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Bernie Sanders is Right About One Thing. Maybe Two.

Bernie Sanders is very good at pointing out problems. A few of his favorites are imaginary, but most are real, and all of them have been created by big government. Bernie has a way of expressing them in a way that appeals to our inherent class envy.

Bernie’s solutions will make things far worse. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of our lives.

Alternet, that bastion of fine journalism, has published a list of Bernie’s political solutions to our problems. I thought they would be fun to go over while waiting for PetSmart to deliver my orders for barrels and fish.

1. Time for big thinking and new ideas.

Isn’t it always time for big thinking and new ideas?

One new idea would be to avoid this cliché, which has been spewed by every politician, in various forms, since there have been politicians.

His bold new idea: Socialism. Wait, didn’t that, and its kissing cousin communism, kill over a hundred million people in the last century? Oh, never mind, Bernie is the *good* kind of socialist. Not the bad kind. Nuh uh. Not him.

2. America’s problems are worse than ever.

Overall, things are better than they’ve been for all of human history. Nearly everything that’s worse has been made worse by government.

3. Economic inequality is the top issue.

The actual problem is a moribund economy, not income inequality, but let’s accept his claim for the sake of argument. Why is there such income inequality? Would it be as widespread if citizens were free to start any business without having to deal with the huge, often insurmountable, government-imposed barriers to entry that makes it impossible for the new guy to even try competing with the established guys?

Bernie’s wants to reduce the inequality by tearing down the rich. It has never occurred to him it would be better to allow the poor and middle class to build themselves up.

4. The middle class is being destroyed.

Yes, it is. See #3.

5. Poverty is worse than is acknowledged.

People paying attention (i.e. not trusting the numbers put out by Bernie’s government) have a pretty good idea of how bad it is. Many of us are desperately trying to cling to the middle class rung of the ladder without slipping into poverty. We can feel it nipping at our heels, and it’s terrifying. We need Big Brother out of the damn way so we can get back to climbing. Or even just keep hanging on.

6. The country needs a real jobs program.

We sure do, but creating more government drones is the worst possible solution.  The only job program that has been proven to work is to get the government out of the damn way and let people create jobs. For a real life example, look up what happened in New Mexico when Gary Johnson was Governor.

7. Raise the minimum wage and fight for living wages.

The primary effect will be to dramatically increase unemployment, mostly among the poor. Good plan.

8. Close the pay equity gap for women.

The oft spouted 72-cents-on-the-dollar claim has been debunked so many times, so thoroughly and so often, that the credibly rating of anyone repeating it is immediately lowered to “homeopath.”

9. Provide basic government health care for all.

Yeah, how’s that working out? I just got a letter saying my premiums were going up 20%.

“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” – P.J O’Rourke.

10. Expand Social Security and other safety nets.

We need safety nets, but the government is the worst, most inefficient way to provide them.

The Social Security piggybank is empty. There’s nothing in it but T-Bills, IOUs the government wrote to itself while they squandered the actual money. It’s not a fund; it’s an accounting trick.

If we had been allowed to invest the money we’ve been forced to pay into SS, we’d all be retiring as millionaires.  Literally. It’s a math thing. Bernie isn’t good at math. Math is hard.

Food stamps should be left alone, for now. They are one of the few programs that actually helps people, and the cost is trivial compared to most other government programs. I’m far less concerned about someone spending food stamps to buy a $15 steak than I am about the military buying a boxcar full of $600 hammers.

The best solution, one that doesn’t even occur to people like Bernie, is to make safety nets far less necessary. And the way to do that is, once again, to make it easy for people to start businesses.

“Well, Bob, your neighbor Joe was going to start a business, and if he had, he would have hired you. But he looked at the cost of government compliance – rules, regulations, licenses, fees, taxes and restrictions – and decided not to start it. So here, have some food stamps.”

11. College and universities must be free.

If you think education is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.

As usual, he ignores the real problem: government is almost entirely responsible for the huge cost increases in education. By making virtually unlimited loans available, they’ve allowed colleges to raise their prices by 5% over inflation for the past twenty years, while saddling people with a lifetime of debt for an often worthless education.

