Sunday, December 30, 2007

Global warming to kill red staters?

Ok, this has been blogged about enough, but I had to chime in. This guy Dave Lindorff should look at a map. Then, if he knows how to find Wiki, he should look at a map of the Earth as it was 10,000 years ago. Ice miles deep all over what is now Canada, Northern Europe, and all the way down to Paris and Chicago.

Look dude, the ice is already melted. It is for all practical purposes gone. That little bit left on Greenland is not ALL going to melt, not any time soon. And no one is suggesting that the ice in Antarctica is melting. So most of the ice that could possibly melt either will not, or it already has.

Ever heard of the Ice Age? We are in the end stages of an interglacial. That means that someday the ice is coming back. Right now is a little warm spot during the long winter. Lets enjoy it while we can.

Since this is an interglacial period, the seas are rising, and have been since basically 9000 B.C. The warm weather is melting the ice, and has been for over 10,000 years.

All that awful global warming, and man has only been adding to it these last 100 years or so.

By the way, it is the cold times that are dry. Warm periods are generally wet. Got your facts screwed up.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Proper Upbringing for Young Ladies

Gave my older daughter, 10, a nerf-type football for Christmas. I didn't know if she would like it but she does like ball throwing games. The squeal of excitment was a nice present for me. It has taken a couple of days of practice but now both girls can throw a spiral across the room.

Girls who can't throw are always somewhat despised by teen boys, so that is one hurdle towards respect they won't have any trouble with.

Both girls now have fishing poles too. Last summer I took a small gang of girls fishing and they were putting on their own worms by the end, and caught some bluegills too.

Girls who fish and can throw a football. Answers to young mens' dreams.

Next up of course is shooting. Elder daughter has fired guns a few times, most recently my M1911 with one round in the chamber and none in the mag. I reloaded after every shot. She did Ok and no complaints about recoil. Time for a youth .22 rifle? To ask the question is to answer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Property Taxes as Oppression


Found on RightWingNews is linked above an article on fixed-income elderly folk who can't pay their property tax and are in danger of losing their homes.

If you pay attention to the news you can find stories like this periodically, some old lady who either can't afford her property taxes, or simply forgets to pay them and is threatened with eviction after decades of living in her family home. Sometimes the home has been in the family for generations.

Now, usually, as in this case, the local governnment tries to work out some way to prevent the worst from happening. Even government people can summon up some human feeling, but this sort of begs the question.

What is the government spending so much money on that simply paying taxes becomes a life-changing evil event? If this were an uncommon event we could write it off as one of those things to be dealt with on a case by case, but as someone who works in real estate I see this kind of thing all the time.

The tax on property is no different from a tax on food or medicine. It is a tax on life itself. Everyone has to live somewhere, there is no escaping it short of death, just as everyone has to eat. It can not be mitigated or avoided.

I suppose we can just shuffle the elderly off to low-rent districts and let them eat cat food. Very kind. Very liberal of us.

Take a close look at every government program. Do we really need it? More than old people need to live in their houses?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Seen and Unseen (I didn't mean to)

'I didn't mean to!'

I hear that a lot from my kids. Whenever something happens, one kid is crying and the other is saying 'I didn't mean to, it was an accident.'

It really doesn't matter what you 'meant' to do, what matters is what you did do. So my daughter may not have meant to hit her sister in the eye with the snow shovel, but she did.

The result is the same whether you meant to do it or not.

Similarly, most politicians don't mean to cause the social problems they do, unemployment, poverty, single motherhood and such things. But they do.

The crisis of the hour is sub prime lending. Oh my, poor people who can't afford loans got them and now can't pay them back.

Why did those stupid bankers lend money to people without the habits and values that would make them good credit risks? Why lend to known poor credit risks?

Politics. Banks go in and out of favor as the industry to blame for social problems. For many years now banks have been threatened with lawsuits if fewer than the approved numbers of people in various groups receive loans.

So banks ignore the rules that used to pertain and hand out loans willy-nilly. Money was very cheap and plentiful, and not making the loans meant not only losing money but maybe getting sued for discrimination.

