Wednesday, March 23, 2016

United we stand, Divided we Fall

Another selfish act in Brussels was committed yesterday when 34 people were killed in the Brussels airport and main train station yesterday. In response to this there have been talks about further restricting the ability of Europeans to travel, and other restrictions on civil liberties. They claim that this is going to restrict the ability of terrorists to attack Europeans. The media has been using this like they did the actions in Paris to call for the same restrictions on freedom which have started to pop up all over Europe.

The problem is, the only people this is going to help are the very terrorist organizations they claim they are trying to stop. As Wikipedia says,

The el-Bakraoui brothers were known to the Belgian authorities. Unlike other radicalised ISIL adherents, who started with small criminal offences, the two men had a criminal history of more severe crimes. Khalid (born 12 January 1989 in Brussels) was convicted in 2011 for a series of car-jackings and was released from prison in early 2016 after serving most of his sentence. In January 2010, Ibrahim el-Bakraoui (born 9 October 1986 in Brussels) was involved in the attempted robbery of a currency exchange office, where he shot at police with a Kalashnikov rifle.

Meaning that cutting off refugees from Europe and closing down the borders is not going to help anybody. This war is not a war of invasion by people on the ground, this is an ideological war where the weapon is the internet, and the war is primarily in words. It is not exclusively in words of course, given the conflict in Syria and Iraq, but the weapon of the Wahabbis is the weapon of trying to convince people that not all people are important, freedom of speech is blasphemy, and democracy is against the word of Allah. This of course is wrong, if you look at the vast majority of Muslims around the world who want to have peace (though the Wahabbis would probably claim that since they are not of their perverse movement) and that Islam is very compatible with democracy in multiple countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India among others) where over half a million Muslims live in these countries, more than 1/3 of all Muslims worldwide. Most Muslims live in countries like Iran and Egypt which have elections but are not as democratic as the others I mentioned. Only a minority of Muslims in the world live in countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are undemocratic. The calls for closing the border are racist and based off a gross misinterpretation of reality.

Where do we go from here? We need to continue the ideological fight against Wahabbism around the world. We need to grow people to people connections and trade with Muslim majority countries in resources far beyond oil. There is a very unfortunate correlation between Muslim majority countries having a large amount of oil which is demonstrated to be toxic to the economy and political climate of countries given the nature of the market. Middle Eastern countries are where extremism is bred more than any other part of the world, and the dictators of these countries need to fall. The biggest thing we can do now to end this is to reduce our consumption of oil which will starve the dictators of their source of revenue. They will be forced to diversify their economies which will lead to a dispersion of income to all people in the economy. Women will have more jobs available, and opportunity will expand throughout the economy. This will translate into less extremism because people will have futures, and with fewer people living in poverty this is going to reduce the number of people going to terrorist organizations because they will have more to lose. Other countries where terrorism comes from are all poor countries, and by reducing their government's dependence on foreign oil which gives them money to fund their militaries keeping the people from protesting. This is the way to fight terrorism, by cutting off the causes of what drives people to such extreme measures, and by opening up the channels of communication we can have understanding between peoples of the world. We need to build a world with more love and listening as opposed to hatred and closed mindedness.

Our world is one world. What touches one affects us all. The seas that wash us round about. The clouds that cover us. The rains that fall.
From Singing the Living Tradition

Closing the borders on the other hand is the opposite of what we need to do and is only going to make terrorism grow. It is the denial of that reality that we are all part of this world, and our actions affect one another.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

New ranking of best American Presidents

The American Political Science Association released a poll today describing who Presidential scholars think were the greatest president in American history. The question I have is, what are they smoking? How is it that people could as a group place Andrew Jackson, who destroyed the American economy, killed thousands of Native Americans, and messed up our entire foreign policy along with Reagan's complete mishandling of monetary policy (because the division between the executive branch and Federal Reserve wasn't very strong before Clinton) lands both of them above LBJ who signed most of our civil rights legislation and led over a period of excellent monetary and fiscal policy while negotiating a peace treaty with Vietnam which that son of a bitch, pardon my patriotism, Richard Nixon sabotaged? HW Bush's lack of accomplishments (unless if dealing weapons to Central American terrorists counts as an accomplishment) lands him above Obama who has led this country with grace with unprecedented obstruction pushing our social policies forward on numerous fronts. For some reason William Howard Taft has over 50% approval, for reasons unknown to me. John Quincy Adams who was the last President of the Era of Good Feelings also is below Jackson. Missing from the list includes Benjamin Harrison who fought for civil rights to the extent of his ability, Harding who tried to end lynching, and Ulysses S. Grant who oversaw Reconstruction.

