go on about the specifics. I may some day soon. However, when reason, history, evidence, fact, and critical thinking are so rare I do not know if it is even worthwhile.

On a more encouraging note, Crystal and I are excited to see where the next year and a half take us. We locked ourselves into a two year lease to stabilize ourselves. We are seriously discussing purchasing enough property to start a micro dairy some day in an effort to gain skills and have some semblance of self sufficiency. Perhaps a smaller plot with some sheep and chickens would suffice. I do not know. The more property the further I am from my current or potential employers and business in Seattle which means more time commuting. However, it would be wonderful to learn and do things that seem tangible and to pass that on to our children. A lot of personal satisfaction comes from that. We’ve also discussed taking a vacation here and there. If it weren’t for our familial commitments I know we’d be traveling a lot more than we are now. It will all come in good time.

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Sites On My Reader

I have quite a few sites on my Google Reader account which I follow. I also swing by the usual main stream media outlets that most folks visit and see how things match up. I think it is funny how folks follow NYT, Huffington Post, WaPo, WSJ, Economist, Reuters, Bloomberg, Fox, and the rest of them and feel that they’ve done their due diligence to be informed (*cough* programmed).

There are other sites but I like to cross reference and check sources. If there are any other sites that may be worth following, feel free to share or email me any suggestions. Further, I am in no way trying to say one only one set of news sources should be trusted. With media consolidated and tied in with the government and interests one has to take the time to compare and contrast hopefully critically thinking and analyzing for themselves.

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How Not To Debate

Recently I walked past a group of folks holding curious posters depicting President Obama (I jokingly refer to this person as Captain O’Bozo) with a Hitler mustache. I tend to ignore sidewalk assaulteers as a general rule but I was feeling a bit adventurous and needed my curiosity relieved. After all, these guys have stood on corner around Seattle with the utmost dedication. They must have something important to say. And since it was beer Friday at work, I had 36 ounces of liquid courage backing me up.

The initial pitch was confusing but I kept an open mind. As it turns out, they are followers of Lyndon LaRouche whose beliefs I can’t seem to place anywhere on a political spectrum. According to the Wiki article, the views are applauded by communists, socialists, totalitarians, and fascists alike. It seems that his views are that of radical Statism resembling some derivative of socialism. Nonetheless, I did not know this, was curious – I engaged.

First there was the restoration of the Glaxy-Segal Act of 1934. I once ranted about the repeal of this act a year ago (I think on my Facebook) but have since changed my views on doing this[1]. This act perhaps patched a corrupt part of the market system in this country but since the entire system is corrupt I wonder if any layer of additional regulation in the crony system will protect anyone. After all, the crashes of 1980 and 1987 happened with it in place. The first man, whom I will refer to as Bill, was pleasant and he went on to speak about some massive system of water, electrical, and transportation bridging across the Bering Straights, and as I now know, went down the the line of current LaRouche Movement bullet points. Things like colonizing Mars, regulating everything, etc. In retrospect, it was a lot of talk about the inherent goodness of mankind and how trying to place these beliefs into some dismissive political definition was invalid for we had to look past money and gain and folks would just band together and do.

The second person, who we’ll call Mark, was supposedly well read. I mentioned Mises and Menger in the theory of money and this second man rolled his eyes and started this explanation of how Mises was funded by the Hapsburgs. I explained that he was a Jew and spent most of his time fighting the bureaucrats disproving of their policies. Later he was persecuted by fascists in Austria and later socialists in the United States. He may have had a university salary but it was definitely not something that the political elite enjoyed having a professor critiquing the Austrian State’s and Vienna’s municipal policies! I think this refutation caught him off guard because his subsequent, like his initial, responses lacked any logical or factual basis and may have embarrassed him.

The question that Mark and Bill refused to answer is how do we accomplish these great projects and feats of social and technological innovation. The answer is simple – coercion. Unfortunately for these folks and many other who believe in horrible ideas like the greater good or humankind’s progress, that answer evades them. According to them, I was trapped in social programming in my mammalian: desired behavior needing to reward. According to these groupies, if everyone just got together out of the goodness of humanity’s heart we would just do these great works. It is a very tired set of ideas based on old socialistic and fascist principles. As if bureaucrats and legislators have some sort of supreme wisdom to mold humanity into their own corruptible vision! As if one must have a degree or have a professional outlook on a matter to have one’s opinion or understanding matter!

The naivety of the arguments that humanity will transcend its own nature with inherent goodness especially without the need for money is one which I have heard before. It lacks any logic and ignores our fallibility but that is besides the point. These individuals did not want to discuss things. They wanted mindless drones to come along and accept their ideas without effort. To me its as if drone catchers waylay drones to and from work on the streets and in the public broadcasting trying to convince drones to join one collective or another completely void of of critical thinking and logical reasoning.

