Google

Subscribe
Enter your email address to receive notifications when there are new posts
Powered by BLOG ALERT
You will get emails when I post a new blog. You will not get them for any other reason. I post on average 4 times a month. Each email will have a link to unsubscribe. You will not get any spam from me or Blog-Alert.
 
Visitors

You have 923091 hits.

 
Latest Comments
 
Recent Entries
 
Category
 
Archives
 

Blogs I follow:
Fem·men·ist
The Briefing Room (White House)
The Future is Fiction
East Bay Bicycle Coalition
The Quiet Extrovert
Electrons and More!
Crystal Math
Green Eggs & Ham
Ghost Town Farm
DemonBaby
30 is the new 13
The Gubbins Experiment
 
Links
 
$0 Web Hosting
 
User Profile
Bakari
biodieselhau...
Male
Oakland, CA



 
Posted By Bakari

A couple friends of mine are taking a class on being a "white ally" - race awareness and relations, power and privileged, and counteracting racism.

One of them mentioned to me some critical feedback she had offered and it got me to thinking in more detail what has always bothered me about those sort of discussions, but up until now never quite pinned down.

The following is not a commentary on that class in particular, as I know essentially nothing about it, but rather a critique of a few general ideas I have heard and read on the topic in the past:




1 There is no such thing as "people of color"
-The impact of past racism (including slavery) and present racism does not effect all races equally, nor all in the same way.
- A black american  and a white american likely have more in common with each other than with a fresh-off-the-boat Vietnamese person.  A white american whose family has been in the US for generations likely has more culture in common with a black american than with a first generation eastern european immigrant with whom they share skin color.
 -The very term "people of color" encourages white people to think in terms of a false dichotomy of 'us' (all white people) and 'them' (everyone else).  It not only homogenizes all other races, it also makes everyone not white into an "other".
-Lumping all non-white cultures into one category, while giving white an entire separate category in itself suggests a type of superiority.
-This dichotomy also discounts the existence of mixed race individuals (officially 2% of US society, but really much higher - most surveys, as well as society, force people to choose one identity, even if they are in fact mixed)

2 Historical racism is the single largest cause for modern black poverty, and poverty does generally correlate with crime. However no historical or sociological factors can excuse individual behavior.  No matter what circumstances a person is born into, they have a choice about their own behavior.  Apologizing for, ignoring, discounting, or explaining away black crime rates, drug rates, or general anti-social behavior (e.g. boombox on a crowded train) does nothing to increase equality, and does not bring less conscious white people about as allies. 

3 Discrimination is explicitly illegal.  Talking about "institutionalized" or "systemic" racism does not address the issues which are most relevant today.  While there are still white supremacists in the US, their view has become as unacceptable in mainstream society as it once was only among civil-rights activists.  The president of the US is 1/2 African.  This does not mean that the conversation about race is over.  However, it does mean it is time to change that conversation. 

For example, talking about power hierarchies is mostly nonsensical today.  If racism = racism + power (as is often claimed by race activists), this does not imply that only whites can be racist, because whites do not have any particular power over other races.  There are minorities in the role of police officer, judge, congress person, boss, professor, etc. as well as whites in poverty, in jail, or otherwise powerless.  If you ignore all individual circumstances and look only at the whole society, then no one can be racist, because society is no one person.


 
[this blog has a character limit.  The rest of it is here: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/awareness-of-white-priveldge-vs.html ]

 
Posted By Bakari

"Turning-Hustlers-into-Entrepreneurs" discusses the possibility of increasing micro-credit in order to support independent "black market" business people.  As someone who has been running a successful off-the-books business for several years, I believe the major obstacle is not a lack of credit, but rather a government which is geared toward big business.

As the examples in the article illustrate, people are already doing what they are doing, without capital.  What they lack is official legitimacy.  Many entrepreneurs, such as myself, would love to "go legit", but it is not a realistic option.
I understand and support the idea that government regulate business to protect consumers.  The problem is that government does not take the size of a business into account in the requirements it imposes on operating legally.