I have yet to hear a pol say that the sub-prime mortgage problem was caused by the government. Always pointing fingers at someone else. But as I tell my kids, when you point a finger there are three fingers pointing back.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Just finished Heinlein's 'Job, a Comedy of Justice'. Sad, very sad. Heinlein was my favorite author many long years ago. In his later years though his talent turned to trash. Stilted dialog, crap plot.

Almost as bad as 'The Number of the Beast', and 'The Cat Who Walked Through Walls'.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Population Bomb

According to this article the US fertility rate has just hit a new post-1971 high of 2.1, meaning that we are all having just barely enough babies to sustain the population.

Among industrialized countries the US is nearly unique in having at least a stable population, all of the others are on the verge of losing population, or at best stable. France being the only exception, also being at about 2.1.

The problem is age. My personal life is an example. I always wanted kids, a bunch of them. But I didn't get married until 34, and my new wife was 32. We had two kids in the next couple of years. Birth is hard on women past 30. We decided to stop at 2, meaning that the odds are we will be below replacement by the next generation.,1,3414915.story

And here is a shallow and ignorant article from the Chicago Trib bemoaning teen pregnancy. Teen pregnancy is in the eyes of liberals everywhere a terrible and life shattering event, I suppose because being pregnant requires responsibility and limits your 'choices'.

Having your kids in your teen years can be a hardship, especially if you follow the modern path by living away from your extended family, spend every dime you make on consumer junk, run up huge credit card bills and don't bother to get married. Teen pregnancy and the liberal lifestyle do not go together. I suppose that is why liberals hate it.

But from a more thoughtful standpoint, the late teen years should be the very best time to have kids. A young woman's body is in its prime of fitness at 18 or 19. She will never be as healthy or have that energy again. She can have as many kids as she wants and still be free while she is young enough to enjoy middle age. She can be the fun and energetic grandma in her 40s and 50s instead of the bedridden crone that late-bearers so often are.

You 'sacrifice' your freedom while young, to regain it during your middle years.

The 'problem' is not teen pregnancy, but our modern society's reaction to it. Teens with babies need family support. They need to have been taught adult values, patience, responsibility, a future-oriented outlook, in their early years, so that they are mentally prepared for the strain of rearing a child. Instead we treat teens as children themselves, and expect nothing but friviolity from them.

My new job

I started work this week at the distribution center of a major national retailer. 10 hours a night, 7:00 to 5:30 with an hour off for breaks and 'Lunch' at 1:00.

It is pretty amazing the multi-football-sized building we work in. I load trucks that will be sent all across the mid-west. The work is fast-paced and physical. Lots of big boxes and heavy stuff. I figure I handled maybe $50,000 worth of goods tonight, a slow night. I have no idea if that guess is correct.

Out of all the material goods I loaded, only one very small box provoked desire. I saw a box marked 'Remington' coming down the conveyor. I checked and sure enough it was a pack of 10 boxes of 50 rounds of .22 ammo. Somewhere in that structure is a pallet full of ammo!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ron Paul for President, No Thanks

A link to Prof Bainebridge on the failings of Ron Paul.

I voted for Paul when he ran as a Libertarian, but I won't be voting for him now.

Paul is simply wrong on the history of the war with Islam. Nothing the US did or did not do is a cause for this war. Islam is and always has been at war with everyone else. The religion demands it.

I had read about half the Koran before 9/11. I had quit because it reads like something put together by an unimaginative teenager. Some of it is unintentionally hilarious. The prophet being scolded by his wife for screwing a slave girl after he had promised her he would not. He goes into a long explanation about how god gave him special dispensation because he is after all, the prophet.

Then, he screws a brother's wife. Again, god changed the rules for him, but not for anyone else. How old was that guy? A teenage boy with too much stiff in his dick, rather than a prophet of god.

After 9/11 I finished the Koran. And read a lot of the history of Islam.

We have no choice but to fight this war. Islam requires all to submit to their perverted way. Submit or die.

