Class Warfare Blog

February 26, 2016

Aliens and Creationists

I am beginning to believe that the ability of ordinary people to think is vanishingly small and probably smaller if you are a creationist or IDer. And, no I am not talking about the candidacy of Donald Trump. I am talking about the creationists’ obsession with aliens. Apparently their god didn’t create any. How they could know this is quite beyond me.

One aspect of their blather is the so-called Fermi Paradox which is neither Fermi’s nor a paradox. The FP goes like this: if aliens exist, some must be very advanced and have noticed us by now; where are they? It sounds reasonable, but the obvious answer (They don’t exist!) is unwarranted.

Just put on your thinking cap for second. We have been producing radio waves and other electromagnetic signals for a bit over 100 years. So, lets be very conservative and say that there is a bubble 500 light-years in radius that our presence can be detected. (500 years of travel at the speed of light in a vacuum is a reasonable maximum supposition). The universe as a whole is 14+ billion light years in radius, so what percent of the entire universe does our “close enough to notice the humans” bubble consist? Since the volume of such spaces is proportional to a cube of the radius, the percent is (5003/14,000,000,0003) x 100. I will do the math for you .. uh … essentially zero (It is 0.00000000000000000000000455%.) This is also the probability that any aliens would fly through our bubble and notice our presence. This assumes that the aliens had sufficient technology to fly around faster than the speed of light and other apparently impossible abilities.

Now, those are the spatial odds. Regarding time, our 500 years is a very small fraction of the time the universe has existed (14+ billion years). Let me be generous and assume that the first 4+ billion years were needed for alien life to evolve (the creationists creator need not be so limited) so with regard to time, we have been signally for (500/10,000,000,000) x 100 = 0.000005% of the time period since life began in this universe (approximately). So, the aliens would have to be alive and looking during our time period to find us, no? So, the probability that aliens would find us is the product of these two probabilities, the spatial and the temporal probabilities, which is 0.000005% of basically zero.

So, for all you creationists who are asking “Where are these aliens?” Shut the fuck up and sit down. Besides, we really do not want them to find us. History shows us that when more “advanced” technological societies meet less advanced, it doesn’t go well for the less advanced.

February 24, 2016

Denmark? No, Costa Rica!

All the hoopla surrounding the current Presidential political contest may obscure the fact that our electoral system is run by the political parties themselves. These primaries aren’t a governmental function, they are run by Democratic Party officials, Republican Party officials, and officials of any other party which can show a modicum of performance in an election.

You may also have missed the fact that today’s political parties are mere shells of their past selves. Just look at the current leaders (Preibus and Schultz), both are lightweights. Really, the candidates are running the show now. If the “party” does something the candidates don’t like, it changes in the candidate’s favor. Even Donald Trump alone can change GOP election policy. He is currently turning their “pledge” to not run on a third party ticket or as a write-in candidate into a weapon he is using for more leverage against the party itself. The Democratic Party tried to grease the skids for Hillary Clinton by scheduling few debates at awkward times (advantage to the front runner), but when Bernie Saunders waged a credible campaign and drew blood, the campaigns got together and scheduled additional debates. Hello? Dems? No comment from the party.

Political parties have been defanged because they lost control of the political money. Until just recently, the parties could raise as much money and even more than the candidates did, so they had control over the purse strings. Now with the advent of PACs and Super PACs, the money is back in the control of the candidates (anybody who doesn’t think the candidates control, albeit loosely, the money in those “outside” organizations needs to get their political IQ tested) and the parties can go take a flying leap for all they care. All the party needs supply is an umbrella identification to run under, “I am a Democrat or I am a Republican,” and you don’t even have to be registered to vote as such, it is just a declaration.

So, I now bring you to Candidate Sanders reference that “We should look to countries like Denmark….” which drew so much flak. Denmark is worth emulating, but the country we should emulate is Costa Rica. When the Costa Ricans created their current governmental structure, they based it upon ours, which is flattering. And, they fixed one of the biggest flaws in our system by instituting a fourth branch of government. Their fourth branch, a nonpartisan branch, structures and administers elections. They schedule everything, including the debates and run them, then they organize and supervise the elections. So, you won’t hear anything about “hanging chads” from Costa Rica.

Imagine our elections being run by the League of Women Voters (disclaimer—former member). Imagine officials running for office in the fourth branch on their record of fairness and efficiency and how well they have held up democratic ideals. <sigh>

Instead we have asked all of the foxes to guard the hen house. How stupid can we be?

What the hell, I think we should emulate both Denmark and Costa Rica! Join or die!

