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mmxix   з а г а д к а
        federal syndicalism
             FedSyn Flag (early design)
Most followers of syndical business structure are also anarchists, who draw lines even in their fantasy world. It is necessary for a group of any kind to work inter-relate with those that surround it. Like cells, they need to be bound, to some extent, with others. Federal organization of syndical business makes these operations structured and efficient. By centering the weight of the central (federal) government very low, by putting most decisions in the hands of regional and local authorities, individual citizens gain a level of autonomy while retaining the protection and security we have come to expect of the central systems in modern developed nations.

Syndicalism is the answer to pressing economic matters. It is a compromise between corporate and socialist systems. Like a corporation, there is almost always a hierarchy in place. Like a socialist system, however, ownership of the syndicate is shared equally between the employees. A CEO may be granted a loftier paycheck, but any attempts by the management to cut job or salaries and giving themselves a pay bonus would almost always find themselves being thrown out by the workers. The upper management is delegated their authority, but the responsibility is with the company as a whole. Ownership is not done through stocks and bonds trading. It is a vote per employee.

Yes, there will be political infighting and corruption. This will always be the case in any organization. People sometimes just don't get along. In these days, this can often lead to strife as the upper board shuffles around. In a syndicate, even parties or movements can be found. What is, however, the best for the business will be decided democratically, whichever side the grunt employees support, not who a corporate board supports.

No, we cannot force people into a syndicate system. Marx and the others are wrong (albeit their ideology is the product of their specific time and social structure, which has never been applicable to the modern United States) - there is no sudden revolution leading from one form of economy and government to another. One by one, companies develop and grow. Instances where a revolution has forced labor reform onto businesses almost always end poorly, with the employees being the losing faction. Syndicalism works well for small and middle sized entities across the country right now. Some of the most competitive companies are run as syndicates, as that money comes directly back to the workers. Our federal structure, likewise, will not see a quick move towards local power . Great men throughout history are often called the ones who overthrew the shackles. This is false. The great men in history are the ones who devise change without making a splash. Over time, we overcome challenges, by necessity, and by cooperation.
        More Detailed Platform Issues (dated 2010)
In economic principal, I am what is sometimes called a syndicalist. There is no real structure to such a belief; it is a loose correlation of policy. A similar term is "anarcho-socialist". That sounds confusing, but they are basically terms for a revision of the modern corporation. Instead of stock holders holding the votes, business is run as a co-operative, where every employee has equal say. This prevents a disassociated body giving millions to CEOs while laying off workers - in a syndicate, the workers would overrule that. However, it is not basic union control; the workers will elect their representatives, who will answer to them. I concede that this system is not perfect; it is less "efficient" in terms of gross income, but I am more concerned with workers' rights.

On top of that, I believe in a federal government that is stronger at state and local levels. The central (federal) government would be responsible for things that affect the whole - defense, oversight, distribution of funds, etc, but the states would have a stronger hand within its own borders. It is simple to state that California, Alaska, and Iowa have very little in common, for most government concerns. Under federal supervision and democratic government of the people, the states should be able to have greater control of certain initiatives.

- Abortion
I fully support a woman's right to abort in the first trimester. If a woman is past that point and does not wish to carry the pregnancy, adoption and other services should be made more readily available. I also respect the father's rights. While I don't believe they can force a woman to carry a pregnancy, they should be consulted and brought into decision making at the adoption phase.

- Affirmative Action
This practice should be abolished. It merely covers up the more serious issues that have led to it being put in place. These issues are based on simple statistics and tax spending. See Education for further information.

- Agriculture
Simply more oversight about use of chemicals and degradation of the land would be marvelous. Subsidies should be given as encouragement for proper land use - fighting erosion and salination. Farm land should be dedicated to food; no subsidies for vegetable-based fuels.

- Animal rights
Animals have the right to proper treatment. As the law recently passed in California, they should have space to move around, not be stacked in cages in warehouses, etc. Inspections should be made in farms and hunting grounds as they are at restaurants. Any animal on the endangered list should be protect to the best of our ability.

- Capital punishment
I am against capital punishment entirely. The government does not have the right to take the life of any citizen, however evil. See further policy in prison reform.

- "Censorship"
No book should be made illegal or off limits in any public library. There should be drastic reduction in ratings for ages over 18, in all mediums (literature, film, artistic displays, video games, etc). If a minor gains access to these materials, it is at the parent's judgment. Severe cases should cite the parents as the responsible party.

- Civil liberty
Return to the age of innocent until proven guilty. All forms of non-violent and non-destructive speech, demonstration, and religion should be free. The state should not engage in any religious dogma, including statements in oaths and on currency. Marriage should be abolished at the government level and left to the churches. In place of it, civil unions between any two consenting adults will be instated. In polygamy, the marriage is at the church level; the civil union is between two people. Any person - of any nationality, held by any US forces - is granted the same due process as a citizen.

- Constitutionality
A radical belief; the Constitution and Bill of Rights need to be scratched and remade for modern society. Technology and social issues have changed drastically since their adoption; the law needs to be more clear. A Constitutional Convention is necessary. Balance of power in the branches of government needs to be redone. Government departments need to be trimmed down where they overlap (ATF, immigration, HLS, for example) and some shifted between departments (the Secret Service should be moved out of Treasury). More power over social issues should be given to the states, with the federal level maintaining oversight. This prevents situations where culturally disparate states cannot impose their will on each other (for example, Alabama and California).

- Drug policy
Most drugs should be made legal for personal use. A structure similar to that used for tobacco taxation and control would cover most drug use. All persons in prison for possession of marijuana should be released on parole. This will drastically reduce crime, provide income for the government (in taxes and in not spending money fighting smuggling), and ease overcrowding in prisons. Any offenses committed under a drug should be resolved with intense therapy and financial penalties. Additionally, individuals with addiction to dangerous drugs have a better chance to live a fulfilled life; they have no need to enter into the dens of scum, and are less drawn into the junkie lifestyle.

- Ecology/environment
I don't think there is much to change here. I support offshore drilling. I'm even OK with drilling in Alaska, provided oversight on plans is given to the park services. As mentioned before, investments/subsidies should be given for fighting erosion and salinization. Foresting should be limited to a sustainable level via replanting of trees and stopping clear cutting. Strip mining needs to be stopped.

- Education
The funding system in place should be abolished. Currently, much of the funding for schools comes from local taxes. Instead, all schools would receive the same levels of funding per student. Further, classes and standardized tests should be made more rigid, with the goal of getting more students capable of completing International Baccalaureate certificates. The huge investment in installing computers is a horrible mistake. Computer use should be restricted to a 1 year course in basic computer use, and a second year voluntary program in advanced computer use. There should NOT be computers in every classroom, or laptops for every student. This is unnecessary waste.

- Energy
I am a big supporter of nuclear power. As technology stands today, we need to build more nuclear power plants - in addition to wind and solar. Subsidies should be given to producers and consumers of private roof top solar panels. Further analysis needs to be made of ecological damage of tidal energy systems.

- Foreign relations: Latin America
Take a hands-off approach - perhaps support Brazil as a regional leader. Push for limits on slash and burn agriculture. Direct intervention in Mexico, to modernize its farms, weed out corruption, and increase stability.

- Foreign relations: East Asia
Trade agreements, military integration. The primary problem is going to be a solution between Taiwan and China. Investment/pressure must be put on China for ecological balance; less coal burning, more safety. Exporting our safety technology - meters for gas buildup, etc should be a gesture of faith. China can slowly evolve into a more stable and valuable ally.

- Foreign relations: Middle East/Central Asia
Further intervention here is only harmful. We should respect the Islamic part of these states, while rewarding democratic government with trade.

- Foreign relations: Europe
No immediate change.