For example, a single guy with a pick-up truck doing local deliveries pays the exact same state license fee as a company with a fleet of semi trucks.  The  least insurance available to him is a million dollars of coverage with a 1-2 thousand dollar annual premium, even if he never comes close to transporting a million dollars worth of goods.   Every city he works in requires its own separate business license.  If he needs to hire a subcontractor on occasion, he needs to buy worker's comp insurance at a minimum, and possibly more.  Being self-employed, he pays an additional tax (which an employer would otherwise cover).  And of course by staying underground, he avoids paying any income tax on his business revenue.

All of this can easily add up to thousands of dollars.  That sum may be inconsequential to a corporation with annual sales in the millions of dollars, but to a small independent, going legit would cost me about 20% of my entire net revenue, more than two months income.

The solution to this is not to finance small business to help them pay for theses fees - these fees are annual, and taking loans only increases risk.  The solution is to have license fees proportional to net revenue, instead of being fixed amounts, requiring insurance companies to offer a full range of coverage options, including (potentially less profitable) low limit policies, and restructuring tax code so there isn't a penalty to being self-employed. Similarly, laws making it difficult or illegal to run certain types of business from home could be relaxed, (for example, allowing small scale retail in otherwise residential districts), eliminating the need for a dedicated store-front, a major on-going expense.

Reducing the government imposed costs of running an independent business legally would , without the additional risk incurred (for both the investor and the entrepreneur) by accepting loans or the costs incurred by providing grants.  It would also increase tax revenue, by encouraging existing underground businesses to come above the radar and join the mainstream economy.

 
Posted By Bakari

The science essay I told everyone I was working on has been written, and is in the final editing stages.  It will still be a while before it is ready for prime time though.

In the meantime, here is a short thing I wrote a while ago to someone (don't even remember who anymore) about the consept of a flat tax:

 

----------------------------------------------------------

 

The standard arguments for a flat tax make a couple of giant - and totally false - assumptions:

1)That the money which the rich spend and invest creates economic activity, growth, and jobs

2)That the rich have earned and therefor are entitled to their money.

3)That taxing the working class would generate more total tax money because there are so many more of them to tax

 

1)The investments of the rich do not generate economic activity. If they were not hoarding it, that same money would still be around. Business could get capital from government and bank loans, and from the stock market. That is, in fact, the whole point of the stock market, that capital is obtained from many small sources instead of one giant one.
Its as if one person hoards all the hammers in town, and rents them out to people, then wants credit for the houses other people built with them. If they weren't hoarding the hammers, the hammers would still exist. If they were distributed equitably, no one would need to rent them, therefor building would be cheaper, therefor more would get built. In this way the fact that someone is hoarding and charging interest actually depresses economic activity, because those hoarding the cash skim a little off the top of every financial transaction thereby increasing its cost.

2)The super rich do not earn, and therefor are in no way "entitled" to or "deserve" the money they have. Extremely few of the top 1% of wealth holders got there from some brilliant invention, and even fewer of the top .1%, .01%, and so on. Those at the very top get their wealth primarily from inheritance, and then build on it by collecting dividends and capital gains. They do not actually go to a job and do useful productive work.
Those who do make a salary are not necessarily earning their money either. CEOs make multimillion dollar salaries plus bonuses even when they run their companies into the ground, as we saw just recently, with even companies that needed to be bailed out with tax dollars giving their CEOs multimillion dollar bonuses.

3)The bottom 40% averages about 20k a year. Total annual income is 2.4 trillion.
The top 0.1% averages 7 million a year. Total annual income is 2.1 trillion.
300k rich people have nearly the same total income between them as 120million working class people.

The top 1% averages over 1million a year. Total annual income is 3.3 trillion, far more than the sum of every working class person in the country.

You could tax the working class at a rate of 69% of income and still not bring in as much tax money as you would by taxing the rich at a rate of 50%.
You can't squeeze blood from a turnip.

Furthermore, if you did that, the rich are left with, on average, half a million a year.
Half a million which, remember, they didn't really earn.
The poor are left with $6200.


In order to make a flat tax even approach "fair", you would have to make several other large changes to level the playing field.


First off, you have to eliminate ALL inheritance.  That means 100% inheritance tax on everyone, from ultra wealthy to middle class.  You earn your money in your lifetime, and then it gets recycled back into society.  There is no justification to say that a person is entitled to money they did nothing to earn. 

