Political views and social issues.

I received a great email today, here it is:

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A. After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
Could not be any simpler than that.

I wrote this rant as a comment on my friend’s Facebook wall, after he raised questions regarding this article by Albert Einstein (which I didn’t have time to read). I feel like I am constantly repeating myself, but repetition might be what it takes to make a few people understand how dangerous and evil socialism really is. Feel free to comment below..

A business is a money making enterprise. It’s very existence is driven by profit. Though there has been altruistic enterprises, in the grand scheme of things, profit drives businesses. Why is it that employers all the sudden are expected to run a social aid agency? Where is that responsibility coming from? Offering a job, at any price, is not exploitation, it is a contract, an agreement with an employee. Nobody these days puts a gun to someone’s head and makes them work as a slave. You don’t like the wages, well, find a better job.. Some will say “they have no choice..” What choice would they have if the business wasn’t there to start with? I wish that some day, as in “Atlas Shrugged”, all the large business owners said “F— this, I’m going fishing.” We would see then how many people would starve to death. We should all be thankful for greedy entrepreneurs, because without them, society would die in chaos.

My opinion is based on the respect of private property. The fruit of my labor is mine, yes, and it is mine to sell, at an hourly rate I have to decide to accept, or not. People always want more. They accept a salary, then want profit sharing on top of it.. What about loss sharing? What about someone going to the worker’s house and hauling the flat screen TV out to pay for his employer’s losses? Seems unfair huh? Well, it goes both ways..

Socialism is a plague. It is a rotten system based on theft, enslavement and disrespect of humanity. It is the lowest of the lowest. It ruins societies and alienates its people. It is dangerous because it uses the premise of helping others to steal and throughout history, kill millions of people. I can’t believe some wear Che-Guevara T-Shirts, a murderous thug.. They should wear Hitler T-shirts, it would be as bad. Socialism has to be fought, exposed for what it is, and squashed in the voting booth like a cockroach in a kitchen.

When a flight attendant tells you that you can’t have a pillow on your lap, or must remain seated an hour before landing (Yahoo News), it is time to question the competence of security agencies. Those new rules imply that an explosive device could well be already in the plane, and obviously, it has just happened. Instead of acknowledging their failure by adding new measures that consider all passengers as threats, wouldn’t it be better to ensure that no explosive gets aboard? As Bruce Schneier notes in his security blog, “Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.” They are certainly more willing to do so after September 11. I believe that flight-crew training is the best thing TSA could invest in.

We all want to fly safely, but at what price? It is bad enough that we must all go through patting, puffing-sniffing machines, x-rays, shoe removal and dubious looks and questions, it should ensure that once on the plane, we are treated as paying customers again. TSA could lean a few things from El-Al security measures, including racial profiling. Instead, they ask grandmothers to remove their shoes, and ban children from flights because their name match a suspected terrorist. If I had to choose between a fountain pen and a nail file for a weapon, I’ll take the pen any day. Not that bringing explosives on-board or weapons is difficult.. Political correctness should go overboard before safety and privacy.

Airlines should feel the economic pressure of ineffective security policies. They would then lobby for better measures and training, not more of the same nonsense. The only way we can do this is simply take the car, or train when possible for short trips. I wish the United States had not lost it’s railroad industry. You can zip all around Europe at 200mph in total comfort, are we so far behind technologically? It is the responsibility of taxpayers to see that their money is used in a reasonably responsible and effective manner. Keeping me from going to the bathroom at the end of a flight or not giving me a pillow is not going to make a flight safer. If that device on the Northwest/Delta flight had been well made, the plane would have gone down, pillow or not. It only takes a fraction of a second to press a button.

I often wonder how seemingly intelligent people hold certain opinions that slap the face of logic. The fact is that we are to an extent the product of the groups we live or work in. The danger for anyone in a group, work or otherwise, is that ideas formed in those groups get bounced back and forth, and doing so, gather momentum, strength, whether they are right or not. Individuals in those groups stop questioning these ideas because they are accepted in the group. I am a libertarian, but I spend a lot of time with die-hard liberals, a few die-hard republicans, Christians and atheists. That keeps me in check when my thinking goes overboard, maybe I keep them in check too, sometimes. It also certainly sharpens my social skills, as far as not stepping on toes too hard goes. I do enjoy a good argument, but when emotions take over reason and logic, it can get ugly. That’s when I usually end the conversation, for then there is nothing for me to learn or teach. Exchanging ideas is great, forcing them on someone else, not so much.

