All posts by Bob Wescott

How Many Nurses Can Fit…?

We had a disturbing survey call the other night, all about nurses and how many patients each nurse should be caring for at one time. The Massachusetts Nurses Association has obtained enough signatures to place a ballot question for the November, 2018 election.

The gist of the question is whether the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall create or expand an agency that monitors nursing staffing levels in order to enforce certain ratios of nurses to patients. The mechanism of enforcement would be $25,000 fines for each instance of “failing” to maintain nursing levels that are satisfactory to nurses(!).

Arguments in favor run the gamut of every negative consequence of inadequate nursing levels. Further strictures in the proposed law demand that nurse staffing levels be brought into conformity with the nurse-association-prescribed nurse-patients ratios without reducing other staffing levels as for maintenance or food-service departments. This, naturally, would increase hospital costs per patient-hour and of health care generally. Still, the over-arching deep concern for everything patient-related causes the M. N. A. to forge ahead despite the cost implications.

Some of the nurses’ arguments are valid. Patient outcomes are better with adequate nursing attentiveness. Sometimes this means simple numbers of nurses, but not always. Poor outcomes often result from poor administration or administrative requirements – requirements that sheer numbers won’t correct.

This is essentially a pro-union effort at the ballot box, sponsored by about 25% of nurses, hoping to increase the numbers of nurses (and union dues-paying members), but it threatens exactly what they hope to “improve.” First, if it passes and hospitals are forced to add nurses, the average pay is going to decline. This is not hard to understand. The only alternative to that likely outcome is the threat of nurses’ strikes for higher pay, and this is, like all union initiatives, the fundamental bargain – read: threat.

Neither care quality nor care cost will come in to alignment with patient desires until patients, themselves, return to the position of customer. Customers do some research on what they are going to buy. They are able to check out Consumer Reports, for example, where experts have done the research for them. They can visit different sources for the same products and services before choosing one to buy from.

In truth, people know more about their next car or flat-screen television than they do about their next medical procedure, the likely providers involved or even about their own doctor(!), never mind the amount of nursing attention they might receive. Maybe if patients – or a trusted advisor – knew enough about health providers and institutions to make rational judgments about which provides the best balance of nursing care, cost and outcomes, cost would come down, nurses would not be overworked and patients would be best served.

Asking the government and its politicians to make and enforce more rules about how to make patients well (ostensibly) is not an answer or even a good question. Restore the concept of “customer” to potential patients, in place of “entitled victim.”

As for nurses, the last thing we need is for skilled professionals to be relegated to average “service-unit” status for bargaining purposes, leaving neither room for excellence nor sanctions for failure.

The New Tyranny

Everyone decided to chide President Trump for privately describing New Hampshire as a “drug-infested den.” Oh, the horror! Why, there are genuinely nice people living in New Hampshire; how could he say such a derogatory thing about them?

Well, he didn’t, of course, and the release of the content of that conversation was a crime, but who cares if discomfiting Trump is the possible result. Let’s use our brains, now, and realize that the point Trump made was that even in New Hampshire, for more than 200 years the veritable definition of good, clean living, based on religious morals and flinty work ethic, the corruption of drugs had penetrated every town and city, and was destroying the heritage of “New-Hampshire-ness” with little to stop it.

It is no wonder that closing the southern border is taken so seriously by Trump and many others. The worst flow of drugs into our nation – and into New Hampshire – begins in Mexico and points further south. Making it harder to get drugs into the country is a good thing. I’m pretty sure of that, but why?

First, let’s stipulate that human beings are remarkable products of evolution and more. The “more” is best described as a foundation of religiously sourced and codified morals. Whether you choose to accept any religious “truths” or are an affirmed atheist, it is clear that the hundreds of religious histories and traditions on Earth have brought us to a fairly honest and moral civilization, capable of correcting and perfecting itself. One of our greatest mores is that we call “freedom.”