Second, you have to make education both free and mandatory from pre-school to at least bachelor's degree, if not more.

Third, you have to distinguish between income that comes from doing productive work (wages) from un-earned income such as dividends, interest, and capital gains.  Someone who merely skims off the top of other peoples work should be taxed at a higher rate then someone who actually earns their pay by working for a living and positively contributing to society.

When libertarians and the wealthy begin to fight to level the playing field, then and only then can they claim that a flat tax is about "fairness"

A flat tax is both impractical and immoral.


 
Posted By Bakari

On the popular TV show "The Office", the branch manager is a bit of a doofus.  He's not all that bright, he is totally obsessed with having his employees like him on a personal level, and he has very little knowledge of actual business or management theory.
He makes his superiors wring their hands and shake their heads - but the thing is, his office's sales record is the best in the company, so despite his many, many faux pax, he always keeps his job.

Nobody can quite figure out how he manages to do such a good job in spite of himself.

Even though he tells them quite clearly, time and again.

He considers his employees family.
He wants his customers to feel cared for.
He is more interested in making people happy than in making money.

You can't learn to be community based and to value clients as actual people in business school.  You can't use the idea of caring about people and being friendly to increase the bottom line, because if your interest is in the bottom line, you are genuinely interested in people.  You can't fake authenticity. 

Its either about the love, or its about money. Once you start thinking about rate of return ratios, receivables balance fractions, risk-adjusted profitability, or marginal value-added pricing structures, and all the other things one learns in business school, you are far beyond the point of seeing every person you work for and every person you work with as numbers.

From there it is a very slippery slope to the scenario described by "Jack" in Fight Club: If the cost of the average rate of settlement times the expected rate of failure is less than the cost of a recall for a known deadly manufacturing error, we don't do the recall.
In the end it comes down to morality.  Its either being moral, or maximizing profit.  They are mutually exclusive.

No business is going to have as their slogan "All we care about is your money", and a lot of them try in ads to sound like it isn't true; for any public corporation it is actually illegal for them to consider anything else above the bottom line - if they tried the shareholders could sue. 
For the vast majority of companies jumping on the band wagon, being environmentally responsible is a marketing gimmick as much as a catchy jingle.

Thinking in terms of doing productive work for society while earning fair compensation, as opposed to thinking of how to maximize revenue while minimizing costs will not (always) lead to the highest possible profits.

It will, I think, mean that business actually increases while the rest of the country is in an economic downturn.  It means getting so many referrals its necessary to turn jobs down after going a year and a half without any form of advertising.  It means when, inevitably, mistakes are made, no customer ever makes a claim, because they realize they are not just numbers, that every attempt to be careful was made, all actions in good faith. 
It means that quite a few of my customers make me meals while I'm working.

If a job is a paycheck, it will show through to the customer, no matter how you try to hide it.
If I am ever in a position to hire anyone, my first question will not be about education or experience or abilities or references.  My first and most important question is just this: Why do you want the job?  If its about pay and benefits, no matter how qualified, its "next please".

It has to be about the love.


 
Posted By Bakari

My original comment was not meant to imply I don't believe that there are tangible effects on people (most notably unemployment, which is certainly up compared to a few years ago).
All I said was that media and politicians largely made it up.  I think it is a self-fulfilling prophesy to an extent, where in people hear constant messages that times are tight, therefor they cut back on consumption, therefor retail markets fall, therefor manufacturers cut back, and employers start laying people off.  Which fuels the beginning of the cycle even more.  This is why business analysts track "consumer confidence".  In fact, to a large extent it is what the stock market is all about.  Its less a question of how well a company is doing and more one of how popular are they.  If people think its doing well, they buy, which itself drives the stock price up.  It works both ways, so if everyone is convinced the market is doing bad, they sell so they don't lose too much by waiting, and then companies don't have the capital to invest.

-

I think it is totally unreasonable to adjust what it means to be "poor" based on those around you.
If we did that, billionaires could claim to be poor if those around them are multi billionaires.  In fact, everyone except for the single richest person in the world would be "poor".
Clearly there should be some objective standard of poverty.
I think the only reasonable one is the point at which you have a reasonable fear of not being able to provide the basic necessities for oneself and family.  Food, shelter, clean water.  If you can afford so little food that it affects your health, you can claim to be poor.

