Uncommon Sense

May 29, 2023

We Need to Get Rid of the Elites

What a mistake! In our pre-history we allowed certain people to assume authority over the rest of us. It wasn’t just as war band leaders, but that was part of it. We created priests and potentates and then they ruined our lives.

Those early elites established the pattern for those to follow them. They assumed an air of superiority and we, gullibly, accepted their superiority and therefore our inferiority.

Their first step was to absolve themselves from having to work for their living. Their efforts—to organize society, to interact with the gods, etc. meant that they had to be supported by the rest of the people. But their leisure and “important work” they adopted as their own lead them to feeling that they were special. From that point onward, these “elites” were driven by the sense that they were better than everyone else. And so thousands of years has passed and the same attitude has been in play. Today’s elites still think they are better than we are because their lives are provided with ease, wealth, opportunity, etc. In most cases that was inherited, not earned.

But what have they actually done for us?

They established the hereditary inheritance of power/money. So, their bairns became entitled little twats (see British royal family), learning the mantra of “We are better than the hoi polloi” with their mother’s milk (or at least their wet nurse’s).

They created caste systems/perpetual poverty. Since the castes act as cultural enforcement agencies, they made sure the poor stayed poor. In that way, the rich could ensure they stayed rich.

They even established a class system in the U.S. Americans assume they have a classless society, but that is just propaganda. Look around and you can see the classes of Americans quite easily (there are books available for more detail).

The elites gave us snobbery. By establishing rules of behavior, often nonsensical ones (we call them etiquette or manners), they were able to signal who was in and who was not, easily. Eat with the wrong fork—clearly you are a barbarian. Not pass the salt when asked for the pepper, clearly you are uncultured. Wear white after Labor Day? Oh, my heavens, what a maroon!

Invented mythology of the “self-made man” and others.

Embraced and adopted capitalism, based upon the unbridled greed of rich people, and called it “good” for all. (They considered the fact that capitalism puts no limits upon greed as a feature, not a bug.)

Invented mass slavery, bondage, serfdom, and marriage as ways of labeling people as property that they might own them. Note that is not owning the right to their labor, but their actual bodies, too.

I am sure I could come up with a list of the services elites provide, but no matter—whatever they are they are just too expensive. We need to find another way.

I am not advocating exterminating the elites, but modernity gives us better, more humane ways to eliminating their influence. We need to stop paying homage, for one. They do not deserve the respect they claim they are due because of their valuable service, as job creators and other imaginary “good things.” Ignoring them instead of praising them is a good start. But we need to pay close attention to them because of the dangers they pose. For example, calling Elon Musk and Donald Trump paragons of business is not only untrue, but feeding their egos to get them to do more and more outlandish things. And then we need to tax away their fortunes. Money is power, they say, and we need to strip them of their power. There are other things we can do, but stripping them of their actual capital as well as their social capital would be a good start.

And, Ayn Rand fans, I am not worried about the collapse of society were we to do this. There are many examples of stupid actions taken, for example when the Chinese were expelled from Malaysia (twice). Each time the economy collapsed and they needed to invite the Chinese-Malaysians back. But then it was the elites (hoity-toity Malaysians) ejecting hard working Chinese, not the other way around. The Chinese-Malaysians were doing vital work that just stopped when they were given the boot. Were the Chinese to have expelled the Malaysian elites, there would have been no effect such as a collapsing economy because those elites performed no effective labors.

Postscript Yes, this is being posted on Memorial Day, a day to remember proles who gave their all to protect the wealth and power of their lords and masters. What better way to teach us to act self-sacrificingly. (And don’t get your panties in a twist. I am not denigrating the heroism of soldiers sent into war (voluntarily or not). I just point out that prior to WW2, in the U.S. the vast majority of citizens wanted no part of the wars being waged in Europe and the Pacific theater. A Japanese mistake (attacking Peral Harbor without declaring war) followed by a German mistake (Hitler declaring war with the U.S.) lead us into both situations. It was the elites causing all the trouble; the people don’t start wars.

