When Robots are Rights

We must, as thinking, contemplative beings at least somewhat concerned about the future, consider the implications of robotics and so-called artificial intelligence: machines that learn. It’s all a matter of large-enough databases and rapid-enough retrieval. So what? you might ask.

Civilization came to be built as it is through an economic reality that forces individual humans to strive for improvement – both personal and financial. That is, at one level or another, life has been tough for most of us, causing each to become stronger in order to be able to adjust one’s surroundings to greater comfort or safety… or both.

In the past century or so we have managed to elevate enough of ourselves to support elaborate industries designed only to entertain us due to growing levels of “leisure” time. That is, modern life for a large fraction of humankind (but not all, certainly) permits complete creation of safe and comfortable living conditions (standards) with about 40 hours of “labor” of very specialized kinds per week, or about 25% of available time.

In fact not even 25% is needed, as many forms of labor provide for weeks of non-work time each year in addition to “holidays,” storm-days, “personal” days, sick days and, increasingly, family and maternity “leave” periods. Politicians and other panderers – advocates and socialists of various stripes – are constant in their demands for more time off for ostensibly “civilized” and crucial purposes. Employers are, after all, mere thieves of workers time and comfort and must not be allowed to earn a profit from their labor, if such dis-allowance is at all possible.

In any case and by whatever fraction of productive employees’ time, businesses must find ways to produce the millions of products and services that they and others need or want in order to create and maintain the kind of safe, comfortable living conditions each desires. And those products must be profitable enough to justify all the investment, risk, work and education that goes in to producing them, delivering them and warranting their quality and usefulness, AND to permit sufficient taxation of both profits and of labor itself, to pay for all of the “public” works and subsidies that politicians think we need – including those that we truly do.

Together we, many of us, understand the multiple contracts and assumptions and personal costs that are enabling lives we like; and we understand, largely, the changes we must each choose to make to have “better” lives and proportions of leisure time. Robots are changing the “contracts” we have made between individuals, companies, governments and ourselves – and we are largely unprepared for the future that they are creating.

Right now the contracts of the economy depend upon parties who have striven to be part of the economy and who have striven to be “good” and “useful” people – most of us, anyway. What each has attained-to is the basis on which each of us judges the other as a qualified member of our society and culture, evaluates him or her as to qualities of charity, kindness and “fairness,” or lacks thereof, and on what his or her productive value is determined.

It is very important to us whether the person we are considering is one who “pulls his or her weight” or, barring genuine disability, “coasts on the work of others.” Is he or she “pulling the wagon” or just “riding?” Like it or not, every one of us needs to grasp these values for the current system to “work.” We understand and agree to abide by the hundreds and thousands of “contracts” that cause society, products, services, profit and pay to function with a net gain of living standards over time for the largest number of our fellow society members.

Are you with me so far?

Here and there, and in growing numbers, people who are employers, which is to say, producers in our economy (“job-creation” being simply a result of profitable productivity), are squeezed by governments – including their legal systems – through taxation and liabilities of increasing types. Customers demand redress and compensation from producers’ profits if anything goes wrong with a product, its delivery or its use, almost regardless of “fault.” Governments need more and more revenue to perform vital deeds and to buy votes from constituents.

To compensate for growing assaults on profits producers must steadily become more productive without raising costs… and this means reducing labor costs – employee costs. Given myriad labor laws protecting workers, insuring them, insuring their families and paying them at certain rates, producers are turning toward automating as many procedures as possible: ie. robots.

Robots don’t have to look like manufactured humanoids. They can be as unassuming as ATM machines and self-check-out lanes at Home Depot and a thousand other retailers. “Robots” can dispense prescriptions, take orders at fast-food restaurants and, soon, custom-tailor suits with nary a sales-clerk or store-manager needed. What do YOU do? What function are you compensated for? Maybe you build houses.

Robots make it possible to factory-manufacture modular homes that come with wiring, piping and alarm and computer circuits already in place. They’re delivered by truck and bolted together on site. Altogether there can be barely 20% as much labor needed to produce a single-family home. For modular multi-family buildings, there is even less per housing unit. What will all the tradesmen be doing?

Or, the counter workers, potato-fryers, and on, and on, and on… what will they be doing? Retailing is disappearing before our eyes, along with its jobs and buildings, janitors and re-decorators, security guards and on, and on, and on. There are very, very few jobs that are not threatened, except, temporarily, robot-maker.

Will this happen overnight? Not yet, but overnight began about 30 years ago and is accelerating as rapidly today, tomorrow and next week, as computing power and miniaturization permit. So what are the political and human consequences of the robotic devouring of what we now call “jobs?”

First, people who now control productive enterprises, from small to large, will be controlling larger and larger fractions of production generally, whether of precision-engineered parts or of sandwiches, and with fewer and fewer employees. This will concentrate productive surplus – which is to say: profits – and wealth as well, in those same hands or corporations. How, under the U. S. Constitution, will this wealth be “shared” among the soon-to-be jobless citizens? (“Soon” being in 20 years?)

Shall we raise taxes much, much higher? Should laws be passed that require producers to share remaining jobs among 4, 5 or 6 individuals (however inefficient that will be)? What happens to the essential right of private property? Will all hiring and profits become the purview of the least-efficient institutions on the planet: federal bureaucracies?

And how will individuals prove their worth? Not only to their friends, wives and children… but to themselves? If lots of humans don’t need to be very smart to survive, will more than the owners of production and the builders and programmers of robots, bother to become so? What happens to politics, then?

The stratification we have acquiesced to so far – stratification in which those elected deem themselves superior and entitled to office, ideas they have “sold” to relatively ignorant constituents – will become stricter and more calcified, virtually unassailable by the welfare-supported masses of citizens. Those will be they who never vote against wealth-sharing and at ever greater sharing rates. How will democracy or a republic or religiosity survive?

Just as large fractions of us, now, can’t find our ways without “GPS,” or feed ourselves without welfare, what will we become when there is no need to strive… and dependence upon robots approaches totality? What will civilization be? Constant leisure? A complete absence of sacrifice? SHALL WE ALL BECOME ENTERTAINERS? Shouldn’t we be thinking about these things?

Do you think of them? Fear them?

TOLERANCE, LOGICALLY


There is definitely a logic to modern immigration non-policies and protests. One could be justified in his or her puzzlement as to why criminals might be valued above the law abiding, even by “official” agencies of domestic law-enforcement. Some logic is shouted from the streets, some we’ll have to impute, but there is a logical platform underpinning apparent disconnectedness of immigrant “advocates.”