It doesn't have to be a "big" car.  If you own a car, you aren't poor.  Period.  Never mind that most people in the world couldn't even afford the up-front purchase price of a car.  Much higher than that in the long run is costs for fuel, insurance, parking and tolls, maintenance, tickets...
For hundreds of thousands of years of human existence even the wealthiest people in the world could not buy cars.
Only in the US do people honestly believe that they are a "necessity".
All over the country people claim to be struggling who are paying for cable TV.  They eat out and buy $2 cups of coffee.  They have cell phones and internet connections.  These are things most people and the world can't afford.  They are not basic necessities.

Supposedly a person in the bay area needs 3 times the federal poverty level in order to live "comfortably"
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/17/business/fi-wages17
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/10/17/MN0ISQEFP.DTL

They take it for granted that everyone needs a car.
And since when does every 6 year old need her own room?!
In the case of the 2nd article, I have no contempt for the person they profile.  She (rightly) considers herself middle class.
(Hopefully, after having been interviewed she doesn't change her own standards).
Now, going into collection, obviously a problem.  Thing is, that is another of those uniquely American things: living beyond your means.

 

[Due to charcter limit, this essay is continued here: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/spoiled-economic-downturn-luxury-as.html ]


 
Posted By Bakari

I posted my essay equating the free market with anarchy on a discussion board for anarchists.  The following is the comments it generated.


(I am David Craig Hiser.  All the other comments are various random anarchists.  Many comments were off topic, and are not shown here.
All of the comments, as well as my original essay, are here: http://www.anarchistnews.org/?q=node/7038
)

----------------------------------------------

Submitted by Ofelas on Thu, 2009-04-02 01:18.

Is this fellow trying to say that capitalism (with leaders and all) and anarchy/anarchism are all one and the same? Cuckoo Cuckoo.

-----------------------------------------------

Submitted by DavidCraigHiser on Fri, 2009-04-03 22:52. [I am David Craig Hiser]

More or less, yes.
Capitalism has no leaders.
Capitalism has only the market.
Democracy (or rather, what we call democracy, actually a republic) has leaders.
Our political system is the only thing which stands between our (the US) system and true capitalism / free markets.
Each move toward deregulation is a move toward economic anarchy.

------------------------------------------------------------

 

Capitalism is brutally authoritarian. It depends on police and armies to keep the masses of workers from being able to take the products of their labour from those who are robbing them (their owners, the bosses).

Capitalism is the antithesis of anarchism. It is the single most hated ideology amongst every authentic anarchist. I understand you want to call yourself an anarchist because its a cooler label than being a capitalist, but sorry, you may not use it. Actually, I'm not sorry. Anyone who supports all the evils of capitalism must be a douche, and I don't apologize to douches.
Go read the Infoshop FAQ and learn what anarchism is. Read the section on 'so-called anarcho-capitalists'. Go post on an Ayn Rand messageboard.

------------------------------------------

Submitted by David Craig Hiser on Mon, 2009-04-06 11:04.

You have greatly misunderstood my own position.
I am in no way advocating capitalism.
I am totally opposed to capitalism.
The reason I am opposed to anarchy is that I believe capitalism can (and likely will in the modern world) arise from it. That was the point I was trying to get across.

I am not forgetting bosses. Being employed by someone is a voluntary relationship. An employee can quit, and even open a competing business. The occasional "American dream" story not-withstanding, people generally can not choose to join the upper class.

I am claiming you can not have a classless society without a mechanism to enforce equality. You must somehow prevent individuals from accumulating wealth.
If individuals have complete freedom, sooner or later someone will accumulate wealth, and then they will be able to take advantage of that accumulation, which is capitalism.
If society prevents that from happening, then individuals are not free to do as they like, even if their actions do not directly hurt anyone else, and this entails some form of authority...