May 20, 2023

It Will Cost Up to $21.5 Billion to Clean Up California’s Oil Sites, But the Industry Won’t Make Enough Money to Pay for It

Interesting headline above. I have seen it now on half a dozen sites.

So, apparently a study determined how much money was needed to clean up just California’s oil extraction and processing sites and that amount of money is near ten times the amount those businesses will reap the rest of their lifetimes.

So, I have a suggestion as to how to resolve this issue. If we, the public, are to be stuck with the cleanup bill, I say confiscate the businesses as being bankrupt and in violation of the law. Nationalize them (state-ify?). The decisions they made to pollute and profit have consequences.

Sell off what parts there are that can be sold and then start the cleanups because they are going to take decades, if only to spread out the costs.

Then go after the parent companies. Bill them for the cleanup. Hound them like their collection agencies hound us if we have a debt we haven’t paid.

Real and Imagined Fears of AI

There seems to be a small but growing cottage industry writing articles about the fears associated with artificial intelligence (AI). Along side of that is another, smaller, cottage industry pumping out works extolling the virtues of AI and how it will make us all better off.

I, myself, wonder what natural intelligence is, as do many others, and wonder how it is we could even recognize the existence of artificial intelligence if it came up and bit us on the ass.

Most of this seems to be fueled by “content creators” who desperately want to capture our attention, for “likes,” “hearts,” or cups of coffee.

Let us assume that such a beast as an AI actually exists (which I doubt, but I will play along). Are there things to fear?

Yes, capitalism.

Capitalism will use AIs to improve profits, whether they improve anyone’s life or not. I envision health insurance companies using AIS in the following manner:

Insurer: AI, write a letter denying the claim for insurance coverage of this claimant using the facts in their file (here).

AI: Done! (Dear sir: . . . )

Think of the money the insurer will save. They do not need doctors to evaluate the validity of such a claim, nor do they need their lawyers or bean counters to do the same. They just deny all claims and only actually look into those who persist by refiling repeatedly.

Now, you may think that this is a harsh practice to ascribe to insurance companies, do realize they have already done this! Back during the Obamacare hearings it was exposed that several health insurance executives had their pay based upon how many claims they could deny and that they had created structures like the above to deny claims based upon a desire to please the boss, rather than the facts of the case, etc.

Also, I had a dentist who submitted claims for me to my insurer who insisted that the insurer denied almost all claims to see how serious the situations were, so he submitted and then resubmitted and even submitted a third time to get approval for procedures which seemed obvious to me (he showed me the x-rays and explained what was needed).

I am not so afraid of AI, although I have seen the Terminator movies; I am more afraid of what rapacious, conscience-less capitalists will do with them.

May 15, 2023

Trump and the Republicans Are in the Bible! (It’s true!)

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:18 am
Tags: , , , ,

For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:29–30)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as Christ’s apostles. And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:12–15)

But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. Many will follow their immoral ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be maligned. In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: whose sentence now from of old doesn’t linger, and their destruction will not slumber. (2 Peter 2:1–3)

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)

Can scripture be referring to anyone else than Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans? They claim to be Christians but don’t follow the teachings of Jesus. Scripture tells us to pray in private, yet the MAGA Republicans want to post the Ten Commandments in every school room. And Ron DeSantis! How can he be anyone other than one of the many Antichrists?

May 14, 2023

The Wrongheadedness of Christian Nationalism

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:33 am
Tags: , ,

Christian nationalism is on the rise here in the U.S.  and that is drawing the ire of people like me who believe that the separation of church and state is a keystone of this republic.

But you know who should be dead set against declaring the U.S. a Christian nation? Christians.

