Monday, December 30, 2013

Melissa Harris-Perry and MSNBC Panel Mock Mitt Romney's Black Grandson

OK, I had something else scheduled to write about today, but then I saw the following video from MSNBC's show with Melissa Harris-Perry. Hers is the profound mind that thought wearing tampons as earrings in order to support late-term abortion was a great idea. She is also the one who declared that children don't belong to their parents, but to the broader community.

But even she has sunk to a new low. Here she mocks Mitt Romney's black grandson. It is so patently racist and hateful that I can hardly believe it, except that it spews from the mouths of liberals, which is exactly what we've all come to expect from the far left.

Have a look and let me know what you think:

Update: Melissa Harris-Perry actually apologized on Twitter with the following:
I apologize to all families built on loving transracial adoptions who feel I degraded their lives or choices. As black child born into large white Mormon family I feel familiarity w/ Romney family pic & never meant to suggest otherwise. Therefore, while I meant no offense, I want to immediately apologize to the Romney family for hurting them.
Will she apologize on air?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Predicting Weather, Complex Systems, and the Failure of Socialism's Centralized Planning

Predicting Weather
Predicting weather is tricky stuff. Weather patterns are extraordinarily complex and stochastic and never move exactly as expected. In today's world, we take it for granted that three day, and even five day, forecasts can come close to telling us what to expect. Beyond those few days, all bets are off. Even a few decades ago, predicting weather beyond three days was unheard of. One of the sayings we had when I was growing up was "I wish I could get paid for being as wrong as the weatherman."

Somehow we all know, in a common sense way, that predicting the weather, while scientific, is still inexact. We expect that predictions will have some variation and, occasionally, will be flat wrong. There's nothing wrong with the science. We understand that the weather system is too complex to predict much more than a percentage chance of certainty. (Hence, statements like "There's a 30% chance of rain today.")

Weather prediction has grown more accurate over the past few years because we have added more and more sensors across the US and the oceans. As more weather stations come online in order to measure local conditions, the network of a vast array of sensors can build a more accurate measurement of actual conditions. We measure wind, temperature, and atmospheric pressure at the ground level. Doppler radar scans for precipitation. Satellites give a bigger picture, measuring cloud cover, water vapor, and infrared variations in temperature. Since weather is such a complex system, we require thousands and tens of thousands of stations, gathering information, in order to accurately measure what the weather is doing here and now, let alone three days from now.

Complex Systems
It seems obvious to us that in order to measure such a complex system as weather, we must have information from thousands of sensors - the more the better and the wider the distribution the better. We would consider it folly to establish one, giant weather station in the center of the US (or worse yet, off to the side along the Atlantic coast, just north of Virginia) and expect anything like an accurate measurement of the weather. Understanding the system, let alone predicting it, requires thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of sensors to gather information and report the measurements.

And yet we understand that process is the only way we have in order to understand such a complex system, such as weather. Understanding other complex systems requires a vast measurement - and correct interpretation - of the data. For example, even after years of trying, no one really can predict the ups and downs of the stock market. Certainly, some are better than others at reading trends and then investing in trends to their advantage. Even more complex is the US economy, run by millions of businesses, manufacturers, services, all of which is handled by hundreds of millions of people. Our economy is a highly complex system.

Yet, somehow we lose our common sense when we talk about government and measuring (let alone predicting) the complex system of the US economy or the even more complex US society. It is a fatal conceit1 to assume that a single, centralized sensor has the smarts or the capacity to measure the myriad processes of a system as complex as society's. Let me spell it out for you here. Neither the president of the US, nor even the members of Congress can possibly measure and predict the economy and society. By extension, neither the president nor Congress can possibly direct those two complex systems without major errors.

Yet, somehow, we as Americans lose our common sense when it comes to handing control of our complex economic and social systems to the centralized planning of the federal government.

The analogy with predicting weather is accurate. Weather is best measured and predicted through a decentralized system. The economy best works the same way. In a free market system, businesses understand and respond to the local systems far better than any centralized agency ever can. A centralized agency can collect and correlate data, helping understand the larger economy as a whole, but should never assume that it can predict or manage the complexity of the system.

The Errors of Centralized Planning
We've known for years and have made endless jokes about the inefficiency of the bureaucracies developed by the federal government. These large bureaucracies fall short of expectations for the simple reason that centralized planning cannot measure, nor predict, nor control the complexities of a widespread system.

Take, for example, the smaller yet still complex problem of health care. In its fatal conceit, the federal government has assumed more and greater-reaching regulation of the local systems, assured in its vast hubris of being able to judge better than the free market, how to best run the health care system. The result is an even more complex system with greater costs, spiraling upward ever more out of control. It is not the "greed" of the market that has driven costs up but the regulation of centralized planning.