We may think freedom is inherent, but it really is intensely fragile, is it not? Historically, since the organization of city-states, freedom has been merely forms of servitude, some quite oppressive. In fact, the age of kingdoms, kings and subjects, or warlords and serf-protectees, was marked by various forms of tyranny. Granted, some was less benign than others, and the basis of great folk-tales. Robin of Locksley and his Merry Men describes the battle for freedom from oppressive taxation and government incompetence – I didn’t invent that irony.

Anyway, back to drugs. None of our heroes in the perpetual fight for freedom, is also described as drug-addled. Indeed, much effort today is described as helping addicts to achieve freedom FROM drugs. So, it seems logical, a free people, ever jealous of their freedom from tyranny, must, by definition, be drug-free as well. Keeping drugs out of America is the logical path to follow IF, and only IF, a leader of Americans is attempting to keep them free. Now we need to look at the headlong rush by various governments within America to actually PROFIT from the cultivation and sale of drugs to their free citizens.

A large element of states’ argument FOR drug legalization, is that it costs too much to enforce laws against marijuana and, besides, isn’t the use of drugs an exercise of the very freedoms governments are supposed to protect? Well, no, not at all, but we seem to have talked ourselves into this twist of “freedom.”

Free people are also responsible for the defense of freedom. This is called citizenship. That is, as we grant powers to an organizing and defensive government, limited by a Constitution that we the people approved of, we also assume an obligation to ourselves, our children and all of future history, to defend those freedoms that government was constituted to PROTECT. That is, by all logic, we are FREE to be FREE, but not free to enslave ourselves, as we do in the grip of drugs.

Oh, come on, you say, pot is no worse than alcohol! Well, perhaps not, that’s arguable, what with alcohol being metabolize-able and being only ingestible and not smoke-able. Too-heavy ingestion of alcohol will kill liver and other cells and disrupt neural communications for some time, until naturally removed from the body. The same could be said about marijuana, except that the danger is directly to the lungs, about 20 times that of tobacco cigarettes. The body does expel a lot of the elements of marijuana smoke, but does a poor job of removing THC, tetra-hydra-cannabinol. THC has the friendly quality of being easily absorbed into fat cells.

Fat cells are found all over the body but one of the greatest concentrations is the brain. This is good because fat cells are hardy and relatively long-lived, but it’s also a liability when exposed to certain toxins like… well, THC. THC tends to store in fat cells – not only brain cells – which is why it’s a risk for lactating mothers to smoke pot, but it is a “freedom,” right? Back to brain cells.

THC stores in brain cells and surreptitiously clogs up the intricate, microscopically tiny connections that enable complex thoughts and memory. “Maybe for real pot-heads, but not me,” you say, “I hold down a job and have no problems smoking pot for relaxation on weekends and once in a while other times. No problem at all… did I say that already?”

From the standpoint of defending freedom, however, the softening and dulling of voters’ intellects is perfect ground for planting illogical political distinctions, thereby guiding voting patterns in the direction most beneficial for those in power. Faced with a population clamoring for “freedom” from pot-related criminal records, all the Sheriff of Nottingham had to do was come out in favor of legalizing pot and his hold on POWER would have been unshakable. Populist “Robin Hoods” could dash themselves against that rock to no avail. Look around us – it’s what we have, now.

Even better than political strength, our state budgets are overspent and there are “revenue short-falls.” Actually, there are “spending long-rises,” but the important thing is that potheads will buy the stuff and pay the taxes so that we, your most-benevolent governors can take care of the children. You wouldn’t deny us that heartfelt mission, would you? You right-wing fascist bastard? After all, taxes on tobacco have declined dangerously and we have so many vital needs that only government can take care of – you see that don’t you?

And we bought into this. We accepted, first, that medical marijuana was medical. That’s a good one. You could get it at CVS if that were true, but, if they’ll buy that they’ll buy anything. They’ll even accept that the pay of legislators is somehow related to the incomes of corporate giants. Let’s test that by voting ourselves 60% raises and see what happens…

This in no way belies the fact that there are medical values to some marijuana components. There are medical values to lots of plants and thank God we have discovered those we have. It doesn’t mean that addling our intellects is a goal of a free people, does it? And so we argue about how high the taxes should be now that legalization has been voted-for, with the murder by a pot-stupefied driver with a medical marijuana prescription, of a State Trooper, a mere hiccup in the process. Pot is so benign, in fact, we should recommend it to heroin addicts to help them get off of the “real” drugs.

