Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fundamentally Flawed II

How can a man who sees our Constitution as fundamentally flawed take an oath to support and defend it? Oh wait; never mind.

A better question: how would a general officer, who has taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, react if given a controversial order of questionable lawfulness? Would he honor his oath and ask to see a birth certificate, or would he just follow orders?

There is an observable change in many mid-grade military officers that is affectionately termed the O-5 lobotomy. This, in my opinion, is the career point where men answer less to their unit than they do to the political winds that sit on the O-6 selection boards.

I attended a Navy change of command ceremony not too long ago. The career-track O-5s are wired tight. One beer with dinner. Flattering remarks towards the Admiral. Another beer later at the blackjack tables. I can only imagine how anal things get among the 3-stars.

Marines are much more comfortable in their own skin. This confidence probably comes from the demanding physical nature of their work. The traditions of the Marine Corps are drilled into officer candidates, and recruits, from the beginning. These traditions are celebrated. The goal of the recent prosecutions may just be to weaken the fabric of this very strong organization. If you ever get the chance to attend a Marine Corps Birthday Ball, go. It will make you feel better.

One fundamental flaw that would face any scheme to use the military in an unconstitutional manner is that military officers, of all ranks, take the same oath.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Fundamentally Flawed"

Self-government requires restraint and reflection, two characteristics not equally distributed throughout world populations. When offered self-governance, some groups , even in America, decline it.

In my opinion, the fundamental flaw of the Constitution was the failure to codify the voter eligibility that was in place in 1789. This omission is understandable, given the distrust that the States had for a new central government at the launch. But the omission led to a natural expansion of the electorate, from one of restraint and reflection, to one who wants goodies from the Treasury.

Obama's "fundamental flaw" is rooted in emotion, not logic. It is childish. This might just be his week.

And the electorate will gain access to the Treasury, and we will lose our national credit rating, and we will print our money to satisfy our entitlements and debts, and there will be inflation, and unknowable things will happen.

And after the smoke clears, as I have no desire to live under the Tyrant that Plato tells us will likely pick up the democratic pieces, I respectfully suggest that future voter eligibility be limited to those with:

 $10,000 or the future equivalent in domestic real estate equity; and
 federal tax payments of $1,000/yr or the future equivalent

The above criteria do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual deviancy, affection for furry rodents, or daytime television watching patterns. They simply describe a contributing Citizen, who is likely to possess restraint and reflection, and the capacity for self-governance.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Government Pensions

On March 3rd of this year, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading at 12,300, we made a prediction with respect to public pensions. Dow futures for this morning are now hovering around 8,000.

90% of pension funds were deemed healthy in the year 2000. In 2006, the number had dropped to 58%.

So with the market down 35%, what percentage of government pension funds are healthy going into November? That is a number you probably won’t be able to find. Here is some color commentary in any case. Pension fund assumptions continue to include an average annual rate of growth of 8%.

As this unfolds, the strong federal government that the Founders feared will print money to pay government pensions, with the end game being inflation, a tax on everybody to pay for the actions of those who abandoned truth for political expedience.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hey, Here's My First Bong!

I suspect that Barack’s trip to Hawaii was all about rummaging through his grandmother’s attic, looking for some record of a domestic birth. It is entirely possible that he does not know where he was born.

So let us suppose that nobody takes Obama to task over his birth certificate, and it turns out that he was born in Kenya, or cannot prove otherwise, and he ends up as President.

Obama would preside over a period of economic pain, and would be unable to make good on his promises. He will probably be seen as a Governor Blagojevich of Illinois , with a 13% approval rating, as his proposals fail one after another.

There will be organized political groups opposing Obama that will gain in power as his approval ratings fall. These groups would have a legitimate claim that the Executive Branch of the government was not Constitutionally seated and is illegitimate.

Early 21st Century American history will likely be far less interesting if Obama can produce an authentic birth certificate.

Keep looking Barry!

Gold Prices

Here is an article that supports the theory that gold prices are held artificially low by hedge funds dumping assets. As the majority of these funds’ assets are likely in dollars and stocks, a fall in the dollar would damage their balances more than a fall in gold prices. So selling gold is a logical survival move. Central bankers, hedge fund managers, and Western governments are all on the same side of this issue.

