Friday, June 2, 2017

Fighting back is balance.

Sometimes you have to take a side just to get back to balance.

The Paris Climate Accords are important.  So, I'm fighting back.

Someone posted this article from Breitbart and I decided to take it down.

http://www.breitbart.com/economics/2017/05/31/every-bad-thing-avoided-rejecting-paris-climate-accords/

I decided nothing less than a point by point take down would do and I discovered a thing or two in the process.

Point by point.  
From the article: "It’s likely that it was already acting as a drag on the U.S. economy. After President Barack Obama unofficially committed the U.S. to the Paris agreement, businesses began preparing for its impact. Knowing that it would diminish U.S. economic output, businesses invested less and directed more investment toward less-productive technology to meet the climate deal’s mandates. Banks and financiers withdrew capital from sectors expected to suffer under the climate deal and pushed it toward those expected to benefit. A classic example of regulation-driven malinvestment."

What businesses invested what money where? That's a really vague accusation with no evidence to back it up.  Which companies lost shares and why? How do you attribute this directly to these accords? The Accords were adopted 12 December 2015. The DOW was at 17, 128 on December 18th. As of today it is 21, 201. The economy looks fine. All of this is rhetoric completely lacking any evidence. If you discount peer-reviewed scientific studies about climate change, you must be kidding me that you believe this. No review, no evidence, nothing of any substance at all.  

Even the S&P energy index was at 438.48 at December 18th 2015. It currently sits at 476.57.  Probably not the growth the energy CEO's wanted, but not dead, and still growing. 

From the article: "To get the rest of the way, the U.S. would have to make major investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner motor vehicles. This likely explains why the Paris climate deal was so popular with many in Silicon Valley and many on Wall Street. It promised a bonanza of spending and investment, most likely subsidized by taxpayers, in technologies that wouldn’t otherwise be attractive. It was practically calling out for making self-driving, solar powered cars mandatory."

About that money invested in technologies that would not otherwise be attractive.  What technologies?  How would those technologies look if it were subsidized to the point fossil fuels are and historically have been? What specific regulation would make that self-driving, solar car mandatory?
From the article Point 1: "Goodbye to ‘American Last.’ The Paris agreement was basically an attempt to halt climate change on the honor system. Its only legal requirements were for signatories to announce goals and report progress, with no international enforcement mechanism. As a result, it was likely that the United States and wealthy European nations would have adopted and implemented severe climate change rules while many of the world’s governments would avoid doing anything that would slow their own economies. The agreement basically made the U.S. economy and Europe’s strongest economies sacrificial lambs to the cause of climate change."
The other countries are already moving on this.
 http://www.iflscience.com/environment/china-home-worlds-largest-floating-solar-power-plant/ 

The agreement was a political mechanism for encouraging better behavior.

From the article Point 2: "Industrial Carnage. The regulations necessary to implement the Paris agreement would have cost the U.S. industrial sector 1.1 million jobs, according to a study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These job losses would center in cement, iron and steel, and petroleum refining. Industrial output would decline sharply."

This is where things got interesting. I decided to look up that study by the Chamber of Commerce. It was completed by Steven Tule. 

Steven Tule is the vp for climate change and technology for the US Chamber of commerce institute for 21st century energy.

His bio is at www.energyxxi.org.
Well, what the hell is EnergyXXI? Google energyxxi.com

It's an energy company in Houston specializing in oil and natural gas development.  You think that's a coincidence?  Maybe the bought both .com and .org at the same time? 

I looked it up and the domain registrar for energyxxi.org is www.markmonitor.com which is a company that specializes in, and I quote "Protecting brands in the digital world" 

A marketing firm. This isn't a government website. It is a cover for oil and gas interests. That study is worse than useless, it is actively biased to favor those oil and gas interests.

I'm guessing this study never underwent a peer review process. 

Point three references the same bullshit and biased Chamber of Commerce study and should be ignored exactly as much as point two. No proof.