Or we fight. Those are the choices Islam offers us, and Ron Paul just does not seem to get it. He is stuck in the 20th century and its political battles. Just like the Left, he does not understand that we all have to stand together. Republicans, Democrats, Left, Right, Libertarian, Christian, Atheist, all liberal westerners have a blood stake in this war.

So I will not be voting for Ron Paul this time around, much as I like the man. He is like those who argued that we could just accommodate communism in the last century, regardless of how many millions communists murdered.

Barbarians have to be defeated.

Global Food Stocks and Hunger

A report from the UN on how high prices are hurting the poor, and how global food stocks are lower than at any time since the 1980s.

Quite alarmist. We all know, if we shop for food, that prices are up quite a bit this year. The government has been diverting large amounts of corn to the bio-fuels market. This drives up the price of corn, which encourages farmers to plant more corn. So, they plant less wheat and soybeans and everything else, so the stocks of these fall and prices rise.

The UN can't discuss any current trouble without bringing in global warming, of course. Global warming will kill us all, from one thing or another. Either the sea will rise in fury and drown us, or on little cats feet and flood us out. Then, insects will swarm, stifling us and eating all our crops. Plagues will abound, killing our cattle and ourselves. The rivers will turn to blood and frogs will cover the land.

Wait, forget the frogs part. Amphibians are going extinct, so something else will swarm. I am sure they will be figuring out what and telling us soon.

One thing we can be sure the UN will forget is the power of capitalism to respond to price incentives. Farmers have been paid all across the developed world to set aside productive land. Why? Because farmers have gotten too good at growing stuff, so we had so much food that piles of it were rotting in the silos. No one to buy it.

Back in the 1950s, when overproduction became a problem, the government via the land grant universities taught farmers to dispose of excess grain by feeding it to cows. Prior to that cows were not fed much grain. Too expensive. But with the government paying farmers to grow more and more grain, and also paying farmers to grow less grain at the same time, something else had to be done.

So we started dumping grain on poor countries, destroying their native agriculture, feeding grain to cows, and in general constantly searching for ways to get rid of all that damned corn.

As recently as two years ago the fad around here was to burn grain in special furnaces for home heating. Corn was cheaper than natural gas!

So now, after just two years of rising prices the UN in panic is telling us we are all doomed. Somehow I just can't buy into it. Consider the source, after all. The UN! The wannabe global government. Can you give me a recent UN accomplishment? Rapes by UN officials in New York or other third world locales not included.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Catching up

Spent today like a lot of days recently, calling and e-mailing everyone I have been in contact with related to real estate this whole last year. It is a Saturday, the best day to catch people at home, and I talked with several people who sound like they might pursue a real estate purchase in the coming year. I am happy to say that no one cut me off or was rude, so I guess my phone manner is OK.

I hate harassing people with repeated phone calls, I know I don't like being on the receiving end, so I try to keep my calls restricted only to people who invite me to call back.

I have some hundreds more people to contact, most of those by e-mail. It is a slow process because to the extent possible I don't mechanize the process with mass mailings. That smells too much like spam to me, and I hate spammers. I try to individualize each e-mail with what I know about the person, and that takes time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Al Gore in Bali

So now Al Gore wants us all to be little greenies and fight the evil monster CO2. Well, fine.

But I sure want to know where Big Al was during those 8 years. You remember those years, don't you? Bill Clinton in the White house, and what was the name of the Vice President? Quick check of Wiki....

Oh my, it was Al Gore! But but.... He could have lead the charge, back when the Kyoto bill was before the Senate. They voted it down 95 to 0, but he could have at least TRIED! In fact the Kyoto Treaty was never formally voted on by the Senate, because the Clinton Administration NEVER SENT IT TO THE SENATE FOR RATIFICATION!


Remember children, George Bush had nothing to do with Kyoto being rejected by the Senate. He was just another State Governor at the time that Kyoto came up for a vote. Bill Clinton was President. Al Gore was Vice President.

I do not remember a single great speech made by Clinton or Gore on the subject of Kyoto at that time. Do you? If so please point me to it, I want to know what Al Gore was saying about Kyoto then, and compare it to what he is saying now. He certainly was not DOING much.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Politics and Military

Click on the title to read a very thoughtful analysis of modern democracy and its relationship to the military.