With the current health care laws, we can predict that the increased federal costs, bureaucracy, and regulation will damage the system. It may well completely break it. This must happen because centralization understands far less information about the complex system, not more. Lacking crucial information that it simply cannot obtain cripples centralized planning. The system operates nearly blindly, ignoring or stifling local information in favor of a large, "better" design.

A historical example will suffice to show the dangers we now face with the health care law. Lyndon Johnson created his own fatal conceit of the Great Society. He encouraged the US to create the welfare state and, among other things, federal regulation of local school systems. The intent of federal meddling with the local schools was meant to ensure a more equitable system for all Americans, black or white. The intent seems noble and good. Yet, after 45 years of federal interference in the complex system of education and after the "reform" of No Child Left Behind under George W. Bush, US students are doing worse in school than ever before. Illiteracy and dropout rates soar. Children are pushed through a system that resembles a factory more than a school. And now, with Common Core, we urge our educational system into greater and great centralization.

In a word, federal interference in all sectors of the school and education system has failed the education system in the US.

Modern leftist dogma continues to insist that the problem can be fixed as long as we pour more money into the federal system and regulate the system even more. The dogma insists that all will be made right as long as we tweak the system one more time. President Obama admitted as much in a speech at a Virginia middle school where he vowed to "fix" No Child Left Behind. As a sad symbol of this bankrupt philosophy, the New Jersey school named after Barack Obama is closed its doors.

The federal system has not, and cannot, fix the problem as long as central planning is the order of the day. The only reasonable way to measure and control complex systems is to decentralize planning, not to create an ever-growing leviathan of centralized government.

It's time to return to the doctrines of Adam Smith and the philosophy of free market. It's time to decentralize the federal system before it collapses under its own weight to take us down with it.

1 The phrase is taken from the book by the same name written by F. A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, W. W. Bartley III, ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989). Hayek presents a compelling argument against central planning and the welfare state, arguing instead the benefits of the decentralized system - namely, the free market.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Tyranny of Modern Liberalism

Because many of us make mistakes that can have bad consequences, some intellectuals believe that it is the role of government to intervene and make some of our decisions for us. From what galaxy government is going to hire creatures who do not make mistakes is a question they leave unanswered. -- Thomas Sowell

Government is not our friend. It does not matter if you are a conservative or a liberal, a libertarian or a socialist. The people who come to power in government will take as much power as they can in order to stay in power. Power breeds more power, and corruption follows in its wake. It is the sole desire of such politicians to form government in their own image. The founders of the United States understood this danger. They funded, fought, and won a war against a modestly tyrannical government which had become so top heavy, so enamored with its own policies, that it ceased to treat Americans as its remaining British citizens.

The difference between modern conservatives and modern liberals is that conservatives, by and large, distrust government and understand the founding principles of the US. Liberals, on the other hand, look to larger government (e.g., Obamacare), more complex laws (e.g., same-sex marriage laws), and a self-appointed right to rule (e.g., "Obama won. The end."), rejecting the foundational principles of the Founding Fathers.

In their differing views of government, modern liberals and modern conservatives have completely flip-flopped since the founding of the US. We used to call the ideals of Adams, Jefferson, or Franklin liberalism. As a point in fact, it was radical liberalism, which asserted the ideals of inalienable rights, limited government, and self rule. Classical liberalism utterly denied the concept of a right to rule.

At some level, modern liberals understand that they wish to fundamentally change government in the US. In this sense, they refer to themselves a progressives--a term which has at its historical roots in the US the idea of incorporating socialist central planning into the US government. It also holds the doctrine that equality must be enforced at all costs.

The problem with modern liberalism is the coercion inherent in all socialists systems. Americans pretend to love life, liberty, and property, all the while not realizing the dangers inherent in giving up those inalienable rights to an ever-growing and power-hungry government.

Endemic to power mongering is the control and stifling of free speech. Little by little, we find we are censured and silenced for speaking the "wrong" things in our country. We, as Americans, have discovered new levels of limiting free speech based on the extraordinarily nebulous concept of "political correctness." While rude or pornographic speech is ill mannered and should be limited, we find in our modern society the application of coercion based on the principle of not offending anyone who is a member of certain "protected" groups in society.

What arises are new classes based solely on ideological principles, who see no problems with censuring other groups simply because they disagree with their principles. Such systems are inherently hypocritical. They take the stance that "we" can say what we want and be as abusive as we want because "we" disagree with "you."

This isn't the final state of tyranny. But it is an indicator, a suggestion, of tyranny to follow.

