Category Archives: people

Economic Tomfoolery

Economic ignorance allows us to fall easy prey to political charlatans and demagogues.” ~ Dr. Walter Williams

The world economy is six times larger than it was half a century ago, growing at an annual rate of 4 percent during the period. New technologies have paved the way for more efficient production systems in a wide range of industries and promoted economic growth. From 1965 to 2013, the average annual growth rate of world GDP per capita was about 2 percent, and in more than half of the past 50 years, the world grew faster than this average. As a result, global per capita GDP more than doubled between 1965 and 2013 despite a major increase in population.” ~ IMF

Judged by the huge strides that people all over the world have made in overcoming poverty and want, it is only a slight exaggeration to say that little of economic consequence happened before the last three centuries. Before that, most of the world not only took poverty for granted, but also assumed that little could be done about it. Even the most optimistic early writers could not imagine that more than a few percent of the population would ever be well off; they thought that the best we could do for the masses would be to minimize their suffering on Earth.
~ econlib.org

Poverty and inequality

Money - ResourcesThe world population grew from 3 billion in 1965 to about 7 billion in 2013, but the global economy grew faster than the world population, leading to a better standard of living for the average world citizen.” ~ IMF

Life expectancy grows even though the population growth rate decreased.

The average world citizen is richer than ever thanks to the growth the global economy has enjoyed over the past 50 years. However, the benefits of this growth have not been equally distributed—the result is enduring poverty and inequality.” ~ IMF

When we read about the great civilizations of ancient Egypt and Rome or of the Aztecs and the Incas, we tend to compare them with the empires of Britain or the growth of the United States. This comparison, judged in economic terms, is highly misleading. Although the great civilizations in Egypt and Rome were able to construct big buildings, the vast majority of their citizens, by today’s standards, were dirt poor.” ~ econlib.org

Why is that true? Technology advancements play a big part. Certainly having sufficient energy, clean water, and food supply, along with IMF is governed by and accountable to the 189 countriesa lack of strife, all play important roles. Governments do play a huge role. The most drastic comparison between how governments function are North and South Korea. The basis of economic circumstances for each country are similar however their respective governments are vastly different in the level of control they apply to their population. The short summary is that North Korea is a highly controlled, central managed economy, whereas South Korea allows more individualized control and free markets. Of course embargoes by the west exacerbate North Korea’s problems.

China and Honk Kong

When the United Kingdom’s lease ended on Hong Kong in 1999, China was handed a jewel in that region of the world. Having traveled and transacted business there before the change over, I saw a vibrant overall economy with a significant amount of freedom. Evidently, China found they didn’t want to kill the golden goose, and incorporated many of the free market ideas from this island economy.

The IMF states, more than a billion people, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, are in extreme poverty. What they claim are some of the causes, are more along social-democrat ideology, rather than the obvious. Those who live within the borders of despotic, highly centralized, corrupt governments, suffer the most with inequality and poverty. It’s free market economies and those who have governments with less corruption, less emphasis on large military’s that are the biggest winners.

It’s popular to condemn greed but it’s greed that gets wonderful things done. When I say greed, I don’t mean stealing, fraud, misrepresentation, and other forms of dishonesty. I mean people trying to get as much as they can for themselves. We don’t give second thought to the many wonderful things that others do for us.“ ~ Dr. Walter Williams

People in the education and political establishments pretend they’re not motivated by such “callous” motives as greed and profits. These people “care” about us but which areas of our lives do we derive the greatest pleasures and have the fewest complaints, and which areas do we have the greatest headaches and complaints? We tend to have a high satisfaction level with goods and services like computers, cell phones, movies, clothing and supermarkets. These are areas were the motivation is greed and profits. Our greatest dissatisfaction are in areas of caring and no profit motive such as public education, postal services, and politics.” ~ Dr. Walter Williams

.. economics studies the consequences of decisions that are made about the use of land, labor, capital and other resources that go into producing the volume of output which determines a country’s standard of living. Those decisions and their consequences can be more important than the resources themselves, for there are poor countries with rich natural resources and countries like Japan and Switzerland with relatively few natural resources but high standards of living.” ~ Dr. Thomas Sowell

Economic Equality

Economic equality is firstly a false concept. It ignores market fundamentals as basic as water level & gravity, meaning different inputs are going to produce different outcome. I’ve heard advocates of basic income for all. Their belief is the economy would improve as everyone would at least have enough to sustain themselves and would increase demand for goods and services.