There would be MORE logic if every advocate were a non-citizen. Being allowed to gain new comforts and benefits that are not available in one’s own country is, logically, something to strive for. Like everyone else – every single member of the human race – people who sneak into a better country or economy are CAPITALISTS! That is, each will gain as much as possible for as little effort as possible. Once gained, the “possessions” one has are reason, of themselves, to defend one’s ownership thereof. That is, “possession” is 99/100ths of the “law” (of possession). Are we going in circles, here?

Well, yes. But there is a certain logic for possessing individuals. What about “Sanctuary” logic? Heated protesters and their elected officials make a case for “fear avoidance.” That is, people who have snuck into the United States are, in theory, subject to legal sanctions for having broken Federal laws, and they “fear” being found and found-out. Their friends and families, legal residents and non-legal, and the self-recognized and self-created “agencies” that earn their livings working to connect non-legal residents to various welfare benefits, ESL classes and, unfortunately, contrived documentation – like drivers licenses – are on the front lines demanding “justice” for their fellow humans, laws be damned.

Municipal officials claim that these “fearful” non-legal residents won’t report crimes they have knowledge of if they are so fearful of being found-out and forced to go home to their own country. Nothing is said about reporting crimes of other non-legal residents who will likely escape prosecution simply because of their illegal status! MOST countries are NOT as pleasant to live in as is the U. S. Numbers of less-nicely-living people exceed 3 BILLION. How many are entitled to the largesse and safety of the United States? Logically, I mean.

Well, immigrant activists say, there shouldn’t be artificial borders; the World belongs to all of us. There may be logic behind that statement, but there are some sort of borders that come under the definition of human rights, aren’t there? Are strangers, or aliens, entitled to other individuals’ personal property? Even non-legal residents would object to a family of unknown, unrelated strangers moving into their homes and taking their income, wealth, food and personal space. That sounds logical.

There is a perverse sort of logic, not stated but accepted in practice, that stealing from the United States nation isn’t really stealing, like, from another person… I mean, honestly. There are a lot of U. S. citizens that believe the same foul thing! Still, illegal entrants are stealing forms of wealth that belong to U. S. citizens, and these include, in most cases, direct food, education, medical, housing and others kinds of costly aid that our new “residents” have not earned, paid-for, or deserve in any way except emotionally.

A new logic then is brought to bear: refugee status… and asylum. The U. S. since the end of WW-II has codified processes for EM-igrants: forced to leave their homes because of war. These are they who emigrate for essentially non-elective reasons; émigrés from Cambodia and Viet-Nam are excellent examples. The United States, responsible for much of the immediate destruction of Viet-Nam, Laos and Cambodia, helped tens of thousands of émigrés from Southeast Asia come to the U. S. and resettle in somewhat concentrated neighborhoods, mostly in cities or proximate suburbs.

What happened? Within a year or two our new residents had positive impacts on their local economies. Apartment sharers would combine for one car so that the adults could get to work; extended female family-members watched children for one another. Kids learned English without bi-lingual crutches and within a decade we had a host of “new Americans” whose cultural communities and religious philosophies were NOT purposefully antithetical to our Constitution and our Judeo-Christian legal system. One need look only at their children and grandchildren as they give valedictory and salutatory speeches.

There were both logical and charitable reasons to encourage and accept Southeast Asian immigrants. There is only an emotional justification for accepting large numbers of Muslim refugees. We want to believe that the wonderfulness of U. S. society will cause all degrees of Muslims to become more secular, less fundamental about Islam and to live like their new neighbors. For a nation premised on religious “freedom,” depending upon a softening of religious fervor seems oxymoronic – if not moronic.

Islam teaches dominance over, or death for, infidels. The prime infidels are Jews and Christians. I can see a problem. CAIR describes Islam and the Quran as mostly faith, sweetness and light. They bend over to reference Abraham, David, Jesus and Mary as if we are all brothers in belief and tradition. But history teaches otherwise.

Most, I mean in the order of a billion and more Muslims, will never take up arms against their neighbors, behead a nun in Africa or a reporter in Pakistan. Most don’t spend their days in hatred. On the other hand, they won’t fight too hard against their real faith-brothers who do. Islam, by credo, intends to replace all other belief structures because God commands it; Mohammed said so. “Religious freedom” is anathema to the Quran as are all forms of secular governance and lifestyles. And Muslims mean to carry out the dictates of the Quran.
Well, I can respect their adherence to their faith – I’m an American. Live and let live. But, I’m also conservative. I believe in the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ and the lessons of personal responsibility that the Bible, and our Declaration of Independence and Constitution embody. What ye sow, so shall ye reap… so MUST ye reap.

Christianity has undergone significant reformation not because of what the New Testament says, but because of abuses by the Catholic Church, politically, financially, powerfully. Little by little, sometimes ‘bigly,’ the Church has shifted while the basis of Christianity has not. Yet, make no mistake, Western civilization is dependent upon the success and survival… and integrity, of the Catholic Church. Fortunately, its self-destructiveness seems to be lessening.

“America” became what it did because of Mosaic and Christic principles. It also has failed in many areas because of human failing to follow those and our own laws. In the past hundred years, or so, we have found ways to talk ourselves OUT OF our Judeo-Christian principles by cleverly playing our own words against them… against ourselves. Legalized abortion is a clear example; separation of church and state is another.

We’ve given up our right to exercise judgment, and become afraid to exercise or even honor Christianity. Muslims have never relinquished Islam – every jot and tittle of it. In our amorphous philosophies we invite Muslims to live among us as if they, too, will become amorphous in their philosophies, yet, in our legalistic anti-Christian wasteland, we can’t even TALK about threats to our culture and heritage. The only sin left is intolerance.

So we tolerate, tolerate, tolerate until we’ve become able to argue for automatic citizenship for illegal entrants. Breaking laws and standing, publicly – even by elected officials – against their enforcement, is celebrated. A majority of states elected a president who battles to restore the rule of law and our Constitution, whose wife has the courage to say a prayer in public, and thousands protest in the streets. God save us.

RUMORS OF WAR

There are wars and rumors of war. How pleasant the last year of Ronald Reagan’s term appears, looking back. The Soviet Union was falling apart, the economy was in good shape, there was no ISIS, the Middle East was relatively calm, commodity markets were “under control,” so to speak, Syria, Libya, Venezuela and even the East Coast of Africa, Iraq and Iran were comparatively un-troublesome. Nicaragua was yanked back from Communism, Chile restored free elections, casting off Pinochet’s military police state (CIA -created), and American ships were still welcome in the Philippines. Thankfully, the senior George Bush defeated Michael Dukakis for president. Desert Storm and Bill and Hillary Clinton were yet to burden the polity.