February 22, 2016

The New Slavery

The goal of the plutocrats now running U.S. society, including our governments, is now abundantly clear: they endeavor to institute a new age of slavery. This was made evident in an editorial in today’s N.Y. Times with the compelling title of “A Rising Call to Promote STEM Education and Cut Liberal Arts Funding” By Patricia Cohen (Feb. 21, 2016).

Wait, that doesn’t sound so radical, does it? It does if you know a few facts. For one there is no reason to favor STEM education over any other. There is no shortage of qualified applicants for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs. The unemployment statistics show this in the numbers of recent graduates who cannot get jobs in their fields as does the basic fact of economics that if there is a shortage of workers of a particular type, their wages increase (to attract the few that are available). Wages in this field are changing no faster than the others. The “shortage” of STEM job candidates and STEM college graduates was cooked up by plutocrats to support their demands for more visas to allow STEM foreign workers into the U.S. Recently Disney was caught laying off 20 of its I.T. employees to be replaced by foreigners on work visas, for example. There was no “shortage” other than the one created by the firing of the current workers who, by the way, were earning performance bonuses so it is hard to argue they were substandard.

The plutocrats really like these workers on visas, as they work for less, which drives down wages for all of the other workers in their category and they don’t complain, because if they lose their job they lose their visa and “bye-bye U.S.”

“Welcome to the new slavery. The chains are invisible but real. Sit down and shut the fuck up.”

What is telling are the arguments being used, basically “STEM good, humanities bad.” They argue that public money shouldn’t be spent on students who would be working at the lower paying jobs that a humanities education affords. (I hear echoes of “effing hippies” from the 60’s.) This argument is, of course, bogus. Currently humanities college graduates in the U.S. have starting salaries that are roughly equal to the median salary of all Americans. This means those humanities grads, all things being roughly the same as they have been in the past, will be earning above average wages for the rest of their lives, which means they will pay above average taxes and the taxes in excess of the average amount repay the public for the education expenditure several times over. So, guarding the public coffers is a bogus argument.

Also, the plutocrats are basically saying that we should use data regarding what people are making now to focus our attention regarding what is important in an education. This makes no sense in an economy in which people’s jobs are changing so fast that the average worker can expect to have seven different jobs in their working life, many of which have not yet been invented. (If you used the job description “social media consultant” ten years ago, what would people have thought?)

It is clear the kind of future the plutocrats plan. They expect citizens to “sit down and shut the fuck up” while they run the country however they wish. If citizens are to have choices of political candidates it is only ever between candidates that offer no threat to the status quo. If a candidate does offer a threat, say recommending free education and higher taxes on the rich (Go, Bernie!), he is to be quashed as strongly as possible by a candidate propped up by the plutocrats.

To enforce this vision of the future, the plutocrats are using chains of debt. For example, many political upheavals in this country have been supported by college students. A few changes in the tax code and voilà now total college student debt exceeds total credit card debt (think about that). A student looking at a mountain of debt that needs to be paid off cannot afford to blemish his ability to get a good paying job with an arrest record, etc. so, college students have been defanged.

Additionally, teachers and teachers unions have opposed plutocrats (even to the point of voting for Democrats), so now they are demonized and beleaguered on all sides and are no longer a political force.

Welcome to the new slavery. The chains are invisible but real. Sit down and shut the fuck up.

February 17, 2016

But the Legal Bullshit Lives On

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away recently, but unfortunately the form of interpretation of the Constitution he invented did not die with him. Scalia formulated and promoted a view of the Constitution (“originalism”) such that it should be interpreted only as it was understood to mean when it was drafted 227 years ago. Notwithstanding the fact that the drafters of said document said over and over they wanted to have a living document. The framers even included a process by which the Constitution could be amended, and then went ahead and amended the thing ten times within the first couple of years of its existence.

To limit the Constitution to what it meant to the citizens of the time is bizarre. Consider if we interpreted theories of physics or medicine in such a way today. We would be talking about humours, vapors, and “bad air” along with spooky action at a distance and the ether. To have a politically guiding document locked into a time frame is counter to nature and all of reality. The only constant in our existence is change and the Constitution was planned to allow for it. It even created a national supreme court to interpret what it meant and did not limit that court to interpretations of what it meant to the founders. If that was what they wanted, don’t you think they would have said so?

Even Justice Scalia participated in the creation of “new constitutional rights,” something he said should not be possible without a formal amendment. Justice Scalia even re-interpreted 100 years of the high court’s rulings to create the right of individuals to bear arms (Heller). Basically he claimed all of those famous jurists of the past, along with the founders, didn’t mean what they said. To take the late justice’s opinion literally, women should still not be able to vote, Black people should still be in chains, corporations shouldn’t possess freedom of speech, and money shouldn’t be a form of free speech. That those are no longer the case is based upon our ability to change our Constitution’s meaning from what it meant when it was written.