It has been a big, long-term sale, and we bought it.

Maybe if Trump simply tried a few tokes he could stop hassling druggies, damned right-wing fascist bastard.

Voting for pot legalization is a lot like voting for socialism, the other lie of non-responsibility. “Hey, man, it’s like, a free country, man, and health care is a right, not a privilege, man.” And not a responsibility? Next you’ll be telling us that you’re entitled to your freedoms and the government better make sure you keep ‘em, man. If it doesn’t then you’re voting for whoever is in favor of legalizing pot everywhere. Did you know that George Washington made rope out of hemp?

Do You Believe in Magic?

It’s all a matter of belief. We strive for truth, or, at least, we tell ourselves that truth is our highest aspiration. But truth among people is the subject of much argument, if not battle. Our beliefs tell our internal selves what is “true” and what is “false.” Likewise, we have internal judgments about who is trustworthy and who is not. Over thousands of years we have created deep belief structures that “work,” in a sense, to organize societies and to increase, however fitfully, general prosperity and defensive strength. Religion is often a significant basis for progress, but has just as often been a limiter, even to this day.

Prudence suggests that the Judeo-Christian ethical platform has been, ultimately, the most successful of historic belief structures, yet it is assaulted daily as “unscientific” since it accepts “truths” that cannot be proven or tested in a laboratory. When are unshakable beliefs imparted? How is it that some kids prefer gang membership while others become Eagle Scouts? Do we think it happens from a conversation with a 5-year old? From Sesame Street? Pre-school?

Speak to a pre-school teacher and she can describe the wide range of attitudes among 3-year olds, some quite destructive. Where did they form those personalities? Well, at home, obviously, but when? At age two and a half? Age two… or earlier? Somehow very young kids are “empatterned” such that anti-social actions, even pathological actions, are the automatic reactions to stimuli. When are those patterns implanted?

Our suspicion is that the process commences in the womb. Ask an expectant mother about the reactions of her pre-born baby and she can describe how her moods and feelings coincide with movements. When she is stressed and when she is calm and happy there are noticeable differences in the baby’s kicks and turns. Do we think the baby is completely inured to its environment until the moment of birth?

Imagine a baby in the last couple of months of gestation in a home where revenge is the common reaction of the parents – and others – to every slight or act of disrespect. Every source of irritation between husband and wife yields a reaction that the offended party must “get even” with, or get the better of, the offending party. The baby, innocently, will mature with a comfortable reaction toward opposition or disrespect that virtually requires that he or she obtain revenge against the offender. It is what he or she “believes.”

What a different path of human interaction that child will be on; what a different interpretation of what love and hate may be. Think about the “differently socialized” children you’ve known. By the time they enter kindergarten such children are already “marked” for special handling. By the time they are teenagers, some of these revenge-comfortable kids are gang members, either organized or in a company of local “bullies.”

Now, place these boys in a position to enthrall girls who grew up without rational father figures, never knowing how a man should treat a woman, respect her and care for her, along with their children. Such an, in effect, fatherless girl would perceive the feral sexual attentions of just as possibly fatherless boys, as true compassion. Now there are two ill-socialized children having their own children, who gestate and begin post-natal life amidst discord, resentment, poverty and, almost inevitably, vengefulness.

Is urban destruction like Ferguson, Missouri or Baltimore, Maryland at all surprising amidst populations that our own social policies have generated in far less than ideal pre-natal and post-natal family conditions? By foregoing social mores related to marriage and family and child-rearing, have we commenced a process of social disintegration? Most likely. Given this, where do we expect our dishonest politics to lead us?