Read the history of the ‘80s and things were anything but calm and peaceful. Nelson Mandela was still in jail, Robert Mugabe was firmly installed as “president” of Zimbabwe, and Hosni Mubarak was in his first decade of his never-untroubled leadership of Egypt and rough alliance with the U. S. Africa was in turmoil and many were starving, there, while tribal racism threatened millions. Argentina barely functioned with double digit inflation, yet decided to invade the “Falklands/Malvinas” to “reclaim” its sovereignty, based as much on proximity as on history. The U. K. decided under Thatcher, to re-take them. Ronald Reagan easily subverted the Monroe Doctrine to help his friend, Maggie, sink the General Belgrano.

Typically we try to believe that politics creates war and the conditions for war, but we can’t quite succeed at that. While war may be a political tool, it rarely rewards the party or leader in power in the intended way. On the other side of the mirror, however, it can be observed that war often creates politics – in fact, not just often, but generally – in that militarism is easily equated with patriotism and tends to divide the body politic along patriotic lines. One cannot hide from the truth that neither the body politic nor the nations at war are generally benefited. Individual politicians or their party… maybe.

Now, what? A supposedly “America first” presidential candidate (meaning to a degree: America only) has been turned in the span of 5 months to a president willing to view the world like a so-called “neo-Con.” Abruptly, acts of war – missiles into Syria, super-bomb into Afghanistan, threats of hot responses to North Korean “provocations” – are deemed useful internationally. Supposedly, this turn-about and its apparent unpredictability of the new president, will move China to change its policies toward North Korea; will cause Russia to pull back from its prior stance in Syria, and possibly in Ukraine and Georgia. Even Iran’s theocrats will quake at the threats of Donald Trump since we have been willing to take some actions against people or things that have almost no chance of retaliation.

Perhaps we should bomb Venezuela because the government there is starving its people and being mean.

Sudan and Zimbabwe are worth at least some cruise missiles, aren’t they? How demeaning it is to choose Syria… Syria! Sudan has at least as crappy a government as Syria! We live in a strange nation growing stranger.

Americans think, many of us, that the U. S. is pure and well-intentioned and very misunderstood by all the nations or groups that distrust us and wish to kill us. Our global deployment of military activities: 156 countries in a recent estimate, is for humanitarian aid and economic development. Well, that’s right – economic development of somebody.

Maybe it’s necessary. Multiple administrations have thought so. The “Truman Doctrine” of containing Communism has morphed into the unspoken – dare we say, secret – doctrine of containing everybody. The World’s policeman, indeed.

Well, say the thoughtful ones, if not us, then who? China? Russia? God forbid! Believe us, they thoughtfully pronounce, you don’t want to live in a world that’s not “led” by the United States. Perhaps not.

Money talks. Our beneficial “Petro-dollar” scheme buttressed by Saudi Arabia has permitted the U. S. to borrow and spend in astronomical quantities, to the degree that our worldwide military adventures have been “free,” sort-of. We have outspent our income – the largest income in the world to boot – for 50 years, by creating unlimited debt. Maybe it is completely fair that we “protect” the world with its own money. After all, it costs us only the interest – and a few thousand of our very best men and women. At least during this election cycle.

So, Mr. President, what are we going to stir up? It’s one thing to risk your own people, quite another to risk most of South Korea. Or Japan. Attacking the North Koreans can never be done with clear knowledge of all of their capabilities. What if they have pre-positioned a couple of nukes next to the DMZ? Or just offshore of South Korea? How many “South” Koreans are really “North” Koreans? Some, for sure.

And, then, there ARE the 30,000 or so Americans watching the DMZ from the South who are some sort of “trip wire” in the event North Korea starts an invasion. That must be a comfort. Most likely, if the North does decide to make a move, it won’t start at the DMZ, it will start well behind it, in Seoul. Then what shall the 30,000 do? Invade the North? That’s not a plan, either. The North has many, many more troops and artillery arrayed on their side.

If the North moves it will be all or nothing – do or die. They must know that Hell will shortly find them if they start anything. By the same token, if the U. S. starts something, the North must either fold its tent and retreat or, again, go all out with everything they have – they’ve sort-of talked themselves into it.

Oh, Mr. Trump, what are you going to do? You risk the South at the very least. Recent endeavors show that there are not enough bombs to deliver victory without protracted ground action. Do you really think China will allow the decimation of its handy cat’s paw? Or will Russia, for that matter? Who will overnight become whose friend if things “go hot?”

Finally, like abused children, North Koreans will not abandon their homeland or their dear leader. I think you have not contemplated the potential of a new Asian war long enough, Mr. T. You’ve not been in office long enough: and there can be only two terms.

Tipping Point

We are, evidently, at a tipping point for the American experiment. For myriad reasons, we who have been so blessedly comfortable (borrowed comfort, but still…) and never devastated by conquerors, bombing raids or economic destruction, have, for fifty years, been inviting unusual immigration in huge numbers, many of which immigrants are our cultural, if not actual, enemies. Rational nations don’t do this, but the U. S. and Europe have convinced themselves that there is some “rightness” to doing so.

Some are already howling about xenophobia and worse. How did we get here?

The larger source of hatred for the United States – domestically – is decades of dishonesty in government. Sad, that. It took time to convert basic graft into nationwide political power. What is required to move large numbers of voters is some sort of “national” crisis or threat… like war and threats of war. World War I, for example, was played slickly by Woodrow Wilson, a visionary Progressive who was tired of democratic populism and nationalism. First he declared his opposition to getting involved in “Europe’s war,” but once re-elected, sent General Pershing and the “American Expeditionary Force” to France with the message: “Lafayette, we are here,” hearkening back to France’s vital role in defeating the British in the American Revolution.

Following hostilities, Wilson strove to create a “League of Nations,” a large first step toward one-world government. America wasn’t quite as devolutionary as Wilson was and Congress never accepted the treaty of membership. But the trail was blazed, while the largest effects of the war to end all wars were festering, having ensconced Communism in Russia and Fascism in Italy and Germany. Not long before the Great War, the U. S. had adopted the 16th Amendment establishing the Income Tax, and passed a law establishing the misleadingly named Federal Reserve Bank. They, together, installed another form of fascism, perhaps not recognized even now, that has inexorably destroyed American independence financially… freedom-wise, too.