When politicians, such as Barack Obama, take on more and more power, with less and less accountability, we are on the cusp of giving up all of the US's founding principles in order to follow the tyrannical path of all power mongering governments. When the dogmas of class ideology limit free speech over disagreements between beliefs, we allow ourselves to be led into the abyss.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Wish

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from sunny Arizona. May the peace of the season keep you from getting an ulcer while worrying about Obamacare. May you and your families be blessed despite government taxation and redistribution of your wealth. May you find courage and contentment in recognizing what's good and right in the world. May the light of the season shine for you to enlighten the dark minds who deny what's good and moral in this world.


Monday, December 23, 2013

The False Religions: Atheism, Leftism, Socialism

As I read the news and watch today's media, I notice the trend to denigrate religion and the religious for being...well...religious. I'm impressed by the myriad anti-religious attacks, especially those made by leftists. Without fail, these people make arguments against religion in order to support their own beliefs and practices.

What impresses me aren't the arguments themselves, most of which are fairly tedious ad hominem attacks. No, what impresses me is the absolute faith, the religious fervor, the dogmatic position, of those who attack religion. They know, with the certainty of the fanatic, that their views are correct and that religious views or expression is wrong.

These are political ideologies - systems of belief held in order to gain power. Yet, they are more than mere "liberalism," they are backed by zeal and absolute belief. They are, in fact, false religions.

Such false religions include green politics (Pastor Al Gore), feminism (High Priestess Gloria Steinem), gay activism (Grand Poobah GLAAD), atheism (Evangelist Bill Mahar), radical liberalism (Next-Thing-to-Deity Barack Obama), racial exclusivism (Reverend Al Sharpton), socialism, and communism.

Each of these false religions have their own set of morals, based on their beliefs du jour. The beliefs change as quickly as Obama changes policy to fit his quest for power. Each adherent to the false religion clings to his or her dogmas like sweaty underwear. These false religions have their own priesthood (note the list of leaders above). They have their own profane rituals: gay pride parades; flipping off conservative presidents in the White House; systematically emasculating men; the Vagina Monologues. They have their preachers and their congregations (such as any news anchor on MSNBC and its 15 viewers).

While false religions deserve disdain, we should be aware of the purpose of these false religions and the danger they pose to the US. Because these false religions supplant a belief in God and a system of laws and morals, they cannot be trusted to create any kind of social structure that is inclusive and forgiving. Because they, by nature, attempt to assume political power, they are every bit as dangerous as state-run churches. Because their dogmatism is based on mob rule, rather than rule of law, they threaten the foundations of US government.

The worst offense of these false religions, however, is their utter inability of their believers to understand the double standard their religion holds. Hence, the believers can attack religion and the religious with all the fervor of the fanatic, and never see that they themselves have become what they despise.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

There and Back Again

Yes, after all these months, I still look like this.

I've had a nine month hiatus and it's time to begin anew. Sometimes life gets in the way of doing what we'd like to do. It's funny that way.

Today, I bumped into one of the last real friends I had in my department at the college where I teach. He's retired now and taught political science courses on world politics and on political conflict. It's a shame that he no longer teaches, as he is one of the "old school" social sciences professors. That means that he hasn't been taken in by the new social sciences obsession with the dogmas of oppression.

What are the "dogmas of oppression" you ask? I'm glad you asked that. This is the current trend in history, political science, sociology, and, of course, all of the "studies" classes that focus nearly all attention on how oppressed one group or another is. Every modern social science text from kindergarten through the end of college preaches this dogma, nearly excluding all other ideas.

For example, in a recent text I reviewed in US history, the chapter containing the 1920s didn't mention the rise of the automobile industry. It didn't mention prohibition. It never mentioned the phrase "The Roaring 20s." It didn't talk about changes to the middle class. It didn't talk about the rise in the film industry. It didn't mention how much radio changed the US.

What did it mention? It talked about how oppressed blacks and women were during the 20s, including a completely inaccurate portrayal of "flappers."

When I teach this period in US history, yes, we talk about the problems all Americans faced. We also talk about W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington. We talk about the Harlem Renaissance. We talk about Jane Addams and Susan B. Anthony. And we also find time to talk about cars and movies, business and farming, politics and religion.

In short, what we talk about are the positive and meaningful contributions of the men and women who made history. What we don't talk about is the incessant pessimism of the dogmas of oppression. Yet these dogmas are the only history our children and our young adults are taught. With such a limited view, it's no wonder the next generation understands nothing of the ideals of the US. It's no wonder the next generation has become a generation of ignorant thralls who think "fairness" is government entitlements, who think "equality" is two men getting married, and who think "tolerance" is stamping out dissent.

I miss my friend in the department, and I miss the days when children were taught how to think and not what to think.