Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Chopping At The Root

The Confederate Yankee has noted an interesting and exciting development in the citizen's war against illegal aliens. The Minuteman Project is now going to California to seek out and pillory businesses that knowingly follow a policy of hiring illegal aliens to lower their labor rates. This puts The Minuteman in a whole new league.

The Minutemen are making hay while the sun shines. They are using their fifteen minutes of fame to score like a playoff NBA team. I am now even more convinced these guys are the legitimate article and are trying to make the US a better country.

Why? because they are smart about it.

How? By knowing what makes criminals commit crimes. Criminals commit crimes because it pays.

Who gets paid by illegal immigration? Organized crime lords and shady US business organizations. When MS-13 issued its fatwa aginst The Minutemen, they knew what they were talking about. The Minutemen have engaged a group of enterprising criminals and are now engaging the people who patronize their illegal business.

Larry Elder pointed out that The Minutemen had slowed the rate of illegal immigration across the Arizona border by 75%. These people get results. They get those results by being a whole lot smarter than they get credit for.

These dishonst companies that knowingly hire illegals should go ahead and underestimate The Minutemen. You'll end up the way Gray Davis did when he underestimated The California Recall Movement.

Should We Fear The Assassin's Mace?

China has undoubtably upgraded their economy and their image as a world power. Has this upward trend also upgraded their ability to mount military expeditions beyond their national borders? Do the Chinese really want to fight the US?

Like many aspects of Chinese policy the answers have more than one side. Yes, the Chinese could hurt us very badly in the short term. They have 500 ballistic missiles and build 75 more each year. Also, they have the best and latest that the Russian defense industry can build. This has been advantageous to Russia because it helps them maintain these industries even when the Russian Government can't necessarily buy an economic order quantity of their wares.

The "no" side of the question relates to logisitical sustainability. The Chinese do not produce high quality metals themselves. They cannot build the types of rolled steel alloys necessary to armor tanks against KE missiles. They also depend heavily on imports to sustain what industries they have. China would have to win a major quickly. Otherwise, the Chinese might use themselves up early, like a poorly conditioned boxer, then, as Japan did in World War II, get nailed with the haymakers towards the end.

It seems increasingly likely that the more nationalistic elements of China's government and society would like to take the US down a notch or two. Like many other countries, they see the US presence abroad as a sign of our domination and their inability to prevent that domination. They resent our support for Taiwan and would like more than anything to reclaim the island in a way that utterly humiliates the United States.

This perhaps provides the normative underpinning to their new "Assassin's Mace" weaponry program. Based on a doctrine called "The Inferior Defeats The Superior" when roughly translated from Chinese, this doctrine calls for the Chinese military to develop a series of weapon systems that enable it to nuetralize the C4I advantages of a superior, more modern, military force so that the battle can occur on a lower technology battlefield.

While the Chinese may want to take over Taiwan, there still remain obstacles to this course of action not limited to the proximity of The US Navy. The Chinese may have upwards of 111 million people who have undergone military training at some time in their lives, but that doesn't mean they have enough airlift and sealift capability to make it to Taiwan.

Also, the Taiwanese own many more modern fighter aircraft and have far more experience in training their pilots how to fly them. Thus, even if they destroy the US Navy's C4I grid over Asia and fire enough cruise missiles and SRBMs to keep our surface fleet at bay, they may be losing the third dimension of the battlefield and thus not have what every attacking force absolutely needs; freedom of manuever.

China also suffers from some societal pressures that would possibly preempt prolonged military aggression on the part of it's government. By limiting the number of children families could legally create, the Chinese have given themsleves what Thomas P. M. Barnett describes as the "1-2-4 Problem." Here one Chinese young adult supports a mom, a dad and four hungry grand parents. It's an inverted monetary pyramid that makes the US Social Security system look almost sane and logical.

If too many of the "1's" get killed in a major war, China has a social problem that their fledgling modern economy may not be able to solve. However, this rests upon the benign assumption that the Chinese leaders care more about the welfare of their own people than they do about gaining international power and influence. Sometimes that's a safe assumption....