But that was a slow method; another crisis was needed and the Great Depression served perfectly. Suddenly big government was not a handy, righteous expense burden. Now it was salvation, a source of food, employment and confidence… dare we say, hope? This was new: government had a role in growing numbers of people’s lives, a role many could not live without. Another trail was blazed.

After WW-II, the U. S. became the world’s policeman, first keeping Communism contained (Truman Doctrine) and the Korean War, then establishing a C.I.A. that acted in place of stated foreign policy, toppling governments and embroiling us in wars and skirmishes around the globe.

Under Johnson we took two trails: the spirit-sapping Viet-Nam War and the Great Society – both expensive, both yet to be fully paid-for. The American fifth column, led by the New York times, Washington Post and others, flexed its muscles and destroyed President Nixon and the results of a legal and voluminously overwhelming rejection of progressivism in the 1972 elections: 49 states to 1. Nixon was no more or less perfect than most of his predecessors, but he was a threat to what liberals believe was the inexorable direction of history: one-world elite paternalism and the equality of mass mediocrity.

That subsequent presidents have routinely committed actual crimes against the Constitution far greater than what Nixon was accused of, has no meaning on their planet. Every domestic condition has become a “crisis” or a “war,” and worthy of planetary indebtedness. The U. S., for a multitude of reasons, has had the power to increase DEBT without practical limit, since Nixon closed the “gold window.” And, so we have, to the point that we can barely afford to defend ourselves or to prevent riots in the streets if anything threatens welfare. Our highly-paid congressional “leaders” got us here – let’s re-elect them!

Every congressional move is now, by fifth column caterwauls, a threat to life as we know it. Every presidential tweet is simply proof of that threat. Americans voted clearly, in their 50 state elections, to not continue fatuous liberal government, but as in 1974, the fifth column is gearing up to reverse that shift: Trump is an highly obvious threat to a “progressive” future. Progressive jurists and bureaucrats – everywhere – are doing their damnedest to help bring the elected government down. Our Fifth Column is happy to help.

Could tip either way.

MASSACHUSETTS VAULTS INTO FIRST PLACE

In January of 2017 the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA, Earth, known as “The Great and General Court,” implying some connection to legality and justice, collectively determined that their theft of monies from their subjects-taxpayers would have only an indiscernible impact on the rest of the Solar System, let alone the Universe. And so far, they appear to have calculated safely. Not even the orbit of the Moon has been perturbed.

Not ones to be caught without full justification, albeit besotted with partisanship, the august leaders of the aforementioned and veto-proof majority of both chambers of that vital legislative coven, all sworn to uphold the laws and constitution of the Commonwealth as well as the laws and Constitution of the United States of America, searched the Galaxy for comparative compensations that rendered said august leaders of the majority party (of which many members were likewise “leaders”) second-rate or, God forbid, third-rate, by comparison and therefore instantly deserving of sufficient added compensation as to restore primacy to the Great and General Court of Massachusetts’ leadership – every last friggin’ one of them.

Holding the balance of reason and probity was the tiny band of Republicans (also blessed with numerous “leaders”) numbering but 6 of 40 in the Senate – the “upper” chamber – and 34 of 160 in the House – the “lower” chamber. Observers and constituents have argued since which fits the latter designation, in fact, and which the former.
They seem, to all not so newly compensated, to be vying for the latter. There will surely be a study.

In 2014 the “Special Advisory Commission Regarding the Compensation of Public Officials” delivered itself of a remarkable document that purported to win over any doubters of the premise that the hard-working, frequent-vacationing leaders of the Democrat Party hegemony in Massachusetts’ state government, most particularly in the legislative offices, were, sadly, underpaid and just scraping by in their selfless service to the citizens of this great state. Of course, its effects, if converted into passable legislation, would be bipartisan, so there certainly was no self-service that might happen… none.

The study now extant became a Christmas present burning holes in the back pockets of Stanley Rosenberg, Robert DeLeo, nearly every member of the Great and General Court, every judge, magistrate, court officer and constitutional officer to boot. It simply needed the right Christmas to arrive for a quick, unobstructed delivery into their suffering hands. The anticipation must have been exquisite.

Finally, with ostensibly Republican governor Charlie Baker fully compromised, January 2017 saw delivery of the long-awaited financial orgasm. “Our royal thanks for the sacrifice and diligence of the Special Commission.”

What did the committee do during their months of service? And, it is worth asking, for whom? After all, the report IS neatly typed, carefully printed and edited for accuracy and timeliness, not to overlook well-peppered with charts and graphs, and plenty of margin space for easy gleaning. All of its authors are not only eminent, but well-regarded – a comfort, that.

There are fundamental premises that the report was created to make relevant, even justificatory of, the “need” to take more money from the Commonwealth’s tax-paying citizens and deliver it into the pockets of their “representatives” and many others. Somehow, we should now be convinced-of and, perhaps, relieved to grasp, the value of paying all these people more than most of said tax-payers, themselves, make.

Premise # 1: Higher, appropriately higher, compensation is needed to attract and retain the best talent – and presumed competency – for these crucial jobs.

Premise # 2: The relative pay of politicians in similar offices in the other 50 states is of some (arcane) value in our deciding how much to pay OUR politicians.

Premise # 3: The total compensation packages of huge private for-profit and not-for-profit CEO’s and other corporate officers form logical comparisons to what are held to be equivalent-responsibility public-sector positions.

The first premise can be challenged by the greater than 90% incumbency re-election rate in the House and Senate. Clearly the jobs are attractive enough to keep nearly every office holder vying to retain his or her seat – even during the dark days of insufficient compensation. Likewise, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General and other executive offices are both sought after and clung-to like pregnancy-swollen breasts, despite the poor comparisons with other states’ office holders. Pregnancy? How did that happen?

And, not always poor. New Jersey, for example, has a similar GDP to that of Massachusetts, based on kinds of economic activity, port value and as GDP per capita. Mass., $485 billion; N. J., $570 billion, a difference of 15%. The cost of state government, however, IS VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL: $55.1 billion for Mass., $56 billion for N. J. New Jersey is almost 10% more efficient than Massachusetts in this regard. Political leaders must be better compensated there, no?

Well, no. New Jersey’s senators and reps are paid 18% LESS than the toiling servants of Massachusetts. Putting lip-gloss on it, the N. J. senate president and house speaker are paid 31% (!) LESS than our vital comparatives… for doing a better economic job. Taxes are high in both states, Democrats dominate in both states, taxpayers are restive/complacent in both states. We certainly can’t justify 40% pay increases looking at those bozos! It is good that we didn’t compare ourselves to Florida!