I asked how this effort was being funded and how do they plan on enacting laws and regulations and the answer was that people would just do this. It reminded me of Star Trek and other socialist programming but it had very fascist overtones. Mark then gave up, exasperated by my inquisitiveness and desire for answers. Having failed at proving his beliefs he resorted to ad homonym attacks calling me closed minded and brain washed. He walked off and under his breath said that he needed to find other people to get things done with.

After Mark walked off I asked Bill if that is how this supposed goodness in all of humanity will convince everyone of this belief system. I explained that Mark’s attitude and lack of persuasion proved that this system was doomed to fail and that although human beings aren’t mammals, certain societal rules of exchange have been established. That abolishing things like a gold standard have been tried and failed numerous times. I asked why would a person choose to not spend time with his wife and kids and instead choose to work on some modern day Great Wall? What goodness came from men debating so poorly? With such an attitude, it is apparent that there is no general goodness, patience, and love which would have millions of people enslave themselves to the will of a few “intellectuals”.

Bill must have realized the conclusion I came to and started talking to me along some more general Movement ideas. That FDR was a great man to which I retorted that he was a dictator who packed courts, subverted our sovereignty and rights, and pulled a 9/11 except with encouraging and then allowing Pearl Harbor. I also explained that people may interpret his intentions as good but the reality is that none of his actions brought us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. This is what Frederic Bastiat[2] and other writers constantly warn us about: most legislators especially those promising to help one group inadvertently or eventually end up taking from another group or causing greater problems than which were solved. But we do not need the writings of sages from prior eras to come to these conclusions. Simply observe events and understand history.

I had made up my mind that these guys are truly lost, ill informed, and convinced of things which have no logical proof. Mr. LaRouche seems to have some sort of credibility because he predicted a couple events in history. The reason I brought up Austrians like Menger and Mises was to show that actually, unlike the statisticians of the Keynesian, Monetarist, etc schools, are quite apt at predicting and understanding markets. Contemporary Austrians are quite good at predicting boom and busts, business cycles, and other economic and political outcomes. These are ignored because they do not fit the current Keynesian climate which fuels the symbiotic relationship between government, central banking, and corporate cartels. I thanked Bill for talking to me and walked off. In that moment I noticed Mark “getting something done” by ensnaring a young, impressionable woman with his ideas of Utopia[3].

If one is going to try and convince people of one’s point of view, the facts must be straight. Circular logic or comparing the incomparable must be avoided. Avoid making assumptions. Consider the unseen. And most importantly, do not use ad homonym attacks. It is difficult to get an honest debate on a side walk on a crowded street. And I see that I have not proven my points at times either. But I gladly cherish any debate and opposing views. I see many folks espousing their socialist, globalist, humanist, or fascist views supporting some version of State control or another. So far, from what I’ve seen, all their evidence, truths, logic, facts are exaggerations, out of context, sometimes downright false, presumptuous, illogical, circular, simplistic assertions and suppositions that parrot the mainstream media or some form of programming with ties to an ever present State. I hunger to hear or read not rhetoric but truth. Facts. History. I am willing to change my mind. I do not claim to have some sort of authority on this subject. When I watch folks like Michael Moore take on someone like Milton Freidman with their ridiculousness and somehow they have an audience today, then I feel like there must be room for the opposite.

Some people have made up their mind. No amount of facts or reasoning will convince them otherwise. Their view points may be completely off base with no basis in fact. They will pander to emotionalism and strike philosophically ignoring reality. The basis of their claims may have been disproven historically, statistically, or otherwise countless times; but all to no avail. At some point your part, cited the relevant points, squashed all points and still no progress. Not even an iota of humility admission of disjointed or unclear world views or beliefs. You have to move on. You have to accept that reality isn’t for everyone. At some point you pack your self up and realize that eventually, as the saying goes, you’ll just be casting your pearls before swine. The most troublesome aspect is that these folks exist and there is a large number of them droning around believing what the previous folks make up to believe. Their numbers grow and eventually the lessons of totalitarianism fall on deaf ears. All I can hope is that if there is ever a decided move to restructure things one way or another those few of us fervently working on the most precious and rarest of realities of freedom and liberty may continue to carry this torch on.

It is obvious to me now, having read up on what these LaRouche guys believe, that they are truly lost. Mark had announced he had read Mises’ book Liberalism proudly beating his chest with his self congratulatory intellectual prowess. Perhaps he did in fact read the entire volume. Obviously, he had not understood it.