Because individual power and status is the most vital of purposes for elected “representatives,” the misfortunes and dysfunctions of populations have become sources of political, personal, power. We could not have tolerated, and funded beyond reason, via hundreds of overlapping social-service agencies, social dysfunction for literal decades, unless those expenses served the purposes of Congress and others made powerful thereby. It is not possible to consider our history since the 1960’s and conclude that the trillions of dollars expended on basically failed welfare theories, resulted in failure and explosive government expansion, accidentally!

We are destroying the most successful form of social organization the world has seen, insofar as its basis is individual opportunity, freedom and growth without tyranny. Worse, we have brought ourselves to a political point where we are arguing and fighting about how FAST the Judeo-Christian heritage may be dissolved.

We are maintaining the propagation of new citizens who will not have the opportunity to grow in personal character and integrity. They will not enjoy two-parent, loving nuclear families, nor the reinforcing institutions of church and morality-based education.

We are racing not to the Brave New World, but the Craven.

Patterns of Gender

Johns Hopkins University has done what thousands of other institutions have heretofore been too cowed to do: apply some science to the extraordinary explosion of homosexuality and lesbianism and all of the mental discords that derive from those beliefs. Make no mistake, to thwart instinctive sexuality calls for very strong beliefs that “fit” mentally with the practices of homosexuality. Belief, not truth, is the power center of human activity. Truth is a philosophical concept. Some people are inspired and raised to believe portions of truth that seem to be “normal” for the preservation and survival of human groups. Others appear to have acquired beliefs that are opposed to those truths, but the strength of those beliefs are just as motivating.

Where do non-normal beliefs originate? If, as the Johns Hopkins study affirms, there are no physiological causes for homosexuality, then how is it that some people grow up believing that they are not attracted to the opposite sex? Because their brains are built differently? No… there is no evidence of that in terms of sexuality. People who are “gay” are never going to consider that they are brain-damaged or developmentally deficient, nor should they. We have all too many people whose brains are imperfectly developed, populating our many programs and special schools and “homes” where they are protected.

Yet many Down Syndrome people have normal sexual attractions. Gays are not claiming that their brains or their genes are malformed. But, they do believe that homosexuality is a normal state of humanity, itself, and therefore just as worthy of encouragement as heterosexuality. This view has gained political and legal status yet offers no empirical evidence of its validity. This is a new area of coded law: based entirely on individual claims of one’s feelings and one’s patterns of actions. That is, we have laws sanctioning discrimination against people because of what they believe regardless of evidence, except their personal declarations. Extraordinary.

There also occur the decisions of “gays” to live “straight” from time to time during which they have fewer rights than when declaring themselves “gay.” This is hard to square with constitutional protections and freedoms. Still the question: where did their extra-normal beliefs come from?

Only an opinion, but it seems possible that the patterning of babies’ consciousness begins before birth. That is, conflicts, stresses, roles of “father” and “mother,” “male” and “female,” create feeling-ideas or “comfort-patterns” that provide a matrix for future experiences, feelings, fears and pleasures. A girl born into a “home” where the interactions between the father and the mother made female roles and responsibilities very negative and uncomfortable, could – COULD – in the presence of other stresses of growing up and learning to conflict or cooperate with others, find an innate “comfort” in acting not like a woman, but like a man. Inevitably this expresses in sexuality.

Are her genes different? Obviously not, but her beliefs are as “real” as anyone’s. She feels “right” as other than a female person. There is an incongruity inherent in her personality and she is more comfortable at the core of her belief-being acting more like a male and avoiding the stresses – pains – of feminine roles.
The mirror of femininity avoidance will be just as “true” in masculinity avoidance, not because such men are genetically or cranially malformed but because their belief structures are fitting the patterns implanted as early as before birth. Our new codified protection of and promotion of homosexuality has served to not only normalize aberrant sexuality, but to attract mildly patterned people to the growing new “club” of alternate sexual pleasures. Combined, female and male “anti-“ patterning produces anti-motherhood and anti-fatherhood belief-models. One cannot imagine a more profound division of the social fabric of a nation.

