THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 155 May 28 - June 3, 2001
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May 28, 2001
I confess I am doing nothing for Memorial Day. Roberta remains in bed with the summer crud. Niven is having an afternoon party and I'll go to it largely because I have promised to give some surplus books to people who are also going. I suppose I'll talk about politics, but that's hardly doing anything constructive.
We sleep easily at night because rough men stand ready to do violence to those who disturb our peace. -- George Orwell
But we soon forget that.
I also note that a nation with a trillion dollar budget cannot extend a few hundred million in veterans benefits to the survivors of the Philippine Militia who were called into US Service in Word War II. Precisely why they were not included in the benefits given to the Philippine nationals who enlisted in the US Regular Army or the Philippine Scouts is lost in history, and of course like the French resistance there are more guerilla heroes than ever fired a shot at the enemy, but that beggars the fact that there were genuine heroes, who fought for their country but were also called into US service. There may at one time have been a reason to honor the regulars and Scouts over the militia but that time is long gone. For heaven's sake, we can afford to be generous.
Niven's party was all right. I made sure to swim and do the hot tub and tell Niven how great it all was...
|This week:||Tuesday, May
I see the courts have decided that a monument with the Ten Commandments on it is a violation of the provision that Congress shall not disestablish the established churches of the states: that is certainly what the Framers thought the First Amendment did, forbid the Congress from forcing an Established Religion on the States, and forbidding Congress from disestablishing the Established Churches in seven of the thirteen colonies. Over time they all disestablished their churches on their own, but if there is any single item that should be left to the states it is religion. Established atheism or established polytheism, which seem to be what the Courts prefer, is a thorough violation of the founding principles of a Federal Republic.
Of course the Republic is pretty well gone anyway. We continue overseas adventures and other Imperial activities, while consolidating Imperial rule from Washington, and it's pretty clear that's what the people want. The Tax Cut is the key: if we cannot prevent the national government from absorbing -- and spending, for it they have it they will spend it -- revenues comparable to the extraordinary levels we raised taxes to in order to win World War II, then we cannot prevent the consolidation of everything in Washington.
As to the argument that we can't have a tax cut (beyond the token measure just enacted, and even that has the Imperialists screaming in fury) because we need to pay off the national debt, poppycock: it wouldn't take a heck of a lot of chopping at useless national programs to retire the debt, and it doesn't matter anyway: if the money goes to Washington there will always be high priority matters that require it to be spent. Depend upon it, the tax eaters will always find ways to eat taxes. The only way to kill a monster that size is to starve it, but since the monster doles out pittances back to us, we find it better that everyone plunders everyone than that no one plunders anyone. That is what is really happening.
Take education: would you like the federal government to do more for education? How? By throwing more money into a system that has got worse every year since we started what used to be known as Federal Aid to Education (and there are few of us who remember that any Federal Aid to Education used to be opposed on principle by a majority on both sides of the aisle in Congress)...
Throwing money from Washington at education has done little to nothing to improve education.
But there is something Washington could do, and I will tell you what it is.
The President, if he wants to be the great educator, should go to the District of Columbia Committee of Congress and say "Give me the Washington School system and the money that is to be spent on it plus a bit more. Give it to me in fee simple, absolute control for my DC Education Czar. In return I will support every damn pork bill for your home districts that you can manage to get your party managers to agree to."
Then turn the DC education system into a shining example, something the nation can be proud of and the states will want to emulate. Will that be difficult? Yes, but far less difficult than doing it for the nation from far away.
If it requires turning out half the teachers and 3/4 of the administrators on half to full pay -- take your money and GO AWAY -- then do it. Tell the education establishment in the District that "You will lead, follow, or get out of the way. We will no longer tolerate failure. We do not believe the problem is the kids, the problem is you, and if we have to replace you with officers and non-coms from the Washington garrison we will do that. If you do your job we will reward you. If you cannot do the job, lead, follow, or get out of the way."
That is Constitutional. And that would work. And if we had good schools in the District then the rest of the nation would see how it is done.
That is not what we will do, of course. What we will do is reward failure, give even more to the establishment that has reduced us to a nation half illiterate, and say we are helping.
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence, but in the case of the schools, after this many years of clear evidence that what we are doing is producing lots and lots of people fit to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, can we be THAT incompetent?
Enough. I have to work. Enjoy the new education bill. It will send even more money to those who caused the problems.
Welcome to Imperial America.
1700: More wonderful news. Seven justices of the Supreme Court now believe the Imperium has the right to set rules for a professional golf tournament. Understand, I have no opinion on whether the rule that allowed this chap to ride in a cart while everyone else had to walk was a good or a bad rule: what is clear is that even the smallest details of life do not escape the National Government.
Meanwhile, the Governor of California is suing the Federal Government to get the Feds to impose price controls on electricity. Having spent the state surplus (paid by everyone) to keep the rates from going up for some, and the rolling Greyouts continue, we will now go to court. California forced the local companies to sell their generating capability to outsiders; now California complains that these companies are beyond their reach. Insanity? Incompetence? Idiocy? No, politics as usual.