Still, there must be some cobbled-together set of statistics that will obscure our purposes more completely while appearing to justify this embezzlement. Ummm… aha! Let’s make a chart that compares and ranks the old (high) pay scale to ALL other states: premise # 2.

The assembled charts are wonderful, guaranteed to make a reader’s eyes glaze over. No one is going to pore over a list of fifty rates of pay for governors, lieutenant governors, attorneys general or anyone else. Presented with the two pages of six columns of small print, the concerned reader will find the numbers that pertain to Massachusetts officers and relax in the knowledge that this report includes extensive, thorough study.

Except for the nationwide self-aggrandizement of politicians, the fact that Mass. paid its governor MORE than 39 other states did and LESS than only 10 others is, in one important sense, meaningless. In another sense, the generous taxpayers of Massachusetts ought to have taken solace in the realization that we have well-compensated our governor in comparison to almost all other states. Doesn’t matter.

The big deal is Table B-7: nice big print, comparing the Senate President’s and House Speaker’s (equal) salaries with those of other full-time legislatures (11, all told), ranking 5th and 6th respectively. In 2014, this meant only $95 grand per year plus numerous benefits and stipends to ease the pain. Oh, the horror.

Legislators in Massachusetts receive raises every two years based on the calculated “Median” income in the state. Sounds fair. It’s a plan that was supposed to avoid the contentious process of legislators voting for their own raises! All of you who hate doing the same thing where you work, can appreciate the awkwardness.

Well, despite many legislators clinging to their sinecures for decades – and becoming wealthy somehow, and retiring with pleasant pensions and health-care benefits, the automatic (median income has and always will rise in this system) raises were not making legislators, especially their “leaders” (20 of them) rich quickly enough. You can see the problem: How on Earth can we slip a gigantic compensation package through the legislature and signed by a governor? Hmmmm…

Turns out, there’s nothing better than a mind-numbing report produced by a Commission – a commission: brilliant! – all of whose members are both eminent and highly regarded. That’s the ticket.

Still, facts on the ground comparing pay scales with other states really don’t quite carry the water for this hijack. What must be included is something ethereal, heavenly, mystical. Let’s compare our collective irresponsibilities and partisan claptrap with real leaders: top-paid CEO’s, COO’s, corporate treasurers and the like. Find a highly-paid corporate lawyer to help the Attorney General. This will make our grandees appear UNDER-paid even with this new bloat, and enhance our leadership status among the low-information voters.

Premise # 3: What top private-sector executives make is relevant to what political leaders make, and their responsibilities are roughly comparable. A fabulous, fantastic concept that can be made true in the hands of the right eminent and highly regarded Commissioners. Go for it.

In reality, where taxpayers actually live, there is no comparison – none. Private-sector (whether for-profit or not-for-profit, “business”) leaders operate in a different world: one where performance is measured intricately and specifically against economic results and targets, month-by-month, quarter-by-quarter and beyond. Highly paid people in business can be fired based on results. They answer to boards of directors or trustees. They are carefully regulated by governments, and taxed, fined and fee’d to a fare-thee-well and still required to show performance and results that meet goals.

Many of these goals involve COST-CUTTING(!), a miraculous process whereby profits increase and excess payroll is jettisoned. This leaves, over fairly short times, the BEST employees employed, and only as many of those as needed to achieve results for the share-holders. These are foreign concepts in state government, specifically in Massachusetts state government, where political “leaders” see their goals as met by INCREASING jobs, and not for the best of employees, but for the most loyal, politically.

Goals for legislators and officers in government are not lower costs, not better returns on investments or returns on assets; the goal is re-election and job-security – not to mention as much pay, compensation, expense reimbursement, pension and perks as possible while appearing heroic!

This is not to say that political leaders and functionaries don’t have POWER. That is the one quality they share with business leaders. What they don’t have is actual responsibility for performance or profit – things that get business people fired or bonused. They never work for bonuses based on meeting economic targets. Things can go to Hell in handbaskets in state economies and politicos are victims of world-wide conditions, same as the rest of us. But, not responsible. Nor is their pay cut because stock prices are down for bad performance or for poor vision for the immediate and long-term future.

Finally, NO OTHER STATE is trying to attract these captains of government to come run THEIR states because of a record of market-beating success. These people are LUCKY, in the main, to have the cushy jobs they have. When things go south they can raise taxes, by POLICE POWER. In business, leaders have to attract new revenue because they deliver what customers or donors actually WANT and will voluntarily pay for. And they want to compare themselves to corporate success-masters?

This isn’t a report on compensation delivered by eminent and highly regarded people, IT IS A FRAUD from the very start. This is Kabuki theater, designed to defraud the taxpayers of Massachusetts. With a series of impressive and MEANINGLESS charts and 50,000 words of palaver, the House and Senate justified grand theft.

And our God-damned governor let it go through! Oh, he vetoed it – that was his Kabuki role, but he didn’t fight it, he didn’t campaign against it, he didn’t use any of his power to stop this legal CRIME. The day after his “veto” was overridden, he was at a “time” for a Democrat in Fall River with Stan Rosenberg and Bob DeLeo. This isn’t the fox in charge of the hen-house, it’s the ROOSTER.

There was one big reform. To save senators and reps from cheating on their per-diems they now receive bloated flat-rates to reward these vital characters for showing up for “work.” Oh, thank goodness! There were maps and charts to justify them.
The ONLY reform that would justify this grandiose sleight-of-hand, is TERM LIMITS for all of these people, and the right to remove judges by plebescite. Did I mention that the AUTOMATIC biennial raises are still in effect? NO ONE who voted for this scam deserves another vote from any of us.

Borrowing for Welfare?

Nearly every day there is some article or letter in the newspapers that decries the fact that the United States’ “defense” budget is larger than the next 7 nations’ defense budgets, combined. Moreover, that “bloated” defense budget could be reduced significantly so that the “savings” can be used to feed the hungry and house the homeless right here in our own country, for Heaven’s sake.

None of these heartfelt concerns is based on the right perspectives or even the right data. That’s the trouble with statistics.

For example, 65% of fiscal 2017’s Federal Budget is committed to entitlements, pensions, health-care and education. From a Constitutional standpoint, most of that 65% is not the business of the federal government, whereas defense, now 16% of the budget, categorically IS.

Years ago welfare was strictly local… and recipients were a little ashamed of having to ask for it. Many, your grandparents or great-grandparents, and many of your parents, would do the most menial jobs to AVOID being on welfare and to get “off” of it as quickly as possible. Children learned this reaction and revulsion. Welfare was a handout when you needed it, as temporarily as possible.

