Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Why does Louis Farrakhan think George Bush ordered the levies in New Orleans bombed? Is he really serious about that accusation? If he is, he's an idiot.
Why does George Bush think throwing billions of dollars at reconstruction efforts along the Gulf Coast will be an effective way to rebuild that area? Isn't he just buying support from people who dislike him? Did throwing billions of dollars at farm subsidies increase the output of food? Why does this Republican insist on spending like a Democrat?
Is there any real reason why the seat backs on airplane flights need to be in an upright position for takeoffs and landings? I don't see it. How will a couple inches make a difference. I suspect the real reason for putting those seats up is to give some power and control to the flight attendants and has nothing to do with safety.
Why do some people talk on their cell phones while going through a checkout line at the grocery store? Can't they see how downright rude that is?
Why does anyone think the government is good at doing anything? Tell me one thing the government does better than anyone else. Perhaps the military is the lone exception.
Why is marijuana still illegal and why do we put people who smoke it in jail?
Why do we believe throwing money at our school system will enhance education? Haven't we continually increased spending on schools for decades while test scores have continued to go down? Have we just not thrown enough money that way yet?
If we divvied up all the assets in the United States between every man, woman and child in the country, don't you think that within 2 years all the formerly rich people would be rich again and all the formerly poor people would be poor again? It's an attitude.
Why do I ask rhetorical questions on an internet blog? Do I think I will get an answer from above or something?
Why am I always sleepiest on weekday mornings around 6:30 AM when I need to be getting up?
Why is youth wasted on the young? I'm older and wiser now but I don't have the energy anymore, so what's the point?
Why is the press so liberal these days? Is there a profit to be made from liberalism? I can't see it but there must be some reason for it.
Who said, "If you're not a liberal at age 18, you have no heart. But if you're not conservative by age 30, you have no brain."? Samuel Clemens. Wise man.
Are we there yet? Have we left yet? Where is it we are going?
Where do we go from here, now that all of the children have grown up? Alan Parsons Project.
Why do journalists forget to answer the basic who,what,where,when,why,how questions and instead inject their own opinions into the dialogue?
Why did I buy 3Com stock on it's way down? Why didn't I get in on the Google IPO? When will Sirius make me rich? How about Oracle?
Will I learn the meaning of it all when I die? Can I have a clue now?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to witness it, did it really happen?
If poor people inherit a lot of money, will they still be poor? If a rich person gives away all of his money, is he still rich?
If The Beatles got back together for a reunion tour, would anyone pay to listen to them?
If I had moved to San Diego instead of Orlando after my Navy stint, would I be a liberal today?
If the federal government closed down for one week, would anyone besides the media and the lobbyists notice?
If people hate the IRS, why can't we abolish it and replace it with a sales tax?
Is there a reason why we randomly search old ladies and children at airports instead of middle age muslim men? Why do we pick on old people?
Can we say we have a national border when we don't stop people from crossing illegally? Why should we be giving a driver license to an illegal alien? Shouldn't we be giving him a bill and sending him back to his home country?
What on earth is the outrage about having a person show a valid photo ID when voting? You give up a driver license when you rent time on a pool table for crying out loud! How does it discriminate against the poor by asking for a valid photo ID? I don't see it and furthermore, I think people who claim this is racism are nothing more than idiots!
Boy, was Katrina a racist hurricane or what? Damn bitch! Rita was a lot more politically correct.
If I run out of questions, who will pick up the slack?
So many questions, so little time.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Ignorance vs Stupidity
The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed.
A poor ability to understand or to profit from experience (antonym: intelligence)
There is a big difference in the meaning of these two words, however we frequently use them interchangeably. There is no inherent shame in being ignorant about a subject, ignorance is a state of mind that can be overcome. You can become more educated and increase your knowledge to turn ignorance into intelligence. Stupidity, however, is not necessarily a condition that education can alleviate. If you have a poor ability to understand experience, you will have a hard time educating yourself to become intelligent. Stupidity is also exhibited when someone, who you know is intelligent, refuses to admit ignorance and instead attempts to explain away or rationalize something stupid.
To say, "I don't know, I am not educated on that subject" is a valid, proper response to a question on a subject which someone knows nothing or very little about. That is an acceptable answer. But how often do we hear that answer? Not often enough I believe. Usually the response we get is off the subject or an attack on someone else's understanding, or their very character, or mumbo-jumbo trying to make it seem like the person knows what he/she is talking about when what they are really doing is selfishly putting forth their agenda. This is stupidity.