"Always remember that democracy is a fleeting thing and never lasts long. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide." John Adams
THE FOLLOWING IS AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF A HOAX. Read all of this before acting:
Dear Friends, I am posting this because if you have recently exchanged email with me, or with others on this board who may have exchanged email with me, you may have a virus in your computer. My virus detection software did not stop this one, possibly because the virus does not activate until June 1. So we have a day or two to prevent this from doing any harm.
It comes in with email, and rides out with email. So if you have it, you must notify your correspondents. You may have given it to them. (That is what happened to me. It came in with my email. I may have sent it out to you.) NOTE WELL. This was not an attachment I opened. Just a regular old email. Donít assume you are safe. Please check your files.
Steps to take. First, search your computer for a file named sulfnbk.exe
Click on Start. Then Click on Find.(or search) In the files, folder box, type in sulfnbk.exe Hit enter. Your computer will look for it. If it finds it, then FIRST: Note when the file was created (modified) to discover when you caught the virus. Everyone you emailed on or after that date might have it. Click on the file ONCE to highlight it. DO NOT OPEN IT. Then click on File. Click on Send to Recycle. Go to your recycle bin. Dump it. Now notify everyone you have emailed since you received the virus.
NOTE that this is a hoax; the "warning" is the virus since once you delete the file, which is a needed file in Windows 98, you will have to go to some trouble to get it back. IF YOU GET THIS 'WARNING' do NOT act on it.
This from Ed Hume on modern management methods:
The problem here is that it's no longer a joke: the Dilbert management system seems to have become a part of America. The notion that employees are assets to a company, and that there ought to be loyalty to employees -- that someone who has spent a good part of his life in faithful service deserves more consideration than does a stockholder -- is far gone in our modern society with its bottom line mentality.
Certainly unrestricted bottom line capitalism is far more efficient than the old semi-feudal arrangements that corporations inherited from the days when a firm had an owner, who might be a Scrooge but might not be. If efficient employment of capital is the goal, we are moving toward achieving it. Long and faithful service? Indeed. What have you done for me lately.
And the Earthlink mail server ceased to work a few minutes ago. I am assuming that this is temporary. If not I am going to have to find another way to send mail. Oh Joy.
If it's still this way after breakfast, I'll have to see how to send mail through my own web site. It's stupid that I don't know how to do that.
10:30 Earthlink mail server still can't be reached. That means all mail to me at Earthlink.net won't get here, and since all my mail goes OUT through that server, nothing I have replied to for about an hour will go out. One presumes that's not all that important, and they'll get it fixed, but it's still a pain. We begin to expect our toys to work.
And of course as I was trying to find out how to send mail through Pair, the Earthlink mail server came back on as mysteriously as it had died. So all is well.
May 31, 2001
I am about to go upstairs to work on Mamelukes, the next book in the Janissaries series. Later.
There is much mail.
More on DSL: PacBell sent me a packet of information on how great it is that I have it. Of course I don't have it. I wonder if there is anyone above a moron working in that company?
Column Time and Fiction Time
Column Time and Fiction Time. I see they managed to solve the problem of the poor children in Idaho by making it a crime not to take government services. It's for the kids.
The conflict between compulsory services to help children and the rights of citizens is one that needs exploring. In the early days of the Republic, neighbors and local churches would have helped; as Tocqueville noted, much of what was done by government in Europe was done by voluntary associations in America, making for non-uniform conditions; but then freedom almost by definition is non-uniform in results.
It's a complex matter. For some of us who grew up in the Depression 30's the kids having to live in fairly primitive conditions is not quite as startling as it is for the Idaho people who moved there from Beverly Hills and San Diego.
At least Washington didn't send in the Hostage Rescue Team to solve the problem. A sane local sheriff seems to have brought the situation to an end. Now to prosecute the mother, put down the dogs, and get the kids into foster homes, preferably in inner cities where the environment is so much better for them than the wilderness. I'm sure everyone will be better off that way.
The mother's lawyer says as far as he can see her only crime is being poor. Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weil looked into that one; see the modern opera Mahagony for what happens when you run out of money. Or am I being unduly cynical?
See also volume II of Tocqueville for the end results of some very good intentions. At least, unlike in Waco, everyone really did mean well, and the outcome was not a pillar of fire on a windy day with the Fire Department held up a mile away.
If I sound ambiguous it is because I am. No one wants to see kids neglected. On the other hand, they seem to have had several acres of land and hunting weapons, and somehow to have fed a large number of dogs. At what point should the awful majesty of the law be invoked? But I don't live there, and I don't really know the conditions. In California everyone would be in compulsory therapy by now including the sheriff...
I will get up the new week after I do some writing. I hope. Writing can use up a lot of energy.