Aggressive, anti-male feminism serves to accelerate and exacerbate these patterns as more and more anti-masculine mothers gestate and bear children, and dominate educational institutions. Being masculine is no longer attractive to many boys; partnering with a male, especially a non-masculine male, is no longer attractive to many women.

Translating contrary sexual activity into political power produces an environment like that we are experiencing now, one where every traditional institution of our culture is under question, if not assault. Legalists and psychiatrists find ways to rationalize all of it as if what is unnatural is suddenly natural, and as if what has been taboo for centuries is suddenly legal. Even holding on to the beliefs of centuries is now illegal and condemned.

One need only contemplate the destruction of the livelihoods of simple bakers in Seattle to get a glimpse of the dangers of the erroneous path we are on.

A Home on the Beach

As the popular sport of denigrating Christianity has flourished, the new religion of “climate change” has gained thousands of new acolytes. Of course, “climate change” is science as opposed to faith-based mumbo-jumbo. You religious nuts have to come in to the 21st Century. Maybe. Hold the door, please.

Climate change is one of the few constants in the life of the earth. Ice ages, warming periods, volcanoes, comets, tides, gravity, planetary magnetic fields – these things have been present quite variably for billions of years. Well, yeah, but… but pollution, man… pollution has been present for like, since the atom bomb, man. What about that, dude?

Valid point, but pollution, too, has come and gone many times. We are considering only pollution that affects things WE have experienced. We, in our hubris, see this brief period since Biblical times or, more pointedly, since Columbus, say, as what is normal and the only way the world should be forever. Maybe, but an impossibility with or without the befouling presence of humans, especially white ones; they are the worst.

Earth changes in ways and for reasons we cannot affect, effect or fully understand. We may have some ephemeral effects right now, but they get taken care of through cyclical processes fairly well, although not perfectly, God knows… except for jet aircraft and a handful of other egregious assaults on the biosphere that we can fix if we develop a mind to. Surface weather cleans up a lot of our sloppiness, and we are technologically obviating some of our worst ideas. Economics helps.

Self-driving cars are a good example. Again, hubris and greed are driving current approaches, but we’ll get it right without too many deaths, one hopes. Once a standard is set requiring cars to “talk” to each other, real progress will be made. The problem with “autonomous” vehicles is autonomy: attempting to have every car have all the abilities to detect, control or react to every variable in traffic, pedestrians and weather – and weird roads. Can’t be done. However, if every car knew what every other vehicle within, say 100 yards were doing – direction, speed, acceleration – then traffic could automatically adjust itself so that it would never have to stop, including at intersections! Add a few sensors at intersections, on-ramps and the like, and “self-driving” cars will begin to resolve one of the worst pollution generators on the planet: personal, independent, ready-at-a-whim, expensive, heavy, inefficient cars.

And save lives. Imagine commuting without driving your own car. An electric “AV” (autonomous vehicle) or “SDC” picks you up along with 3 others going to the same concentrated economic zone, all independently arranged with phone apps. You work on your laptop, play cards, text or eat breakfast perfectly safely. Your SDC moves steadily forward cutting commuting time by a third or a half, then drops each “ride-pooler” at his or her work and goes off for the rest of the day to do some other tasks, including plugging itself in for an hour or so. At the prescribed times it picks up its riders (who may or may not be the same 4 based on workday schedules) and takes them home. Highways are less congested, traffic flow is uninterrupted (thanks to MDV’s [manually driven vehicles] also communicating with vehicles within that 100 yards), and billions of gallons of gas are left unburned. Cool.

Plus, thousands of acres of parking lots are made superfluous and may be “de-paved” and otherwise made better use of. Public transportation, that perennial, government, unionized cesspool of constant losses and shortfalls, will finally be in a form that works and a lot of crappy trains, trolleys and buses can be eliminated. SDC’s can go where people need to go when they need to go there, resulting in actual use. A lot of people will simply stop owning personal cars that sit idle 93% of the time.