I would like to comment on a problem I see developing in the US.

Bill Clinton attacked quite a number of countries during his terms. I count Yugoslavia, Somalia, Sudan, Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq. Six, if I am not missing any.

The military did its duty in all these conflicts, all fairly small scale except Iraq and Yugoslavia. Iraq was ongoing during the entire 8 years, with daily overflights and numerous bombings of Iraqi targets. Yugoslavia was a major operation with most of the attacks being by air. We still maintain large forces there. Haiti was next, with an invasion and overturning of the then government, while Somalia was a short-term fiasco and Sudan and Afghanistan limited to long range attacks with a few cruise missiles.

All these occurred during a large-scale downsizing of the military. But our military obeyed orders and fought as well as they were permitted by their political leaders.

Our military today is very diverse, but becoming less so. There are still liberals, Democrats, non-Christians in the US military. But let's face facts. The liberals and Democrats are becoming more and more open about their distaste, distrust and even hatred for military people.

I am not talking here about just the fringe elements, the Kos Kids and Democratic Underground types, the ten percent of any large group that is off-the-charts nuts on one topic or another.

But when major figures in the party, Senators and Congressmen like Murtha, are willing to slander the military and are not called down, but rather egged on by their peers, then I worry.

The military is tending towards conservatism, Christianity, and patriotism, all three objects of distrust and scorn for modern Democrats. Is the day coming when the military will become less and less willing to fight for a president whose party hates them?

No political system is set in stone. Evolution is a constant in human affairs. I can easily envision a time when the military and the Republican party become in effect a single entity with civilian and military wings, with the Democrats and the civil service in opposition.

Now, I am a Christian, a patriot, a conservative and tend to vote Republican. I am also a traditionalist. The idea of the US military taking in interest in civilian political affairs is frightening.

The Democrats are playing with fire here. I can only hope that some new faces will appear in the party, men and women who will reject the anti-military posturing and return Democrats to a healthy relationship with our armed forces.

But I am not betting on it.

Radon, Mold and Energy

A bit more on radon. There are two conflicting goods here. Radon is controlled in homes by adding ventilation.

But modern homes are designed to be tight in order to save energy. These two goods are in direct conflict. You can either reduce radon and increase energy use, or vice versa.

Can not do both at the same time. At least not very easily.

On new construction there are some options. Before the slab and foundation are poured a plastic sheet can be laid down that prevents gasses like radon from seeping into the basement. That is probably the ideal solution.

But most of us don't have that option. There are ways to seal a basement from the inside, but I don't claim to know how well they work with radon. These products are mainly aimed at keeping out water. Sometimes they work and sometimes not. With radon? I don't know, but I doubt it.

One additional point. Tight houses do save energy. A lot of energy. But radon is not the only problem with tight houses. There is also mold to consider. Mold grows best in homes that have little air movement.

I suggest if you do live in a tight house to keep the windows open as much as possible, and to keep a dehumidifier running in the basement, even if your basement seems dry enough.

Running the air conditioner in the summer also helps prevent mold, but again you are wasting a lot of energy and costing yourself money.

If your goal is to have a healthy house and to be environmentally sensitive, use fans and keep the windows open in the summer, and use a dehumidifier in the basement in the winter. Keeping the temp low in the winter will also slow mold growth, and save you energy and money.

It is a balancing act. You can not have all of the different goods you might want. You can reduce radon but raise energy costs. You can save energy but have more mold and radon risk.

Each person has to decide what he values.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Schools Rules

Talk with my kids a lot. They love recess, of course, but the rules seem to have changed a lot since I was in school. No throwing snowballs! No sliding on the ice! They also can't run on a big portion of the playground, in fact on the area where most of them play.

I feel really sorry for kids today.

I had a friend who fell off the monkey bars (no monkey bars) and broke his arm in second grade. Under the monkey bars was asphalt, not wood chips. We sure don't want to risk little Jimmy or Chelsea breaking something.

Someone might fall down. Someone might get snow in the face and get mad.