There’s also the issue of accreditation, which presents an impossible barrier to entry for new institutions. This keeps the supply low as the demand increases, and a first year econ student knows what that means.

When I become president, I’ll limit guaranteed student loans to $5k/year, $20k/lifetime. That’s not enough to cover tuition anywhere, so parents and kids will have to spend their own money now, instead of in the future, which will make them more careful about buying education. Schools will have to stop gouging if they want to stay full.

12. The rich must pay fair taxes.

The top 20% of earners pay 92% of all income taxes collected. The bottom 20% receive enough benefits that their effective tax rate is -15%. What he’s yammering about is already in place.

He’s advocating for a 90% top tax rate, which is proof he’s clinically insane.

13. Break up the largest financial institutions.

I actually agree with him on this one. If an institution is too big to fail, it’s too big. Failure is a very important part of real capitalism. The threat of it changes a corporation’s behavior. (Or it doesn’t, and they fail.) The government has established the precedent of repeatedly rescuing them from their failures with taxpayer dollars, which allows them to continue ruinous behavior without fear.

14 No more bad trade agreements.

I agree with the statement, but his errors about what qualifies as bad would require too much discussion for this already too-long article.

15. Move away from carbon based energy.

Being done. Mostly by private industries, who can see the huge profit potential in success. For those who think the government is the best way to find solutions, please join me in this meditative chant: “Solyndra, Solyndra, Soooolynnnnndra.”

16. Climate change must be addressed.

His ilk doesn’t just want it addressed. They want it obsessed about, venerated, worshiped, and used as an excuse to force all of us to change our lifestyles. Except for Al Gore. All still gets to fly between his mansions in his private jet because, hey, he’s Al Gore.

Renewable energy isn’t completely viable yet, but it’s getting there. Generating it is getting cheaper and more efficient. Even more important, battery technology is rapidly improving. They’ll both reach a point, probably in the next ten to fifteen years, where renewable energy becomes the cheapest form of power. When that happens, people will switch to it rather quickly. The biggest obstacle is, of course, Big Brother himself, who continues to get in the way at every step of the process.

17. The US must not fight endless wars.

I completely agree on him on this one issue. When I become president, I’ll cut the military in half, and have them prepare to be cut in half again. This will still leave us with the biggest military in the world, entirely capable of defending our borders.

But it will also make it impossible for us to march into the middle of every squabble and fight between (or within) other countries. We’ll have to sit back and let them work it out for themselves. *Maybe* we’ll supply weapons to the side we like, but even that needs to be very limited.

I will halt all R&D and investment in the F-35, and demand that the A-10 Warthog remain in production. (It’s a hellava plane that’s extremely useful in any battle, and will be indispensable if we’re ever invaded by Canada or Mexico.)

There, I’ve just cut the federal budget by a half trillion dollars a year.

18. Americans can’t afford to be apathetic.

Isn’t it nice that Bernie is telling us which emotions and attitudes are proper.

In a free country, the people could be apathetic about government because it wouldn’t be bothering them, and was no big deal.

In America, people become apathetic for a different reason: we’ve realized the system is horribly stacked against us and designed so any real change is nearly impossible. And who is it stacked by? Come on, let’s not always see the same hands.

19. Democracy reform starts with the plutocrats.

The best way to limit plutocratic influence in government is to have far less government to influence. Without the plethora of rules and regulations that stifle new business, corporations would have to actually address competition, instead of rent-seeking. We’d all benefit greatly from that.

Big business and the wealthy control the government via laws and regulations they’ve helped enact for their own best interest (and no one else’s.) His solution is…more laws and regulations. It’s like concluding that since lemon juice isn’t curing your yeast infection, you obviously need to apply more lemon juice. This is, or should be, known as The Krugman Fallacy.

20. The Supreme Court must be changed.

Um…Bernie…you know that happens as part of the process, don’t you? Slowly, very slowly, but it happens.

Unfortunately we have to conclude, based on most of their decisions, that the qualifications for the job don’t include having read the constitution, or even skimmed it.

When I become president, I’ll nominate Judge Andrew Napolitano to the Supreme Court, then hire a company to clone eight more of him to fill the rest of the positions.