  1. Government should be creating level playing fields and making sure private property is respected while allowing entities to operate within well defined charters. Since government fails on these basics at many levels something like the act didn’t do anything to stave off the current wave of financial crisis and foolhardy to think that the act, although perhaps well intentioned, would have prevented anything. The amount of corruption and corporatism that is in our system is staggering when we read about the flow of individuals between office and position and the volumes of money in exchange for various privileges and bending of rules.
  2. We can, for simplicity’s sake, assume here that FDR was acting out of what he interpreted as the most honest, just, and proper courses of action in respect to the law as he could. However, any person in a position of power can arguably act in this fashion. Unfortunately, that individual’s drive and interpretation suites whatever design and ends they see fit which often disregards the sovereignty of other nations and people.
  3. I believe that people are generally good. I think that people have an innate sense of justice. That is to say that people generally want to live in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, a small group of people or a vast majority can never be trusted to administer their interpretation of those ideas on everyone else.
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My Brief ORCA Nightmare

It has been a few months since my horrible experience with ORCA. I wanted to give myself a while to digest the events and now it’s time to share my narrative.

ORCA is a regional transit pass system. The pass is the size of a credit card and responds to magnetic scanners on buses, trains, and ferries which debits a virtual account for the fares to each respective ride. It is convenient but it irritated me long before this incident. It has Orwellian overtones tieing my movement and habits to a database driven system. For now I may have nothing to hide. However, as with any far and wide system ways to abuse, circumvent, and harass are virtually inherent. One day when the government decides folks who actively voice opposition to bureaucracy and regulation are terrorists they could, with what I’d consider essential impunity, end my means of transportation or build strategies to intercept me by studying my records. I hesitate to share what seems like paranoia but I think it is valid for in my case it turned out to be ironic.

I purchased my ORCA card and it arrived a few days later. I zipped to and from work my first few weeks with no hassles or problems. The first month went on without a hitch. I had used one before as one of my previous employers bought these regional passes for all it’s employees. It’s pretty darn convenient.

Soon I had visited the website and purchased the next month’s worth of ferry and bus passes. I made the purchase, went to work the following day, and arrived at work with no problem. My ride home was also unremarkable until I disembarked from the ferry and tried to board a bus to which would take me from the ferry terminal to my car which was parked at a distant park and ride.

“Card blocked” it read. The scanner made this unique beep that caught my attention. I tried again. Same thing. Bewildered, I explained to the driver that my card had worked him and I wasn’t sure what the problem was. The driver, fortunately, allowed me to board without fare. I sat and immediately logged onto the ORCA website using my phone. There was my card – status: blocked. Reason – other. I opened the web form to contact support and explained that it worked fine all day but it stopped working on my commute home. This was Friday evening. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected a speedy response.

On Monday my card was still blocked. I used cash to ride the bus in the morning and the ferry is without fare destined to Seattle. I called ORCA that morning and was told by a representative that they weren’t sure what had happened, someone is looking into it, and would call me once things were figured out. Sure thing, I gave my name and number expecting to hear back later that day.

I didn’t. Unfortunately, this was $140.90 of my money that was tied up in a system that I needed to ride the ferry. With funds being fairly tight (I had just switched from starting a business to this great job but it was going to take a while to get things caught up) I thought it’d be prudent to purchase a pass with a discount rather than to pay the full fare daily. I’d have to pay for the fares myself until they resolved this mysterious issue. I was scrimping along counting change and finding dollars stashed in old jeans. I called later that day and was told a supervisor was still looking into it.

The following day I called again and received the same responses in one shape or another. The bus driver had suggested I try calling the local transit authority rather than deal with ORCA which I did the next day. It was now Wednesday. At this point I was frustrated. I had little money left, my passes were blocked for an unknown reason, and I was getting no answers from anyone. I contacted Kitsap Transit and got through to a woman who sympathized with my story and said she would look into it and get back to me.

Friday morning I received an e-mail from the woman which was a forward from the ORCA supervisor. It took a week to get some semblance or what was happening. It read:

[Kitsap Transit Agent], he had a failed transaction on a credit card owned by someone else. Then he had a successful transaction that we just found out this morning was on a stolen card. You can let him know, as he has already been told, that the transactions are being investigated by the Pierce County police and he could contact them if he has information that would clear the situation up.

I had not been told any of this! I had not used a stolen card! I was completely confused, infuriated, and shocked that this was happening to me. No recourse and my money tied up in some random computer incident. I called the Pierce County Sheriff in an attempt to verify any information. They hadn’t heard of me. What was going on?!