My kids don't like the recess 'teachers' much at all. A bunch of crabby women. Throw a snowball and have to sit out the rest of recess. I suggested they hold off until the last minute of recess then throw the snow.

Radon in Illinois Real Estate

At today's office meeting we had a discussion of the new radon disclosure forms that all home sellers will have to fill out.

It is a joke. All that is required is that you must disclose if you have ever had the home tested, and if so, what the results were. And how would anyone ever be caught if they lied?

It is almost exactly the same verbage as on the lead paint disclosure form. So to avoid disclosing the presence of lead or radon in your home all you have to do is remain ignorant. Or lie.

How useful.

This is a clear moral hazard. Its main result is to encourage people to be ignorant of possible environmental dangers in their home, or to lose a lot of money on their home sales.

Now, lead paint is not such a problem, though it is a considerably worse pollutant than radon. Lead is easy to avoid. In Real Estate we simply assume that any home older than 1978 does have lead-based paint. Homes newer than 1978 may still have it, but the odds are a lot lower, as that was the year it became illegal to use. Builders probably continued to use it until their stocks were gone, and some painters actually added lead to paint, but generally speaking, new homes are very unlikely to be contaminated with lead.

Not so with Radon. It is impossible to predict which homes may have it, and testing for radon is problematical at best. The tests can be undermined by the homeowner simply opening basement windows or running a fan which disperses the radon.

I don't worry about radon, the 'harm' it causes is hardly established fact, but mostly speculation. Speculation based on scientific reasoning, but speculation none the less. What makes me angry is that people are being encouraged by the state to either lie, cheat, or to remain ignorant.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A New Gun Control Law

From comes word of a proposed law that would make those who establish 'gun free zones' legally liable for the protection of people there.

Makes sense to me. If someone made a law that no fire extinguishers were allowed, then shouldn't they become responsible if a fire broke out and killed someone?

Human nature is an established fact. Like it or not, some people are just predators on the rest of us. We need some way to prevent this predation, and nothing has been invented yet that works better than a gun. Until someone invents a reliable and practical stunner, guns are it.

I wonder if this law could be made applicable to places like Chicago. Not that anything like this would ever pass the legislature in a neanderthal state like Illinois. I swear, Illinois is stuck in the 20th century. Everything we learned about human nature during the 20th century is being relearned at the peoples' expense again and again in Illinois.

I am one of those down-staters who would like to see Chicago split off and given free to Wisconsin. If they would even take it, which I doubt. Have to just dump it into Lake Michigan, I guess. If it were not for Chicago, Illinois would be a pretty decent place to live.

Tropical Paradise

Two miles of beach in the Carribean. White sand and palm trees. The only thing missing was the tropical beauties, female. Where I was is still a construction site, so the tropical beauties were all muscular black men. Not my style.

I had a very nice opportunity recently for a free trip to the Dominican Republic, for a sales presentation.

If you are not familiar with it, the Dominican Republic is in the Carribean, not far from Puerto Rico. The people speak Spanish, and are racially mixed Black and Spanish with dashes of this and that. A very handsome people.

The Westin Hotel group is building a new beach-side hotel, convention center and also selling home sites and condominiums. And when I say beach, I mean BEACH. All of the homes will be not more than a minute walk from the nicest white sand beach I have seen, and most of them are actually right on the beach. Westin ownes some 2 miles of beach, and are selling the lots now.

They are also building condominiums which are right on the beach. The very cheapest ones, which don't have the beach view, are starting at just under $400,000.

I am not much of a golfer, but I fell in love with golf while there. Something about standing on a cliff overlooking the sea on three sides, and hitting off the tee over the sea to the green, wow. Having the golf pro there to help me with my grip and swing was nice too. He had me regularly popping the balls over the water and onto the green, nearly every time.

The project is called Roco Ki, and is in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic. Google Punta Cana and you can see why this is such a tourist draw.

The area is quite undeveloped. Looking out over the sea I saw not a single boat, except once some lobster fishermen. The original mangrove forest is being maintained. The project will take out a bit of it, but the great majority of it will be permanently protected.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Laffer Curve, What's Your Goal?