[there is a character limit, but just for Gregg, I have the rest on a non-myspace location: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/last-one-anarchists-this-time.html]

 
Posted By Bakari

This one was on my hypermileing forum, and began as a question about gas taxes.
That quickly degraded into an argument about taxes in general, and from there fell further to a general condemnation of government.
Since it was the off topic message board anyway, I decided to weigh in:

(original, including the entire discussion, here: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/over-80-oppose-raising-gas-tax-8319-6.html)

----------------------------------------------------

[me]
Of course 80% oppose raising gas tax. Not because they think it won't work, but because they personally enjoy the luxury of driving an inefficient vehicle. It has nothing to do with the cost of a hybrid. Trucks vans and SUVs make up 1/2 of new car sales, and all of those buyers knew they were buying gas guzzlers. It would cost less money - not just in gas, but upfront - to buy a small (non hybrid) car.

Quote:
I am for the freedom of choices that we all have in this country. In my opinion, you cannot tell me what to do if I am not hurting anyone else.

1 You do have total choice if gas prices are raised. You can choose to buy whatever car you want. In fact, even if CAFE standards were raised you would still have choice, because they only refer to fleet average, not individual models. The only way anyone's freedom is restricted is if it became illegal to buy a car that got less than XX mpg.
2 Buying a big car DOES hurt others. In addition to the fact that they do far more damage in an accident, there is this little thing called "global warming" (to be honest, I am not 100% convinced, but it is undeniable that burning fuel does environmental and health damage to all living things, including ourselves.)

Quote:
I oppose all taxes. period.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

(There is more.  Much more. It is not only on my original myspace blog, but it is also now Neopolitan, which may or may not take off as the new place for all of my social and political rants.  http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/part-2-gas-tax-digression.html)

 

 

 


 
Posted By Bakari

I have learned, finally, not to get into discussions with Christians.
I haven't quite got there yet with libertarians.

There is still a part of me that thinks that by pointing out the logical flaws, the mistaken assumptions of fact, and there basically immoral implications, that otherwise intelligent kind people will reconsider.
Part of it was when I read Ayn Rand's novels I could see being swayed by the unspoken implications.  It was only when reading her ides laid out in plain straight forward English that I could easily see her for what she is: the literal embodiment of pure evil.
Part of it is how many of my own friends and associates accept one or another of these ideas, and I know them personally, I know they are intelligent, compassionate, and generally reasonable.

Most of all I write for the people on the fence though, the random anonymous people who might happen across these discussions online, so there is a counterbalance to the radical rhetoric which admittedly does sound totally rational and appealing when its presented as it is, out of context.

One was a blog essay which an anarchist friend sent me a link to attacking democracy.  (He mentioned the caveat of not supporting the market economy.  I have already written before here about how a market economy will naturally arise in the absence of government regulation.)

While the arguments here are not necessarily universal among anarchists, libertarians, and capitalists, some of them are common, or are at least similar.
(It is kind of long already, so I'll save the other two for future installments.)

I don't have the responses here, but that's mainly because there really weren't any substantial responses, just general insults and links to other people's writing.  If you are interested, you can read both the original essay and all of the comments here:
http://libertariananarchy.com/2008/12/against-democracy/

 

[The rest can be found on my original, charcter limit free blog, here: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=97022263&blogId=496945265

It is also now Neopolitan, which may or may not take off as the new place for all of my social and political rants. 

http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/capitalists-libertarians-and-anarchists.html]


 
Posted By Bakari

For a long time now we have tried to believe in supply side economics (also known as Reganomics, closely related to the trickle-down theory).
Cut taxes and/or interest rates, which means people will have more money or borrow more (respectively), which they will in turn spend, and that spending will make the economy grow. Bush Jr. gave tax-payers not just a break, but a refund, calling it a "stimulus". This apparently did not work, because only a few years later we were at the point of handing billions of tax money over to major corporations.

The very idea that stimulating consumption can help the economy is flawed.

The goal is to increase the total amount of value circulating in the economy.
We want constant growth.
Setting aside for the moment the logical, ecological, and spiritual problems with never-ending growth, it is fairly straight-forward that consumption alone does not create anything.

Imagine several ship-wrecked survivors on a tiny deserted island. They have the luggage they brought with them, but nothing else.
Imagine they find some rare, beautiful shells, and decide to work out a system of representative currency using these shells.
It doesn't matter how much these shells are traded, saved, or spent. There is still the same amount of total value on the island.
No amount of consumption is going to increase the overall material holdings of the survivors. The only way any one person can amass anything more than they started with is at the expense of someone else.