* * *

Our current presidential candidates are interchangeable talking heads who are indistinguishable from each other. You could pull the head off any Republican (mmmmm…oops, sorry, just getting distracted by that appealing image) and glue it to any other Republican’s shoulders without anyone noticing. (You would, of course, use Crazy Glue) Rip off Hillary’s head (mmmmm….oh, sorry, again) and plunk it on Warren’s shoulders and the only difference would be the depth of corruption.

Bernie stands out in this morass as something different. He’s an entertaining little Muppet, spewing out spew that’s different from his competition’s spew. (He should do it while making little toy laser sounds: sPew sPew sPew.)

But in the end, his solutions are essentially the same as any politician’s – more More MORE government. Bigger and badder but somehow, magically, this time, better. Because this time, it will work. Really. Trust him.

And a frightening number of people are buying it.

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The Clue Absorbing Field

All of us are wrong about some things, but there is a special subset of humans who are wrong about everything. Politics, science, economics, art, history, human nature, culture, music – the subject doesn’t matter. They are predictably, inevitably and always wrong.

I’m working on a scientific-sounding theory that explains this phenomenon. My hypothesis is these people are surrounded by a Clue Absorbing Field. Call it a force field if you’re into science; an aura if you’re into woo.

Clues hurled in the direction of normal people sometimes stick and sometimes bounce off. Over time, we accumulate enough clues to get {at least a little} smarter.

But whenever a clue heads in the direction of someone protected by a CAF, said clue is immediately absorbed, dissolved and dissipated before it can make physical contact. No matter how many facts and clues you hurl in their direction, they have no effect. The field also sucks any existing clues out of their body and destroys them.

It is possible that this field is not absorptive, but reflective, and approaching clues simply bounce off. Or it could turn out the field doesn’t really exist, and I’m just making stuff up. This can only be determined by expensive research.

Since this will have limited commercial application, it obviously should be funded by a government grant. Anyone who thinks this would be the biggest waste of taxpayer dollars needs to get a clue. It’s not even close.

I estimate $650,000 will be sufficient to fund this important study. This will, of course, be a preliminary study. Once completed, it will be used to justify more extensive (expensive) studies.

I just need to get the grant proposal into the hands of a federal decision maker who is surrounded by a Clue Absorbing Field.

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A Keyboard for Progressives

PC PC Peripherals is proud to announce their new keyboard. It’s specially designed to withstand the rigors of lefty facebooking, tweeting and blogging.

For years our friends have have to replace keyboards with worn out R, A, C, I, S and T keys. Their 1 key wears out even faster, from typing so many exclamation points.

The great minds at PCPCP have created a solution to this nagging problem. Our keyboards are specially designed for far lefties. They feature heavy duty R, A, C, I, S, T and 1 keys! Now you can smear all your opponents without worrying about wearing out your keyboard!

And the future is built in. We’ve also beefed up the M, O, G, Y, and N keys, so when Hillary or Elizabeth Warren take the oval office, you’ll be able to call anyone who opposes their policies a misogynist over and over again!

You can enjoy this long lasting keyboard for just $69.99. As an added bonus, we’ll include a free subscription to Mother Jones!!!!!

(See? We can use multiple exclamation points without fear!!!!!!!)

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Move To Somalia

You have been directed here for saying “Move To Somalia.”

It can be amusing, entertaining, and sometimes enlightening to have conversations with a wide variety of personality types. People who are smart or stupid, joyful or cranky, lovers of the state or lovers of liberty, people with good taste, poor taste or no taste at all, can all be worth the time and effort of a conversation. The only people who aren’t, who are a complete waste of time (not to mention oxygen) are the tedious, unimaginative drones who spew clichés they’ve stolen from someone else in a pathetic attempt to appear clever. People like you.

You are tedious. You don’t deserve a moment of my time, which is why you’ve been sent here for a boilerplate reply. You’re simply not worth anything more.

You are ignorant. You think Somalia is an example of a libertarian society. If you had a clue, you’d know it is an example of an anarchist society, an entirely different beast. This has been explained on the Internet to millions of your ilk, tens of millions of times. The information is readily available on something called “search engines,” so your ignorance is inexcusable.