The sheriff’s office hadn’t heard of this case or anything related to this. They didn’t even know what ORCA was. The successful transaction was on my own debit card which I had in my very own hands an authorized. What the fuck are these people smoking!

I decided to end the nightmare by issuing a charge back through my bank. I got all my money back and bought a separate Washington State ferries pass (to get the discount) and used cash on the bus (unfortunately, Kitsap Transit as well as other local transit authorities discontinued their own monthly passes and opted into this system). I went ORCA free for six months before I decided to try them again. To keep myself from using their system directly, I go to a local grocery store and have it “recharged” there every month. Since then I haven’t had any problems.

I’m sure this was probably a fluke. However, it was eerie how powerless and helpless I felt because of some system that took my money and then refused to render service.

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In Defense of the Free Market

Recently I saw an interesting post about the Occupy Wall Street protests I saw. I have had mixed feelings about this movement. I was initially excited about a potential awakening of the masses where the government propped banks would finally be allowed to fail, the Federal Reserve System held accountable, and the people of our nation to finally have a chance to reverse the behemoth Statist tendencies of our government. To my dismay, it seems there is a majority of folks, according to the article, that have strong feelings about fixing these problems by encouraging more government. I decided to post this article on Google+ with this comment:

Strange, I wasn’t expecting this level of socialist/collectivist rhetoric from the #OWS folks. Or perhaps it’s always been there and I missed it? I was hoping it wouldn’t go this route.

A friend of mine replied with the following comment which immediately received praise. As a Austrian-Libertarian I accept that my views are generally less popular. Here it is:

Last time I checked we live in a socialist collective, I pay taxes that go to things I disagree with but I pay them because they also go towards things I do agree with. And if the government is so inept at its business how can it be said to be responsible for failure to regulate the unchecked greed of banks and corporations. An unregulated free market in it’s purest form would degenerate into a single corporation that controlled everything. Moderate regulation by non corporate entities is the only thing that allows us to harness the innate greed and self centered nature of humans in general for the overall progress of mankind. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. You can have a well regulated free market (with its bust and boom cycle) and still have an overall trend of prosperity and order. And yet it’s still OK to show compassion and love for your fellow man. To aid the sick, poor, and elderly is not communism it is altruism. To care about those less fortunate in hard times is not class warfare but empathy. All of these concepts can coexist together and people with such disparate world views can live together and benefit from that difference. E Pluribus Unum, more than just describing the original colonies forming one nation, better describes the people of the United States and their collection of ideas. Should there be a day when we all see things the same way we shall be a lesser nation for it. And should there ever be a day when people are not encouraged to express themselves freely we will cease to be United. It is not hard to wade in to a crowd of a thousand people and find a few people saying something you disagree with. Guilt by association has become a popular weapon but a system of economic checks and balances is not Marxism. And even if you disagree with the unwashed masses economic preferences it is unwise to disregard those who feel they have been wronged. Perception is reality.

Well written and I applaud any desire to discuss. I was somewhat irked by the accusation that I was somehow disregarding those who felt they have been wronged. If anything, I am fascinated and deeply invested in understanding the current economic, political, and social climates. In all fairness, though, I think my original comment may have come off a little dismissive – which it was. As I mentioned, I was disappointed that a seeming majority of folks joining this movement were, essentially, clueless. All the hatred the Tea Party received for advocating similar ideas (a desire to change a broken system of corporate and government symbiosis) but I would wager that most folks in this camp would be dismissive of the Tea Party folks even before it was co-opted by neo-cons, fascists, and other big government folks.

I thought about it for a while and replied with this:

You are using a different context for socialism and collectivism. At some rudimentary level we band together and taxes are imposed to achieve some majority decided goal. Yes, this is a social behavior. In the political context, though, this definition circumvents the nature of those realities. It is true that regardless of political system taxes are extracted from the populus to achieve some aim (except for some rare examples). However, under which pretext does it pertain? Do we assume that we offer strong individual sovereignty and allow communities and organization to thrive and create their own safety nets by order of voluntary arrangement? Or do we take the coercive nature of the State and impose this universally? Which is more efficient? Which is more adaptive to localities, cultures, ethnicities, etc? I believe the former. I would wager most others believe the latter. Regardless, I feel like we generally know what is meant by socialism/collectivism.

Government truly is so inept at its business. It constantly fails at delivering on the good intentions of a few (read some F. Bastiat). We cannot legislate away crime or gravity. We cannot legislate our way into prosperity and unselfishness. That really is the crux of it all. The two sides to this discussion agree there are problems. One side thinks government can solve everything and anything or at least accomplish most of its aims in time. The other side accepts that humanity comes with positive and negative traits and sets up a level playing field. However, how can we argue about the evils of men and then preach the merits of State control when it is composed of men?! Curious cartoon from 1912 (e).

