Welcome To The Echo Chamber

Welcome to the Echo Chamber.

Society is dividing itself into self-selected bubbles of agreement. If what is being agreed on has any basis in reality or any resemblance to a good idea is passé. All that matters is finding a bubble that will not intellectually or morally challenge our beliefs and then attack the other bubbles.

Two nights ago Trump gave what was essentially a campaign speech at a rally in Phoenix. The social media comments were enlightening – 95% of the comments were nothing more than confirmation bias. The very few people who attempted to give honest objective analysis were attacked by the Trumpsters for being sell-outs or liberals and attacked by the Democrats for being racist and haters. This is what our society has been reduced to.

Society is much more interested in yelling about how the other bubble is populated by sub-humans than it is attempting to determine what is true or not true – let alone what might be a good idea and what might be a terrible idea. Rational thinking using facts and other such out dated practices is the true enemy of those in their chosen bubbles.

If you live long enough and pay attention you notice things. You notice that people such as James Kunstler, who became a Democrat in 1972, is disowned by the modern Democrat Party for pointing out that their policies amount to not much more than a wealth transfer to the 1%. You notice that people such as Charles Hugh Smith, who has been a Progressive for longer than most of these current ‘Progressives’ have been alive, is disowned by the modern Progressives for pointing out that the policies the modern Progressives have adopted and propose are nothing more than a wealth transfer to the 1%. That the policies are nothing more than massive wealth transfers to the very richest people is not factually in dispute. The dispute – and why these folks have been disowned – is that they bother to point out the facts. People in the bubbles do not wish to be intellectually or morally challenged by facts.

Many Republicans have been disowned for pointing out the indisputable truth that Trump has no more interest in following the constitution than Obama had in following the constitution. Adopting the stance that Trump will be supported when he does the right thing and opposed when he does the wrong thing – which seems to me to be an entirely rational position to adopt – will result in being branded a traitor and often threatened by the Trumpsters. Once again – the bubble cannot accept being morally and intellectually challenged.

Perhaps the only thing most people now agree on is the universal uselessness of a GOP congress and that Democrats would be even worse.

The interesting thing about a fact-based society is that one does have to agree on what to do in regard to those facts in order to find comity. There can be no comity when each bubble is spinning its’ own fantasies and mythologies and facts are no longer relevant. The fantasies and mythologies are typically justified with false equivalencies and false dichotomies – which often revolve around the ‘other’ bubble being subhuman in some respect. That being said – there are few ideas in human history as colossally bad as socialism – be that in its’ National Socialist form, Bolshevik form, or anything other form ever adopted. Socialism is universally a bad idea because socialism relies exclusively on force.

This new term, ‘Democratic Socialism’, is the very definition of ambiguity. When ask how ‘Democratic Socialism’ differs from Hitler, Castro, Stalin or Mussolini the most common answer is along the lines of “We are not racist.” Well, most people are not racist so that does not differentiate it from anything else. That proclaiming “We are not racist” is viewed as a difference in comparison to other socialist systems tells you much about the history of socialism. Furthermore, being ‘not racist’ hardly defines an economic system. Asking ‘Democratic Socialist’ questions about economics and how things would be done under their proposed system will almost inevitably get one branded a racist – because people are in the bubble in order to avoid being intellectually or morally challenged.

Socialism is inevitably a wealth transfer scheme to enrich the elites and impoverish everyone else. The ‘Democratic Socialist’ cannot explain how what they propose will be any different.

I have often remarked that I do not think Trump has the personality or skill set to do what needs to be done. In many ways Trump inherited a dump truck load of manure from Obama. It appears he wants to hand that dump truck off to his successor – in other words there are many hard problems that Trump declines to address. Obama owns what he left Trump, Trump owns what he will do with it.

That this is the reality of the situation has nothing to do with the politics of the situation. The politics are that Trump and his followers are racist and that socialism is better than racism so vote for socialist.

I doubt those politics will fly very far – but the political paradigm of the last forty years is dead. What the new paradigm will be will not be known until we escape the collective insanity.