From the article Point 4: Smashing Small Businesses, Helping Big Business. Big businesses in America strongly backed the Paris climate deal. In fact, the backers of the climate deal reads like a “who’s who” of big American businesses: Apple, General Electric, Intel, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, General Mills, Walmart, DuPont, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson. These business giants can more easily cope with costly regulations than their smaller competitors and many would, in fact, find business opportunities from the changes required. But smaller businesses and traditional start-ups would likely be hurt by the increased costs of compliance and rising energy costs."
This essentially tells you that the major representatives of many other industries, retail, technology, banking and investment, chimicals, cereal and agriculture think the U.S. should stay in the agreement.
All those other industries think it is a bad idea to pull out. One industry thinks it is a good idea to pull out. That one industry who just so happens to be funding all these studies telling you how bad the agreement is.  

Point five actually cites a Heritage Foundation study.  A conservative think tank funded by the Koch brothers who are heavily invested in fossil fuel production?  Again, you get this study peer-reviewed by competing interests, just like the climate change science papers that are denied by these think-tanks, and I'll listen. Until then, shove your Heritage Foundation in the garbage where it belongs.

All of the evidence points one direction. This is the fossil fuel industry fighting for it's life in the face of opposition.  They are directly behind all of this. The last time we let the representatives of the fossil fuel industry take charge of our government, we went to Iraq for no reason and destroyed the country. Now, we have ISIS as a direct result of that era.

If you deny climate change and think we should be out of the Accords because of this crap, your whole belief is built on a foundation of lies.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Paris Climate Accords

I want to talk to my conservative friends today. Especially Trump supporters. I want to talk about Virtue. 

There is an old fable that speaks directly to the virtue that I want to address and it is about ants and a grasshopper. I bet you remember it.

All during the spring and summer, the ants are busily working for the coming winter and the grasshopper plays and sings the whole while. Neither understands why the other side acts the way they do. In the end, winter comes and the grasshopper is in trouble.

The lesson Aesop was trying to convey is that you should prepare for the bad times while you are in the good times. This is about as conservative a virtue as you can find, I think. I mean, isn't that how rich people get rich? They treat money as scarce even when it isn't. Warren Buffett famously eats McDonalds every morning and only treats himself to the extra patties if the market is up.  That's the best way to build wealth.  Treat the resource as scarce even in times of plenty.

This is where we are with the environment.  It seems like times of plenty, but we know winter is coming. We cannot treat our environment as though there will always be plenty of reserve for our pollution and our consumption. We need to be virtuous stewards of our resources. Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords is the move of a grasshopper who cannot believe that winter will ever come.  Even if it doesn't, which I believe it will, shouldn't we be growing our reserves wisely instead of consuming it all now?

Now, more than ever, we need our virtue at the forefront. Let our leaders know we expect them to be virtuous if they want to lead us. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Plan.

There is an idea.

How do we make it real?

First, I say we for a reason. I can't do it.  Nothing this big is within the ability of one man.

This takes people. But, I can help with a plan.

First, the idea needs to get out there. So, copy and paste, tweet, Insta, heck... Maybe even talk to somebody. Get the idea out in the world where people can say how much it sucks and we can make it better.

How many views does it need? I don't know. A million? A few thousand?

The more the better. So, if the idea seems good, share it.

Once there is enough momentum behind the idea, once people are aware, it will be time for action.

I don't think it would be wise to just start the party, but I could be wrong. I think the first step would be to form a PAC. The Center Party PAC.

The idea is to get money out of politics, but it won't be easy and it won't be cheap. The money is already in there and we would have to compete. The only way to do it with any integrity is like Bernie Sanders did, with lots of small contributors. So, start a PAC and maybe a GoFundMe or Kickstarter.

If we were to get that far, I think it would be fair to start talking about hiring staff. Again, in keeping with the ideals of the party, staff salaries should be linked to a metric, some percentage of median or minimum wage in the country so that the staff of the party would have incentive to raise the median wage. I think that would be a great way to set congressional salaries too, but I digress.

We have a PAC, we have a staff, we have a party.

But, if we don't share, it doesn't work. Talk to your friends. Talk to your enemies and make them your friends.