That said, there is shame to be laid at the feet of anyone who uses ignorance as an excuse for not performing a function that they should have done. Witness the Katrina disaster and think about whose responsibility it was to get relief efforts into action. It is not the federal government. All disaster preparations are local efforts and the feds get involved only when asked by the state. I'm not letting the federal agencies off the hook here, their response was painfully slow even when they were requested, but the thrust of all of these relief efforts begin at the local level.
I think the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, and the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, should shoulder much of the blame of the slow and inadequate response to this disaster. I also believe the people who stayed in New Orleans instead of evacuating deserve a good bit of the blame themselves. There was an article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune in July that stated from the mayor and Red Cross perspective that in the event of a major hurricane, if you don't evacuate and choose to stay, you are on your own. New Orleans had no plan to handle evacuation of the city's large population without automobiles. And apparently thinking outside the box was not an issue either. The entire fleet of city buses and school buses are under water and were never used to help take stranded folks out of harm's way once the hurricane hit. Now they are useless. This is stupidity.
Governor Blanco has said that federal help was offered but she wanted to have 24 hours to think the situation over before deciding if she wanted that help. Mayor Nagin obviously had a handful to deal with but his major contribution on air seemed to be swearing at the press that there was no federal help and inferring that the CIA may likely come and shut his mouth permanently. Perhaps he would have been better served to scream at his governor instead. More stupidity.
These elected officials are not ignorant. They have the knowledge and the ability to process and understand the situations. Yet in the time of crisis they chose to pass the blame for their lack of preparation and lack of decision making skills on to the federal government. This is stupidity.
The federal agencies, Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, have their share of stupidity also. I heard Michael Chertoff, director of DHS, say that there was no way anyone could have planned for a hurricane and a levee breaking at the same time. This is not ignorance! This is high stupidity! You have to be brain dead to think a major hurricane in New Orleans would not have a devestating effect on a city that lies below sea level and is dependent on the levees holding back the water. When you look up at the water level above your head around the city, you have to think of a flood if a hurricane would hit. Not to realize this is stupidity.
Now a lot of the people who stayed in New Orleans fall into the ignorance category; the elderly, the infirm, the children. Most of these people probably were not fully aware of the impending potential disaster. But they were, in most cases, cared for by people who are aware of the situation and should be reacting properly. If the proper reaction was not forthcoming to care for the ignorant, the caregivers for these folks acted stupidly. People need to take responsibility for their decisions, for their actions and for their lack of actions. Not doing so is pure stupidity.
I also want to touch on the looting and the shooting and the violence. Stealing food is one thing. Stealing televisions is quite another matter. Celine Dion's pathetic attempt to explain away this behavior by saying they probably never touched nice things in their whole life, let them touch these things, is not an excuse. Suggesting that perhaps they wanted to barter the television for food is not ignorance. That is stupid.
There is plenty of blame to go around with Katrina. That is not what is needed during a crisis. There is plenty of time for name calling after the situation is under control. Ignorance during a crisis is not a horrible thing unless one chooses to remain ignorant and "ignore" the real world situations around you. You can erase ignorance and become intelligent. There can be no excuse for stupidity on the part of officials tasked with leading. They have access to all relevant knowledge and they are presumably bright enough to be performing the functions of their elected or appointed positions. Stupidity from a leader should not be tolerated.
On the edges of this disaster coverage lie the predators waiting and sniping whenever possible to pursue their own personal agendas. I mean the folks like Carol Mosley Braun, former Senator from Illinois, blaming the slow response to the disaster on racism. Or the rapper, Kanye West, who said, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. If you see a white family, they're looking for food. George Bush doesn't care about black people." So is he saying that George Bush is the media? How does he know that Bush doesn't care about black people? Maybe Kanye really is ignorant and not stupid.
These people are not helping the situation by making ridiculous statements that only serve to inflame people who agree or disagree with them. They are simply stirring the pot and getting themselves in the news to further their personal agendas. This is stupidity!