I do not see any historical examples of this statement (unregulated free market becomes one world corporation) except in dystopian science fiction. Every time any large corporation (b) comes to dominate a particular sector it has consistently been devoured by its greed and the subsequent free market reaction in competition even before governments enacted laws regulating markets. The fact is that we see countless examples of the opposite.

Believing that non-corporate entities are the only thing that allows us to regulate greed and/or self-centered nature of humanity is contrived we can only achieve in our dreams. What you describe is fascism (c) (but really, all these isms all come from this notion that the State and its machinations are superior to the will and intentions of the individual. This may be true in some cases but this is a truth we simply have to accept). I will argue that the best “overall progress of mankind” is done by free individuals and free markets not by the “good” intentions of corrupt few. Contrary to what I think is popular belief, it was free markets (before the current bankster bastardization) that ended child labor (k).

A well regulated free market is an oxymoron. Government regulation, central banks, cartelized and subsidized monopolies are the primary reason for boom and bust cycles. Managed economies do not create prosperity or order. I can say that environmental issues, product safety; on and on – are accomplished through a strong enforcement of property rights. Business must be allowed to profit and fail. A free market is actually why we have the luxuries we enjoy today. Unfortunately, there has been a trend to slowly turn the markets to more State control which is the reasons for higher costs in health care and other social programs.

Aiding the less fortunate by means of coercion is not altruism (it shocks me that was even being suggested). It is great to show compassion and love to our fellows. It is a contradiction to assert that humanity is greedy and self-natured but then go on to insist legislators and bureaucrats will then best take and then redistribute help. However, throughout history we see countless non-profit organizations and people coming together and creating lodges (a), drives, and countless hours rebuilding and assisting those in need without the need for an official to make those decisions for us. I can go on and on giving examples of pre FEMA disaster relief through the like of the Red Cross, churches, and countless individuals.

Concepts can coexist surely and most definitely we would not want to be a nation of people who all believe and act the same. This is paramount to a free society. And in celebration I offer my criticisms of crowds of people who lack understanding of the murderous regimes of Stalin, Che, Mao, Pol Pot, and others which are flaunted by Marxist literature and cheers to the notion that Marx was correct in predicting capitalism’s failure. It is curious that our current economic system more closely resembles a fascism in its oligarchical leanings – some would call this crony capitalism. So yes, of course, we will have opposing and differing views.

To question the motives and ideologies of a movement especially when there are those that feel they have been wronged is essential. Countless times have we seen numerous legislations passed where simply the naming is used to evoke an emotional response (eg No Child Left Behind Act, P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act, ad naseum). It seems misinformation is rampant (f)(g) in this “less fortunate victims” but I would argue that although, again, we agree there is a problem the solutions are many. The mainstream media (such as Huff Post, NYT, CNN) started by barely reporting on these developments and as they have garnered more attention I feel we should be discussing things and hopefully coming to a set of actions that will truly benefit all of us rather than the few in power. I think things like the potentially brewing war with Iran(j), the pushing of the supra-sovereign financial market sales tax (i), and shift more debt on the tax payers (h). The last is truly the most disturbing as it pertains to our economic crisis. However, most folks are ambivalent to the facts or simply ignorant. I hope to remove the dust from the history books and start dialog.
To me it is frightening how a few economically disparaged few are beginning the scape goating of a minority. It reminds me of the Weimar Republic’s drive to print its way through war debt reparations which had horribly devastating repercussions on the global economy. However, that money printing was ignored. Instead, the bankers and business owners of a certain ethnicity were targeted.

I know my views are less popular so I’ve sprinkled some links from sites I frequent to back me up. Thanks.

(a) http://freenation.org/a/f12l3.html
(b) http://lewrockwell.com/woods/woods175.html
(c) http://www.lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory239.html
(d) http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2011/09/Fed%20octopus.jpg
(e) http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150420351170802&set=a.10150140832250802.332879.207770190801&type=1&theater
(f) http://reason.com/blog/2011/10/18/poll-49-of-occupy-wall-street
(g) http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2011/10/are-clueless-occupy-wall-street.html
(h) http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/federal-reserve-and-bank-america-initiate-coup-dump-hundreds-billions-dollars-losses-ame
(i) http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-15/merkel-says-won-t-accept-u-s-balking-at-finance-transaction-tax.html
(j) http://theweek.com/article/index/220402/is-the-us-headed-for-war-with-iran
(k) http://atlanticsentinel.com/2011/01/did-government-end-child-labor/

Later another person hopped in. The praise was for the first poster but I was happy to see activity and discussion. In this second instance it seemed our biggest disagreement came regarding any notion of wealth redistribution (which includes any after basic tax collection to run essentials to subsidize business, folks, foreign aid, etc.). Eventually the question boiled down to this:

 Oh, I would definitely never suggest that wealth be redistributed; that would be completely ignoring the cause of the problem, not to mention a flagrant offense to personal freedom. That being said, all citizens should share a portion of the cost of running this country, which some of those rich “minority” guys are really effectively dodging.