Consider this tidbit:

Nilay Saiya, a researcher from the University of Singapore, has conducted an extensive statistical analysis spanning over ten years across more than 160 countries. His findings suggest a direct correlation between the dwindling popularity of Christianity in certain countries and the extent of support those countries’ governments provide to the religion via their legal and policy frameworks. In other words, the more the government endorses Christianity, the fewer people tend to follow the religion. (from Dan Foster on Medium.com/Backyard Church)

Think about that for a minute. That research also showed that Christianity thrived when it was forced to compete for believers!

The ironic thing about all of this is that these Christian nationalists are also staunch conservatives, massive supporters of capitalism. And what is a cornerstone of capitalism? Competition, no? And these idiots are say “We don’ need no stinkin’ religious competition!” and are committed to a path that will end up with Christianity weak and ripe to taken down by a more robust religion. And, of course, the Republican Party was chosen to carry the torch for the Christian nationalists, you know, the party of small government which wants to add governing a massive religion onto their to do list. Doesn’t anyone else see the flaming contradictions here?

If there is any greater evidence that religion fosters stupidity, this I think qualifies as the best evidence so far.

Christian nationalism is stupid, stupid, stupid, for Christians and more stupid for Republicans (as if they didn’t have enough people hating them). So, why is it growing in appeal? An Antifa plot? Woke ideology striking back? What?

May 7, 2023

Even Texans Don’t Believe the NRA Bullshit

Filed under: Culture,Morality,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 8:08 am
Tags: , , ,

The National Rifle Association (NRA) proudly proclaims that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is, as we all know, self-serving bull shit. The NRA has only one goal and that is to increase sales of gun and ammunition, because those manufacturers are its largest financial supporters. The state of Texas has the loosest gun laws in the U.S., stopping just short of requiring its citizens to own a gun.

In the latest gun atrocity, a gunman opened fire in a shopping mall just outside of Dallas, TX, and killed at least six people, maybe more. And not one Texan “Good Guy” returned fire! Now I happen to know there are more than a few “Good Guys” in Texas, and not one of them was packing the day of this incident? Unbelievable . . . the NRA, that is.

April 11, 2023

Oh, DeSantis is Going to Be Pissed

I was watching a documentary last night, made in 2021, entitled “Invisible History: Middle Florida’s Hidden Roots.” Middle Florida, I learned, is a region in the Florida Panhandle between the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers. It includes the six easternmost counties of the Panhandle (that’s the westernmost segment of Florida) and the documentary focused mostly upon Leon County of those six.

In any case this documentary explored the role of slavery in building the economy and infrastructure of this segment of the state, with effects able to felt to the present day, not just to the descendants of those enslaved persons, but to the entire culture.

Now what is really going to piss off Governor DeSantis is the opening splash screen of agencies that helped make the documentary. Here they are:

Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs
FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights
Florida State University President’s Council on Diversity & Inclusion

Wow, Florida state institutions promoting Critical Race Theory! DeSantis’s mind will be blown.

April 9, 2023

Republicans Take Up Their Cross, Crucifixions Hopefully Ahead

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, on Friday ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone in a decision that overruled decades of scientific approval. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, on Friday ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone in a decision that overruled decades of scientific approval.

The FDA first approved Mifeprex (mifepristone) in September 2000 for medical termination of pregnancy through seven weeks gestation and this was extended to ten weeks gestation in 2016.

So, how does a federal court judge have the power to overrule a decision of a department of the federal government? Unless the ruling is unconstitutional, the court doesn’t even have a say. Can you spell separation of powers boys and girls?

This is the Donald Trump Effect, in my opinion. The approach is just simple: lie through your teeth, then claim you have the power to enforce the lie.

How can a “hold” be placed upon an approval made 22+ years ago? Is that not a done deal? Republicans have indeed gone mad and are carrying ideological crosses around with them. Let us assist them in their desires, help nail them on and then prop up those crosses, so they can achieve their aims. Just vote “No to R” and all of this idiocy goes away.