Despite the relatively low gold prices, there remains a shortage of coins. Meaning to me that the big boys are liquidating bars.

Friday, October 24, 2008

That Piece of Paper

I had to get my birth certificate re-issued and it took a couple days. A sitting Senator could probably get one in an hour.

Providing a digitized image of a piece of paper with the certificate number blacked out, with the statement that any alteration invalidates the certificate smells bad.

Barack’s defense on his Fight the Smears website is weaker still:

"Smears claiming Barack Obama doesn’t have a birth certificate aren’t actually about that piece of paper — they’re about manipulating people into thinking Barack is not an American citizen."

No Barack, it really is about ‘that piece of paper’. You should know this as a Constitutional law professor. Just produce it, and allow access to the hospital records, and this one is all behind you.

This could get interesting.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Taking Some Time Off

In the service, there is a saying shared between supervisors:

“My wife she, my kid he, my dog it.”

It is a generic terms used to explain what is probably a BS excuse for a subordinate who is not going to be at work today. For example:

NCO #1: “I need Private Jones to help me clean the bathroom.”
NCO #2: “Ah, good old reliable Private Jones, he called last night. Guess what? My wife she, my kid he, my dog it.”
NCO #1: “Surprise, surprise.”

I have experienced this conversation many, many times in both the military and the private sector. I have not witnessed the extension to grandmothers in critical times however. This is a new one to me.

Call me a skeptic.
Rivrdog asks a really good question:.

“Is the dollar going up or are the rest of the currencies going down?”

I’ll give it a shot. To try to answer the question we would have to agree on a universal currency. This is easy for drunken sailors, who are known to identify three currencies: dollars, beers, and spacebucks.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, a drunken sailor could buy twenty-four Old Milwaukee bottles for $4.29. Those same beers have tripled in price among both dollars and spacebucks since, leading one to believe that both dollars and spacebucks have been going down for quite a while now.

If you look at the number, formerly known as ‘M3’, until we stopped tracking it so the Treasury Secretary could print money for his friends without a clear paper trail, we appear to have printed in the neighborhood of $300 billion new dollars each and every year since going off of the gold standard. While this, along with some creative accounting, has allowed the government to publish rosy numbers, it also created inflation. This inflation, along with do-gooder taxes and fees unfairly levied against drunken sailors, are primarily responsible for the rise in the cost of beers.

So the drunken sailor says:

“All this money is losing value, dammit.”

But, I’d argue that the world has changed in the past two months. The prospects of a hanging makes men act differently then they might otherwise. Two months ago, gold was the universal currency. As the money supply, formerly known as ‘M3’, increased faster than the discoveries of new gold deposits, gold prices steadily climbed, peaking around $1050 some months ago.

Now, despite the installation of liquid coolers for the printing presses, gold prices are down, and the dollar is up, relative to both other currencies and gold. This does not make sense, unless there is an injection of gold supply into the system (unlike oil prices, where there is a perceived reduction in demand).

I argue that this injection of supply is from one of two sources:
1) Fancy investment bankers seeking liquidity by selling gold so that the mob connections that their Clientele enjoys do not get new instructions.
2) Central Bankers selling off national gold reserves in an attempt to support their currencies.

So, my theory is that gold remains the universal currency, and is being held at an artificially low level relative to other currencies, by the injection of new supplies of gold reserves by fancy people as they position themselves for whatever they perceive is coming next.

So in conclusion, Brick Oven forwards the theory that:

1) World currencies are down hard because they are worse off then we are.
2) The dollar is held artificially high relative to gold for some nefarious reason, but is still down.
3) Gold is held artificially low relative to the dollar for some nefarious reason.

American fundamentals remain strong going forward because:

1) We have a surplus of farmland
2) North America has hundreds of years of liquid fuel in the form of oil shale coming.
3) We are relatively lightly populated.
4) There are millions of very good people here, that are not apparent when viewing the political classes.

Buy: rural farmland, gold, silver, and yes, beers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Collectivism can work economically if you have an intelligent, more or less homogeneous population, preferably with some sort of faith-based work ethic. 20th Century Europe and Scandinavia proved this. But collectivism tends to be harsher towards ethnic minorities than capitalism, especially in trying times. Russia and Germany are examples.