- Foreign relations: Africa
First step is to support the African Union with funding, weapons, intelligence, and fire support. We need to avoid direct intervention, but instead strengthen local governments to intervene in their own problems. One area of direct intervention, however, needs to be in modern farming technology. Preventing salinization and desertification should be a very strong priority. Exporting both technology and experts to advise locals on procedure is something we should focus on.

- Genetic science control (food, medical, and physiological)
Genetically modified food should be made available, with a clear label. Experimentation on humans should be completely illegal.

- Gun control
An adult, after a background check for preconditions, should be able to own a non-automatic weapon. However, to own the weapon, each individual would need to be certified in a training program for use and safety. This certification should need to be renewed every 5 years. Encouragement and subsidies should be given to less-than-lethal weapons.

- Health care
National health care that functions essentially as an insurance company. All deposits would remain low. For severe cases, special arrangements and housing may be necessary. Essentially, though, medications are both provided by government research and private research. Another key to the system would be a record of health, perhaps on a national ID card or drivers' license, which would list all conditions, history, medications, etc.

- Heavy industry
We need to bring this sector back to America, while maintaining health and environmental standards. There are many examples of industry working this way. The expense is more than shipping it to China cheaply, but it provides more jobs and independence from foreign markets.

- Immigration
Complete revision of immigration code. It should be more "open", meaning that those entering the US on a work or student visa have access to education and help in going through the citizenship programs. For those who don't go towards citizenship, it would be easier to track them down - via their employers. The employers should be punished harshly for hiring illegal immigrants. For those first coming to America, obtaining legal work vouchers should be simple enough that human smuggling or illegal entrance is not worth the effort. Additionally, some effort needs to be made to target cartels on the Mexican side of the border, in cooperation with the Mexican government.

- Intellectual property rights
I know what it is like to have an intellectual property taken away. I'll also note that DRM just doesn't work to solve the problem. At the moment, we'll have to deal with fraud how we've always dealt with fraud. Meanwhile, artists should focus on other avenues of revenue and tracking down their copyright violations.

- Israel
I am not a Zionist. I think the invasion of Palestine was wrong. But, it is something that has happened and can't be reversed. All we can do now is try to give equal access between the various groups. Israel will need to give up a good size of what it has, though.

- Labor rights
OSHA, unions, etc are working fairly well. Violations should be followed up on worker complaints.

- Military investment
With cutbacks in manned military, investment should be made in unmanned vehicles, both in the air and on the ground, computer controlled and remote controlled. Instead of air strikes, cruise missiles guided by UAVs would be the primary engagement before boots on the ground. Thus, investment must be made in robotics. Retirement of big ships like carriers should be scheduled.

- Military application
Standing forces should be reduced drastically. Around 4 or 5 carrier fleets should be mothballed. Power projection should be handled by intervention; providing support for allies on the ground in the form of intelligence, air superiority, and fire support.

- Poverty
Income disparity is the primary problem. Taking a flat tax system, pick an arbitrary number, say 30%. A lower-class citizen making $10k would be left with $7k for all spending, whereas someone making $100k would still have $70k. This should be tweaked so that disposable income is more balanced- not equal, but enough to ensure that even those living in poverty have access to saving money, investing, saving for college, etc. The super-rich have a lifestyle that is not sustainable; their tax rates should be drastically higher. They can still maintain a very comfortable living standard with "only" a few million.

- Prison reform
More emphasis on rehabilitation and parole. Those who are in prison should have their time made productive - not necessarily through hard work, but through some productive labor. Education should be stressed for all prisoners. As mentioned above, many minor crimes should release many prisoners to parole immediately, reducing stress on the prison system.

- Public/private schools
Go to private school if you want, but like any private business, it needs to raise its own funding.

- Public services
Public services should include all necessary utilities, including new ones such as internet connections. Public services should also be an outlet for supporting welfare recipients and prisoners, as a form of labor that can be more sustainable.

- Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a dictatorship with a horrible disparity rating. We cannot continue to support the Saudi royals. As far as I'm concerned, feed them to the dogs.

- Space exploration
Baby steps. We should be figuring out how to grow food, such as algae-based growths, and more sustainable stations, both on the ISS and Luna. Getting the technology right should come before missions commence. Getting to Mars is a very exciting prospect, but we need to prove and check the technology.

- States' rights
States need more power to meet their specific needs. A state like Iowa and a state like New York have very different social needs, and should be able to focus on their communities, instead of a bludgeoning federal law. However, the federal level should have oversight on restrictions of civil liberties.

- Stem Cell research and use
Strongly for. All possible research and eventual use should be encourage and funded.
- Taxation
Two words: Income disparity. A level of comfortable living should be decided, and a curve of income should be the goal of providing breaks for the poor and taking funding from the disposable income of the very rich.

- Trade agreements, tariffs, and outsourcing
Stiff fines or tariffs should be imposed on any outsourcing of commercial jobs. Industrial outsourcing should be set to a level where it is not cheaper to ship materials overseas and back than it is to produce in America.

- Welfare, disability, and unemployment
This may be New Deal-ish, but when possible, the unemployed should be given access to government employment. Welfare should be limited to a total of few years every decade, whereas disabilities should be handled carefully by universal healthcare.

- WMD defense and aggression
Severe cutbacks need to be made in our nuclear arsenal.

        Rants (dated 2006-2010) (level of sanity may vary)
Western Education
Dr. Jared Diamond's publications, namely the book Germs, Guns, and Steel, offers some of the best insights to the history and development of global society. It has several faults, yes. Dr. Diamond is not a trained sociologist, historian, or other lib arts field, so some of his conclusions are faulty, but it is precisely because he lacks advanced education in these fields that so many of his conclusions are very accurate and revealing. Western students in these fields are, generally, by nature rather biased towards their field of study, and most of that ignores many of the world's most important civilizations. Even concentrated study of other regions leaves one with a more narrow viewpoint.
Western study often refers to Jerusalem as the "center of the world".
In the way one can stare at a problem or issue and see no solution, but someone else with little experience can see what is missing immediately.

Do you want the government in health care or not?
The entire health care debate has been radiating sheer stupidity for some time now. Skipping past the usual idiots on both sides and their insane fundamentalist rhetoric... vaccines. It seems like, on average, there is less than 3.2 seconds between someone screaming about an optional government health plan because the government is evil and Obama would run death panels, and then wailing about the lack of H1N1 vaccine. I have to ask, while my mind is trying to process the thought pattern (if any) here... do you want the government involved or not? Since it seems that about 49% of the country doesn't want the government involved in health care (because it will kill them, obviously), they shouldn't be able to get the vaccine. I'm sure private industry will step in and provide an affordable and widely available vaccine any day now, since they have been at liberty to have been doing that all along.
I mean, private medical insurance definitely provides when you're in need. They don't restrict your choice of doctors (provided the doctor is on their health plan) or pool money (aside from the part most employers deduct from your paycheck when they buy their insurance packages) or cause a drain on the health care centers (except when they retroactively don't cover a procedure) and they certainly don't have death panels of bureaucrats (just the for-profit companies deciding what is covered) or ever deny services (except for pre-existing conditions, or any other excuse), and they are very friend and available to contact (provided a few hours to wait between asking to speak to managers).
The entire thing is ridiculous. Public money pays for hospitals and covers the bills not covered by insurance companies in a medical emergency (or pre-existing condition). No one is talking about privatizing health care... do people not understand the concept of public option? Yes, the government can create a competing health care program, but if it is competitive, that means you are already being vastly overcharged. At the very least, take a breath between declaring the government being murderous communists seeking to kill Americans and demanding that they provide you with vaccines every year and running both public hospitals and research institutes.
If you want the government out of your health care, don't get vaccinated, don't go to hospitals, don't take any medications or practices that have been tested and/or developed at public institutes like university medical hospitals (I think that leaves you with the option of honey tea and grinding up leaves).
Face reality. Most Americans have absolutely no choice in their health care. Their employer must purchase an insurance package, and that's what you have to deal with. Why do you trust a private company looking to maximize profit that answers to no one but their fellow for-profit companies more than the government, which is elected by the public and changes every few years, and is answerable to that election process and is not in the hands of one person, but has to answer to other government organizations as well. This is democracy giving you choice, not a company dictating whether you're worth it.