A quick comment on the Laffer Curve and tax cuts. The Laffer Curve shows how higher tax rates may not always result in higher tax revenues. Simply put, if the government takes too much, people will respond by producing less. Taxes that are too high may result in poorer people, or at least in people who do less of whatever is being taxed, or in mass tax avoidance.

So reducing taxes may, in some cases, result over time in higher revenues for the government, if the tax rates were too high before.

OK. So, to maximize revenues you need to hit the sweet spot in the tax rates. High enough to capture as much money as possible, but not so high as to force people into poverty or into tax avoidance.

That's fine, if your goal is to maximize the size and scope of government. The more money the better in that case. But what if you are, like me, a libertarian? I value, to some level, freedom over government support and over government control.

For me, the best point on the Laffer Curve is well to the left of the tax-maximizing point. Government should be taking in far less than it could take if revenues were maximized.

This comes down to values and to my conception of a good society. I believe that in the mass, people will be happier if they have more control over their own lives than if they are burdened by more regulations. People will be happier if they have money for their retirement in their own control rather than depending on Social Security, Medicare and the like.

If you believe the opposite, then it makes sense to always choose government over peoples' freedom.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Big Tent & Huckabee

Republicans like to call the party a big tent, meaning of course that all sorts of people are welcome.

But maybe the tent is a little too big. I fear the Huckabee will prove to be a second coming of George Bush. I am unhappy with Bush (I voted for him twice, simply because the Democrat candidates were so terrible, scary terrible) but not for the reasons Liberals tend to dislike Bush. I dislike him because of his domestic policies, not his international.

George Bush could have run just as easily as a centrist Democrat. Nothing he espoused during his campaigns was particularly conservative. He did claim to want to lower taxes, and has managed to come through a little bit on that, but in nearly every other way his policies on education, immigration etc could just as easily been Dem as Repub.

And THAT is the root of the troubles Republicans are having this election cycle. Bush has managed to piss off just about every Republican constituency. Libertarians? Pissed. Evangelicals? Pissed. Small government types? Same.

Huckabee is far worse. He seems to be someone who is a Republican simply because he needed a label way back when, when he started into politics.

A Huckabee presidency will result in a generation in the wilderness for conservatives.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Another reason to love Wal-Mart?

As if we needed another reason!

Talking to my wife today about an on-going problem we have. The local small-town supermarkets have errors on almost every bill. We always check the receipts and there are errors more often than they are correct. Funny, too, the errors are on the up side. Some of the errors are funny, like the $99 head of broccoli, but usually they are small, a few cents to a few dollars. I watch other shoppers and I have yet to see anyone but me going to the service counter for a refund.

The big supermarket in Rockford that we usually shop at is nearly as bad. About half the time there is an error in their favor. These are typically with their advertised sale items. They don't seem to be properly entered in to the computer.

I would estimate we save several hundred dollars a year just by checking receipts.

But my wife mentioned that this does not happen at Wal-Mart. First, there is a screen right in front of your face where you can watch the prices as the products are scanned in. Then, there are very few errors in the first place.

And Wal-Mart's prices are generally as low as other less expensive super markets.

I don't suppose Wal-Mart food is imported from China?

Rope-a-Dope Politics and Bush

Bush is a genius at raw political gamesmanship, right up there with Bill Clinton.

Remember what really pissed off Republicans way back in the '90s? Bill Clinton stealing their every issue and making it his. 'The era of big government is over.' He baffled and confounded the right at every turn, and is now a millionaire many many times over.

George Bush now appears to be just as good. Democrats have hated Bush for his entire 2 terms, the Texas dope who 'stole' the election not just once, but twice! How could such a dummy do that? Two options. One, Carl Rove, the secret mastermind and puppet string holder. Or, maybe George Bush ain't such a dummy after all.

Most recently, Bush has stole the Democrats big issue right out from under them. The mortgage crisis is solved, all by a little moral 'suasion by the President. No great Dem bills passed, no stirring speeches by any Kennedy. Just one rural dummy getting together with a room-full of fat-cat bankers and knocking heads, getting them to 'voluntarily' hold off on their evil rate rises.