I certainly think there should be a basic standard of living (including the things I mentioned) that should be obtainable by the average citizen, even those of us not gifted with intelligence and ambition. If the average member of any society can not provide those basic necessities for himself (healthcare to keep him from being sick, leave to enjoy life, and retirement to provide for himself when he is physically unable to), then that society is failing. Good health should not be reserved for those of extraordinary talent; a week to spend with your family should not be a reward for prodigy.

We can all see why the average citizen can not meet these standards; when you get hired at a company like Wal-mart, you get hired part time, with no benefits, no healthcare, no recourse. When the majority of jobs available to those without an exorbitantly priced education are provided by corporations like that what does the average man do?

To which I happily replied with this:

There is a massive correlation between the bankers and the Federal Reserve System which is a banking cartel which has access to print unlimited amounts of “money”. So, if your bank is in trouble, where do you get more money? Well, from your friends that control the output of the U.S. Treasury: The Federal Reserve. My point is that if this didn’t exist (the capacity to make up infinite amounts of money), then there would be a healthy does of “moral hazard” implied within the system. Banks would take less risk. Corporations would make less “money” and salaries/profits would be reasonable. Then the millionaires wouldn’t seem like they’re getting away with robbery (which in our opinion they are). In one of the articles I pointed out how BofA is dumping trillions of debt into federally insured holding companies. The Fed is encouraging this. What it means, in short, is that once again (as with TARP), you, I, everyone, and our kids will be saddled with debt payments to cover this theft. Their shares will go up in value, they make bonuses, and the treasury delivers a truck full of “money” to their vault so they can pay themselves out. It is simply outrageous. But see, the entire thing is government regulated and the Federal Reserve, although privately owned, is closely managed by the government. Why would the government want to audit or shut down its limitless credit on which we are making payments?

I am totally not facetious when I ask this, but I wonder how much of our belief that life would be teh suck before government came and rescued the world with Wilson (Fed and League) and FDR (New Deal, SS, etc) and the other cronies is propaganda programming delivered in State sponsored educational institutions. The wages, labor conditions, standard of living were highest in the world during largely unregulated business. Child labor vanished because children no longer had to work to help the family. Mothers started staying home. I think the climax was probably in the 1950s with a single earner with two kids and a spouse at home. Highest living standards in the world in a largely unregulated business environment where would money was based on a partial gold standard which prevented un-controlled spending and risk taking.

What about WW2, you ask? Most Keynesians (a la Paul Krugman from NYT) would have you believe that WW2 was a massive injection of labor and when it ended we would enter another depression with all that excess man power entering the work force. Did that happen? Heck no! People got busy. Had babies. Invented shit. Used all that time not blowing each other up rebuilding and manufacturing. The point is that the popular views in government support itself. The answer is that unregulated business was the norm for about a century and somehow we’ve been trained to believe that without government control it’d all come crashing down into 18 hour days in coal mines 8 days a week. The reason we had increasing standards of living is because people were free to innovate, make mistakes and fail, profit, expand, and work out problems that made them and the market lean money making machines giving everyone a chance in the nation a chance to try their hand.

I also listed a link to the idea of fraternities and lodges pre AMA days. People, free of government regulation, got together and created their own insurance programs for the community taking care of one another. Health care was less expansive even half a century ago and non-profit hospitals took in less fortunate folks and helped them. Why is healthcare more expensive (I rarely see people ask this question, only how to pay for it)? Series of regulations and cartlizations making market competition impossible. Bring on medicare and suddenly you have folks upping their premiums and costs to absorb the “free” government money. But, if you look at the number when something like Medicare was passed, it was hardly popular (something like 28% in a Gallup poll supported it circa 1962 [Washington Post]). Was it necessary? Was LBJ simply horribly unpopular and wanted to boost his numbers? Why was it passed then? Similar story goes for Social Security. On the former I’d look at the AMA’s heavy involvement with the insurance regulators.

Anyway, I’m not an economist. I am studying a lot of this stuff because it intrigues me. I have an obvious Libertarian slant which drives some nuts (looks at Dane). Thanks for joining. This is great!