In times of economic surplus, some degree of collectivism is achievable because all parties are provided with their basic needs. And, while some may grumble about this or that, the reality is that from a materialistic standpoint, the poor today are better off than the middle class of two generations ago.

The question remains as to how our newly diverse society would respond to a call for collectivism in a time of economic shortage, where the median household wealth may fall below that of the middle class of two generations ago. I learned in school that we would celebrate diversity. Perhaps we will get a chance to put that theory to the test.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"International Test"

My guess is that the first international test a President Obama would face would involve Israel and Iran. There will be a conflict between those two countries, probably shortly after the election, and the US will, either overtly or covertly, support Israel.

In response to our support, Iran would retaliate against us, probably domestically by hitting the electrical grid or something similar. Ahmedinejad would explain this retaliation to the American people as being in response to our support of Israel. He would assure us that if we were to simply mind our own business, Iran would leave us alone. This is consistent with the Qur’an*:

9:29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
Note that Ahmedinejad has previously offered us the Scripture, in his invitation to George Bush.

Iran could keep up low-level attacks indefinitely by the use of stateside Muslim groups. My impression is that a President Obama would sacrifice Israel.

*until, of course, we face our own decision of conversion, subjugation, or death a few decades down the line.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Am Joe

Brick Oven endorses Iowahawk’s piece on Joe the Plumber. I’ve had the establishment accuse me of operating without a license, almost lost a $117,000 house because I fell behind on payments, and ‘fantasize’ about hitting it really big one of these days. I play with my kids in the front yard of a modest house. I used to smoke cigarettes. There are lots and lots of Joes. They are the people that make this country function.

It disturbs me that the national media is trying to destroy Joe’s image after attempts to use his image did not work out as planned.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber, Meet Hank the Surgeon

America houses the world’s centers of medical excellence. This will end in the years to come as talented doctors move their practices to the Caribbean, where governments will welcome them open arms.

Here are some average salaries. You can figure that the good doctors, with their own practices, earn double or triple the typical $300,000 salary. These doctors would pay 39%, as well as another 12.5% as the social security cap is eliminated. Throw in 3% for Medicare, 8% for state, plus whatever else. That is approaching two-thirds of their earnings going to the government.

Universal healthcare will generate business for them as well. It will result in the importation of crappy doctors from the degree machines, and will ban expensive treatments and treatments for people established as ‘low-worth’.

Belize has some very nice beaches and friendly people. Their income tax rate can be zero, with the proper permits.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Book Eight

And these are not the only evils , I said --there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.

Quite true, he said.
The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Harry Schmidt

My wife likes the TV show JAG, which was on as I woke this morning. I recognized the case they were acting out. It was about a guy with whom I served with, Harry Schmidt. Schmidt was a TOPGUN Instructor, and a man of high integrity in my experience.

Schmidt made a decision in the middle of the night in a distant land that turned out to be bad. His government then charged him on thirteen criminal counts. Here is one account of his experience. Make your own judgments; I defer to the man on the front lines.

What this account leaves out is that Schmidt was offered a formal reprimand, politically motivated in my opinion, that would have allowed him to continue with his life, and Schmidt said no. He demanded a court-martial to clear his name. This was and is inspirational for me. He was cleared on twelve of the thirteen criminal counts, and was then presented with this in June, 2004:

"You acted shamefully on 17 April 2002," wrote Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, the judge in the case. "Your willful misconduct directly caused the most egregious consequences imaginable. . . . By your gross poor judgment, you ignored your training . . . and the result was tragic. . . . You had the right to remain silent, but not the right to lie. In short, the final casualty of the engagement over Kandahar . . . was your integrity."

The statement from the General was out of line. Schmidt made a decision, which turned out to have been wrong. Most people decide not to make decisions. Schmidt will punish his own conscience for the rest of his life.

Subsequent to his statement, Lt. General Carlson was selected for a fourth star, which was awarded in November, 2005.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bernoulli, Airplanes, and the 'Economic Bailout'

The Bernoulli equation can be seen as emblematic of a functioning society. It describes that there is only so much energy in a system and, although you can distribute the system’s energy in a number of ways (potential energy, pressure energy, and kinetic energy), is does not change the overall energy of the system, which remains constant.

You can add external energy to the system but, when you are on your own, you are on your own.