We Can Blame Plato

I had a near relative who, as a young man, stated that philosophy ended with Plato. He was also a fundamentalist Christian. And Plato was a flaming elitist. This makes sense, I guess, because to be a fundamentalist Christian, you have to be an elitist.

Allow me to quote from a spectacular book I am currently working through, “A People’s History of Science.”

“Plato’s ‘noble lie’ then, was the ultimate ideological justification of elitism; that social hierarchies are immutable because they were created by God, and that the ruling class deserves to rule because God made its members out of superior material. The aristocrats are the Golden Men, whereas farmers and artisans are composed of brass and iron. As part of this ideological program, Plato promoted two separate religions—a sophisticated, abstract one for the intelligentsia, and a cruder one, with the traditional anthropomorphic gods and goddesses for the masses. To ensure the continued observance of the latter, Plato proposed sentencing disbelievers to five years in prison for the first offence and death for the second. Farrington commented, ‘Thus the advocacy of persecution for opinion made its first entry on the European scene.’ Plato’s successor, Aristotle, likewise understood the political usefulness of religious tradition; he called it “a myth” that was propagated “with a view to the persuasion of the multitude and to its legal and utilitarian expediency.” (p. 145)

Plato, were he alive today, would certainly be a Republican, one challenging for high office, too. Plato’s ideas are still alive today, as the author of this tome points out:

“Platonic elitism, unfortunately, is not merely a matter of ancient history; it is still drastically afflicting the human race even in the twenty-first century. The architects of American foreign policy who carried out the imperialist assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq are know to be zealous disciples of political philosopher Levi Strauss, an admirer of Plato. ‘The effect of Straus’s teaching is to convince his acolytes that they are the natural ruling elite,’ said Shadia Drury, who has written extensively on Strauss’s ideas and their consequences. ‘Leo Strauss,’ she continued, ‘was a believer in the efficacy and usefulness of lies in politics’ who ‘justifies his position by an appeal to Plato’s concept of the noble lie.’”

April 7, 2023

If I Can’t Have a Divorce, Then . . .

Filed under: Culture,History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:30 am
Tags: , , , ,

Republicans seem to be having some kind of psychotic break. Marge Greene’s suggestion of breaking the country in two: Red America and Blue America didn’t fly, so the states in which Republicans have political control are reshaping their states along lines of which they approve. To an outsider, like me, these lines point straight down the toilet, no swirl.

As Ron Brownstein notes, “On so many fronts, the states w/unified Republican control of government (or veto proof legislative majorities as here) are building a nation within a nation. The breadth, degree, and pace, of separation by the red states is breathtaking.”

“Red states are now engaged in adopting policies of self-immiseration, willing to destroy their schools, their economies, even themselves in order not to have to deal with the world as it is. We are only just beginning to see the devastating effects of these policies—in child and maternal mortality, in life expectancy, and in brain drain.” (E. Eggert)

Apparently the Republicans desire the leaving of all red state occupants who don’t agree with their policies, leaving their states unable to support themselves, at least as they had formerly.

I wonder if they will run to the federal government for help when it all comes tumbling down.

There is a new plank in Republican campaign platforms: if we can’t tolerate the world as it is, we will create our own. Since Democrat counties now account for 70% of the countries GDP (see here), this means banana republic status for states like Texas and Florida, without the benefit of bananas. They will become just like the people they despise: the poor, the jobless, those destroyed by lack of medical treatments, etc.

“We dismiss the talk of national divorce at our peril. This partitioning — the creation of a nation within a nation as Brownstein calls it — is happening and happening far faster than most of us realize. That GOP nation represents a large but still distinct minority in this country, but it maintains outsized political power due to the two fatal flaws of our constitutional system — too many veto points for the minority and the bias of property (read land) over people. As our own history has shown, partition is seemingly always the ultimate deadly expression of states’ rights. Together, they portend a long road back for America, assuming we make it at all.” (E. Eggert)

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.