It was a worth while exchange where I got a chance to share my thoughts and ideas about government, politics, economics, and philosophy. I have room to grow and learn. It is hard to discuss this sort of stuff without folks getting upset, I think. From what I’ve seen I think a vast majority of folks agree there are problem with our current broken system. However, I hope that with some of my posts here and there, articles shared, and stickers placed I can rub some of the thoughts regarding liberty around. Question everything. Second guess media. Second guess organizations. Don’t believe me. Do your own research. Discuss respectfully.

I try and give references whenever I can. Sometimes they sort of gravitate from a few particular sites I follow. This isn’t mainstream which may or may not be good. My father always said “go with the current like fish in a river”. His conservative view points in the presence of the supreme Communist State make sense. I hope that I can be one small piece to help avert an Orwellian existence for our future generations. I hope that one day if it ever comes to that I can be counted with those that sought truth.

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Moved… Again

As one aspect of my life settles down like certainty around my employment situation another goes through change. For those that don’t know, we have moved from our nice home in Kingston seven miles to our new place in Poulsbo. We’ve signed a two year lease with an option to extend to three. The good parts are that it has shaved off 30 minutes off the commute saving me about five hours a week. The utilities will be cheaper because the home is a little smaller and more efficient. The home is more central to North Kitsap so shopping and getting around will be easier. On the down side the water pressure is pretty lame, there is less space, no massive pantry, and less two garage stalls.

I finally have a small work area complete with shop light and work bench. We were able to park the Mercedes and van in the garage. Hopefully, once we get rid of some storage items such as the washer/dryer, a table and chairs, and Harrison’s old crib I can arrange a little more to make moving around the cars a little easier. I can’t start on it yet but I am hoping I can start working on the car this year.

The kids were definitely stressed by the move. We all were. Harrison slept less and acted out more. The kids grew rebellious. Crystal and I were sore from moving. We couldn’t have done it without the help we got. Thanks to those that did. But before I forget, even the chickens were stressed. They virtually stopped laying! We’re getting things put together so they’ll start up again by getting them situated.

 

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Leading Up

Recently I was promoted to a Lead Software Engineer.

The best experience I have gained has been working with other people. This is why I believe that, for a software engineer, changing employers or at least positions every two to four years is a great way to constantly grow and expand knowledge and experience. In such changes differing team sizes, scope and complexity of projects, differing platforms and languages; everything and anything that can be experienced to expand the developer’s palate is a plus.

This theory applies to almost anything. Drink many wines and you will learn, appreciate, and dislike many. However, with how quickly technology changes it seems that the more that can be crammed into experience the better. I suppose it can be unfortunate, seeing that traditionally long term employment tended to secure pensions and larger contributions to retirement. In the contemporary socialist climate, however, most employers have simply cut out such benefits.

It is a challenge that I am excited to take, will humbly execute, and hope to surpass the expectations of those whom I report to and those whom I will lead. The team is small – four to six developers. Unlike previous managerial positions I have assumed in the past this one seems to truly encourage me to spend most of my time engineering software and hardly any time managing. The climate is professional. Most, if not all, take interest in work that completes and enhances our drive towards our corporate success.

I have been trying to better manage my personal time and I think I have been successful at doing so. My commute is arduous but instead of sleeping or wasting it away I have been using the time to accomplish things that I probably would otherwise neglect. Reading, writing, listening to music, communicating, and working on side projects; these are just during my commute. At home Crystal and I have tried to structure my time home better. For example, Tuesday nights are my nights to do whatever be it visit someone or vegetate in front of Day of Defeat. Crystal take Thursdays during which time I spend the few hours taking care and playing with the kids.

It is hard to have to compartmentalize most aspects of my life this way but I think it has been a good thing. I try to never go more than a day without shaving. I change my clothes more frequently. I get my haircut regularly. Even in personal care and hygiene I have had to make changes. It is probably odd to read that but I am okay admitting that I have not taken care of myself as I should have until recently. I believe that it comes from self respect.

I am currently working on a couple side projects. I am very interested in developing a couple educational or more cerebral games for various platforms. I love the idea of working on the XNA platform and the most popular mobile platforms. Can I write a game in something as ubiquitous as C++ and then wrap it in corresponding containers so that it can be executed on an Xbox, an iPhone, and an Android device the latter being a mobile, tablet, or television?

I remember recalling the previous mentors I have worked with. The advice they gave me rings in my head. They were all truly memorable and although there is a chance that I will probably never speak to most of them ever again it is a huge testament to working with people you can learn from. Learning on your own has its moments but it pales in comparison to the words and wisdom of those sages who have done things multitudes of times before so that everything to them becomes a question of approach and method on a macro level rather than the microscopic squabbles of implementation.