Share.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A new party

It has become apparent that the dominant political parties in the United States no longer accurately represent the American people. The fringe elements of both parties have moved further into opposition with each other in a battle to move the center. The parties exist more to serve their own interests and frequently do so by dividing the populace against each other.

This is in neither the best interest nor the character of the American people.

While the fringe elements work to propagate the established system in order to benefit a small number of people, the larger body of the population is neglected and treated as a resource to be accumulated with the aim of defeating the other party.

It is time to take back the center.

It is time to form a political party based on principle instead of charisma. It is time to represent the idea of mutual self-interest and compromise for the greater good.

In order to ensure that the party continues to serve the populace, instead of the other way around, there will be certain principles which candidates must adhere to or they will forfeit the right to any assistance, financial or logistical, by the party apparatus.

These principles would be as follows.

1. Individuals should be as unencumbered by government burden and is reasonably practicable. Our freedom to live as we choose is paramount.

2. Our environment is our home and must be protected as such. What damage is done to the environment spreads out as a burden to each citizen. Those who cause this burden, must be made accountable for it.

3. Each citizen should be, as much as possible, equally responsible for a part of the burden of government. If able to provide to the the common good, they should. If they do not, and they are able, they should benefit less.

4. There can be no provision for the elevation of one religion over any other religion.  All religions are equal with respect to the government.

5. We do not want a ruling class. Therefore, all candidates endorsed by this party will agree to term limits within and outside of the party. After serving a second term in an elected office, within the party or within the government, the candidate must leave that position. They may take up a new position in the government or party.

6. Regardless of identity (gender, religion, sexual identity, political affiliation) all citizens are equal with respect to the government and the law. As individuals, we will strive to be as respectful of the wishes and beliefs of other individuals as possible.

7. The United States military should adopt a primarily defensive posture unless actively attacked by a nation state or multi-national organization. Our interests abroad should first be protected economically and with diplomacy. The use of the military should always be a carefully considered last resort.

8. Smaller, less intrusive government is always better when it can maintain efficiency.

9. Government districts should accurately reflect the demographics of the population.

10. The party itself will not require candidates to declare a position on inherently divisive issues like abortion or gun control. The idea is to unify as many people as possible. Each candidate will have to decide on their own how they will deal with those issues. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Three-point plan for a better world.

It won't fix everything, but I think it would help.

Here it is, my long awaited three-point plan to improve the world.

Point One:
If you want to be a leader, you should work hard to be worthy of a leadership role. You, not a welfare recipient, should be held to a higher standard. Therefore, I propose that all elected officials be subject to a new law stating that they will be immediately removed from office for a felony conviction. If you think there are too many laws punishable as a felony, get rid of them. If you are a felon, you don't get to hold office. And, if you are found in breach of public trust (you misused public funds for personal gain, if you are fraudulent in your dealings as a government representative, if you knowingly lie to the public for personal or political gain, you are charged with a felony. Any conviction for a felony committed while in office is subject to a mandatory minimum three year sentence in the maximum security federal penitentiary nearest to their home of record. You are elected as a leader, act like one.

Point Two:
When you agree to a position as a government regulator of a business or industry, you agree to never work for that industry after your employment as a regulator of same. If you were a member of the industry being regulated, you are prohibited from occupying a position as a regulator of that industry. I understand that the use of industry people aids in understanding of the industry and aids in regulation. The point of a regulator isn't to make the industry easier, it is to protect the public interest.

Point Three:
The amount of inheritance allowable to any individual will be set to a maximum of fifty years worth of the minimum wage at a forty-hour work week. With great wealth comes increased political power. If you are unable to increase your own wealth and influence with a fifty year head start, you probably are not suited to exert that influence. If you can't win the hundred yard dash with a fifty yard head start, you don't get to go to the Olympics. If you want to increase the allowable inheritance, increase the minimum wage. Otherwise, donate the money to your favorite charitable organization.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

PTSD

I have thought of writing this for a while now.

In the interest of finding balance, I think it is important to attempt to gain a better understanding.  This is especially important in areas where there exists a social stigma that would predispose a person to forming certain opinions and judgements.  This is one of those issues.