Soon after World War II, though, states took over welfare from cities and towns, mainly under pressure from cities, which were buckling under the northward migration of blacks from the deep south. Almost immediately, states began prevailing on Washington to take the burden off of their backs. After all, weren’t the new Northerners crossing state lines because of “national” conditions in the economy?

After 13 years of the “New Deal,” we could have seen where this was going. There were votes to be gained in the impassioned cries for better – federal – welfare: codified compassion.

Truman blazed integration trails, Eisenhower enforced anti-segregation in schools, Kennedy hemmed and hawed but crawled toward full integration and voting rights legislation, Johnson, riding a wave of sympathy for his murdered predecessor, got civil rights legislation done, and then carried on further to create some wildly expensive – reckless – new “rights”: federal, unaccountable, politically charged, easily defrauded, vote-attractive welfare.

Smartly, though, Johnson couched the new largesse to which people were now entitled – not ashamed-of, in wonderfully sympathetic terms and names. Names like: Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, ie. Food Stamps), Pell Grants (free college), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Rental Voucher Program (Section 8), Federal National Mortgage Administration (“Fannie-Mae”), Child Nutrition (School lunch, breakfast, dinner!), Head Start (very, very expensive day-care), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and, the granddaddy of them all: MEDICAID.

Current spending on these and more than ONE HUNDRED other federal “anti-poverty” programs (who could be PRO-poverty?) is nearly 900 BILLION dollars. That means that our virtually bankrupt federal government is BORROWING money to provide welfare.
Well, say unionized federal social workers and sympathizers, our defense budget is larger than the next 7 nations’ combined, let’s cut that, first!

Except… it isn’t.

When China, for example, builds sand islands in the South China Sea, and puts military airstrips and naval “bases” on them, and claims 200-mile territorial waters around these extensions of “China,” it’s not a military expenditure, but something else. For example.

When Russia directs a manufacturer to produce engines for new IRBM’s and ICBM’s, they aren’t military expenditures – they’re developments in space exploration. All peaceful. And subterranean military bunkers for both armament manufacture and survival are certainly construction projects… and expensive, but military? Not so you’d know.

And no other country carries the degree of personnel costs and benefits that are packed into the “Defense” budget of the United States. Simple ledger numbers are not comparable with other nations’ budgets.

Actually, under the Obama administration, defense has been cut a few times. One of his first steps was to fold tens of billions of retirement costs into the Defense Department budget. Logically, the cost of military retirements should not be measured as part of the Pentagon’s war-fighting / force-projection budget, should they? They certainly don’t threaten anyone but us.

Next, Obama forced the Congress into the “sequester” process, of which a large fraction of restrictions were imposed on defense – to be “fair.” Big cuts.

Finally, he walked out of Iraq, abandoning the very bloody, very costly gains we had made there. We are now paying to regain what had been won. His frothy, fraudulent Iran anti-nuclear “agreement” (cunningly not a treaty), will cost us many billions going forward – billions that need not have been spent had there been a different foreign policy.

The new president sees significant weakness that exists now or very shortly will, as normal refitting and reconditioning of hardware takes larger and larger fractions of critical military systems out of service. Warplanes are becoming antiques as our most experienced pilots are retiring; it is our phenomenal pilots who keep last-generation fighters useful in their 30th year of service. Now our latest fighter platform is too expensive to buy enough of!

If anyone thinks that McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried chicken are going to convince our potential enemies to not work – and fight – to destroy us, it is time for him or her to wake up. Maybe unrestricted immigration will make everybody love one another, but so far it is weakening the “West” and confusing our Constitutional rights with national suicide.

Don’t Feed the Beast

There’s an old admonition about feeding the beast: it starts to hang around and won’t leave when you try to shoo it away. Even if you scream really loud and wave your hands – or ballots – it won’t leave if the food trough is still where it always was. That’s how liberalism / progressivism is. While we weren’t looking it was building thousands of troughs and passing laws and regulations that make it illegal, or something, to NOT fill the troughs… and not with just the normal rations, but ever larger ones.

Donald Trump is a pretty canny guy and has a good eye for talent. He also can recognize problems for what they are and, better, envision a path to solutions. What he never understood was how tightly, ferociously and viciously the progressive beasts are prepared to cling to their “food” troughs.

They’ve had a good run, our progressive saviours – about a hundred years or so, constantly finding reasons that freedom was a problem, as is free-will and any religion that preaches the concept of free will and personal salvation. And they became very good at stifling freedom and when that didn’t work, stealing it.

How can politicians steal freedom? Let us count the ways. A key measure of freedom is private property. The Constitution enshrines the concepts of private property, private thoughts and beliefs, and of security within one’s private realm. That is, that one is free to live as one pleases in his or her pursuit of “happiness.” The government – the locus of political action – exists to assure your freedom from threats to your privacy.

Just saying the previous five sentences is to laugh at our precarious position in modern America. There is barely an activity left that is no longer truly “private.” Try to think of one:

• Sex? What kind of sex? Surely the federal government has nothing to say about sex, right? Except that they do. All kinds of sexual function and dysfunction have gained the status of “protected minority” with rights and enforcement.

• Business, private, owner-operated business? Should be a “piece of cake,” but, please…

• Raising your children? Punishing them? Teaching them your values? You are so suspect that every teacher and school administrator has been placed on notice to observe and report any ways you handle your child that the state disagrees with. Worse, you are often the last person to know about the mind-numbing, values-warping content of many lessons and courses. Do you know how to use a condom? Or what “gay” sex is? Your eighth grader does.

• Driving? If you pay enough, it’s a privilege. If you are deemed “suspicious,” such as driving where you – or your car – don’t belong, you can be stopped, identified, and your personal property searched on the basis of some articulable “suspicion.”

• Do you work? Earn an income? Well, it’s certainly not really yours, is it? Numerous of others’ needs must be addressed by “your” pay before you get a share. Many of these are “benefits,” so-called, but they are benefiting someone else. Things like FICA, your Social Security “contribution.” Then there is the bonus deduction for Medicare and the so-called “income tax withheld” that pays a Hell of a lot of people to do things you never heard of, probably don’t like and probably can’t afford for yourself! It must also pay interest on debts you have not incurred but which were incurred in your name, long before you were born, most likely. How free is that?

• Private property? From local “zoning” boards to the EPA, how you use your own property is abridged in, literally, hundreds of ways. God forbid you’ll be found to own a “habitat” for an “endangered” specie of gnats or centipedes. No one wants to be responsible for killing the last right-handed beige centipede, but the concept of “threatened” or “endangered” life forms carries great power to push humans around. So-called progressives love doing that. They are those who know what’s wrong with most humans and why what they tend to do is flawed. Want to build a shed for your garden tools? Better get permission from the town and all your neighbors.

