Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Failure of Internal Wars

This post is about two internal wars our federal government has undertaken on in the last fifty years -- the war on poverty and the war on drugs.

The war on poverty was invented by Lyndon Johnson with the intent to eliminate poverty in this country -- a noble goal. There are multiple problems with the premise. First it ignores human nature. When you give people something for nothing they do not appreciate it and abuse it. Second the government has to administer the program. As soon as that happens the bureaucracy becomes the objective. Government workers main job is to keep their government jobs -- not to care about what they were hired to do. Third on the list of negatives is that money the government spends is taken out of our economy, thus less job creation and fewer opportunities to get out of poverty. As for success, there is none. In 1964 the poverty rate was 27% and now it is 29% and climbing.

The war on drugs is similar. It was instigated by Richard Nixon in a speech to the United Nations in 1971. The press jumped on board and invented the phrase war on drugs. This has been just as successful as prohibition was to get rid of alcohol, but we still have not come to our senses yet about the drug ban. We changed our laws to make drugs harder to sell and distribute. What that did immediately was drive drugs further underground, which makes illicit drugs more expensive and puts more people in the drug business to manufacture more drugs. On the social side of the drug war, we put a lot of sick people in jail which makes them more committed to drug use and better criminals.

Will someone please get the federal government to stop helping us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Justice and Injustice

Human beings will never have justice. There are too many people willing to lie, news media willing to spread the lies and many more people who will believe the lies.

In the United States we have a legal system based on a European legal system that has worked for centuries. Our legal system struggles for justice for everyone that enters the legal system. Struggles fits. DAs across the country buy testimony from jailhouse snitches by giving them reduced sentences. The snitches testify against others in jail and DAs get people incarcerated based on this testimony. Our judges allow this to happen. Paid defense witnesses are always impugned, but criminals known for willingness to break the law are treated as if they were truthful. So we DO have injustice built into our system.

Police investigators and detectives use the FBI database to determine who is most likely to have committed a murder. Lazy or unscrupulous investigators then go about trying to prove the individual that fits the FBI model did the crime instead of following the leads available. People are convicted by juries on circumstantial evidence all the time. It often comes down to who has the best, most presentable lawyer, not facts of the case. People found guilty in error add more erroneous data to the FBI database, thus ensuring more innocent people will be incarcerated in the future. It would be more just if the FBI did not have a database and each investigator had to actually explore all the evidence.

Even worse, we make our prosecutors politicians. Talk about a conflict of interest.

There is no doubt that people that can discriminate sometimes do discriminate. There is no doubt that black people have been unfairly convicted of crimes they did not commit, especially in the south. There is no doubt there is built in discrimination in our society. All these things need to be corrected by the human beings that we elect and put in charge.

Our solution should not be to call for punishment for someone we perceive as causing harm to us without facts. Justice is served when appropriate punishment is applied after all the facts are known. Protesters in the streets will never hear this message. Rioters do not care what your message is. The burden for a solution is on us. We need to start electing people that share our moral beliefs, not the charlatans that lie to you and buy your votes by giving you free stuff.

We the people are the solution to our problems. We will not be successful as long as we are willing to believe lies and propaganda.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Citizenship and Responsibility

Citizenship is a responsibility. We should not take it lightly. We can vote for our elected officials. Why is it that only half of eligible voters go to the polls?

We have got ourselves into a jam with our federal government. We continue to do it to ourselves. Yes, we do it to ourselves. Think how ludicrous it is to detest Congress and keep electing the same people to Congress. We keep getting what we ask for because as a people we are lazy and naive. “I don’t like Congress, but I like my congressman” is a cop-out. It is also stupid. After they have been there two terms, it is time for them to go.

Citizens, normally do not know what their representative believe. What we know is what they tell you they believe and what they tell you they will do. We need to pay attention to what they do, not what they say. By electing professional politicians, and continuing to elect the same people, we guarantee more laws will be passed that are not needed and that usurp our freedom.

One of the consequences of having professional politicians follows. Think about this. Congress has made it law that they get raises automatically. No matter how bad they are, they get more money every year. We do not protest. We accept this as a way of life. It is dumb for us to allow anyone to get a raise without merit. This practice needs to stop. When the economy is bad and many people are out of work, members of Congress rake in the dough. Another trick they use is called “base-line budgeting.” What this does is guarantees the federal budget increases four to six percent every year, whether they need the money or not. My details may be erroneous, but the facts are not. Can you imagine a citizen-politician passing a law that gives an automatic pay increase to the person that replaces them?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Importance of Space travel

My opinion is that the most valuable thing the human race owns is our knowledge. It has taken us a long time to accumulate the knowledge we possess. This is a collective we, meaning the human race, not me personally. Man-like mammals came into existence approximately two million ago. The oldest cave writings are about 40,000 years old. The Chinese began using wooden print about 700 hundred years ago and Gutenberg invented his press less than six hundred years ago. The first computer was invented about 200 years ago. Modern microprocessors and computers are less than one hundred years old. In the last 100 years we have learned that only half of the matter in the universe is visible. We cannot find it. These numbers of years are inexact, but do lead to the point I am trying to make. It has taken us a long time to get to where we are. Knowledge is cumulative. The more we learn, the more we can learn. The more we teach, the faster we learn.

We are unique in the universe. There may be other free-willed, thinking life forms in the universe, because of the vast distances you have to travel to move from one habitable world to another, we may never meet them. So, we must assume we have to depend on ourselves to keep viable the knowledge we have accumulated.  

At some point in the future the earth will be destroyed. Even if that happens billions of years from now when our sun burns out or before by some catastrophic event, the earth will disappear. The only chance to preserve our knowledge is to learn to move between inhabitable worlds.

That leads me to the conclusion that space exploration is essential to the preservation of our knowledge. We know how to get to the moon. We put a man on the moon. We think we know how to get to Mars, but we haven’t. We certainly do not know how to get out of our solar system. And we have much further than that to go. The only way we can learn what we need to know is by trying to get further and further away from where we are. And we know accumulating knowledge takes a long time.