How To End The Chaos

For several decades now, in growing preponderance, education at all levels has taught that one narrative is as good as another. There is no such thing as truth, just what ever the truth is to you, which is identical to the truth being whatever you wish it to be. The closest the post-Modernist line of thinking can admit to being truth is consensus. The result of this philosophy is self-evident: who ever can form consensus can define truth.

Mussolini would be so proud.

We no longer debate how to solve problems in this country, we no longer even debate what the problem may be or attempt to root cause that problem and address it. We now attempt to gather sycophants into a consensus in order to define truth in a manner that is to our advantage and to the disadvantage of those who are not part of our consensus. It is irrational and intentionally so – selfishness, egoism, greed and hate must always resort to the irrational to get its’ way. That truth always and inevitably defeats selfishness, egoism, greed and hate is why the purveyors of selfishness, egoism, greed and hate were required to redefine truth as consensus rather than as objective, definable and meaningful.

We win this battle with truth – objective, definable and meaningful. Truth is the enemy of these people who wish to destroy. Not the truth that we find convenient and create as a result of consensus but truth that conforms to fact and actuality.

As Goebbels and Lenin long ago recognized – the most efficient way to lie is to omit the facts that would lead people to an entirely different conclusion than the conclusion they would arrive at with those facts. Our entire education system, our entire social system, our entire political system has been reconstructed on the foundation of the omission of facts in order to lead people to entirely different conclusions than they would arrive at if they possessed those facts. Ironic in the age of the internet is it not?

This omitting of facts is effective because we have so divided ourselves into social and political tribes that have as a component of their consensus truth that the people in the other tribes are not to be listened to – essentially they are dehumanized for believing a consensus is bogus. We have become such a weak and absurd people that we no longer particularly care if our consensus truth actually is bogus – all we care about is silencing those who might point out that our consensus truth is bogus.

Somehow the post-modernist have convinced a significant number of people that through the process of never questioning if your consensus truth is bogus, never objectively measuring your consensus truth against any standard other than your own selfishness, while attacking those who do question your consensus truth – it is somehow the path to peace, prosperity and happiness.

At this point in history it is fair to say that this nation is primarily composed of packs of idiots – often well educated idiots – at each others throats over who is threatening their consensus truth and hence their selfishness and ego.

Never mind real truth, never mind objectively measuring if what you believe to be true – you know –  is actually true or not. Measuring and evaluating our beliefs against objective standards to determine if they are actually true is so Cro-Magnon.

The only solution is humility and seeking objective truth – even if we do not agree on objective truth the change of direction in seeking truth will bring an end to the chaos.

What do you think the odds are of that happening in the near future?

We Can No Longer Solve A Problem Worth Solving

Now that the eclipse is over and it wasn’t Armageddon…

A couple of years ago Victor Davis Hanson had a memorable insight – the post-modern world is incapable of solving a problem that is worth solving.

The truth of that insight is demonstrated daily. The post-modern world seems hell-bent on destruction. It has produced a notable absence of any useful solutions that move the ball forward and has instead substituted the destruction of anything that it does not like. For example being opposed to racism is a good and worthy trait – demonstrating that opposition by pulling down statues demonstrates a total and complete lack of ability to address the actual problem while pissing off a bunch of people who could be allies in opposing racism. Does anyone rationally believe there is one iota less racism after that statue is pulled down than before? Of course not – but there is a lot more anger and division. The post-modern world is primarily focused on instantaneous self-gratification hence forsaking allies in the fight against racism – while not actually accomplishing anything to reduce or address racism – is a worthwhile price to pay for the instant gratification of destruction. Of course admitting that allies are being forsaken is never confessed to but rather the erstwhile allies are simply labeled racist as well. We can reduce this line of thought to nothing more than anyone who does not share your specific selfishness at that specific moment is an enemy.

About what it is?