Or how about the folks on the Democratic Underground? Almost as soon as the hurricane hit, there were posts on DU claiming that George Bush blew up the levees on purpose because Katrina only brushed the city and he needed a major crisis to allow him to become more popular or something. Now democraticunderground.com is obviously a left-wing web forum for liberals to spout their hate of Republicans and especially George Bush. But spewing outrageous claims of criminal behavior that are obviously false does not help anyone. Most of these people are not ignorant either. They are aware of the facts, however their hatred for one man in particular, causes them to constantly exhibit their stupidity.
German media went so far as to blame Katrina on George Bush for not signing the Kyoto Treaty. They forget to ever mention that the treaty was voted upon and soundly beaten 99-0 by the Senate during Bill Clinton's presidency. They are not ignorant of this fact but they are stupid for ignoring it.
I wish we could see an increase in the number of public officials, and anyone in the news actually, that aren't afraid to say "I don't know." This would show intelligence. Much more so than to bullshit your way through an answer or to speak the party line or to offer possible explanations instead of the facts. Damn, if you don't know, just say so! Then go find out.
A wise man once said, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."
Just my nickel.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
NO Price Controls!
Nobody likes high gas prices but setting artificial prices for a heavily demanded product will only hurt the supply/demand cycle, not help it. I remember the price controls President Carter imposed in 1979. They didn't work. They will not work now or ever. The only thing imposing limits on gas prices will do is make some people feel like they've done a good deed. They are not good deeds.
We live in a capitalistic economy. There is no other economic system in mankind's history that works any better than capitalism. The economic laws of supply and demand are natural laws and messing with prices will only upset this natural order. There is a shortage of gas right now for various reasons, not the least of which is a distribution problem, simply getting the existing supply to where it is needs to go. Price controls will not help distribute this gas any faster, in fact, they will more likely create even more shortages.
I understand the reasons why people and politicians think setting limits on how much a business can charge for an item will help the situation. When prices go up very quickly, people's pocketbooks feel the pinch. The natural reaction for many is to limit the top price, to keep the hurt of high prices away for awhile. But the supply and demand equation is something akin to physics, it has its natural laws and any outside tinkering with these laws will cause ripple effects elsewhere in the supply/demand chain. It is best left alone to work itself out by its own devices.
Sure higher prices for gas will be painful but it is a temporary pain. The market works. Suppliers will boost supplies as prices increase and demanders will lust for less as these prices increase. A stasis will be achieved if we let the system work. If there is too much product relative to the demand the prices will fall and/or the demand will fall. If there is not enough demand for the product, the prices will increase and/or the supply will increase. It is simple Economics 101. It is also common sense.
Government is not responsible for private business supply and demand cycles. Government is not there to cater to our every need. Government governs best that governs least. Don't know who said that but it is so very true. And government has no business with the supply/demand cycle. except, perhaps, to release some gas from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves which are there for emergency situations only. I would call this disaster an emergency and agree that the SPR should be used in this sutuation.
But had we listened to the eloquent Richard Schumer, Senator from New York, who has been long calling for the president to release the reserves to help lessen the increasing prices of gas, we would now be out of reserve gas and none would be available for this emergency. Stupid is as stupid does.
I truly think that most Americans are smart enough to know that economics, the normal supply and demand process of capitalism, is not something the government should be manipulating. There is no right to cheap gas. It is the fringe groups or the extremists that scream loudly to make their idiotic demands heard while most people simply adjust their habits to deal with the situation at hand. Like I said, stupid is as stupid does.
Hopefully the government will resist the urge to feel good and let things play out on their own. If they really want to help the gas price situation, what they should do is reduce the restrictions on environmental regulations. My hat's off to the EPA yesterday for doing just that, temporarily removing environmental regulations to allow the supply chain to work faster. Considering all the different blends of gasoline in this country, blends demanded by environmental laws about air emissions, it is a wonder we haven't had a shortage before now. There is no sane reason why different parts of the country need different blends of gas. If it were all the same blend, there would be less strain on our refineries and distribution systems in the first place and emergency situations would be easier to deal with.
Get the governments out of supply and demand equations. Let the sytem work. Do not ever bow to public pressure to fix prices. Popular choices are not what this government's about. Capitalism does not need any government's assistance. Capitalism needs to be left alone. If you want to spend less on gas, drive less, drive a motorcycle or a smaller car or make some other change in your habits, but do not allow government to control prices. That is a road to ruin.