Obama's Mistake
Now, I should note at the start that I am pro-"socialized medicine", at the very least the public option plan, and I'm glad this is a serious public conversation we're even having.
However, I think Obama has horribly, horribly mistimed his proposal. The main problem is that in light of dealing with the economy and the wars, public healthcare is a hard sell. We are still in the recession, and Obama is juggling too many initiatives at once. The Dow is steadily just below 9500, which is good, but unemployment is high and we're just getting into debt. Public option healthcare would be nice for the unemployed if it were already in place, but the startup costs just make it a stupid thing to be pushing in this economy.
Obama should have his focus on the economy at home. Some other stuff, yea, but not a major initiative that is unpopular before it even started. He's blowing his popularity index, the novelty of his historic election is out the window, and all we hear is something most Americans are opposed to. He should be explaining and outlining economic recovery and stimulus and dealing with Afghanistan/Pakistan.
If things don't change substantially in the economy and war, Obama's legacy could very well be minimalized by his being black and having a bad economy. If/when the Pubs come back in 2010, it will be his own fault, and getting anything done will be next to impossible.

I don't eat pork. Personal choice.
Of course, I mean to speak of economic/political pork projects. One man's pork is another man's project. People like John McCain have come out to protest pork, which is fine... however, we have to be careful what we label pork. Pork in a bill may be a waste of money, or it may finance a bridge retrofit that can save lives or enliven a community. Funds "wasted" on things like researching pig pheromones can actually be funds leading to important medical discoveries, new chemicals, or new ways of understanding and approaching problems. Very little, I think, is actually useless. Occasional projects like the Bridge to Nowhere are probably involved, and given the number of bills and projects done, this probably results in a lot of waste, indeed... but I think, not as much waste as is being proclaimed.
As is, "pork" projects, even as defined by McCain et al (including those ones researching animal biology which could be essential for anything from medicine to farming or a bridge retrofit that could prevent another disastrous bridge collapse) actually make up only a tiny percent of the actual budget. I'd bet that McCain has centered more articles/interviews/speeches around pork in his career than money is actually passed for pork projects.
Ideally (that is, originally), pork was meant to refer to a kind of "pet project" or special interest spending snuck into a larger budget or bill... and cutting out that kind of waste is a very good thing, I agree. However, there is a difference between public funding for some random useless application a senator promised someone, and money requested by a senator for a project that can bring jobs, promote security or health, or just further knowledge. Some of these things are worth the price... there are many studies that would have seemed useless, pointless, or stupid long ago that have revolutionized modern society.
For instance, in the '30s, during the Great Depression, we spent billions (then-money) bombarding elements with neutrons, to see what would happen... the result was atomic power.
In this economy? I think that the bills passed should be done by the *states*, not the Feds. This would be much more efficient... perhaps the state could submit its own list of projects, and those are presented. Much more efficient than spending however many man-hours and spewing money as people debate minor details.

Regarding gun rights
You should note that I am all for rewriting the entire Constitution, so bear that in mind (me being liberal nut job).
The Second Amendment serves no purpose at all in modern society. In fact, it serves a a disservice by being unclear and mucking up the entire issue. There are many things that make it downright retarded, but I'll focus on two; technology and scope. Having said that, I'll go in reverse order.
Scope. When the Constitution was written, there was no intent by the authors to have standing army. Defense was, in theory, to be done by the "well organized militia" stated in the Amendment. This ideology was reinforced by not harboring soldiers in times of war... the people were to be the defense. Novel idea for a sparsely populated agrarian society with no hostile borders, but... not quite applicable nowadays. We have well organized militia. Very well organized. So organized that they exist.
The other issue is technology. The aforementioned militia, at the time, were armed with muzzle-loading smoothbore rifles, and the occasional pistol. Firing times for a well trained shooter were 2-3 shots a minute. Not much in the way of crime as we know it. Many children were taught to shoot responsibly from a very young age (I mention his for a reason). Now, pretty much anyone can gain access to a semi-automatic rifle or pistol, and easily fire a few dozen rounds a minute. They're cheap and have a simple point and click interface.
So, we have no need for a militia, given that we have a volunteer civilian military I would be all for a militia should a dictatorship come to power), and the technology has come so far as to make any legislature written at the time to be quite laughable. You might as well have an amendment in there restricting traffic speed to 15 mph, to stop them galloping horses.
Now is the part where I'm supposed to say that guns should be illegal, right?
Actually, I'm rather neutral. Being reasonable, I'm at odds with the nut jobs on both sides.
What I actually propose is that in order to own a gun, one would need a license. Said license would be attainable for free, after a safety, usage, and storage exam, which could need renewed every, say, 5 years. This isn't to keep track of everyone, or even to help reduce crime by tracking people... it is simply to ensure that gun owners now what they are doing. And reduce crime. There isn't really anything more sinister than an amateur radio license. Actually, less sinister, since there wouldn't be a central database with everyone's addresses.
I think that registering a gun, similar to a car's VIN number, would be a good idea, though. This isn't to restrict anything as much as it is to streamline criminal proceedings.
I would suggest a new legal process for adding prison time for "lethal intent"in cases where firearms are used in a crime, though. As far as making anything illegal, I don't think that assault and high caliber rifles should be allowed. Handguns, shotguns, semi-automatic rifles, and other weapons would be acceptable.
The two sides need to reach compromise. This is a fair offer.

The 1-Variable
Leaning out of the realm of politics for a moment...
The 1-Variable is a completely arbitrary number. It varies for each person in each circumstance; there is no constant. To explain it best, I will share some examples.
Simply put, the 1-Variable is the maximum distance you'd go before it gets "far away".
Living in Berkeley, my 1-Variable was maybe half a mile. I got a job about 1.5 miles away, so that became my 1-Variable; everything that was above 0.5 miles was far away, but the new circumstance changed, so anything up to 1.5 was fine. Moving back to Los Angeles, my 1-Variable is around 25 miles; places I'd drive to without any thought.
For more dramatic comparison, imagine the businessperson who makes regular flights from New York to places like London, Hong Kong, and other markets. When presented with an assignment to make a trip to Chicago, is the process the person goes through similar to the longer treks? Take more or less planning, packing, and notably, stress?
The 1-Variable is essentially a line, in distance or time, that we feel comfortable traveling in, since we make the trek regularly. Beyond this variable, we take on much more stress than usual. We may plan more, over pack, allocate time carefully, or just be plain more anxious. A trip within the 1-Variable will be very routine and you won't even think about it, but if pressed to go beyond, will tend to view more as a chore.
Most often, this is work, school, etc. From my time at Berkeley, my 1-Variable would depend on classes; a few semesters, I had classes on the far end of campus, so I felt pretty comfortable walking anywhere. When I had classes only a half mile away, going downtown 1-2 miles away was hard. When I attended the Academy of Art, not only did the 2 mile marker go down, but my daily commute took me from one side of the Bay to the other, usually around 30 minutes one-way. When I lived in Berkeley, any trip into San Francisco was much more of an effort and much more stressful than going to the same area years later when it was my daily commute.
I don't know what anyone should take out of this; I find it just interesting to look at statistics and stress. Maybe you can take out of it how to plan an event so the majority of people can attend. This is a good application. Our annual fraternal banquets had a lot of heated discussion about where the event should take place - in Berkeley, it would be accessible to the students, but for most alumni, San Francisco was a better choice.