Political Scientists need to think more when they rank Presidents, because this list makes absolutely no sense if one were to look at what Presidents actually did. I would expect political scientists would be more likely than normal to take into account the political conditions of the time when ranking Presidents to come up with a ranking of who they really were and what they really did, but apparently I am wrong in thinking that. It is just a rehash of popularity that is similar to what average people with no education of history (because in order to be a good political scientist you have to know history) would select, even if it includes a genocidal maniac who destroyed the economy in the top 10.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Media and Refugees

I read an article from Der Spiegel today which claimed Angela Merkel has gambled away her power with her compassion for refugees. (They do not deserve a link) Only compassionate policies receive this type of hatred from the press and calls for referenda. I never heard people call for a referendum when the US invaded Iraq, when Southern Europe was devastated by austerity (which performed exactly as all economic theory predicts), or to push anti-gay laws in Eastern Europe onto the ballot. Only policies which try to make the world a better place get such attention. The way the media talks about such issues makes it sound like refugees from Syria in Europe or Mexico in the USA are causing all of our problems, when any accurate analysis proves that this is not true, and in fact a majority of Germans approve of these actions. 40% is a majority according to the media when the policy which has 60% approval makes the world a better place.

Europe has the resources to help the refugees from the Middle East, and frankly Europe owes it to the Middle East after standing idly by as religious extremists have destroyed Middle Eastern Culture in the Arab states after colonizing the world, particularly Britain. Germany didn't have colonies in the region, but Germany has the resources (and need for labor) to help people from the Middle East. If we show compassion towards those whose homes have been destroyed we could build a better world where all people see our common heritage as humankind to build a more peaceful world. Instead of punishing 4 year old girls whose homes have been bombed out by Wahabbi extremists and teach them to never trust the West (a lesson which fascists have taught them far too many times) by sending them back to the meat grinder we should show them compassion and give them a sense that we are good people and grow trust between our lands. This will reduce the threat of terrorism across the world for mutual benefit. If we choose instead to send them back to the meat grinder of Syria and continue invasions of their homelands what little trust and respect there is between our peoples will be eroded even further, and we will continue to see repetitions of the Crusades of the Middle Ages.

The media needs to stop making it sound like 10 year old boys are trying to kill everybody, and be more accurate in their reporting. We are seeing the media manufacture consent over this issue, and it is killing innocent people every day. The same media which makes it sound like 10 year olds are going to bomb the K├Âlnerdom then turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia's abuse of women, the genocide in Darfur, Apartheid, the chaos in Israel/Palestine, and actual real problems which create the animosity and hatred which destroyed the Twin Towers, Pentagon and almost destroyed the Capital Building. I believe they want liberalism to fail.

There is a better path than this. It isn't hard if you try.

Deutsche Welle

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pay by mile is flawed

A large number of states are planning on switching from a gas tax to a pay by mile with the advent of electric cars and higher efficiency which is eating into state revenues. The issue with this is it bypasses the major issue. Pay by mile is a regressive tax, because a millionaire is not going to drive 20 times more than the average person, and doesn't address the issue of our lacking mass transit infrastructure in our country. People are not going to reduce the amount they drive significantly due to such a tax, because people need to get to work. (Economists call this inelastic supply) To reduce the wear and tear on our roads we should make traveling by mass transit free, increase the cost of parking in dense areas, increase the number of park and rides on the outskirts of cities for rural people (which would be well served by free mass transit), and then we will see the amount of people driving decrease. We should match the lost revenue from gas taxes etc. with a more progressive income tax which treats capital gains as regular income which will be a much better society. Pay by mile however is not the right answer to our crowded streets. Roads would be paid out of the general fund if gas taxes do not make up enough to take care of our infrastructure.

Obama has 50% approval

Proof that Americans love competent government, and with the Iran deal and other major accomplishments this doesn't surprise me. On top of this, Congress continues to be the least popular Congress in history. If the Democrats would capitalize on this they could take over government.