I had the privilege to come upon a written transcript of a wonderful talk given several years back by a gentleman named Ralph Wexler.  He was a psychologist for the VA for 20 years.  In it he used a wonderful analogy that I would like to share because it has positively informed my practice as an ED nurse for many years now.  Imagine you are sitting in one of those fancy and yet nondescript hotel ballrooms listening to a man at a podium.

Think about it this way.  You are sitting here, in this ballroom, and suddenly a big Easter Island statue sized face looms out of one of the walls with its mouth gaping at you. At that moment, you are faced with a decision.  Either, you are really seeing this, and everything you thought you knew about the world was wrong, or you are seeing something that isn't real and you are crazy.  This is such a monumental, earth shattering, paradigm shifting thing that you cannot ignore it.  If decide you are crazy, you can no longer trust anything else in this world that you think is real.  Everything is questionable now.  If you are crazy, your mind can't be trusted to tell you anything related to the truth and you are lost and adrift now.  Forever uncertain and afraid.

If you decide you aren't crazy, you have just learned something about the world and subsequently your world has changed.  Your behavior will change accordingly.  If you accept that walls can harbor huge faces with mouths large enough to eat you, you probably won't hang out much near walls.  In a narrow corridor you might just take the very middle and keep a close eye on the walls on either side in case one of them starts looking hungry.  To people who have never seen the faces, and don't believe they are real...not really real anyway, your behavior seems abnormal.  What's wrong with that guy, he's such an asshole.  I was walking down the hall and he was just taking up the whole hall.  He even pushed me out of the way and wasn't even really looking at me.  What an asshole!

Of course, if you know about those faces, his behavior makes total sense.

But you don't.

So, don't think of PTSD as some disease that deserves pity or sympathy.  This is a person who is aware of the world in a way that you aren't.

Each of us walks around every day in a state of some degree of illusion.  We often think and act in ways that are totally irrational if you think about them too long.  We routinely pilot tons of steel at high speeds and in close quarters with other people of questionable training and maturity.  We frequently eat and drink things that we know are unhealthy and perhaps even mind altering with little regard to our personal well being or safety.  We do this because we only understand the danger and our own mortality on an academic level. There is a big difference between understanding that death and destruction exits and having death itself come up and give you a big kiss on the lips.

Some people live in a world where trash cans explode and kill all of your friends.

Some people live in a world where the people you most trust and depend on rape and torture you.

Some people live in a world where people of a certain ethnicity or race actually are trying to harm and kill them.

Each of these people will act accordingly, often rationally and perfectly logically if you understand what their life is like.

"Normal" people, who live under many benign and helpful constraints, see these behaviors and label them a disorder.  That does a disservice to both them and us.  We lose out understanding and they become something less of a person who is fit for our pity and our sympathy, but often not our understanding.

If you value that person, don't pity them.  Try to understand them.  Often they will explain it if you let them. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The debate

In the interests of making it easier to read for all of the masochists out there that might like to see the full conversation, I am offering this easy organizational post.

It all started with me stating on Facebook that I thought we should take in Syrian Refugees.  My friend vehemently opposed this idea.  He has 20 years experience in the military and is currently an officer in the armed forces.  He has proven himself in the past to have an agile mind.  I figured this would be an interesting opportunity to see where my own beliefs and arguments might fall short.  If my ideas are not good enough to survive an encounter with a disparate belief, they need to be either refined or abandoned.  This process is ongoing.

So, here is my original post.

Post

Here is John's response.

Post 2

Here is my rebuttal.

Post 3

Here is John's return.

Post 4.

At this stage, I am not sure if there is any value in my responding or continuing the argument.  I think the ideology is pretty clear on both sides and the various strengths and weakness of the ideas are present.  Anything further than this threatens to devolve into a less illuminating process.  I leave off with my opposition having the last word in an attempt to remove all strains of bias due to home field advantage.  My hope is that anyone who reads this can get a better understanding of the positions taken by either side and use that understanding to build their own, more balanced opinion.