• Your own health? I mean of YOUR OWN BODY? Well, you can’t buy the care you want because the doctor you want to buy it from can’t sell it to you. “Free” enterprise, indeed. Congress, that bastion of good sense and careful budgeting, is cobbling together how the last frontier of control will dictate how and, eventually, whether you will live, at all, if your life will burden the federal deficit. Ye Gods!

• And self-defense? Immigration and the world-wide movement of peoples have changed the need for personal self-defense. Add drugs to the mix of cross-cultural peoples and it is a more dangerous world – and neighborhood – today than it was a hundred years ago, or even fifty years ago. Yet our progressive neighbors, who place little value on the United States’ cultural norms, or its borders, are the same who demonstrate AGAINST your inherent, inalienable right to defend yourself and your family. You are rendered more free to die for their principles.

Finally, consider that when a new American is born, he or she has a debt of $155,000! And the government, that benign behemoth we all depend upon to protect our “rights,” is adding to that debt for all 330 Million of us at the rate of $5 a day. That’s $150 a month ON TOP OF the taxes we already pay. With about half of us NOT PAYING federal taxes, it’s more like $300 a month for every family that has a worker/ breadwinner.
The problem is, rather than figuring out how to reduce that burden, congress works overtime to INCREASE it. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Let’s keep in mind that every dollar of tax is a loss of freedom; every dollar of DEBT is a growing ball-and-chain that now inhibits our collective ability to defend ourselves.

Mr. President, I haven’t heard much about this…

HOW MANY DIVISIONS…?

The seeds of division in our beautiful nation were planted in the Revolutionary War. You are wondering how could that be so when we all know they sprouted in just the past 8 years? How simple would be the solution if that were so.

The intention toward one-world government was already formed in the late 18th century and it was the birth of American constitutional republicanism that reversed the momentum toward ever-greater authoritarianism. But it was a momentum, yielding Hegel’s Dialecticism, Karl Marx, Otto von Bismark, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and Mao Tse Tung. Along the way authoritarianism cost nearly 200 Million lives, each belonging to a human being person.

America, founded on religious freedom in more ways than one, including the inherent freedom of will that makes right action truly right, was not immune to the desire for ever greater centralization. So-called Progressivism, particularly since the Civil War, following which social problems and care for disabled veterans, for the first time in large numbers, became Federalized.

It is often said that “power corrupts.” But it should also be noted that “power justifies…” itself. Government attracts governing types who quickly find that even soft police powers lend a sort of antiseptic clarity to their decisions. Government decisions gain an aura of purity, especially in comparison to the chaos of freedom – that messy, disorganized, self-serving and selfish jambalaya of individual sovereignty with which our Constitution saddles the nation.

As giants of industry developed their monopolies and industrial efficiencies, there developed a view of government as becoming the ultimate efficient industry, led by a college-educated priesthood of good intentions and of higher thoughts than common people. “Wilson-ism.” A classless society, indeed.

Damn the laws of economics. Socialists of all stripes seem to think that by their super-clarifying adjustment of society and the physical (non-spiritual world), they can cause humans to be more perfect, more docile, more willing to accept average uniformity, and therefore happy to allow the ruling classes to enjoy their extra rewards for having done all the needful thinking for the whole group. Whew! It never works.

Oh, it might continue for quite a while – longer with a police state that is able to weed out cancerous individualists – but it eventually goes broke. Humans will be humans. Rulers might think they can get everyone to share and to accept their share, but they can’t destroy the human spirit: the inherently human desire to perfect oneself, to grow closer to God, or to improve one’s earthly condition. Damn humans. This would be a great place to live if it weren’t for most of the humans. The rich have obviously proven their greater value.

Who’s in charge here?

President Trump’s recent travails over his immigration restriction order call up the question of what the role of the U. S. federal government is, perhaps in contrast to the roles of other governments. “Federal” is in quotes because many people don’t understand the difference between a federal government and a national one.

Further, many don’t grasp the unique role of the United States – and our government – in the world, since, say, the Spanish-American War. That was a funny, lop-sided war about which little is taught in public schools, anymore. In fact, it was so short-lived and had so few veterans that one might wonder what the fuss was all about, anyway.

“Remember the Maine!” Ever hear that? If you’ve gone to Arlington National Cemetery you’ve seen the Memorial to Maine’s 260 dead sailors. The destruction and sinking of the Maine may or may not have had anything to do with the Spanish, but it caused the decision to solve the Cuba problem, and the Spanish problem, once and for all.

In the end we temporarily took over Cuba (dominating it until Batista was dislodged by Castro), Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam; Teddy Roosevelt enhanced his resumé, changing presidential history, and the U. S. became a more involved Pacific power. MacArthur was forced out of the Philippines by the Japanese only to commit to returning, and Guam played a key role against the Japanese, as well. U. S. relations with South and Central American nations became even more strained and domineering, causing difficulties that persist to this day. So, not so inconsequential, after all.

America’s role on this multi-national planet has been gigantic since then, through two World Wars, the rise and demise of Communism in the Soviet Union, and astounding control and profiteering from the global banking/monetary system. Petro-dollars. There are many who think we should tuck our tail and let some other nation do the heavy lifting for a while… we’ve got our own problems to deal with.

Careful thought should reveal that that is the worst path for us to follow. On the other hand, we have learned, painfully, that we can’t impose our form of government on other nations, and we should not. If you’re looking for things that are not constitutional, that is a big one, Prudence counsels.

But after we tried having the several new states contribute to the operations of a “central” government under the Articles of Confederation, we put our minds to the task of creating something new on Earth: a Constitutional Republic, with separated powers and democratically elected representatives and even a democratically elected chief executive – a president not of the Congress, but of the united STATES. It has been quite a ride since then.

By adopting our phenomenal Constitution, “we the people” relinquished a carefully measured portion of our inalienable rights as sovereign citizens, whose rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness came not from the government, but from God, or, if you please, the order of the Universe that resulted in sentient human beings, whatever that is.

At the same time we created for ourselves an exceptional class of humans who are citizens of the United States with certain rights and responsibilities, while we remain citizens of the several States with additional rights and responsibilities. WE, as citizens of the States, FORMED and granted power to, for limited things – big things, but constrained – the new, FEDERAL government. People have their inalienable rights, States have their rights and the Federal government has its rights and “enumerated” powers to facilitate our individual pursuits of happiness, protect our union of states from foreign and domestic dangers, and, to impose some uniformity of laws and economics, including federal taxation and tariffs, and to maintain an army, a navy and a court system.