A Modern Islamic State
After reading several books on the subject, I've come to a few conclusions...
I think that a modern Islamic state needs to be something like Iran. I mean, Iran is not an ideal state, but the basic framework is there.
Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam views the state of the community as a reflection of their piety and their responsibility on Earth. This is especially true as modern Western states are essentially secular. I do not think that an Islamic state can be secular, barring a complete revision of Islam.
Instead, I think there needs to be a nearly socialist but democratic government, but only alongside an Islamic court (representing whatever imam). This court should handle Shariah and be included in checks and balances with the democratic government.
To aid in this, local communities should be organized on a small level with some autonomy (less power than a real state, and much smaller). Matters of ijmah would be here.
And ideally, the version of Islam from the direct followers of Muhammad (up to the 4th Imam, IIRC) should be stressed. Ahl al-kitab should be stressed (this would be equal respect for other religions, specifically Abrahamic).
And while I don't think women (or men) should be *forced* to wear traditional covering clothing, Westerners have to correct their misunderstanding of the nature. Most Islamic women I've read take pride in it, since women and men alike are generally not judged by their form, but by what they say. Going back to the examples of tolerance of Muhammad and Khadija and Aisha.
The problem is converting an essentially agrarian culture to an industrial one, which many countries face. Islamic countries, however, must also deal with looking at their faith. Much Muslim law and tradition now practiced is abortions of the original ideals of Islam. Instead of fighting against tradition, Muslims need to look back at what their religion means and how it can exist with an industrial state. This includes a monumental challenge of rebuilding Islamic roots and taking great steps in social revolution - in cases like Saudi Arabia, probably even massive redistribution of wealth and abolition of the Saudi reign.
Islam co-existed rather well with Judaism and Christianity (and Buddhism, Hinu, etc) until the modern era. The imperial annexation of the Middle East by Britain and France and the Israeli invasion are the true breaking points that lead to modern hostility. I think I actually agree with Osama bin Laden on some points, such as the blasphemy of the Saudi reign, though his interpretation is equally flawed. Israel will be a permanent thorn in the Dar al-Islam as a whole, which the West does not understand and hurt greatly by its arbitrary division of states after World War II.
Iraq has a chance. If it holds together, and Islam is given proper treatment, maybe in a generation we can see a state that is more tolerant and evenly divided. But the West needs to remember that this is an Islamic state, and Islam needs to be given room. Not only that, encouragement. The state needs to be run for the people, the wealth and welfare governed by the people, and tradition allowed to exist and develop.
Western-educated secular leaders will not be able to do this. Neither will a reign of Shii or Sunni.
Note that I intentionally used Islamic terms for things in this post. I did this to show the differences that we must recognize in dealing with Islamic states and people. Also note that this is not a "I know what is best for the Muslims" post. My intent is to influence foreigners to accepting the cultural and economic differences.

Free Media: Silencing our Voices?
Is the modern free media actually making our voices less powerful?
In a recent conversation comparing outcry against Iraq with outcry against Viet Nam, I came to the conclusion that yes, it is. Even if something meets tremendous public outcry, there is far less public pressure on our democratic system.
If something were protested in the '60s or '70s, the only recourse most people had were demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, rallies. The news media was fairly limited, and the only way people had to express their discontent was to take it out in public displays. People en masse either directly demonstrated or were part of a counter-culture movement.
Now, we have CNN, MSNBC, Fox, BBC America, and several other 24-hour news channels and even Comedy Central, where pundits and "experts" of every type can reflect on issues. Most politically active individuals, such as myself, go to the extent of discussing their discontent on political forums or blogs or whatever electronic media we have. This effectively releases our valves of outrage; we're making our opinions known, aren't we? Well, no, no one takes this crap seriously outside of the people who actually take part in it. Actually getting together to protest something is actually a rarity, usually restricted to college campuses like Berkeley. The recent protests (after the fact) against Proposition 8 (banning gay marriage in California) passing has amounted to only a few hundred individuals in Los Angeles... and the local media coverage of the "event"spent more time discussing the redirections of traffic than the issues.
The free flow of ideas and ease with which we can express them has drastically limited how effective those messages are. Messages of protest are almost superfluous in the sea of information that is the Internet, and adequate news coverage actually makes the issues so covered that they stop being news and become talking points. Even with the widespread publication of news about prisoners being tortured, we just shrug it off as we become used to seeing it.
Even with the Gulf War, my school yearbooks even mark the events with pages of pictures. In the Internet age, these images are so familiar and common that even when they pop up we just think, "oh, that" and move on. The revolutionary media showing children running after a napalm attack in Viet Nam is still burned in our memories, but we are more likely to treat the more recent images of prisoners being tortured in Iraq and actually humorous.
Additionally, time is flowing much more quickly. Processes which took decades 40-50 years ago now flash by on the news in a couple of nights. Public reaction is instant, but also instantly forgotten. Someone posting pictures of hooded Iraqis being electrocuted now is more easily shrugged off as a throwback to a bygone age, all of three years ago.
Online movements (petitions, protest websites, etc) gain millions of followers, but still have less impact than a 500 student march of past generations. We've drowned ourselves out completely. Our outrage is quick to form and quick to disappear as we browse to a new webpage (usually involving a picture of a cat in a cup or something). Our culture needs to adjust. It needs to find its voice again, and find a way to make that voice heard, repeatedly.

The Flowing River: Immigration
It is a rather simple tenet; it is easier to redirect a river than to block it. Works for philosophy, physics, and sociology. An obvious example is convincing Africans to use condoms, which many of their religious leaders condemn. Rather than try to convince them that their beliefs are wrong, it is easier to work with the beliefs.
A more immediate application would be Mexican immigration. While people are trying to build fences, walls, moats, and heavily arm the border (interestingly, in most border communities, the national boundary is rather unimportant), they will be met with continued innovation and determination by immigrants and smugglers. The fact is, while many may get caught, many will also get through - and those caught will usually just try again. Damming the river is not working.
The problem most Americans have with Mexican immigration isn't usually racist - they're more upset about tax money being spent on the immigrants and their children. Funnily enough, they don't mind spending billions on other wasteful endeavors (like building a 3,000 mile long wall). But to take the river analogy to this issue, we first have to solve the problem.
My solution is to, instead of resisting immigrants, to embrace them. Make naturalization more fluid, allowing more legal immigrants to enter. The key to this is to make the naturalization programs more useful. Get jobs and education for the immigrants. Put them through job training as part of their agreement to immigrate. Magically, they're paying taxes and being part of the community. Wages will go up, education will increase. Poor towns will get an influx of tax money and be able to upgrade their services. The goal: Make them productive citizens.
This is not impossible. As more immigrants come, even places like small town Oklahoma are seeing surprising effects. With their factories and businesses shutting down, many of these towns have been on the track of abandonment - but in the past few years, huge waves of immigration have brought thousands of new citizens and kick-started the economy. While immigration rates are increasing at 50-100%, the towns are attracting commerce and entering new golden ages.
Immigration has always been a good thing for America. Immigrants have almost always been resisted for a time, but after a breaking in period, they integrate with the community and stop being outsiders. Think of the Irish, the freed slaves, the Chinese and Japanese - all cursed and discriminated against, all deemed threats to the roots of society, and now all integral parts of that society. Education, employment, and integration are far more effective and simple tools than exclusion and discrimination.