When aspiring entrepreneurs are brought into the TV reality show, Shark Tank, they present their product or service, then asked a series of questions. The “Sharks” are successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Their goal is to get a return on their investment and own a piece of the next big business idea. Three things should be obvious to the casual observer.

  • You need to be prepared with a good idea with market research.
  • Capital will flow to you from those with greater wealth.
  • The government doesn’t create wealth.

There’s an ongoing effort to counter marketplace realities with explanations and statistics stating “trickle down economics” doesn’t benefit anyone. A simple catch phrase or populist econo-babble doesn’t negate the basics behind economic success.

  • a market with less barriers and cost will be more successful.
  • products & services must be sufficiently desirable for people to want to engage in trade.
  • in order to launch and maintain a product or service in the marketplace startup and working capital must be obtained.

If you want to place a coined phrase on this process, trickle down is sometimes used, because like water, capital flows from places of sufficiency or even excess to those who have skills, products, or services that are sought after. Despite the efforts of the IMF to post their claims to the contrary, they owe their existence to the wealth produced by prosperous nations, primarily the United States.

What is the IMF?

The IMF was created in 1945, with the goals of fostering global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world. the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership.foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.

The IMF has had two recent disgraced leaders, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged with allegedly brutally attacking a New York hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo on 14 May 2011. The charges were dismissed at the request of the prosecution which described serious doubts in Diallo’s credibility and inconclusive physical evidence. The physical evidence indicated a sexual encounter but did not prove use of force or non-consent. Strauss-Kahn admitted his liaison with Diallo was a moral fault and described it as “inappropriate” but that it did not involve violence, constraint or aggression. He said that Diallo had lied and that he had no intention of negotiating with her over a civil suit she had filed against him. The suit was later settled for an undisclosed amount, but subsequently reported to have been $1.5 million.
In his defense, Diallo had previously fabricated a detailed story of being gang raped by soldiers in Guinea, which was later found to be untrue.

The next Managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, was found guilty of criminal charges on 19 December 2016. She was linked to the misuse of public funds dating to her time as France’s finance minister. She didn’t serve jail time or have to pay a fine. She maintained her innocence throughout the trial, calling the charges politically motivated. The IMF has stood by her, and her IMF biographical page doesn’t mention this case or conviction.

References

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Why We Still Debate the Civil War

Here we are, in 2017, we’re still debating the causes of the Civil War, which began in 1861 with roots that stem from centuries before. This blog post isn’t about statues, racism, social justice or the like, it merely is written to clarify the actual primary cause of the Civil War. No doubt there are many reasons, that were evident at the time, but those were subordinate in the grand scheme of events leading to the war.civil_war_stamp

The Civil War, also known as “The War Between the States,” was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. The CSA was a collection of eleven southern states who left the Union in 1860 and 1861 and formed their own country in order to protect their continued usage of the institution of slavery.

Slavery was introduced to North America by the British as far back as the early 17th century. The south believed in the dissolution of the Union after they couldn’t come to an agreement with the dominant north over the rights of states to control commerce. Slavery was a component of commerce, not in its entirety, but an essential component. It was legal at the time the country was formed, and the southern states saw no justifiable reason to change when they knew most of the northern leadership agreed with them. Negroes, as they were called, were not equivalent to Caucasians. They weren’t allowed to vote, own property, inter-racially marry, or if they lived in the south, couldn’t participate freely with the fruits of their labors.

The northern leadership believed, once the union of states were created, no one or more states had the right to leave that union. They were willing to negotiate, but when the matter came to a head, they willingly took up arms to preserve that union and stop the south from seceding.

events leading to the American civil war
The slavery extension question was thought to have been settled by the Missouri Compromise nearly 40 years earlier. The Mexican War, however, had added new territories, and the issue flared up again in the 1840s. The Compromise of 1850 provided a temporary respite from sectional strife, but the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, a measure Stephen A. Douglas sponsored, brought the slavery extension issue forward again. The Douglas bill in effect repealed the Missouri Compromise by lifting the ban against slavery in territories north of the 36°30′ latitude.