Comair Flight 191 took off from the wrong runway, and created a tragedy. The principle of flight involves adding solar energy in the form of liquid fuel to the system consisting of the airplane. This solar energy is transformed to kinetic energy as the plane rolls down the runway, part of which is then converted to pressure energy.

The wing’s airfoil creates a higher-kinetic energy situation above the wing, a resulting zone of relative low pressure, and the upward force that lifts the plane into the sky, adding potential energy to the equation. But if your runway is not long enough to generate the required amount of kinetic energy, it does not matter how hard you apply the flaps. The plane will fall out of the sky.

Printing money, buying banks, and socializing losses will not add energy to our economy. These actions, in fact, do nothing other than add friction to the system, lowering overall energy levels. Examples of actions that would add energy to our financial system include imposing tariffs to generate cash while promoting domestic industry, and lifting environmental restrictions on industry, starting with the ban on oil shale exploration.

But national leadership is not talking about these things. They only speak of creating more friction, and accelerating the inevitable.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Economy

Brick Oven takes no pleasure in being proven right on investment advice, which is holding for now. But one thing that has not made sense to me has been the relatively low price of gold. Gold spot had hit ~$1050 several months back and is now at $850, despite the fact that there are shortages in coins.

My theory is that the price of gold is being held in check by margin calls at hedge funds. See the dive taken on Friday afternoon above. There was no open reason for it, and the fall in price was probably the result of some leveraged entity raising cash to cover an obligation by selling the only thing that people are buying-gold. Probably in the form of bars, which would explain the drop in the price of the metal, at the same time us proles are paying $150 over spot at eBay.

Brick Oven again endorses investing in metals. Buffalos are better than American Eagles because they are not alloyed with stiffeners, meaning that they could be more easily cut into pieces for commerce in the SHTF scenario.

Or better yet, place a stake with some crackpot pursuing a new energy technology. He might not ready to call any cars, but that stock is up.

The Mind of Privilege

People in general tend to shy away from conflict. Persons born into privilege are able to avoid the daily interactions and interpersonal struggles that force conflict and teach us its lessons. This avoidance goes beyond interactions with others and extends to internal psychology.

The most comforting belief system for weak-minded people born into privilege is the one offered by the modern left. The human mind needs to remain active, and receives pleasure from positive feedback. Charitable giving makes all people feel good about themselves. The modern left offers privileged minds positive feedback through a similar mental mechanism.

On the level of personal interaction, these people also like to feel as if they are helping. But, since they more often than not, have little to offer, they have to fix in their mind that the people they are helping are stupider than they are. Which provides them a purpose as well as a calming self-superiority mechanism. Childless females are especially prone to this mindset because of their unfulfilled nurturing nature.

These people are irrelevant in oligarchies and dictatorships. In democracies, they are used as tools of the powerful.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Our Little Experiment

No Nation will benefit by driving down the fortunes of another.”
-President George W. Bush, this morning

And Bill’s Corollary;

“Taxing the Citizens of a single Nation to save the world economy doesn’t work either George. Leave it alone.”

George Bush’s legacy will likely be as the man who tried to spread democracy throughout the world, only to lose it at home.

The fact that has been kept silent is that Henry Paulson was the head of Goldman Sachs when the CDOs were being engineered. Goldman originated a large percentage of the CDOs. As Goldman was not holding the CDOs when they went bust, Paulson likely had knowledge of fraud.

Brick Oven’s conspiracy theory is that Paulson was placed at the Treasury to transfer the bad debt from Wall Street to the American taxpayer, shielding his associates from financial losses and himself from civil and criminal exposure.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Stock Market and National Health

There is talk of the drop in the stock market, and some associate that number with the status of the health of the Nation. While there is some correlation, it is not a close correlation.

The stock market represents the perceived value of a group of corporations. These corporations, once American entities, have evolved to become extra-national entities. The reason for this is because the job of the leader of a corporation is to maximize the rate of return to shareholders. So the corporate legal entities are set up in places with low taxes, and the corporate labor centers are set up in places with low wages.

National health is the ability of a country to feed itself, defend itself, and project and expand its belief systems and population. There are powerful forces, well-meaning and otherwise, internal and external, that are working to weaken the national health of America-2008. In many ways they have succeeded. Evidence of this is seen in the financial markets and at the shopping mall.