Energy Sunrise
It was no secret a decade ago that we would be facing a tremendous energy crisis. Well, that time has come to reality. Oil and coal prices shoot higher by the day. I remember a few months back, when oil was at "record highs" of $60 a barrel - it is now twice that. Know what? That is freaking scary. We needed to start making changes a decade ago, or over a decade ago, but this country opted out. We're paying the price now - and the problem is not limited to gasoline prices. It costs more to produce and ship items. Inflation is beginning to kick in, and the dollar is collapsing. We have to now take the solid steps we neglected to for decades.
Many advances have been made and are continuing to be made in alternative energy sources. Solar panels for homes are not only drastically cutting the amount of energy people use from the public grid (saving them money and the stressed systems from brownouts), but even generate electricity to provide TO the grid. There are uncountable thousands of square miles around every city of pure, useless rooftops. Cover these with solar panels, and we'll see a huge gain in clean power - and these cells will only get more efficient. The problem? While they do pay for themselves, the initial cost is still rather high. Know what? So is the cost of those large solar and wind farms we see cropping up. We're talking about free "land" on these rooftops.
What does that boil down to? The government needs to subsidize - heavily at first - the deployment of solar panels to homes. They should be standard equipment on new homes. Businesses should be given breaks for covering their roofs with solar cells. Schools and colleges have huge patches of roof space.
Not only will this initial subsidy investment save citizens money in the long run, it will fuel research and development of similar and better technologies.
We aren't alone in a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific. We have the means to help ourselves - what we lack is the will.
And about that power grid... there is no excuse for coal and gas power plants still operating. Nuclear power is far safer and far, far less polluting than these technologies. Even with the worries of nuclear meltdown - something almost impossible - nuclear plants can be placed in less hazardous zones.
An additional twist to modern times, little reported by the press; as a nation, we're in a drought. Why is there not more money invested in creating tidal power turbines and, behind them, desalinization plants? Why is this especially not the case with the southwest, where water from the north and is siphoned and the Colorado River is diverted so much that it barely reaches the Gulf of California?
And why aren't these technologies adapted on a global scale? We could be reversing desertification in Africa, Central and South America, and Asia. If we don't want countries like Iran to be developing and using their own nuclear reactors for energy, why not contract with them to create programs where we build and they operate the plants? This keeps nuclear material out of their hands while giving them the benefit of bringing electricity to the people.
We have the means. We have the science. We have the material. We lack the will.

A Dangerous Proposal For the past seven years, the country, the media, the world has declared the 9/11 attacks as “unprovoked terrorism aimed at civilians.” This has never sat right with me. There are a number of reasons I will outline in this short article about the motives and operating procedure of Al Qaeda. First, the notion we have been indoctrinated with that Al Qaeda is actually a coherent group with a command structure. Second, is that the attacks were anything but random terrorism against civilians, as we see most notably in Israel, but also throughout Asia and Africa. Finally, I will stick my neck out and say that, frankly, we had something like this coming, as tragic as it may be.
When examined closely, we must look back in time at the roots of Al Qaeda. Many sources, such as Adam Curtis, look back to the embassy bombings in 1998, the first large scale Al Qaeda attack. Prior to that, the group of terrorists had no real name or structure, beginning in 1988 out of the roots of the US-supported anti-Soviet rebels. Until 2001, no one in Al Qaeda called themselves Al Qaeda. This is because Al Qaeda does not have a central leadership or organization. It operates in cells, some laundering money, some training terrorists, some committing actual attacks. Killing “the number two” in Al Qaeda is similar to cutting a head off the proverbial hydra. Most recently, the group “Al Qaeda in Iraq” has been used – I purport that this happens because after 9/11, the “name brand” Al Qaeda shot up in PR value. These aren’t people who are flying around having meetings and planning terror. They are mostly groups with connections. No leader (including Osama) is scheduling bombings of police academies etc.
This brings me to my second point. Al Qaeda (the original group, not the Iraqi insurgents), in their eyes and, objectively, did not attack civilians without cause. IF you track their attacks, each target has symbolic value. The hotel bombings – targeting at structures containing US soldiers. The USS Cole – clearly a “get out of our neighborhood” attack. It was not designed to take out the ship, but to challenge the US presence there. The embassy bombings – stepping up the message, still attacking US Federal buildings (and unfortunately, their local employees – I am no apologist for Al Qaeda, and they certainly are willing to sacrifice anyone for their cause). The September 11th attack had three phases. The most remembered and noticeable one, of course, being the World Trade Center. This is usually pointed out as the largest attack against civilians. However, the question that goes unasked in the West – were they civilians? I’ll go into details below, but much of the reason for the attacks was the economic abuse of Muslim lands by the US. The hotel bombings and the Cole bombing were both targeted against US military assets on long-term deployment in the Middle East, largely to protect any further damage to oil fields. These attacks can be justified. The embassy attacks were stepping the scale up, but still targeting the US presence and involvement of the embassies in local politics. The World Trade Center was both a symbolic and functional source for the root cause of our involvement in the Middle East (face it, if there was no oil there, we would not be within 1,000 miles. Look at Sudan). Economic domination, abuse of their natural resources for foreign wealth that did not reach the average person, and foreign ownership of so much capital. The second attack was at the Pentagon – that is fairly obvious, and the third being theoretically targeted at Congress or the White House, again, fairly cut and dry as far as terrorist targets though.
What stands out on that list of attacks is the World Trade Center. The rest were largely government sources – so why the WTC? As I briefly mentioned above, from their view, the WTC was the only economic target they could really hit. The NY Stock Exchange was not attacked. Times Square was not attacked. It was the WTC, literally one of the hubs of corporations who own so much of that capital in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Companies using their own foreign employees and foreign companies to drill out and process the oil, with barely any money from this vital and limited resource being trickled down to the people. The unemployment rate is Saudi Arabia is 13 - 25% – from a country with some of the richest oil production of any country. 62% of its economy is based on this industry, but only 25% of its population works in industry. Oil makes up 90% of Saudi Arabia’s exports. The requirement for foreign businesses to operate is that 25% of the money goes to Saudis, often the wealthy royals who run the country. From, of all sources, a blog titled, “Tired of all the Liberal Rhetoric Out There (Terry Dillard)”, we find these numbers: “According to the CIA World Factbook, Israel produces a measly [sic] 2740 barrels of oil per day. At the same time Saudi Arabia puts out 9,475,000, and Iran 3,979,000. Yet Israel enjoys a per capita GDP of $25,000, while Saudi Arabia and Iran come in at $13,100 and $8,400 respectively. The income gap is not a crisis in Israel because Israelis have the freedom to produce wealth. Arab state citizens have less freedom, less wealth, and less hope for getting it.” Our “Reaganite” friend has stumbled upon the correct numbers, but he misinterprets them. The reason Israel makes so much is simple; it is small, it has a diverse economy with many different exports, most of its companies are homegrown, and it does not have an elite class spending $400 million on a private jet. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is large, has a lot of poor people, and a few very rich people. A large number of its companies are foreign-owned, and these companies bring in their own workers. Mr. Dillard seems to believe this is because of “freedom” – in a sense, he is right. Saudis are oppressed, underpaid, watching their sole resource (90%!) being shipping right out, and sitting on an unemployment rate tripe that of the US in recession. He compares that to Israel in a profoundly stupid correlation, but the numbers he has paint their own picture.
He is right – Saudis are not free. What do you do when you are no longer free? What did the Americans do when the British overtaxed them? They rebelled! They used anything at their disposal. If they could have, they would have blown shit up – just like the Al Qaeda groups do today. What we see is a rebellion against freedom – on that, I agree in part with Mr. Dillard. Unfortunately, this time, it is us doing the repressing. Were these right-wing ideologues born in Saudi Arabia, they would be in arms against the Saudi royals and the foreign companies taking their profits. This is, indeed, the significant part. Al Qaeda is the result of a crippling problem and blithe disregard from the West. We should not ignore its message. If we truly believe in freedom and economic mobility, we should not be so friendly with the Saudi royals, we should not be having businesses pretty much literally sucking the wealth (and the only natural resource) out from under them. We should, according to the very roots of our own national basis and pride of freedom, be seeking to right this injustice. We should not have to wait for buildings to be destroyed to do anything about it. And we should be more careful in how and where we respond. In all of the states involved in the War on Terror, Saudi Arabia, home to the Al Qaeda movement, is the only one we are NOT pushing. We need to be objective. We need to pay attention. We need to remember our national morals.