As manufacturing has moved over seas, and produce is increasingly imported, we have moved to a service and finance based economy.
Nothing new is created by a service.
The finance industry is literally nothing more than moving virtual money - a placeholder for actual wealth - around, and skimming a transaction fee off the top.
Imagine one of our survivors loaning the worthless shells to another survivor, with a one shell per 100 interest rate, though there is nothing of any real value to buy.
Both the borrower and the investor still have no food, no clean water, and no shelter.

Perhaps one day someone comes across an enormous pile of shells, and places them into circulation.
You could say the total worth of our survivors has just increased - but obviously it doesn't mean anything. In fact, now that they aren't rare, each shell is worth that much less.

This is EXACTLY what happens every year, when the government literally prints up new money which is not tied to any actual increase in production.
They just print new money.
In fact, taxes pay for 59% of government spending. The other 41% comes from borrowing money (not much different from an American consumer with a credit card) and.... scooping more shells of the beach, and pretending that they have any value.
Since everyone agrees that $1 is worth some amount of real stuff, they can get away with this, but since they are spending without creating anything real, that value has to come from somewhere.
Where it comes from is out of every dollar held by every person in the country, as they become less valuable due to the increased supply. In a way, printing money to cover the deficit is a backdoor tax, a tax via inflation, but one which doesn't build us any new roads or guarantee healthcare.

When you think of the island, it is easy to see that this system isn't really doing any good overall.

[Entire blog at MySpace]


 
Posted By Bakari

I would like to point out that in January of this year, I wrote about houses not being a sound financial investment.

Popularly "sub-prime" is thought of as referring to lending to people with poor credit history.  In fact, 61% of sub-prime borrowers had a credit rating high enough for a traditional loan.  The middle class tend to be at least as guilty of living beyond their means as the working class.  21% of those making over 100k a year say they live paycheck to paycheck.
At the time I wrote the blog an unprecedented number of people were deliberately buying houses grossly out of their means using interest only loans (which would never be paid off, by design) on the assumption (by both the consumer and the bank) that the housing market would continue to climb at the rate it was forever. 
That climb, however, was driven mainly by that very speculation, valuable only due to popularity.
This summer, 6 months later, so many people were defaulting on their loans that it affected the entire credit industry, and by extension, the entire economy.

I have an associates degree in economics.  How is it that I was able to see this, yet no one in the dozens of banks and credit institutions, nor the rest of the financial sector was?  Or perhaps were they just confident that friends in the white house would help out with tax payer money?

Stay tuned for the coming of my more direct predictions.


 
Posted By Bakari

Media and politicians would have us believe that consumerism is good for "the economy".

Most consumption is done at chain stores.
The majority of the durable goods (and a high percentage of food and other consumables as well) stocked at the majority of chain stores is imported.
That money only increases the American trade deficit.
Of course a percentage also goes to the corporation which owns the store.
This money goes to those people who have a significant amount of stock in chain retail stores.
Since most manufacturing jobs have been outsourced for cheaper labor, the only jobs this supports are the generally low-paying and benefit-free retail sales and stocking jobs.

Unless you buy exclusively from independent retailers selling exclusively US made goods, shopping has no beneficial effect on "the economy".
What they really mean when they say "its good for the economy" is that it supports the people who own stock.
Because, ultimately, there is no such thing as "the economy".

There is only people.
People have more or less money.

To a large extent value is created when skilled people make valuable things out of cheaper raw materials.
But a lot of economics also has to do with transferring wealth from some people to others.

When we transfer wealth to those who already have it, by shopping, or with government bailouts, its called supporting the economy.
When we transfer wealth to those who actually need it, its called communism.


 
Posted By Bakari

Anarchy VS Capitalism ... Anarchy=Capitalism

 

 

We have been seeing increased government abuses, intrusions on personal privacy, in the name of security. Wiretapping, secret courts, extradition without trial, surveillance of citizens w/o warrants; while technology allows increased collection and aggregation of information - suggestive more and more each day of "Big Brother".
In London the network of cameras is so extensive that the government can literally track the movements of any vehicle in the city by license plate.

Imagine:
A small, self sufficient community.
No police.
No taxes.
No coercion.
Citizens are free and independent, and individual rights are respected.
People earn what they are worth, and keep what they earn.
They barter for what they need.