And Bush stands up afterward claiming all the credit, and even NPR runs it as straight news, Bush has made all this happen.

Dems everywhere must be gnashing teeth.

Reminds me of the great Ali, leaning back on the ropes and blocking punches with his arms till his opponent got tired, then the quick knock-out. It is all a game, a tactic. Mis-pronounce the occasional word, speak country-slow with a fake Texas accent, and big city Dems think you are dumb.

How many times does Bush have to rub their faces in it before they admit they have been had?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Capitalism, the two Memes

The link above goes to a Daily Kos poem on the evils of capitalism. Now, this sort of thing used to bother me, because I generally think capitalism is a pretty fine thing. Free people, owning the means of production, small businessmen and women, farmers, the little old ladies whose stock holdings make them the owners of America. It all seems to work pretty fine, with a few rough edges of course.

But there is another, and in fact older meaning of the word 'capitalism', as coined by Marx. This is the evil capitalism, the faceless corporations, the evil fat cats in cahoots with big government to make a quick million and, just for kicks, throw some old folks out in the street to starve. And we do, in fact, have that capitalism in America as well.

But my question for the writer is, what could we possibly replace capitalism with that would work any better? Certainly not socialism or communism. Communism has proven itself a failure at anything besides mass starvation and mass murder. They do make some pretty cool statues of their presidents-for-life, but what other product has any communist country produced that anyone would want?

Socialism has a better reputation, if you discount the socialism of Mussolini and Hitler. Modern Western European socialists are a pretty despicable bunch, but so far they have not killed all that many people.

I guess the Swedes did manage to institute one of Hitler's schemes, the genocide of their lower classes. But they did it nicely, without concentration camps. They just cut the mens' nuts off, and tied the tubes of the women. Over a few decades suddenly there were no more Traveling People in Sweden, no more Gypsies, and few enough poor Swedes. Eliminate the criminal classes, heh?

Take a look at the other countries where socialism is strong, Germany, France etc. France is currently experiencing riots in the streets due mainly to the unemployment of their underclass. People who want to work but can't because of socialist regulation of the economy. European socialism works great if you are already rich. Not so good if you are poor.

Socialism does seem successful at one thing, reducing population. Birth rates seem pretty tightly tied to the level of socialist government in a country. Japan, for example, is not officially socialist, but it is corporatist, with the government and big companies giving strong safety nets to employed people. It is harsh on outsiders, but most Japanese seem happy to work for big corps and the government. Their birth rate is so low that as of a few years ago the population actually began to fall!

Europe is much the same, cradle (less of that now) to grave safety, and fewer and fewer people to appreciate the loving care.

America is well along the socialist path, with plenty of welfare programs, but not quite as much regulation as Europe, yet. Our population is stable, only increasing because of high immigration.

Seems to me if your goal is the destruction of your culture and people, socialism is the perfect path.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Houses and nice people

Showing two houses tomorrow to a very nice young couple, in my home town. And two houses Thursday to a nice young lady with a small child.

The world is good. Real Estate is fun.

Showing houses is the best part of this job. Listing and selling is stressful and hard work. Showing houses to eager buyers is just fun. I enjoy the research involved in finding matches for people. I have been out with the couple several times already, and I think I have a pretty good handle on what they like. The houses we are going to see should be close fits. Maybe they will get 'lucky' and one will be just the right house.

Or maybe one will be just right for the husband, and the other just right for the wife. Happens all the time. My standard technique in that case is to gently separate the two, and speak to the husband along the lines of 'do you really want to be fighting with her for the next ten years about how you could have bought her just the house she wanted...?'

Make the wife happy, and the whole home is happy. Make the wife unhappy...?

The young lady for Thursday I have not met yet, but we have had extensive conversations on the phone, and I have mailed her several batches of possibilities to look at. She definitely likes brick Tudors. So I spent some time this afternoon searching the web for brick Tudors. Only two in the area she wants to live in, so we will see them. Maybe she will get lucky and one will be juuuuust right.

City Boy Environmentalists

People come to environmentalism from many paths. One thing I have noted is that the really crazy environmentalists seem to all be city people.