You are proud of your ignorance. You are arrogant about it. You have no idea how pathetic that makes you.

Why should someone who believes in the basic principles of liberty and peace have to move? This country was founded on my principles, not yours. I, and many others like me, are trying to live by those principles and convince others to do the same. We despise government force. You, on the other hand, love it, and want to use it to destroy our few remaining freedoms at every level.

Why should I move? It would be better for everyone if you would move to a place that has already implemented the polices you endorse. I can’t suggest Cuba, as they’re experimenting to with capitalism to rise above the horrible economic funk socialism has imposed on them for decades. I’d love to see you go to North Korea, but you don’t have the balls for that. No, the perfect place for you is Venezuela. They’ll be happy to have you, and we’ll be happy to be rid of you.

Just be sure to bring your own food. And medicine. And toilet paper. And everything else. But it should be worth it to live in the socialist utopia you crave.

So just move. Move out of the country. Move out of the conversation. Move off the Internet. Move somewhere you belong, because you don’t belong here.

No one will miss you.

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Liberals, The Recent Anti-Gay Laws Are Your Fault

Everyone on the left is appalled at states passing anti-gay legislation. And you’re right, it is appalling and evil.

And it is entirely your fault.

When a very few bakers and photographers said they wouldn’t service a gay wedding, you could have responded without force. You could have spread bad publicity and organized a boycott. You’d get lots of support, including mine. It’s a non-violent solution to unacceptable behavior. And it works – at least one bakery, when all of this crap started, lost so much business it closed.

But bert-ernie-cake-topperyou just had to bring government force into the picture. You demanded Big Brother punish them with huge fines, and in some cases mandatory sensitivity training and onerous reporting requirements. You initiated aggression. And people who are aggressed against fight back. They also become heroes to people who agree with them.

Their defense against being punished for their {wretched} behavior was to go to the very government you cheered on and demand that government leave them alone. You used to government to get your way, and you did for a while. Now they’ve done the same thing.

If they hadn’t been attacked by their government, these laws wouldn’t exist. The ass-hats would have been legally allowed to remain ass-hats, and boycotts and bad publicity would have taken care of the problem. It might have taken a little longer, but that just makes it more effective.

So while you’re sharing your outrage at these bills (and don’t get me wrong, you should be outraged) take a moment from your seething to admit that your clan is the only reason they were passed.

***

Check out an earlier article on this subject.

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Justice Theater

To outward appearances, the US has one justice system that serves everyone. But if you pay close attention, you’ll see that it’s a two-tier system which operates differently depending on who is being processed through it.

Tier 1 is reserved for police officers. (Politicians and the very wealthy may also receive Tier 1 treatment, although that is not guaranteed.) The goal of Tier 1 is to protect cops from being prosecuted or convicted. The rest of us, The Little People, AKA you and me, always get Tier 2, where the goal is a conviction.

Little People are subject to tens of thousands of laws, rules and regulations,. Violating any of them can lead to us losing our money, property and/or freedom. It’s estimated that, peacefully going about our business and harming no one, we commit three felonies a day, along with dozens of misdemeanors.

The police have a much simpler set of rules:

#1) You can do anything you want to the Little People, up to and including murder.

#2) Never say anything even slightly critical of your fellow officers, or we’ll turn you into one of the Little People.

#3) There is no number three. One and two are pretty much it. They do have lists of rules and regulations, but they’re just props they wave around as part of the show.

When a cop’s violence attracts public attention, it’s time for some Justice Theater. The story’s ending is predetermined; the prosecutor only decides the length of the show.

They prefer a one act play. The cop is given a paid vacation. The police investigate themselves, and justify whatever happened. The prosecutor declines to press charges, and the show is finished.

If the public is in a foul enough mood over the incident, he’ll add Act II: The Grand Jury.

The Grand Jury was designed as a check of government excess. In practice they serve as a prosecutor’s rubber stamp.  As an experienced attorney explains, “…the adage that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich is an understatement. A better description would be that the prosecution can show a grand jury a shit sandwich and they will indict it as ham without looking up from their newspapers.”  The prosecutor usually wants an acquittal, and they always give him what he wants. If anyone complains about the results, most of The Little People chant, “But he was cleared by a grand jury!”