We could apply the same logic to healthcare – the phrase health insurance has been substituted for health care. That there is less health care available in this country than there was last year is irrelevant. The proponents of Obamacare gloss over that fact and claim 22 million more people have health insurance. Did they solve the problem of more Americans having access to health care? Of course not – fewer Americans now have access to health care than last year. The proponents also gloss over the Affordable Care Act being written by lobbyist for the insurance companies and that it is corporate welfare – and a wealth transfer to the elite. Take much more money from the many, give that money to the few and in exchange the many get less healthcare. During the reign of Obamacare the life expectancy of Americans has actually been reduced – the first time in the history of the United States that has occurred aside from war.

In the post-modern world this is considered success.

Our minds and our morals have become so vapid that people actually defend this – and want more of it.

Another prominent component of the post-modern world is that spending money on a problem is considered identical to having solved the problem – even if the truth is all of the money ends up in the pockets of the very few and nothing is actually done to ’solve’ the problem. Once again – in the post-modern world this is considered success.

This feeds into the post-modern fascination with socialism. The truth is – the world over and in every situation – the closer you move to socialism the greater wealth and income disparity becomes – the closer you move to liberty the less income and wealth disparity. At the same time the post-modern world claims as a fundamental tenet the reduction of income and wealth disparity. Over the eight years of Obama billionaires on average doubled their net wealth while the number of people requiring government assistance more than doubled.

Wealth disparity in the United States has never been greater. Does this give the post-modernist pause for even a moment? Of course not!

Again the post-modern world considers this success. That the number of people requiring assistance doubled is of no account – the amount of money spent to fight poverty more than doubled is what counts in the eyes of these adherents.

Back to the insight of Victor Davis Hanson – the post-modern world is incapable of solving a problem that is worth solving. We are sliding backwards as the post-modernist proclaim ‘Progress!!”

Sometime societies just collectively go insane.

This Is Your Country

Let us be clear – this is your country.

There are at present people out there who wish to make it their country, not your country. They wish to use force to make you comply with what they want.

Some of these people have swastika flags and wear the hood of a Klansman, others wear Che Guevara shirts and black bandanas.

Some we call Klansman and some we call Socialists.

Some ridiculously carry tiki torches and some tear down statues.

However these people all have one thing in common – they wish to use force to make you do as they wish. They all have hate at their core.

Ku Klux Klan, Antifia – they all blame someone else for their inadequacies and they all wish harm to others. They all wish to make others live as they see fit and they all think they have a right to your property.

To quote Che Guevara, they all want to ‘bathe in the blood’ of those who they hold responsible for their circumstance.

Unequivocally reject it all. Reject force, reject hate, reject all of it.

Do not even entertain that any of it is anything other than evil for even a moment.

Forget Hacking Russians, Menacing Koreans, and Clashing Fascists and Communists–Let’s Discuss How Colorado Robs Its Taxpayers

In today’s Denver Post, Statehouse reporter Brian Easdon provides an informative and  mostly balanced look at how Colorado government busts the taxing and spending limits that voters meant to impose when they adopted the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) in 1992. That loved and hated Constitutional amendment has three basic strictures: Government has to ask voters permission in order to a) raise taxes, b) borrow money; or c) increase real spending (any increase beyond inflation plus population growth). In a lengthy article, Easdon explains the critical piece: politicians have massively shifted the funding source for government programs and services from taxes—which are under TABOR’s limits, to the cash fees charged for individual transactions with government, which are not.