The Supreme Court decided a case brought forward by an escaped slave. He in effect was suing for himself and his family’s freedom. The Dredd Scott decision rendered in 1857, declared he wasn’t entitled to his freedom; that Africans were not and could never be citizens of the United States; and that the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had declared free all territories west of Missouri and north of latitude 36°30′, was unconstitutional.

This further set in motion the events leading up to the Civil War. In effect, it supported the institution of slavery, and the southern states now believed it was their personal right of sovereignty. In effect, the Constitution was a voluntary agreement, as easily broken as it was initially agreed upon.

The Douglas doctrine of popular sovereignty, was to permit new territories and states the right to self-determine their status as a free or slave state. This slavery extension proposal, provided the background for the Douglas – Lincoln debates of 1858. Their debate, addressed the problem that had divided the nation into two hostile camps which threatened the continued existence of the Union.

Slave_kidnap_post_1851_bostonIn 1859 John Brown, an abolitionist, working in concert with others, formed a rebellion in Harpers Ferry Virginia (now West Virginia). Brown had previously met abolitionists, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth while living in Springfield Massachusetts. Brown was convinced slavery wasn’t going to end through peaceful negotiations. Brown’s personal attitudes evolved in Springfield, as he observed the success of the city’s Underground Railroad and made his first venture into militant, anti-slavery community organizing. In speeches, he pointed to the martyrs Elijah Lovejoy and Charles Turner Torrey as whites “ready to help blacks challenge slave-catchers.”

The choice of allowing slavery for some admittedly was a compromise, so the fledgling nation had enough backing to form a binding union, and thereafter break away from British rule. As we see today in politics, challenging problems are pushed forward in hopes that someone will solve the problem in the future. Doing so, means a crisis builds until the inevitable fateful day, and it can no longer be ignored.

Flawed From the Beginning

Many of the Founders wished to abolish slavery in the Constitution. The irony and hypocrisy were not lost on them, and they weren’t shy about saying it. The compromises in the Constitution regarding slavery placed the short-term need to form a Union ahead of a contentious debate with no resolution. The alternative was two countries, one without slavery and one with. Several founders later emancipated their slaves.

In 1807, Congress passed a law and Jefferson signed banning the importation of slaves to begin on January 1, 1808, the very first day permitted under the Constitution. Some have argued that this only made existing slaves more valuable and the South already had sufficient slaves to breed to meet their needs. I give our Founders the benefit of the doubt. If for no other reason, a slaver would vote against this to maintain his right to hold slaves on principle.

After the law passed, US Naval forces commenced to patrolling the African coast and seizing slave ships. Great Britain was already doing the same.

Slavery, was officially ended by the British, and the US was trying to figure out how to completely eliminate it within its own borders, and not criminalize its own citizens. Those same citizens were part of the framers of the Constitution, and supporters of Independence. Virginia was the home of Thomas Jefferson and the cradle of independence. It was a natural place to be the capital state for the Confederacy.

tenth_amendment_states_rightsThe dilemma for America was from its very beginning. As an ideal, the framers and leaders knew that all men were created equal but their society, their practices, had accepted distinctive differences in race as a basis to allow slave holdings.

Slaves were the means by which the south could compete against the more industrial north. This economic disparity, along with punitive tariff’s against the south, created additional friction. After the insurrection by Brown, the southern states believed violent uprisings were going to part of their future, they also thought they had a legal right to secede, and no peaceful option in which to exercise that right.

“Historians agree that the Harper’s Ferry raid in 1859 escalated tensions that a year later led to secession and the American civil war.” Put down by Colonel Robert E. Lee of the United States Army, assisted by First Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart the temporary insurrection was quickly suppressed.

There are many who insist the Confederate States of America were formed through a common cause theme just as the United States did against Great Britain decades before. They believe the south chose independence because of the continued encroachment against states rights by a central federal government. They see Lincoln as a dictator not an emancipator. Lincoln, despite his Illinois state speeches against slavery in the 1840’s, and his famous debate’s against Douglas in 1858, stated if he could keep the Union, he would have accepted slavery as a compromise. History shows that he didn’t.