But the path that these forces have used is an unsustainable one, because it consumes more wealth than it generates. Because corporations are able to shelter themselves from idealistic and well-meaning, but socially and economically-flawed laws, corporations are much healthier than our nation. Which is a mouthful.

One aspect of our nation’s health is the observable financial one. Despite all of the inflation data manipulation, and the engineered currencies, it can be observed that we are broke. Our government, in its current form, will not be able to change this. It will, in all likelihood, accelerate the fall.

And when it falls, Americans will start over and return to national health. We will succeed because we have a surplus of farm land, 400+ years of liquid fuel in the form of oil shale, lots and lots of widely-held military hardware, and the American spirit, embodied in the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, and the first ten Amendments, for all to see.

A fascinating time to be alive. The Founder’s concept of freedom will continue for those with the awareness to appreciate it, and the character to defend it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You Are Evicted

The government is now our biggest landlord. In the 1960s, Mifflin Street seceded from the Union. Madison landlords hired the Hells Angels and the rent checks started coming in again. Self-discovery types did not match up well against the Hells Angels.

The federal government cannot hire the Hells Angels to evict tenants, the Hells Angels do not have a work order number. Blackwater does. The electorate will not tolerate Blackwater, or the army, evicting voters.

Housing values are about to plunge.


A Nimitz-class aircraft carrier costs $4.5 billion, after all of the fraud, waste, and abuse.

The Wall Street Bailout, at $850 billion, equates to 190 new aircraft carriers. We bought 8 more carriers today at 5pm Eastern with the AIG expansion.

I think we’ve been sailing twelve around for the last decade.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Some Plato

When such men are only private individuals and before they get power, this is their character; they associate entirely with their own flatterers or ready tools; or if they want anything from anybody, they in their turn are equally ready to bow down before them: they profess every sort of affection for them; but when they have gained their point they know them no more.”

“They are always either the masters or servants and never the friends of anybody; the tyrant never tastes of true freedom or friendship.”

Obama stands no chance of pulling off a tyrannical government. But the desire is there to observe.

OK, What Is the Stock Market Really Worth?

Well it’s looking more and more like our $3 trillion in residential real estate losses has been a good estimate. We’ll estimate another $1.5 trillion in commercial real estate, and still another $1.5 trillion in credit cards, car loans, etc. So that is $6 trillion total in debt losses.

Someone mentioned that the 777 point DJIA loss equated to something like $1.2 trillion in lost wealth, so we’ll make the assumption that the loss of 3000 recent points is a $4.5 trillion loss, part of which is already included in the $6 trillion in debt losses, part of which is not. So we’ll add $2 trillion to the $6 trillion for a total aggregate loss of $8 trillion.

Going back to 777 points = $1.2 trillion, the other 9400 points are worth around $15 trillion on paper. But since the smart guys on Wall Street have everything leveraged 30 times, the $8 trillion in real losses means that $240 trillion have vanished, which equates to 155,400 DJIA points.

So, the true value of the DJIA is thus 9,400 points minus 155,400 points, or…

Minus 146,000 (satire, kind of).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Theory to Practice

Gee, who could have seen this coming?

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke may find the next fronts of the financial crisis to be just as chilling as last month's downfall of Wall Street titans: its spread to corporate America and state and local governments.

Question: In what manner can a sitting Mayor of a failing city put out self-serving news so blatantly?

Answer: In a poorly veiled manner, and not for long.

It feels like things are accelerating. Gold is up today, but I don’t understand why it is still off its highs. The federal government will not be able to extract more tax revenue out of the country, so the only option that I can see is to print money and deflate the currency. The fact that the Euro is falling relative to the dollar reflects Europe’s weakness.

America has many advantages over Europe going forward. Europe is out of energy while America is sitting on hundreds of years of liquid fuel in the form of oil shale (the secret to unleashing this energy resource is kicking an unknowable number of desks).

As socialism never works, Europe is probably twenty years ahead of us, and European immigrant populations are more hostile to freedom than their American counterparts, expect democracy in its current form to fail first in Europe. People talk of England and the BNP, but Brick Oven is going to go ahead and predict that the first country will be Sweden.

Swedes have historically been the most trusting and generous of Europeans. But they are descendents of Vikings. I talked to a professional Swedish lady recently and she is pissed.