Where is our money going?
People, mostly conservatives but also many Democrats, are in a state of shock and awe at money wasted on illegal immigrants from Mexico and Latin America. They lament the welfare they somehow get, and the jobs supposedly lost. Well, the last part is mostly mumbled, since many of those jobs lost are sub-minimum wage positions working farms and trimming suburban gardens.
In any event, this is not the place where our outrage should lie.
So much more money - countless numbers hidden by corporations, unlike the public figures the government publishes for welfare and school costs - is pissed away sending jobs overseas. This happens on two fronts. First, factory and industrial jobs have been being lost to Asian markets for decades. Everything we use in daily life, from cars to textiles to electronics, is assembled in part in factories in China, Taiwan, Thailand, India, or other countries. That's the old news that has been bleeding American industry dry since before I was born.
The new loss, one we should be very concerned about, since it is only going to get worse and has no possible way to be controlled by import measures, is commercial jobs. It's no secret that if you call a tech support line, you'll probably end up talking to someone in India. They have special courses to teach foreigners American accents. They make very decent money for their countries, and spend that money bolstering their own economies. Good for them, they need it. But more and more, other tech jobs are going overseas. The days when a software programmer could leave undergraduate study and make $100,000 a year kicked the bucket long ago, and not just due to the dot com burst. Since programming can be done anywhere, it is. Everything done with computers is being done overseas, cutting the wages companies have to pay trained technicians to the point where it is difficult for people paying a high American standard of living to stay afloat.
While I do support globalization and I am happy to see the economies of foreign states rising, I also see the looming disaster for our high-headed American way of life. I only see it going downhill. Be careful what companies you buy from and support. The one thing I will carry on from the Reagan Administration: Buy American!

The Invisible Fee of Private Medicare
The average American is oblivious to the true cost of Medicare. They are frightened by the suggestions of Democrat presidential candidates and other politicians in providing tax-based Medicare for every person in the country. They think this will cost them more taxes. On the surface, this is true. However, they are usually unaware of how much money is taken out of their paycheck by their employers to pay for their private Medicare! We're already paying the price - it is just invisible to us, taken out by employers without notice.
The main benefit of switching to a public healthcare system is that all of the money spent will go directly to actual health care fees, not private corporations paying big paychecks and meeting stock quotas. More money would be spent on social health, resulting in a healthier populace. Additionally, as stands, any hospitalizations and emergencies that can't be paid for by private insurance are eaten by the hospitals, resulting in tremendous losses. Reallocating public funds would allow more efficient spending of money.
For everyone, for society in general, it is best when those who need care are provided for the most - not the people with the best jobs. Instead of relying on hospitals eating funds and charity donations, public health clinics could reduce the incidence of major problems, and deliver the necessary aid to those who need it. This isn't socialism - this is society caring for itself. It is like having public police instead of private security firms.

The Modern Crusade
The original crusades are over. They brought boon, they brought disaster. Countless numbers were slaughtered, cities razed. However, cultural and scientific change took place, and trade networks developed. Again, we face positives and negatives; plague for gunpowder.
Of course, this was many centuries ago. Unfortunately, the gates were re-opened when the Ottoman Empire was dissolved and borders re-drawn with haphazard ignorance by the European states. Severe ethnic division happened. No one was in control, though there was no shortage of states to sell them all weapons. If this were not enough, the Israeli invasion, for better or worse I will not discuss here, caused widespread upheaval and polarization between the West and Near East. This was a state of affairs that was horrid on its own – but now, it sat ablaze a sea of oil.
Soon enough, completely undeveloped countries had billions of dollars dropped into their governments' and leaders' laps. Gas and pipelines from Central Asia and the Middle East, direct oil pools throughout the region... seemingly ripe for the plucking.
But first the West needed a foothold. Pouring money into the coffers of kings and princes and government leaders to allow the Western companies to drill and export the oil was their method. To bolster this, they afforded the Middle Eastern nations weapons to fight each other, and turned a blind eye to events like the horrific Iraq-Iran war, where WMDs were used on mass scale, as well as the repression of the people under a non-democratic government. Still, more money was pumped in as alliances formed and shifted.
The money, however, did not make wealthy and prosperous states. Instead, it made incredibly wealthy leaders and incredibly poor citizens. The tiny Gulf nation of United Arab Emirates may be the most notorious, spending billions to create islands for the world's ultra-elite. Neighboring and larger Saudi Arabia is still a monarchy with wildly fanatic sects, including those responsible for the September 11th attacks. The gross domestic income for Saudi Arabia is $20,700 with a 13% unemployment rate. From the CIA Factbook: “The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 40% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 5.5 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors.“ For contrast to that 5.5 million foreigners? 6.488 million, including more than 35% of the population in the 15-64 age group are non-national workers.
Now, to the point of my article. Try to imagine yourself there. Try to imagine the money being pumped out of your country by large foreign interests. The Bush Administration declared that the attacks on September 11th were “unprovoked”. I argue that the attacks were very well provoked.
Consider the targets that have been hit. The USS Cole, a naval ship in foreign waters. The embassies in repressive African regimes. The World Trade Center, where many companies responsible for the pillaging of oil had base, or were partners with. It certainly represented a huge economic target. The Pentagon, as the US military presence and actions in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere was persistent and unchallenged. This is in sharp contrast to normal terrorism – they aren't bombing street markets in Podunk, Michigan. Their strikes are large and targeted.
Were I them, I would be targeting the local leaders first, but that hasn't worked for them.
If we want to take this “war on terror” seriously, we have to recognize the facts that they are on a “war on foreign capital investment”. We need to realize that we are stepping on their foot before they punch us in the face. We need to bring programs that give money to the people, not to the Saudi kings so closely connected with people like the Bush family. If we want to win the hearts and minds of the people, we need to show them we understand and want to help with the problems that we did play a role for. It is time for admission of guilt, and actions to take down groups like the Saudis, divert money from building islands for incredibly rich foreigners, and help them form a stable and modern economic situation. This is our obligation.

When your spirit isn't into it...
At some point, I'll be adding a little graphic labeling my support for Obama. Though I have absolutely nothing against Mr. Obama, I would much rather have another candidate. That candidate is Dennis Kucinich. However, I am a realist, and firmly believe that either a Clinton or Republican White House would be disaster (and that Clinton's campaign is the biggest threat to the left in America). Thus, with every fiber of my being, I wish, hope, and pray for Obama.
This does not, however, make Kucinich's efforts wasted. Instead, a secure Democrat White House dedicated to change from the horrors of the past, well, 50 years or so, allow Kucinich and others leaning left more opportunity to get their voices heard, more opportunities to have changes proposed and followed through. What will be the course of change in America is slow and steady, with new ideas flowing off of the successes of current ones. Kucinich and others on the left just need to make our voices heard, understood, and eventually, accepted.
America has been drifting in milky water around the center of the political spectrum since McCarthy (and that misfortune with Reagan). Even George W's 7 years have so far been relatively mild, based around the "war on terror"- outside of that, he has proven himself a weak administrator. Were it not for the invasion of Iraq, he'd probably fold into the pages of history quietly.
So, as this election year starts, take hold, and take stock of what you desire to see. Think in the long term. Accept concessions. We cannot afford another 2000.