Sound complicated? It’s simple. State and local governments cannot raise your tax rates without permission, but they can unilaterally decide to increase the price they charge you for a driver license, occupational license, CU football ticket, or building permit. Colorado’s politicians—with urging from some activists and corporations–have ridden and abused the latter category hard and put it up wet. Actually, that’s not accurate. They’re still whipping and spurring.
The idea of requiring politicians to get permission to raise taxes has immense appeal to voters. Easdon doesn’t go into the background, but the rationale for separating fees out from taxes is simple enough. Opponents of fiscal restraints on government argued that a TABOR-like measure would require such absurdities as a public vote before universities could raise tuition or sporting ticket prices. TABOR author Douglas Bruce sensibly carved out fees from the measure he was drafting in order to eliminate opponents’ grasping argument. This approach also had the logic that fees are paid by the consumers of a particular service, so there was a fit between payers and beneficiaries.
In a far ranging article, Easdon documents the ways that lawmakers spend money they don’t have without calling it borrowing, and the range of fees that lawmakers have jacked up, up, up, without enacting any “tax increases.” These range from auto registration fees to park entrance fees to court fees for litigation cases, to provider fees charged patients on admission to a hospital and much more. All of these shifts have hit Coloradans hard in the checkbook.
While the article is more searching than most journalistic examinations of TABOR, it is missing several important pieces of context. First, lawmakers and the courts have gutted the line between fees and taxes, thus allowing government to call things “fees” that by any reasonable understanding are taxes. A critical and controversial example is the hospital provider fee, an exaction that hospitals charge each patient upon admission to the hospital. The fee is pooled in a state fund and used to attract federal matching funds that can then be applied to health services in the Medicaid and Children’s Health programs.
But, however worthy those purposes are, they have absolutely nothing to do with charging a patient a fee for any service he is receiving from the government. Quite the opposite, they are a tax on private paid hospital care which then goes to fund government healthcare for the poor. They are not a cash user fee for a service to the user.
Colorado played the same game in jacking up auto registration fees for a road and bridge improvement plan. There is no reasonable fit between the fact of owning a car or holding a license, and the specific roads to be improved. In contrast to a toll road, which is a quintessential user fee—use the road; pay for it—the license fees are a universal shakedown that goes wherever government wants them to go. Again, a tax, not a fee.
Easdon says the “fees” are legal because Colorado courts have specifically upheld them. What he politely leaves out is that bureaucrats and judges are damn liars, especially since 1992. TABOR imposed certain limits and Colorado’s public class has gleefully trashed them.

.The other critical context Easdon leaves out is any skeptical scrutiny of the big government taxer/spenders basic demands and premises: Colorado is strapped for money. It has enormously growing needs. Public officials are forced to create these gimmicks and work-arounds because TABOR leaves them no choice. He quotes CSU political science professor John Strayer to the effect that we can never get a fair proposal for higher taxes and spending on the ballot because timid Republicans are wary of conservative primary challenges, so they’re too chicken to man up and join Democrats in doing the right thing.
All of the above, to be blunt, needs to be spread around on the nearest farmer’s field in order to improve crop yields.

.Colorado government is not cash strapped, but spends per capita right just above the middle of the 50 state national pack, as Insurgent Tribe documented here. Further, state government’s maneuvers have mostly gutted the cap on spending growth. Colorado government spends a whopping real 40% more per capita today than in 1992, as Insurgent Tribe showed here. Government has grown 40% bigger relative to each resident of the state. We don’t have 40% better roads, better schools, or better anything. We have a 40% bigger budget, bureaucrats with an insatiable appetite for more, and a sob story to guilt Coloradans into submitting.
The Tribe thanks Easdon for shining a light on the games politicians play. We wish he had been a bit more skeptical of the tales politicians tell. But we thank him for reminding this correspondent to get back in the hunt to explain more of the ways the politicians have busted TABOR to get deeper into your pockets. More to come.

Not So Funny Anymore

Are we still serious people and a serious country or have we become a parody of a stale comedy?

Will Rogers said, “Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.” Other people in other countries doing stupid ridiculous things was something we used to laugh at.

As we delve into our own preferred fictions, fantasies and mythologies – fulfilling the post-modern concept that one narrative is as good as another, facts and the truth be damned – we become increasingly more comical and tragic at once. Who would believe that the nation would be focused on Nazi’s and Communist fighting it out in Virginia? How much ridiculousness have we absorbed to arrive at the conclusion that genitals and gender are unrelated? Who could anticipate the Federal government going to bat for grown men in dresses using the public rest room with little girls? I have not even mentioned trillions dollars of wealth transfers to the 1% and laws requiring you to purchase the products of private corporations and things about which there is no subjectivity to it at all – it just is.

Increasingly the absurdities are not happening to someone else but to us – and they are growing ever less funny as a consequence.

Tick tock tick tock

It has a logical end…

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