Saturday, October 4, 2008


Jean-Jacques Dessalines followed George Washington and was the second man to establish a free Republic in the Western Hemisphere. He was the first to grant equal rights to all Citizens.

Dessalines made his name in the Haitian Revolution as a take-no-prisoners leader, who routinely burnt villages to the ground and is reported to have slaughtered up to 10,000 mulattos, who were fighting against the French at the time. Dessalines’ Yorktown was called the Battle of Vertieres, which was fought in 1803. A French detachment lost their supply line due to renewed war in Europe with England, and the detachment surrendered to a force led by Dessalines, who then declared Haiti an ‘all black nation’.

Dessalines, a mulatto, reportedly established a ruling elite of mixed-race French-speaking Haitians. Unlike George Washington, he then declared himself to be Emperor, banned white land ownership, ordered the execution of all royalists, and ordered all Haitians to work in either the army or as plantation laborers.

Despite Dessalines’ work order, the agriculture that had made Haiti the Caribbean’s most valuable colony vanished. After two years as Emperor, Dessalines was assassinated and his body mutilated.

Haiti is the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country and has been plagued by political violence throughout its entire history. I visited Haiti a few years ago. The blank look in people’s eyes is spooky.


Bloomberg Begins to Lose It

Bloomberg News Service States:

“…[California’s] looming cash shortage, brought on by the global credit crisis that dried up the supply of money for loans.”

In an earlier version of my economic model, I had the opportunity to make payroll for years and years. It was an experience, but it never included asking for loans before payday. Maybe that is because my business was simple. We provided a product in exchange for money. We charged more than it cost us to produce the product. Part of our revenue stream went to payroll. The difference between our revenue and our costs was our profit, from which I provided for my family.

California’s cash shortage has nothing to do with the global credit crisis. It has to do with the fact that they spend more money than they take in. Which has a lot to do with the fact that their high tax rates have chased business and productive people to Nevada and Arizona. And maybe, just maybe, something to do with tens of millions of illegal aliens who work under the table but use state services nonetheless.

But Bloomberg attributes California’s budget problems to a ‘credit crisis’, which I’ve seen no evidence of. Something tells me that the New York City budget might just be having some problems it’s own self. Not that that would influence Bloomberg’s news reporting, or his decision to abandon term limits, or anything like that.

An economic downturn, now and then, can be a healthy thing. Grip that podium, Mr. Mayor.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Not At Harvard

I have no intention of making this a cut-and paste forum, but these excerpts from Plato’s Republic deserve to be reproduced in full. Socrates is the one talking and the man answering with short responses is Adeimantus. These are passages from Book 8 of 10.

And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty?

As we might expect.
That, however, was not, as I believe, your question-you rather desired to know what is that disorder which is generated alike in oligarchy and democracy, and is the ruin of both?

Just so, he replied.
Well, I said, I meant to refer to the class of idle spendthrifts, of whom the more courageous are the leaders and the more timid the followers, the same whom we were comparing to drones, some stingless, and others having stings.

A very just comparison.
These two classes are the plagues of every city in which they are generated, being what phlegm and bile are to the body. And the good physician and lawgiver of the State ought, like the wise bee-master, to keep them at a distance and prevent, if possible, their ever coming in; and if they have anyhow found a way in, then he should have them and their cells cut out as speedily as possible.

Yes, by all means, he said.
Then, in order that we may see clearly what we are doing, let us imagine democracy to be divided, as indeed it is, into three classes; for in the first place freedom creates rather more drones in the democratic than there were in the oligarchical State.

That is true.
And in the democracy they are certainly more intensified.

How so?
Because in the oligarchical State they are disqualified and driven from office, and therefore they cannot train or gather strength; whereas in a democracy they are almost the entire ruling power, and while the keener sort speak and act, the rest keep buzzing about the bema and do not suffer a word to be said on the other side; hence in democracies almost everything is managed by the drones.

Very true, he said.
Then there is another class which is always being severed from the mass.

What is that?
They are the orderly class, which in a nation of traders sure to be the richest.

Naturally so.
They are the most squeezable persons and yield the largest amount of honey to the drones.

Why, he said, there is little to be squeezed out of people who have little.
And this is called the wealthy class, and the drones feed upon them.