Nobody is forced to do anything they don't want to do.
People can expect total privacy, without the presence of a "big brother" government behind them.

And everyone is happy.

Until...

One day, when, late night after a party, a young person who feels confident they are only a little buzzed, runs over a cyclist on the way home.
Since there are no laws, there is no insurance requirements, and no consequences for avoidable, negligence induced accidents.
He feels guilty, but that isn't enough for her widower, who is devastated.
He is able to track down the driver, and takes revenge into his own hands.
The friends of the driver feel this murder was unjustified, since the crash was an accident for which he felt regret.
And they gather together and go after the husband.

One man has a home with a very healthy garden. He grows most of his own food. His neighbor also try to grow his own food, but he is just downhill of the man, and much of the limited well water is used up. The neighbor can not grow quite as much. The man insists that his neighbor simply is using poor techniques and plant choices. The neighbor maintains he has a worse site and further that the man uses more than his fair share of water. One especially cold winter the neighbor can't quite grow enough to feed his family, and when the man is away, he harvests some of the vegetables from next door.



In the past couple centuries human productivity per worker, especially in the first world, has risen many times (I believe it is 20 fold, and I know I wrote about that before, but I don't feel like looking it up).
A disproportionate amount of that has gone to a small fraction of the population, but it has none-the-less been correlated with a significant increase in standard of living for all of us.
Much of what has facilitated that is directly or indirectly related to technological advances which have allowed for greater commerce and communication.

It has always been the role of government to build and maintain roads, without which commerce becomes all but impossible. Roads, even toll roads, are simply not profitable. In general, most infrastructure, water and sewer lines for example, utilities, commerce hubs such as seaport and airports, bridges, and (aside from the US) healthcare, are all at least subsidized by the government because they contribute significantly to individual quality of life, yet are not in the best interests of any one individual, or even corporation, to create.

 

[entire blog at MySpace]


 
Posted By Bakari

For my entire life I have been the beneficiary of what I think(?) is an abnormal amount of generosity.
Of course when you're young enough, you tend to take everything which happens for granted, because you haven't learned a baseline yet. Ok, so the nice lady gives you some candy, and you are supposed to say "thank you" and this is considered a normal social transaction.
So, when the administrative staff of your elementary school calls your family a couple weeks before Christmas and says that someone donated a really nice bicycle along with all the other toy donations and they want you to have it rather than putting it in the first-come-first serve toy bin that the whole school will have access to... you don't really question that either. That was only 1 of 3 bikes I was given by teachers at that school.
In high school I always assumed it was because I was so obviously poor.
I got a steady supply of free meals when I sat looking forlorn while everyone else ate (there is a fine line where it becomes obvious you are doing it on purpose. I always blatantly crossed that line. Never seemed to matter)
The free clothes from relative strangers was because of how I dressed. They assumed I couldn't afford decent clothes, and didn't want to embarrass me by asking, so I would just get random gifts. So I thought.

It may well be that this is the motivator still, since I couldn't care less about clothes and I work and play hard and they tend to disintegrate off of me before I get around to the rather tedious chore of finding replacements.

It can't explain all of it though.

Maybe the very idea of capitalism, Ann Rands virtue of selfishness, it is all rhetoric, and Burning Man's culture of gifting (not bartering, gifting - major distinction) is actually a universal standard. Maybe I just never noticed. Actually, I suspect this is it. I don't see anything so particularly special about me, (beyond the requisite "everyone is special" kind of way)

The web domain I wrote about recently. The waived inspection fee for no apparent reason. My need to compensate for overly generous tips (very rarely has anyone ever questioned the number I come up with, maybe 3 times in 2 years. I calculate in my head and just give them the total.)
What inspired this entry was the shopping trip this morning (I promised Fushi that I would buy cat food before I had breakfast)

Kim and Nina own the shop, have maybe 2 employees (relatives?)
I took a cooking class with a friend of theirs, and as a result I always get a discount (10-15% off depending how much I spend, and frequently rounded down to a round number on top of that!)
We speak only as much as you can while in a checkout line, but they are both quite observant. My wife and I lived here before the separation, so they noticed when she stopped showing up and asked me about it. They were both very supportive, and also optimistic about our chances. Once Nina could tell just from my grocery choices, "You're making dinner for her tonight?", which of course I was.
All of this is totally irrelevant. I just want to share House of Produce with you all, and this seems the best chance to do it.
Anyway

Kim almost always gives me fruit on my way out the door. At first I assumed it was stuff he had too much of, or was getting towards the end of its shelf life. Today it was white nectarines. When I smiled and waved him away, he pointed out that they were organic in case that was why. It wasn't...