I would suggest anyone in a group (which can be a college, family, church, office, etc.) to step outside of it on a regular basis, and “fraternize with the enemy.” Simply because group ideas will always be more extreme than necessary, if not outright wrong. That is probably how young muslim men end-up strapping themselves with explosives and blow themselves up. Nobody around them is there to keep them in check. Extreme ideas become more extreme, and what would have seemed crazy before now looks perfectly reasonable.. So, step out of your group, and go meet people who think differently than you do! Nobody around? Fine, read a book people around you totally disagree with..

Group interactions can become group brainwashing. Cults know this better than anyone. A cult member will be isolated from his/her family and friends and rather quickly accept the ideas of the group. We all want to belong, we are gregarious creatures. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.. The most intelligent people get trapped. When I hear the political opinions of students at New College in Sarasota for example (I call it the “People’s Republic of New College”), I can’t help but think of mass self brainwashing.. Not everyone there falls in, mind you. I know some very bright (smarter than me) students there who don’t conform. Unfortunately Socialism has taken hold of most colleges and universities. I won’t get started on the evils of Socialism here.. Just keep reading my blog.. It is interesting though to notice that the most extreme young liberals come from wealthy Republican parents..

I actually decided to write this post after suggesting my friends to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”:

I was also directing them to two great articles:

‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
Battling Obama by ‘Going Galt’

Most of them will probably make the same face they would have sucking on a bitter lime! However, consider part of the first article: “readers rated ‘Atlas’ as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.” I did read it many years ago, and it defined ideas I had for a long time, but never knew how to put together in a coherent form. For some people, it will be a turning point in their lives. Amazing how a book written in 1957 can be so timely, in light of the present economical situation.

But enough with politics. I just hate it when someone I know gets into a group and absorbs their ideas like a dry sponge thrown in a hot bath. Especially when those ideas are weird, extreme or even dangerous. There isn’t always someone close enough to shake you and say “snap out of it.” You have to check yourself. If a friend you’ve known for years gives you a weird look after a statement you made, ask yourself if you may have been influenced..

I just stumbled on an excellent article in the New York Times, “Time to Reboot America.” The author couldn’t have said it better: “Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.” I didn’t have that impression landing in Philadephia sixteen years ago from Charles De Gaulle for my first time in the United States. However, I should have known America was in trouble when I saw my first American household appliances! Twenty years ago, my mother’s washing machine had a microprocessor in it. My credit card had an embedded chip; technology which took ten years to cross the Atlantic. I still need to tell my washing machine how much laundry is in it, and turn and old style knob to turn it on. Then, when the washing is finished, I must take the laundry, stuff it in a no less obsolescent dryer, and turn another 1960s style mechanical knob. Energy efficient? I doubt it.

My first American car was a Ford 1978 LTD. It was great, confortable, the AC worked, and I paid only $750 for it. It had a few little quirks, but all in all, it worked. The fuel consumption was appaling, but why care? Gas was less than a dollar a gallon, almost four times less than in France. We thought gas reserves would last forever, we still do.

Today, I still can’t take a high speed train (look 3:25 to 3:55) from Sarasota to Tampa or Orlando. I must drive on I4 to get to the East coast. I you have driven on I4, you understand.. No amount of money could get me to commute daily from Tampa to Orlando via I4.

The list goes on and on. I do have another list, with all the good things about America; it is longer than the bad one, that’s why I’m still here, for now. We have NASA, a top of the line computer industry, the Internet, medical research as good as in Europe, Universities like MIT. Then, why do I feel like I live in 1975 sometimes? We don’t produce much here anymore, everything is service based. Most of the stuff I owed says “Made in China” or Japan, Taiwan, etc. When I think of American products, I think “rugged,” “old fashion,” “reliable” (except for cars).. Certainly not “high-tech.”

America needs to look East, not at it’s own navel. I am affraid Obama will plunge us into a socialist/protectionist era that will be the last nail in the coffin. At least we might not spend billions in unecessary wars abroad. This is not the time however to close our borders to commerce. We need to produce so that my next cell phone says “Made In USA.” We will be in competition with Europe and Asia, whether we like it or not. We should be the ones selling them goods. American high schools produce students who are two years behind Europeans. When I went to college in Florida, to perfect my English, I thought it was a joke. The college level math was the same as when I was 12. Yes, I agree, time to Reboot America.