As for jet travel, that’s different. Still, large fractions of it can be obviated with superior “ground” transport systems. Monorail transports in busy corridors, even up to 1,000 miles, can eliminate thousands of short-haul jet flights. Jets, after all, dump their exhaust at 35,000 feet, beyond where normal weather will help remove it. Surface transit at 300 miles an hour, or close to it, will compete effectively on trips up to 3 hours or so – possible up to 1000 miles. Trips from 150 to 500 miles would be a breeze, and more comfortable… and electric. Clean.

Elon Musk’s batteries are going to help, but we’ll have to resolve our UN-scientific fears of nuclear power to finally clean up our planet. It’ll happen… has to. Neither solar nor wind can carry the load in the next couple of generations and we seem to want to clean things up right now – nuclear.

At the same time, maybe we can devise solar-powered robot vessels to clean up our preposterous gyre of garbage in the pacific. Container-ship companies can pay for them. We have to become serious about not despoiling our home. Clean air, clean land, clean water – all valid and viable goals. Climate change will slowly correct to the only extent that it can. What does that mean?

To whatever, unquantifiable degree that human activity has caused a change in Earth’s average temperature, it has taken a long time. This is not to discount variations in solar output, sunspot cycles, variations and weakening of the magnetic field and so forth, but let those go. We may have an impact, no matter how arrogant we sound in saying so. Still, it’s fairly small and slow to make a difference. There isn’t any treaty or legislation that is going to make a rapid reversal. Decades, generations.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start as soon as possible… and we have. But, increasingly, the choice that true believers offer is stark destruction of our ecology and mass starvations and all they imply; OR, VOLUNTARY population reduction. The possibility that Humanity might resolve pollution by dint of invention and technology or even good motives, is never proffered. According to the Church of Inevitable Death, mankind will either kill itself out of stupidity and greed or thanks to enlightened leadership from government members of the new religion.

I’ll take door number 3, Winky.

Climate acolytes are currently very upset about “…the four inches of sea-level rise that has already happened!” Well that’s serious, especially if you’ve been living within two inches of the mean sea level in 1940. It’s also extremely difficult to determine with any precision. But if the seas have risen a couple of inches, their worry and over-concern has to ignore the 400 FEET of sea-level change since the beginning of the reversal of the last ice age. Of course, there was a lot more ice available for melting in the good old days, so small global changes could cause massive meltwater volumes. We’re relatively safe from those kinds of effects, today.
A large part of our ostensible sea-level problem is our own damn fault, since we do enjoy living right on the waters’ edges. I expect we’ll deduce how to avoid drowning slowly, most of us, anyway.

If the entire atmosphere could be liquefied it would be about 33 feet deep, or 393.7 inches. Well great… so what? Well, in fact, CO-2 comprises about .0397% of the total. Let’s see what this means:
1% of 393.7 inches is just 3.937 inches – out of 33 feet. But, CO-2 is less than 4/10ths of that percent, or slightly deeper than 1.57 inches. Around the year 1800 (pre-industry), we’re told, CO-2 was only 3/10ths of a percent of the total, or what would have been 1.18 inches. Now we are told, it is the added .39 inches of the 33-foot total that has caused nearly every problem we face today, hot or cold, wet or dry, cloudy or sunny.

It is a big deal because people literally breath out CO-2, as do our cars and trucks and planes and things. Better, it’s a trace gas that we can BLAME on humans! We can TAX it and buy votes with it and be superior about it. Ohh, Heaven!

Worse, it is swamping tiny atolls in the Solomon Islands and the handfuls of people who like living there (who wouldn’t?) need some of everyone’s money to compensate their moving costs. At least, that’s the trumpeted theory. Still, it fits with the trends of the past 100 centuries or so, which ought to be comforting. Our anxiety derives from changes that have affected things we know from the past couple of hundred years… things that, in our arrogant view, should have remained static once we decided we liked them.

Right? Of course, right!
Since so many factors we have nothing to do with have maintained the direction of change, we are now adopting an amazing attitude that it is within our politics, economics and powers, that we can steer change in a different direction. This is far more remarkable than divinity, but a lot of people have bought it.

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 the 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.