[entire blog at MySpace]


 
Posted By Bakari

I finally got the person who had reserved "biodieselhauling.com" to release it from it's parked status.

 

It should be a few hours to process, but soon www.biodieselhauling.com will redirect to my website, www.biodieselhauling.org

Most people assume all websites to be .com, so this means a lot of confused customers will be able to find me a lot easier.

 

The person who owned it until today, a college student in Oregon,  he had a similar business idea to mine, and a few months before I first set up my website he reserved the name. 

I contacted him and offered to buy it almost two years ago, but he said he intended to use it in the next few weeks.

However, he never ended up using the site.  I checked in recently, and found it was still idle.

I contacted him again, and offered to buy it and let him pick a price.  He refused payment, and transferred the domain to me the next day.  I wrote again, explaining that I am using the site for commercial reasons, and offered to pay, at the very least, whatever he paid for the domain in the first place.  Again, he declined.  

Without a Paypal address or mailing address (the DNS had the school's address), there isn't much I can do.

 

He said he agrees with what I'm doing, and to re-invest what ever I would have paid him.

 

The GoDaddy website (who the domain is registered with) specifically encourages people to register domains for the sole reason of reselling them at a profit to someone who will actually use them. Plenty of people do just that, essentially web domain speculating - and making money while providing literally nothing of value to society.

This person did just the opposite - paid for a site, and then gave it away.

 

Take that capitalism!!

 

I am not the only anti-capitalist still out there.

There is morality, generosity, left in this country.

To the guy in question (perhaps he doesn't want his name public, but he knows who he is) you have all of my respect and gratitude.

 


 
Posted By Bakari

Couple years ago I posted about trends in the US government spending (it popped back up to the top because I updated the first graph)
Since then of course the trend I described has only increased and intensified.

Today I look forward instead of backward, and suggest something crazy!

Our government debt is growing faster than GDP.  Now they say that the housing "crises" is likely to spur another rescission.  The war is still going on, the eminent running out of social security funds hasn't been addressed, and taxes on capital gains, stock dividends, and inheritance have been reduced or eliminated and those that haven't been already made permanent are still in the works.

The finance problems in housing loans was primarily due to people deliberately purchasing houses out of their price range with the assumption that the market would not only go up forever, but would continue to go up at the same rate is was at the time.
It didn't, since much of what sent it up was the very speculation based on that assumption, sort of like the dot.com non-sense a decade ago.
And they ran out of money, couldn't make the payments.

The country is being run the same way, on extended credit, on the assumption that GDP will always grow fast enough to encourage outside investors.

But as a recession dawns, spending increases and revenue decreases, the dollar continues to fall against the Yen and the Euro.

Part of the draw in buying US currency, (both in the form of federal bonds, which pays for nearly 9% of all federal spending) and by buying into the American economy (real estate, stock in US companies etc.) is our large overall economy and its fairly consistent growth, but a large part is just that the US dollar has been recognized as the dominate international currency for a long time now.

(note that data from the treasury website don't seem to add up, nor do they perfectly match the wiki data - but they are all fairly close.  Also, I rounded the numbers off)

In 2007:
Total US government debt: $59,100 billion
(44% of total held by foreigners)
(25% by foreign governments specifically)


$1,697 billion total federal receipts (revenue)
48.8% income tax
36.4% SS/medi-care
10.4% corporate

$2,887 total outlay (government spending)

Real deficit=$1,190 billion 

The entire $869 of SS taxes paid in '07 is included in the official receipts, however the time when there are more retirees than workers is fast approaching, and any money spent from the fund will have to be repaid - and will not have gained any interest in the meantime.  In fact, they do spend SS funds, but this is borrowing, not real income

Revenue only pays for 59% of the budget of the government.

 

<entire blog at MySpace>