February 8, 2016

Drowning in Economic Bullstuff

I got out and they sucked me right back in.”

In an editorial in the NY Times (Don’t Break Up the Banks. They’re Not the Problem.) Steve Eisman, one of the real folks portrayed in the movie “The Big Short,” argues that we should not want to break up the big banks, because well, it is messy, and it would hurt economic growth, and well, just because.

“If we want a stronger economy, improving the distribution and growth of personal income should be our focus. Breaking up the big banks will not help, and might even hurt.”

These people are incredible.

The whole point in making the banks as big as the are, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, was to continue the shift of the stock and other markets away from their original intent and toward speculative investments, none of which benefits the country or ordinary citizens. The stock market has become the tool of speculators and little else.

When you were in school, I am sure, you were taught the party line about the stock market, that a company, could sell itself by issuing stock certificates to a large number of people (thereafter the company is “owned” by whoever owns 51% of the stock). The money generated by this sale of stock allows the company to invest in its own growth as a “public corporation.” The company then paid “interest” to those who bought the stock (dividends) and maybe, down the road, the stock could be sold for a profit. It is a nice fairy tale and it is true as far as it goes. But all you need do is examine the most recent “star” initial public offerings (IPOs) to see something strange. Take Facebook’s IPO, for example. Facebook doesn’t make anything and I doubt anybody in your circle of acquaintances could explain how it makes money, but its stock price soared like an eagle then went down and back up. People were literally panting to buy stock in this company, a tech company that probably will not be around in 10 years , certainly not in 20 years. The example we were given in school was local widget factories, factories that employed our parents.

As far as breaking up the big banks “hurting the economy” because it would “disrupt all of the loans they were making,” consider the bank bailouts of 2008 and 2009. The federal government made the mistake of not tying the bailouts to the “loans” they could be making, so what did the banks do? They looked around and said, “there is no growth” so there is no reason to loan and they bought stocks and bonds with the money. Figure it out! If someone lends you money at 0% interest and you can invest it in the stock market at 5-6% or even higher. Talk about free money. All of that investment in the stock market made stock prices soar (the “markets” recovered from the Great Depression first, remember?) which made those banks investments even more valuable, made them even more money … that they still did not make loans with. The whole idea of them making loans with “free money” was to stimulate the economy by companies taking a chance to expand while it was cheap. People would be hired, goods bought, by these expanding companies and soon the recovery would be well under way. “Oh, wait, look! A shiny new stock certificate, I think I’ll buy that instead of making a loan with the money,” was the bank’s response.

The reason to break up the banks is because they are scum-sucking pigs, that when given the opportunity to make loans for free to help the economy recover from the largest economic depression in almost a century, they decided to profit from our loss. Then they spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying against any change in the rules that allowed them to speculate unhindered by effective regulation/regulators which created the GD in the first place.

Gee, it is complicated! Gosh, oh, what can we do? All we need do for now is separate federally insured bank accounts from speculative ones and let them figure it out. They are, after all, the “new” smartest guys in the room.

February 3, 2016

Do We Really Want One-Party Rule, Especially by Republicans?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:45 pm
Tags: , , ,

Note Yes, I am on hiatus and not blogging here for the time. But this is the issue no one is talking about … and should be. SR

If we elect a Republican President in 2016, and the House and Senate remain under Republican control, a reasonable assumption if the GOP takes the White House, what could we expect to happen? I think it is fairly straightforward to project an answer from what Republican State legislatures are doing and the federal GOP representatives have been recommending.

The GOP, in all likelihood, would
•  Repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing.
•  Cut taxes on the rich.
•  Cut Medicare and Medicaid.
•  Reduce Social Security Benefits.
•  Continue the corporate takeover of public schools, extracting profits from public coffers.
•  Deregulate the banking industry.
•  Deregulate Wall Street.
•  Reduce alternative energy supports.
•  Defund Planned Parenthood (promises are promises).
•  Expand the military budget.
•  Continue to undermine local control of cities by supporting “emergency manager policies.”
•  Move to make same-sex marriage illegal again.
•  Appoint hyperconservative judges to the federal courts and the Supreme Court so that more corporations can be people.
•  Conduct a belligerent foreign policy, probably involving increased military action.

The GOP, in all likelihood, would not
•  Reform the campaign finance system.
•  Reduce income and/or wealth inequality.
•  Raise the minimum wage.
•  Decrease the number of Americans who go without health insurance.
•  Act to curtail Climate Change
•  Preserve our public lands.
•  Take any action whatsoever on gun control.

Can you think of anything positive that you expect the Republicans to do if they are given control of the federal government? No? Neither can I. Consequently, why is anyone considering electing one?

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