That’s the historical irony, the individual states agreed to be part of the union at the Constitutional convention of 1783, as long as they could keep slaves. By 1860, after decade of debates, court battles, and slave rebellions, the south’s insistence that slaves were property, not equal as humans, and they had every right to decide what they could do with their property. This property kept the wealthy land owners in business. It also increased their wealth, a wealth which was the driving force for southern economy, seemingly threatened by the more industrialized north. As in all things, contemporary, or historical, there are many reasons, and aspects to conflicts.

compromise_of_1850As much as some people want to “window dress” the motivations of the Civil War, the overwhelming unresolved problem was slavery. To say it was over states rights, economic factors, or encroachment of federal law into individual states commerce, is by varying degrees, true. The long-standing tensions and disagreements about the use of humans as a means to an end, in providing an economic base were the ultimate catalyst. None of those would have been significant factors if not for the conflicting arguments over slavery.

Between election day and Lincoln’s inauguration in March, seven states had seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. They were to be followed by four more: North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Missouri, and Tennessee were divided within specific geographic boundaries, depending on who were the predominant community leaders. Kentucky started out neutral, but voted to become part of the union. West Virginia broke free of Virginia in 1863 to become part of the Union.

Republicans captured over 60 percent of the Northern vote in 1860, and won three-fourths of its Congressional delegations. The Southern press said that such Republicans represented the anti-slavery portion of the North, “a party founded on the single sentiment…of hatred of African slavery“, and now the controlling power in national affairs.

Abraham_Lincoln_emancipation

The cause of rebellion – Civil War 1861-65.

Opening volley – Why Fort Sumter?

The Top Nine Events Leading to Civil War

An Educators Guide to the Civil War

Here is an excerpt of the Declaration of Secession by the State of Georgia.

“The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of this organization.”

“For forty years this question has been considered and debated in the halls of Congress, before the people, by the press, and before the tribunals of justice. The majority of the people of the North in 1860 decided it in their own favor. We refuse to submit to that judgment, and in vindication of our refusal we offer the Constitution of our country and point to the total absence of any express power to exclude us.”

Continue to read this secession document.

” … It will be a glorious day for our country when all the children within its borders shall learn that the four years of fratricidal war between the North and South was waged by neither with criminal or unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they conceived to be threatened rights and imperiled liberty: that the issues which divided the sections were born when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in an ocean of fraternal blood.”

Lieutenant General John B. Gordon, CSA

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civil_war_flags

Religious Context

Many people want to fill in the gaps of their knowledge, without adequate preparation for understanding the questions, let alone the answers they derive. Many have questions which may include, why do humans exist, where did we originate, what happens after death?

planet forming eso-1301

Early civilizations tried to explain things they didn’t know

These are good questions but answers aren’t readily forthcoming without adequate education and sufficient training of the mind to discern fact from fiction.

From the earliest writings, we find creation stories, mythical explanations of the cosmos, and hopeful expression’s of a bright future, without first hand knowledge of exactly what that entails. Thus, religion is born. Religious thought attempts to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know, providing explanations by people who claim special insight and inspiration from a being or beings with unmeasurable, and eternal capabilities far beyond our mortal world.

Symbols and history

Religion & symbols

Religious thoughts, aspirations, ideals and convictions vary, but the most adherent are able to convince others through their willingness to suffer for the cause.

Searching the archives of religion, and checking it against accumulated knowledge over the centuries, often reveals contradiction and weaknesses within ancient explanations of the cosmos or originations.

To this day, we find people with a variety of beliefs battling for the hearts and minds of others, especially the young who lack life experience and adequate skills to question the answers. Institutions of government, media, and churches are constantly engaged in promoting their responses to the public.

Here’s what I’ve found to be prevalent on how people adhere to their religion.

  • In golf as in life it is the follow through that makes the difference.
  • The gap between contemplation and execution is measurable.
  • Many declare their sympathies for those with anxieties but are unable to explain the why & how. Religion does that, but for many, that’s not sufficient.
  • They later go on, clinging to the declarations, without adequate explanation, which serve outward appearance, but lack the original conviction.
  • That’s why in the end, very few could be convicted of being a devout anything other than fulfilling their wants, in spite of their declarations.