Haiti is Yours
Preface: Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries, in GDP and natural resources, and the poorest outside of Africa. It is virtually devoid of forestation, its farmland is decreasing due to soil erosion and other factors, it is largely occupied by sustenance farmers, aside from the heavily concentrated slums of Port-au-Prince (which has one rich suburb in which most of the country's few elite live, and is comprised otherwise mostly of unregulated slums with no municipal services). It is almost totally unique in Caribbean and Latin American countries in not being Hispanic; its population is almost entirely descendants of African slaves, speaking a French-derived Creole language. Their government, run by Papa and Baby Doc for most of modern history, is incredibly weak and corrupt, doing little to administer the country's masses or regulate industry and agriculture. As a whole, already devoid Haiti is rapidly getting poorer while conversely becoming more populated. About a million Haitians illegally immigrate to the neighboring Dominican Republic, also poor but far better off than Haiti, in a situation much like Mexican immigrants to the US, with many similarities (they work labor-intensive low paying jobs that most natives wouldn't be willing to do).
So, given your power as the Lord God controlling the actions of every country on the planet... what do you do?
Frankly, drastic action is necessary. This is one case where I would actually call for US/Western/UN military invasion and occupation, corporate investment and ownership, and the institution of exceedingly drastic and basically authoritarian control over every inch of land and sea to cultivate silviculture (tree farms) for reforestation, regenerate marine resources for fishing for protein, and draconian laws on agricultural land use - the collectivization of small sustenance farms into larger and more efficient "corporate"(for lack of a better word) ones. To accomplish this, the government would have to be completely rebuilt and municipal services introduced, as well as a massive increase in industrialization. Also, the mass import of oil and natural gas to replace charcoal and coal energy currently used, and the infrastructure necessary to support this.
While initially this would cost an insane amount of money and take time measured in decades/generations to accomplish, I feel it is the only course to prevent Haiti from becoming the next Rwanda/Sudan, and potentially turn it into a profitable self-sustaining country.

Zero Population Growth
Land has a carrying capacity.
This statement is not one of opinion- it is one of fact. This carrying capacity can be increased through imports, such as Greenland, but at some point the number of people will outgrow what the landscape can provide for them.
Historically, societies with limited space - especially islanders in the Pacific, including Japan, practiced zero population growth. Through a variety of means, they socially evolved systems to protect the overall well-being of society. In smaller populations, this is what Dr. Jared Diamond refers to as "bottom-up" solutions, where individual or small collectives mutually agreed on matters, creating a larger consensus in society. Otherwise, it was "top-down", where a society reaches a magnitude where it can afford to support a ruler and potentially ruling class.
Methods of population growth included everything from abstinence (which didn't necessarily mean no sex), abortion, infanticide (more common than we'd like to admit), voluntary suicide in times of starvation, and other methods, some more ghastly than others. The overall goal was preservation of society - unlike modern Western society where large agricultural production and vast geographical landscapes and alliances/imports mean that famine is almost unheard of in developed countries.
But for places like China, India, Africa, and Latin America, population growth is a serious problem. As Thomas Malthus pointed out, population tends to grow exponentially while food sources (mainly agriculture) grow arithmetically. This means that in a few generations, a successful society will rapidly out-consume its resources.
Naturally, there are in general three controlling factors of carrying capacity that apply to all animals - disease, famine, and warfare/migration. Humans are not exempt from this. In the past, states that out consumed their resources frequently obtained it from neighbors by trade or invasion - but those resources would eventually run out as well. It wasn't until the 1700s that Europeans began reversing deforestation with silviculture projects. In Africa, disease and warfare have played constant roles for thousands of years. With population expansion (Kenya's is 4.1%, doubling its population every 17 years), famine is increasingly real. In many cases, warfare, genocide, and disease are the only reason people aren't[t starving to death.
In India, overpopulation results in famine and disease.
China institutes forced population control.
Latin America, with many Roman Catholics, faces rapid population expansion due to refusal to use contraceptives and creation of large families.
In the past, systems such from the caste system to capitalist America and other stratification work because a family head knows that his children will inherit and continue their work, so they practice good land management.
My argument is that we as a global society need to unite in our efforts for zero population growth in many areas. This includes the social encouragement of contraceptives, exports of food staples and encouraged dietary changes, openness and availability of abortion, policies such as China's reproduction restrictions, and STRONG investment in spreading modern and environmentally friendly agricultural practices to Africa, India, and Latin America, all of which face overgrazing, poor irrigation techniques, topsoil loss, and desertification.
Call it global socialism, but if the West wants to see a stable world, especially in generations to come where these problems will only get much worse, it needs to invest in the lower classes. As any ruler/ruling class knows, the strength of a state is only as strong as its working classes which are responsible for most of their production. Without this labor, society cannot afford to support upper classes (consider China and India as the peasants for American commercial industry, lowering prices and making more cushy and profitable commercial jobs).
With a strong and developed developing world, many regional conflicts, ethnic and religious tensions, and other problems that the modern West no longer faces will go away. We only help ourselves by investing to make the developing world more livable, stable, and sustainable with zero population growth.

The Root of the Problem: Levels of Society
One of the more critical failures of both the left and the right is rather blatant. It is the assumption that everyone should be "raised up"to developed world status, and expecting that status to be obtained. The right sees this as them not *wanting* to advance.
Both (mostly the right) fail entirely to grasp the concept that society needs to grow into that position, not hung up into it.
Problems from Afghanistan to Iraq to Sudan to Rwanda to Venezuela all stem from the same problem; they were/are tribal agricultural/nomadic society handed modern tools of industry and warfare. What would you expect to happen?
You must look at the West - it took around 200 years to go through the Industrial Revolution, and it suffered horrible growing pains. We're expecting these societies to make the same social progress - the concept of rights, freedom, etc that we hold so dear but are developed, not given - in a matter of a dozen or so years. Not surprising they went apeshit once they got AK-47s and RPGs.
Instead, look at a country like India. While not a developed country (and still isn't in some parts), it did have a guiding hand from Britain and got on course with development long before most of the "problem areas" we have today.
The most successful examples of rapid economic change are Russia and Japan. Both took only a few decades to industrialize... and neither of those were exactly smooth transitions.
Anyway, my point is that we ignore socio-economic problems in our expectations for other countries to grow. They must be guided, helped, protected. They need education. They need technology. Left alone, they will continue on a spiral of destruction that will, like it or not, hit the West in a number of ways.

Education: Planting a future
I want you (speaking mainly to rightists) to consider the scenario that we have. I want you (speaking mainly to rightists) to consider the scenario that we have.
Currently, schools are primarily funded by the districts which they serve, which means that the less money the people pay to taxes, the crappier education they will receive.
This, if it has not struck your minds yet, is why there are ghettos and gangs. Students get stuck in a rut - without some outside involvement, they are, in effect, tied to their land.
Getting rid of social funding for school would do nothing besides deepen the poverty, increase crime, destroy cities and force people out.
An initiative such as vouchers only takes more tax money, and increases further disparity.

Left Alone: Cuba and Iran
Iran has joined the exclusive (and tres chic) club of countries we are performing modern siege warfare on.
But, what if we didn't persistently hound them?
Iran was, by some degree, one of the few countries in the ME that could be said to be developing. Not a perfect democracy, mind you, but there was some wiggle-room and space for change over time. They were at odds with their Arab and Kurdish neighbors and pretty neutral with Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. They could be bartered with, and had a chance for great prosperity via oil and pipelines (generally, the ones that magically appeared in Afghanistan after 9/11).
Cuba has worn the shackles of... well, a Gitmo inmate. Being held without a reason, cause, statement, trial, or question. We blindly assume that Cuba is evil, even when the ideological war is long over, and Cuba represents exactly 0 threat to America.
Now, the point of debate: Where would Cuba and Iran be if the sanctions hadn't been put in place?
I would like to say, pre-"nuclear" shit, that had Iran and Cuba been treated as normal trading partners, the quality of life in both would increase DRASTICALLY, probably to the point where the people decided that they want democratic reform (being more literate and such).