That is pretty much the case, he said.
The people are a third class, consisting of those who work with their own hands; they are not politicians, and have not much to live upon. This, when assembled, is the largest and most powerful class in a democracy.

True, he said; but then the multitude is seldom willing to congregate unless they get a little honey.
And do they not share? I said. Do not their leaders deprive the rich of their estates and distribute them among the people; at the same time taking care to reserve the larger part for themselves?

Why, yes, he said, to that extent the people do share.
And the persons whose property is taken from them are compelled to defend themselves before the people as they best can?

What else can they do?
And then, although they may have no desire of change, the others charge them with plotting against the people and being friends of oligarchy?

And the end is that when they see the people, not of their own accord, but through ignorance, and because they are deceived by informers, seeking to do them wrong, then at last they are forced to become oligarchs in reality; they do not wish to be, but the sting of the drones torments them and breeds revolution in them.

That is exactly the truth.
Then come impeachments and judgments and trials of one another.

The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness.

Yes, that is their way.
This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector.

The Democratic Party now largely consists of groups of idle spendthrifts. The Republican Party is a combination of the wealthy and the third class Plato calls ‘the people’. It is good to know that Plato considered ‘the people’ to be the most powerful class.

I believe that the 2nd Amendment makes ‘the people’ more powerful today than they were in Plato’s time. There are more private firearms than there are voters in America-2008. These firearms are the best chance of forever breaking Plato’s cycle of oligarchy-democracy-tyranny.

I concur with Plato’s statement that idle spendthrifts:

‘are the plagues of every city in which they are generated,’ and that societies should

‘have them and their cells cut out as speedily as possible.’

Which is probably why Harvard University has their students stop reading Plato’s Republic at line 341b2, ahead of this discussion.*

* Conclusion made by noting a reference to section 511b6 in another review, where the “unhypothetical principle” is discussed in Book 6 of 10. It appears that Harvard only covers the first four Books. I think Harvard students are tough enough to be allowed to read Book 8, but only if they dare. Ha ha ha.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reflection and Sensation

I ripped these two terms off from a Thomas Jefferson line I’ll have to update later. He was referring to his impression that Europeans are governed by reflection and Africans are governed by sensation. This tracks fairly well with my life experience, with a few exceptions.

Gwen Ifill is another datapoint. How could a black woman, with a pro-Obama book scheduled to come out on inauguration day, who has a financial interest in him winning, accept the moderator job? It has to do with the sensations of money, attention, and ethnocentricity. It demonstrates the same absence of self-reflection that Thomas Jefferson wrote of hundreds of years ago.

As we are presumably still a country of fair and open debate, Gwen Ifill should step down. Instead she plays the race card:

"Do you think they made the same assumptions about Lou Cannon (who is white) when he wrote his book about Reagan?" said Ifill, who is black. Asked if there were racial motives at play, she said, "I don't know what it is. I find it curious."

Brick Oven supports the call for Palin to open the debate congratulating Ifill on her book deal and asking her what the title of the book is going to be.

The name of Ifill’s book is Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Corruption and IQ

The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is generated by Transparency International, an organization dedicated to fighting government corruption. Here is their complete 2008 listing of countries from least corrupt to most corrupt. Listed below are the 10 least corrupt governments and the 10 most corrupt governments along with their national IQ score.

10 Least Corrupt Governments
Denmark; 98
New Zealand; 100
Sweden; 101
Singapore; 103
Finland; 97
Switzerland; 101
Iceland; 98
Netherlands; 102
Australia; 98
Canada; 100

10 Most Corrupt Governments
Congo; 65
Equatorial Guinea; 59
Chad; 69**
Guinea; 66
Sudan; 72
Afghanistan; 82**
Haiti; 67
Iraq; 87
Somalia; 67**

* No Easily Correlated Data
** Data averaged from surrounding countries

Conclusion: Government corruption is directly related to the intelligence of the population. Behavior rooted in reflection takes higher mental abilities than behavior rooted in sensation. This is why only high-IQ societies are capable of honest self-government.

p.s. I don't know why the links are not working. I'll try them later.

Price Schiller Data

The new Price-Schiller Index data is in:

Cities Up:

No Change (change of less than 1 index point):

Cities Down:
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco
Washington DC
Las Vegas
New York