I know plenty of people concerned for the environment who also seem to be practical, down-to-earth sorts.

But the crazys, the deep environmentalists, the Earth-Firsters and the PETA types are nearly always big city people. Why should that be?

The Earth is a city park writ large. Parks have boundries, neat paths, flower beds. They are never large enough to have anything approaching a true natural ecosystem, and are usually full of non-native species of plants and animals.

City people learn, at a deeply unconcious level, to relate to the environment via their childhood parks. Places to go and play and watch squirrels and feed pigeons. Parks have rules. Don't walk here, don't touch that flower.

Flyover country. That term sums up their feelings about the rest of the world. But actually to fly over the US and look down and what do you see? Well, mostly you see city, because the jets fly too high to see anything unless you are taking off or landing.

So you have to actually get out and take a drive through the country, off the interstates, to get a real feel for how big, empty and green the US actually is. Get out and walk. I watched four fox kits playing this summer, off a small rural gravel road. Magical.

Environmentalists fly somewhere, look around for a while, then fly home, convinced by the presence of a Starbucks and MacDonalds near their resort that the whole world is just as bady damaged as their own home towns are.

It is a lack of vision, a constrained mental universe that creates the green outlook on life. People who grow up in the country have a different world view. The world is large, unbounded, and intensly green (if you grew up in the desert you may contest that last point). Animals abound, more now than for the last 100 years and more. Forests, cut down for farmland in the 1800s are regrowing or regrown so that except for a fallen-down fence or a lonely foundation you would never know anything had ever been different.

The world is new and full of life and beautiful. I am willing to work to keep it that way. There are problems needing resolution. We need to keep a beady eye on companies and governments to keep them on the true.

We also need to keep level heads. Look up and see the world as it is. And it isn't your seedy city park.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hillary, Obama, and guns

Here is a question I would like asked of the top candidates, Republican and Democrat: Do you believe the second amendment protects an individual right?

This is a big deal right now, with the DC vs Heller case coming up soon before the Supreme Court. What could be more more timely? The Repubs have mostly answered this in the affirmative, but I have yet to hear any of the Dem candidates speak on specifically this point.

Guns and Chicago People

Once again, Laura Washington proves my point. Chicago people know their own. She does not trust her fellow citizens to own handguns. I am sure she knows them very well. Maybe if I knew them I wouldn't trust them either.

But I do trust MY neighbors with guns. Hey Laura, maybe you should try getting out of Chicago for a while, meet a nicer group of people.

How odd it is that my neighbors don't run around the streets shooting each other. Apparently Laura's neighbors do, thus her fear of handguns.

Personally, I am a lot more afraid of my neighbors driving skills than I am of their guns. Fortunately, my little town has three squad cars, so we always know that the man is watching! I enjoy reading the police report every week in the local paper. So-and-so stopped for speeding, found to have no insurance, no registration, expired license or whatever.

Last month my neighbor, a local deputy sheriff, arrested a guy who DID have a loaded handgun in his car. Turns out he was from Rockford, where he had a warrant out for his arrest. Big news around here, made the local paper at least 3 times that I saw, and no one even got shot.

What does it take to make the newspaper in Chicago? Do everyday murders get written up?

Hugo Chavez

So Hugo lost the vote that would have allowed him to be 'President for Life'.

What a chilly sound that phrase has. Haven't we had enough presidents for life? I understand that Chavez' supporters are mainly the underclass and Euro-leftists, so we shouldn't be surprised if they don't have much of a grasp of 20th century history. Socialism and dictatorship. Dictatorship and socialism.

Hand and glove. Birds of a feather.

Chavez hasn't had time yet to bankrupt Venezuela. With all that oil money he may manage to hold on for decades.

I heard some young leftists on the radio last night, all aglow about the vote in Venezuela. They were certain that Hugo would win, that the polls for the last weeks were rigged by the opposition. They seemed particularly angry that capitalism had failed to bring Heaven on Earth. Why, even right here in Madison Wisconsin we can't buy the things we need....!

Makes me sad. Another generation wasting itself on socialism.

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