US: Using Human Body Shields*
* not literally, of course.
OK, so I had this page long post about how deaths are reported, and how misleading figures are for us deaths. It touched on several points...
1) Unprecedented medical coverage and rapid evac/triage
2) In contested areas, holding up inside what are basically forts, emerging for home raids and convoy escort duties
3) Despite all the uproar about Humvees not being adequately protected, they still offer a better measure of light and fast squad transfer
4) The nature of most injuries are IED road bombs and car bombings which lead to...
5) the virgin poorly trained and equipped Iraqi police - a force with so little control that they have to change how their cars are painted every month because of infiltrations, desertions, and forgeries.
From there, I went on to casualty reports.
While Iraq retains status by having a low *death* rate, the nature of the wounds - largely shrapnel - creates a large number of *wounds*. In this case, about 1:10 (or 3,000:30,000)... and the past ice keeping pace. It has been extremely bad for the past three years, and two of the graphs indicate clearly.
My point; the war isn't going quite as rosy as the media represents. The caskets come home under cover, veteran services are rapidly becoming yet another stressed part of an already stressed machine.

Lack of fear over outsourcing
While it is occasionally mentioned, I've never heard people speak as seriously about the threat that outsourcing brings compared to the uproar about Mexican immigrants (please don't make this a thread about Mexicans, that is just a comparison).
Back in the '80s, as I was growing up, I recall the gov't's "Made in the USA" campaign. That fettered out as manufacturing jobs were outsourced to China, Mexico, Taiwan, Japan, etc, and the "battle" was lost.
Now, people on both the left and right are ignoring the massive flood of outsourcing consumer support, computer development, and other commercial-era jobs are being shipping, once again, overseas. India's economic boom rides on the back of American jobs. They teach American accents in training. Middle-class jobs are bleeding out as foreign nationals are taking jobs, even purchasing shares in companies.
Further, millions of Indian and other eastern Asians are flowing into the US en masse, attending schools and getting degrees. This is most notable in the medical industry, wherre an incredible amount of doctors in urban areas are foreigners.
So, I guess my question is... where is the outrage, both left and right?

The Divine Document: Why put all literal word to law? I've come across this road at many, many different points, from both sides of the spectrum. Basically, I don't get why some people put so much literal faith in governing documents.
I suppose it started when I was a Christian looking at the Bible as, well, less-than-literal. I had a strong Greco-Roman self-study, I suppose, so I was more open to see the vague line between mythology and writ from God. The Bible, as God's word, was, to me, a series of morality tales outlining how to be a good person.
After a while, I began to apply this to things like the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I mean, we were a nation born of rebelling. But we stopped dead, with really very little change in the word of law (other than emancipation of slaves and women). We continued to follow the same letter of law from a period where a large down had a thousand people and firearms took 30 seconds to reload... now, we have cities with 30 million and automatic weapons that go beyond the imagination of the Founding Fathers.
Anyway, that point aside... why do we put such blind faith at the altar of the Founding Fathers? Shouldn't they be inspiring us to continue in their tradition, not forging us to their model?

How far do you care? I had a recent exchange with TAL and Boon... I'll summarize:
Tal: BREAKING NEWS OMG bombing in Spain!!
Me: Why don't you react this way towards the recent deaths from terrorism and non-governmental warfare around the planet?
Boon: Because TAL is in America, not Africa.
Which brings me to my question...
Where do you draw the line about caring about something happening? What about a tremendous forest fire in a state on the other coast? What about gas pipelines through whichever countries? Do you care only if it is your country? What about your allies, such as NATO? Is it regional, such as "the West" and everyone else?

Imports and immigrants There are some basic factors working economically that many people seem to be missing out on. Unsurprisingly, these factors build up over time to become various conflicts (Al Qaeda, Mexican and other immigration, etc).
Let's look at it through a typical American conservative's eyes. He goes shopping at Wal-Mart, scowls at the dusky-toned people working there while he buys, um, Deer Hunter 4 is a popular title at Wal-Mart, getting Super Saver Savings at Low Low Prices. That's about the extent that he gets to.
Well, first, let's look at the Low, Low Prices. They are kept Low and Low by Illegal and Illegal hiring and production from Wal-Mart and from the manufacturers of the product he bought (OK, Deer Hunter 4 was a bad choice to represent that, but meh).
There's this tricky thing that we're already doing; trading money for people.
Multinational (usually American-owned) businesses are the ones running the factories in Mexico, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, India, etc. They pay pennies on the dollar and roll around in filth and high-class prostitutes.
So, you have what is basically a vacuum sucking all of the resources (ie, oil) and man-hours of labor, and pocketing the cash they reap from the windfall, selling the crap to American consumers who spend spend spend (and spend and spend again, it's Christmas!)
Unfortunately, we aren't gods (yet). The second that vacuum drifts off elsewhere, down fall all of the poor, impoverished people... which can either land flat and die or pop up explosively and either migrate or revolt.
I present to you an example:
Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. The split microsecond it started to shrug off the yoke of foreign domination in its oil market, members of the right started screaming bloody murder, declaring him a peer of Hitler and adding him to the Axis of Evil... I'll let that one speak for itself.
I'm not saying that America creates all of its own problems - just that is exasperates existing conditions and brings them to bear against itself. Mexicans wouldn't be risking their lives crossing the border illegally to work as farm and construction laborers if they made more than the $10,000/year *median* they make now. The system is set up in a way that makes immigration issues pretty much guaranteed.

The problem with elitarian society...
I don't think elitarian is a word, but I officially declare it one as of.... now. By "elitarian" I refer to a system of government, economics, or general society that is governed by a concept of an "elite"... this can include things from elements of Nazi Germany to CWAS, Ixa, and other eugenicists' goals.
The problem is rather simple; under such structures, you assume a different type of dreaded socialist "equality". You assure that everyone has equal IQ or other measure to exist in the society. Whatever methods used to assure this - birth control, deportation, strict segregation eugenics - and thus, remove the "bad" elements from society. I have two main concerns with this course.
Primarily, via exclusion, you create a second class of citizen. Essentially, you're ivory-towering an entire society and leaving the dregs to rot. Accept this or no, this is not some minor inconvenience. It tends to come back to haunt you.
What may be even worse is the quandary... if everyone has an IQ of 180, someone is still going to end up being a plumber standing in people's shit most of the day.
However you cut it, society is ALWAYS going to be stratified by class. This is something that I disagree with Marx-based socialists about, too. Classes will always exist. The effects of classes, thus, must also exist.
Your best chance at a stable and lasting society is to accept the fact that some people end up mopping up vomit at 6 Flags and some people end up skimming billions off of their multinational corporations.
People behave in a reactionary manner; the better surroundings, nurturing parents and community, etc drive a given person to their lifestyle (along with, of course, genetic traits/"disorders" like SCE, homosexuality, being left handed, etc). If the individual is not pleased with their job, no matter what IQ he has, he will still be the bottom rung of society.
I'm sure you'll also agree that taking a simplistic and rather arbitrary marker like IQ as a social guideline does not correlate with society. A man can be a genius according to Ix, but a degenerate following the Authentic Christian gospel of CWAS.
Furthering the futility of this epic quest to define and control society is the simple, vastly overlooked fact that *poverty* or *"lack of morals"* on its own is not what causes crime. The real fact is that even the purest white intelligent pious man will do drugs (calling '80s Wall Street brokers doing coke!), cheat (hello pre-nups!), steal (hello corporate insider trading!)...
The main difference is that your upper-class high IQ WASP criminal won't present many of the traits that a lower class immigrant Haitian family would. It wouldn't present as prominently, they don't live in ghettos, they don't get poorer education and health care, etc etc. It is "clean", and it is acceptable to you because your social construct is skin-deep.
© 2000-2019, Brian Garcia