Very broken_systemoccasionally. if there is a huge public outcry, the prosecutor decides to put on a three act play. He’ll procure an inditement from the grand jury, then stage a show trial.

First a jury is carefully hand-picked to insure a “not guilty” verdict. Then the show begins. The jury and the rest of us Little People are treated to masterful performances, full of carefully tailored evidence and objections and raised voices and show and tell. It’s all impressively dramatic as it works it’s way to the inevitable, predictable, finale: the officer is declared Not Guilty.

And most of the audience claps and cheers in appreciation of the fine Justice Theater they’ve just witnessed. It doesn’t matter if it’s one, two or three acts, most Little People unwaveringly support the police, and will point to the performance as proof of the cop’s innocence.

Very, very occasionally, about as frequently as a poker player is dealt a royal flush (once out of every 649,739 hands) a cop will be convicted of a crime. Defenders of the status quo say, “See, the system works!” They’re wrong. A cop being convicted is a system failure – it’s just not supposed to happen. But when it does, it’s time for the encore: extremely lenient sentences. When a cop commits a crime that would cost one of us Little People twenty or thirty years of our life, he’ll usually get two, maybe three years. It’s the way the system apologizes to him for accidentally getting a conviction.

When you see the endless stories of cops getting away with murder over and over and over and over and over again, be outraged. Be disgusted. But don’t complain that the system is broken. It’s not. It’s working exactly the way it was designed to.

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Blurry Lines

Immature artists copy. Mature artists steal – Variously Ascribed

The verdict on the Blurred Lines lawsuit is ridiculous. emilyThe style of both songs is similar, but you can’t copyright style. The bass lines are similar, but not the same. The melody is entirely different. The lyrics are different. This isn’t one artist going after another artist for theft, this is the family of a dead artist making a money grab and, unfortunately, succeeding.

Blatant, verbatim plagiarism is the unforgivable sin for musicians, writers or comics. It’s a line no self-respecting artist would ever cross intentionally. But borrowing, being inspired by, or influenced by other artists are often blurry lines. While we should condemn Led Zeppelin for stealing nearly every song they ever recorded (they should be considered a cover band), should we denigrate Lady GaGa for stealing Madonna’s shtick?

The net is full of videos about song plagiarism, so I won’t go into that here. Here’s a rather good one, though, which includes the bizarre case of John Fogerty being sued by his record label for sounding too much like himself on a later song.

***

People who aren’t involved in the creative arts have no idea how easy it is to rip something off unintentionally. You’ll hear a tune or lyric, or read a line that you like, and then forget it. Then one or two or ten years later it pops into your head, posing as your own inspired brilliance, and you eagerly share it with the world, only to find out you’ve inadvertently stolen it from someone else.

I’ve done this myself. A few decades ago, I amused myself by writing and performing funny songs, interspersed with stand-up commentary on current events. My talent was in the lyrics – my music was never anything special.

I had a poem I wanted to turn into a song, but couldn’t come up with the music. But one day, while noodling around, inspiration struck. I came up with a great tune. It not only fit the words perfectly, it was much, much better than most of my other music.

I practiced it, proud of my accomplishment, and looked forward to performing it at my next gig.

Three days later I realized the music was, note for note, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies. Fortunately, I figured it out before I went on stage and embarrassed myself.

It is also quite possible, in fact, likely, for two people to come with the same idea at the same time, and expresses it the same way. Many times I’d write a joke about a current event, and before I could perform it, hear it on the Tonight Show. I didn’t think Carson was stealing my stuff – his writers just came up with the same idea.

Many years ago I came up with a throw-away line about politics and pets that I’ve used ever since, sometimes expounding on it a bit. The other day I saw a blog post that used my line as a title, and then expanded on it with a short whimsical article. Did the author steal that from me? Did he hear it from someone else who had repeated it? Did he independently come up with it on his own?

I don’t know or particularly care. But I might not be so nonchalant if I could turn it into a seven million dollar lawsuit.

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