School reforms: We need to be more demanding on both students and schools. Schools should be held accountable for their results. The “everyone wins, you’re doing great” bullshit needs to stop. If you suck, someone has to tell you, so that you can correct your attitude. When I was in school, no student would ever dare to talk back to a teacher. Today, teachers get assaulted in class! Why? Simple: No consequences. Being suspended is not a punishment, it’s a gift. Parents don’t care anymore. When you’re 15, you don’t care about your future, you care about right now, maybe tomorrow. There should be immediate consequences to lazyness. Also, why do kids still have to learn how many ounces are in a pound, and a flurry of other stupid measurements when there is a metric system? Want to know how many litres are in a 3x3x3 meter tank? Simple: 3x3x3=27 x 1000 = 27000 litres. And guess what, it weights 27000Kg, 27 metric tons. I don’t need to spend fiften minutes on the problem, I can do it in my head in 5 seconds. Australia went metric in 1970. If they can do it, why not America? NASA uses metric, otherwise we’d probably never go back to the moon in our lifetimes.. As to schools teaching stupid theories like creationism, don’t even get me started on that…

Free markets: Why Ron Paul wasn’t elected is beyond my comprehension. Here is a politician who understands exactly what this country needs, and he doesn’t even make it to the last round. We need businesses, and we need them to be successful. Here is where Europe failed and America can prevail. Europeans have this funny idea that a business has social obligations beyond not causing harm to people. That’s not the purpose of a business. In France, money is seen as somewhat dirty. The European attitude is that the government and businesses must take care of the people who have the right to be fed, clothed, and pampered, given what they need. They just shot themselves in the foot, just not the same foot we shot ourselves in. Businesses are the life blood of the country. Nobody else can produce wealth, except maybe the Federal Reserve when they print money, which compounds the problem. Wee need to compete with Europe and Asia on the same footing, not with artificial tariffs to level the field in our favor. Opening the markets might hurt us for a while, but long term, it is our only salvation.

No bailouts: If a company fails, they ought to go out of business. Taking taxpayer’s money to save a business is stealing, clear and simple. Since when does a Republican government use socialist tactics to redistribute wealth? I think they do it because they want a quick fix, a patch that will hold for a bit before cracking wide open, but that will make them look godd right now, until retirement with a bit of luck..

Better news: American news on television is a dog and pony show. How can a nation be aware of it’s lagging behind if it doesn’t look at the countries that are a decade ahead of them technologically. I once had a flat tire on my old Ford near Alachua County Florida. A pickup truck stopped and a guy offered me help (after yelling to his wife “Get back in the fucking truck!”). Anyway, I guess he was nice to me. Hearing my accent he asked “Where you from?” I said “France.” “What state is that?” he replied. “It’s overseas..” “Ah” he said, “do you have power over there?” I’m not making this up! That’s an extreme of course, and I couldn’t resist mentioning the story. We never hear most of what goes on in the world here on TV, except when it affects us directly, and immediately. Did you know that France launches satellites in orbit for cheaper than NASA, and I think more often with it’s Arianne rocket? Stop watching “Desperate Housewives” go to BBC, and even then, I’m not sure their US programs are the same the rest of the world sees.. I have access to about 300 channels, but I can’t hardly ever find an interesting show. Get your news from foreign agencies on the web.

Promote reading books: In 1982, 60% of young adults engaged in literary reading, while in 2002, only 43% do*. I don’t have recent numbers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went down even more. Understanding other cultures and philosophy by reading could probably save us a lot of grief with our foreign policies. Even our politicians sometimes lack basic knowledge of geography and foreign ideology. When was the last time you bought a book or went to the library?

Maybe next time we can also talk about getting rid of the Federal Reserve…

I have heard about the demise of America for decades, never paid too much attention to those predictions. The signs were there, it’s easy to see them now in retrospect. How low it will go is hard to tell, the depression is here. We just don’t want to see it. We refuse to imagine the consequences, and we don’t want to see the solutions. Americans need to get educated and take their heads out of the sand. The United States was a great nation, not so long ago. We have great minds, visionaries, we can do it again.

* US Census 2002.