States could no longer conduct their own diplomacy with foreign governments or have different policies of immigration or of citizenship – those are Federal, logically, and all matters of citizenship or denial of citizenship, with all of the rights and powers that attach to U. S. citizenship, are the business of the Federal authority and of the Federal courts. Disputes between States or between States and the Federal government, are also the province of Federal courts, including appeals to the Supreme Court. And here we may soon be.

The two forces at conflict in the U. S. since the Civil War are Constitutional liberty and extra-Constitutional socialism. Originally, people and States were free to work, create, gain or lose within the law, and take responsibility for gaining or losing; alternatively they needed collective, or socialized sharing of life’s ups and downs to the point of being “free” from hardship and responsibility under the law. One path is strengthening, the other weakening of the social order and of individuals, and weakening of the States, themselves.

President Trump, as he promised, issued an appropriate Executive Order in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, restricting entrance to the United States of persons not otherwise legally entitled to enter or re-enter (poorly executed on the ground, but legal and justified, nonetheless) from 7 failed countries that cannot “vet” their residents – no, their occupants – sufficiently to ascertain whether they are who they claim to be or what their record is. From these 7 countries have come, since 9-11, some 72 bad actors who have committed terrorist acts in the United States.

There is no way, practically speaking, to know whether more are on their way; Mr. Trump took an appropriate, Federal step.

Two states sued on the basis that the abrupt interruption of travel impinged on the smooth function of their state governments, particularly of their State Universities, and a federal judge ruled that they had standing to sue. They further charged that Trump’s intention was to ban Muslims, for which they claimed unconstitutionality, as well as “unconstitutional” interruptions on the free travel of their residents, not necessarily of their citizens.

The judge went so far as to cite Trump’s campaign statements about banning Muslims temporarily as a basis for construing an unconstitutional intent – INTENT! – that made the need for a Temporary Restraining Order an emergency.

And here we are. Without precedent, and, let’s hope, without creating a precedent. A federal court has ruled that temporary inconvenience for a State’s internal functions may be sufficient to interrupt lawful measures for the purpose of national security. This is new territory. The creative interference with valid federal duties that restive state’s Attorneys General might devise, is limitless. Federal judges should have sense enough to reject these efforts to politicize our security.

Clearly Prudence doesn’t direct the President, but she strongly advises that the new U. S. Attorney General defend this case in the supreme Court so that there is no precedent created for left-leaning judges to take non-judicial steps to interfere with the executive branch, UN-constitutionally.

TO LIFE, TO LIFE, L’CHAI’IM

Now that life, itself, is measured only in financial terms, at least for many – mostly young First-Worlders, the shining wisdom of liberal thinkers is becoming clearer… and more frightening. Canada recently completed a study that showed “savings” of nearly $140 Million, Canadian, that might be realized with more accessible “end-of-life” care, as they call it.

Or suicide, for the crudely honest. And that $140 Million could finance, ummm, infrastructure improvements and transportation safety! For those who remain, of course. One hopes that all that protein won’t go to waste – maybe pet food. After all, we’ve been eating animals like forever and they’re only human, too.

This is a side-effect of socialized health care, like those ads for the latest wonder-drug where the disclaimers about side effects like moods of depression or suicide, elevated heart rates, rash, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, bad breath, loss of vision and tingling in hands and feet, are three-fourths of the ad. Certain cancers and even death have occurred. If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to… your… doctor. He or she is a caring, white-smocked employee of the Government Accounting Office.

Abortion as a “constitutional right” is the first step to the destruction of not just life, but of freedom. We have been sold on abortion providing “Freedom” of choice for women who are shocked, shocked to find themselves pregnant when a child is too much to cope with… for any number of reasons. Even Planned Parenthood, responding to the outcries of stranded, pregnant, shocked women, has found ways for all that protein to not be wasted, as a market exists for whole, pre-natal organs and tissues. Financial value and loads of freedom for those who remain. They’re a non-profit, you know, so not much help with the infrastructure thing.

Some Planned Parenthood executives have had their own infrastructures improved.

And yet, despite all the excess babies we produce, “scientists” are struggling to clone humans like frogs and sheep, as if there were not enough, already. Maybe we just don’t want to accept the risk of imperfection; let’s replicate a human that “we” like.

We’ve followed the liberals, the socialists, the communists, the progressives and the Democrats down the path to where dollars or other forms of power define the value of life, even as the role of churches, religion, spirituality itself, are cast aside like so much magical mumbo-jumbo, a drag on society and on tax-receipts. We should be taxing all that church-owned property because our collective costs to protect it are born unfairly by non-believers. Abortion, and infrastructure, and voting… that’s real.

Since we can’t keep up with fertility, and since more people born into the last, best hope for freedom is a big public problem, we have got to destroy hopefulness, as they have in Russia, for example, where too few people are being born. Perhaps some terrorism will help spur the youngest, most fertile citizens to fear bringing children into “such” a world… a world where Donald Trump can be elected. Let’s just hook up after lecture hall and if I get pregnant I can get an abortion before mid-terms.

The value of life is primarily spiritual, if there’s any purpose beyond finance and fun, at all. Isn’t that the big question? What is the purpose, the meaning of life? Didn’t you see the movie? Hilarious. No, but honestly, sometimes I get the feeling that there just must be more to it than eating and screwing, don’t you think?

Well, we could help people who are having problems – that always makes me feel good. You should take that job at the clinic and you could help girls with unwanted fetal masses. When I get my promotion at the condom factory we’ll have enough money to maybe donate to Greenpeace or PETA. How would that be?

I’d rather donate to my alma mater where the money could help poor kids get their Masters. Aren’t they a religious school? Oh, they used to be.

Roughly speaking, Americans can choose, now, between the Death Party and the Life Party. The Deathers are pretty firm in their beliefs, while the Lifers are kind-of soft in their defense of Life. The former can state their death wishes as matters of Freedom, and Choice, and purging the country of brown people… except they don’t mention the last part. Lifers are almost afraid to mention their beliefs or their spirituality, yet they somehow won an election the other day. Seemed like spiritual intervention, but with all this warm weather we’ve been having, who can worry about that?

The main thing is to get back on the death track or we’ll never balance the budget. Consumer confidence is high, though. Maybe Christmas sales will cap a really good year, financially.

I hate Christmas, don’t you? It’s so commercial.