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Bastiat, Mises, Rothbard, & Paul

A couple weeks ago or so I received my copies of the “Framework” from the Ludvig von Mises Institute. It consists of four books: The Bastiat Collection, Human Action by Mises; Man, Economy, and State by Rothbard; and Case for Gold by Paul. What excitement to add to my reading a fine collection, about 4,000 pages worth, of excellent writing from proponents of Liberty! Where is my cognac, pipe, and reading chair?

I have been pondering my direction in why I seek to better understand the basis of arguments for liberty especially in the growing horde of collectivist, interventionist, socialist, and ultimately humanist masses. Each of these seem to purport the “greater good” but stems from an ability to substantiate and enforce itself with coercion, deception, and flawed logic. I have no doubt that some if not a majority of proponents of these ideologies have the best intentions. The only system, however, which is truly just, free, and has the greatest potential for equality is one that promotes individuals as the supreme sovereignty to which all other apparati are subservient.

We should note that equality is defined in terms of equal opportunity, not equal stature. Many of today’s so-called liberals and progressives have combined the seemingly self evident value of liberty (à la freedom and justice) with the latter misconception of equality through stature which ultimately leads to coercion. This is the simplest distinction between true “classical” liberals and today’s “liberals” or progressives. The former is true to the idea of individual freedom, the latter is the statist, fascist, communist and any other socialist derivative (and those not of the socialist tradition) thinly veiled under a false guise of freedom.

Why? Because as people have figured out since the beginning of time man is corruptible and imperfect. This is fact, not some religious exposition or moral assertion. To argue otherwise is to ignore realities surrounding the unpredictable nature of probability and reason. Augustine of Hippo wrote of libido dominandi or “the lust to rule” as a powerful driving mechanism for any system of government. How can we possibly believe that any system can we devise which can be executed in truly free, just, and equal (in terms of opportunity to individuals) terms without introducing myriads of varied contradictions? Contrary to popular belief, today’s individual has no less propensity to corruption even under the threat of law than did those people living 2,000 or so years ago. Contrary to popular belief, today’s social, economic, criminal, and civil order has barely changed from the orders existing similarly 2,000 or so years ago. I am completely serious. There are perhaps new methods and explanations for various activity and action but the core of our realities are the same. The proof is in the writings and understandings of the philosophy of those generations compared the activity and action of those living today. Perhaps not identical, but indeed very similar.

These united States enacted a constitution which at the beginning eroded personal sovereignty. What a concept! The state was subservient to the individual. What a truly revolutionary concept this was indeed. However, as I just mentioned, it was flawed from the beginning. The fifth amendment, for example, places the “greater good” above that of the individual with its so-called right to eminent domain. So the question should be posed, was the constitution an instrument of tyranny or a protector of individual freedom at its authoring?

Free market, free religion, free speech, freedom of self defense: these ideas have barely, perhaps for a short sliver of time, been experienced by humanity. Government does not create. It takes and gives (redistributes). It codifies series of cartels and regulations at the agitation of influential interests. Speaking out against the Federal president (or perhaps now essentially dictator [or puppet of banking or industrial-military complex?]) can be prosecuted. In the interest of “equality” we force no expression of religious beliefs and society around us mocks and insults those with Faith with laws which tax (taxation is theft) and pay for things that compromise those indivudals’ beliefs. We are increasingly being bombarded with increasingly draconian arms laws which now even have sponsorship from foreign globalist elitists wishing to force their ideas of order upon everyone. When in time did we truly have Laissez-faire free market capitalism and the freedoms which we naively think we have (or as some believe we tried but discarded because they cannot be trusted to work) or had? What if we had truly private property?

Each of these points and questions I have poised are just that. Meditations and observations I have made. It is easy to be persuaded by the government thought molders at schools and universities, media, propaganda; and as I am surrounded by a majority that seemingly consumes and enjoys the narrow acceptable spectrum in political and historical discourse between Hillary and Mitt I see more if not exclusively issues reduced to things like how much spending rather than none at all, SCOTUS decided that rather than SCOTUS is not infallible; we continue to ignore the rules of economics and reason rather than to understand the ebb and flow of labor and market; we think we can create laws (and yet more laws) and thieve our way into some insane utopian ideal reality for humanity where humanity is reduced to robots and a collective is put upon a pedestal rather than uphold and respect one another as independent, free persons — it is increasingly a dark cloud that over takes this rock floating in the great universe to which few will read between the lines, argue with reason, and understand that the facts, intentions and machinations surrounding our everyday lives are never as they seem.

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