The bottom line remians that China will always remain a dangerous potential adversary. They will always want us out of Taiwan and will always want to pay back Japan for the Rape of Nanking and other heinous attrocities committed in The Second World War. Both of these goals are thwarted on a daily basis because the US has a lot of fire power stationed where the Chinese wish we would not meddle. This puts us in an inexorable competition with The Chinese that could easily turn just as bloody as it once did on The Korean Peninsula. Thus, if we were smart, we'd remain very afraid of The Assassin's Mace.

Update I: Vodkapundit offers the possibility that China's longterm strategic goal is the conquest of Japan.

Choreographed Temper-Tantrums.

In reaction to the selection of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope, a certain segment of the blogsphere has thrown a rather predictable, choreographed temper tantrum. Here we have America Blog.

Boy, It does sound like they are going to be installing "showers" and "ovens" at the Vatican.

I see people talking about the Rat Pope's homophobia, misogyny (did his doctoral thesis on St. Augustine!), intolerance, rigid hard-line attitudes, his almost blatant electioneering from the Vatican for Bush, his condemnation of other faiths and on and on and on and on.

Well, now it is time to turn attention to the Biblical admonitions against unclean menstruating women and a return to animal sacrifice.

The saddest part is that they only took 2 days to pick this guy. That means it was pretty unanimous. I can't wait to see what dark ages this takes us to.

Hail to the new Nazi Pope! Back to the Dark Ages!

Hile Pope Ratzinger wonder so many people have left the catholic they can try to strenthen their flock via 3rd world countries....

Well, that explainds the red, black and white robes......what a f***** up world....a Nazi Pope...

What can one expect from a filthy Nazi?

the catholic church has always trived on violence - any belief that it is a peaceful church is delusional.

This from a Nazi bastard wearing a dress - and no doubt with a past in child-molesting. Can we say projecting our sexual guilt on others, perhaps?

WHY WHY WHY anyone would belong to this Church is beyond me. Especially if you are gay OR a woman. It's almost like the gay Log Cabin Repubs. But worse.

The only way the Catholic Church will change is for people to wake up and see they are fools for following it or continuing to call themselves Catholic. Surely of the 60 million americans who do - only a handful actually follow it all to a T anyway. WAKE up SHEEPLE!

I guess he doesn't get called Holy Father - he'd prefer Mein Fuhrer.

Now that we have Pope Adolf 1, that should be more clear to everyone.

Here's a standout, even amongst this crowd- note the KKK spelling of Catholic, and advocating "nuking" the Vatican:

Maybe they're trying to incite the Religious War that every right winger has been waiting for for so long. The arrogance and insensitivity involved with putting a freak like this in charge of the kathlick church is sure to piss off a lot of people (Jews, WWII vets of all religions and nationalities). Perhaps someone will finally nuke vatican city after this brilliant move by 115 senile, out-of-touch old men (in dresses).

So why this screed of unadulterated hate speech from the 'compassionate, caring liberals'? They didn't get to intimidate The Vatican into selecting a Pope they approved of, so now they are going to throw their temper tantrum. It would be a more impressive show if this weren't so predictable.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Another Difference Between The People And The Elite

The original Latin noun Pagan, Paganis had a far different definition in the era of The Roman Republic than it does today. The term originated in the days before Constantine decreed Rome a Christian Empire. The Pagans lived far a field from Rome and grew its food supply in orchards and grain fields. They were often looked down upon as stupid and ill-informed. The noun had a negative connotation to it; like calling somebody a peckerwood today.

Fast-forwarding to modern America gives us a totally different view. The modern zeitgeist concerning religion has been informed by the writings on Engels and Marx who describe religion as "the opiate of the masses."

While most well-educated people would admit that Marxism had severe shortcomings, this view of religion has taken hold with force amongst the self-selecting intellectual elite in modern America. This view of religion held by Marx, Nietzsche and many other Post-Enlightenment philosophers has made agnosticism, if not outright Christophobia, an unstated requirement to be admitted into this circle of intellectual brilliance. In essence, these people have come to feel they prove a certain toughness and superiority by casting religion aside and proving they don't need to walk with a crutch.

This puts them outside the intellectual and social realm of the rest of America. They respond to this the same way the supercilious elite of The Roman Republic responded to being surrounded by a bunch of back-woods illiterates who worshipped the tree-spirits. Rather than stopping to question the dissonance they experience from people who don't share their views on subjects such as abortion, euthanasia, or the basic decency of Pope John Paul II, they scoff at such things the way Sulla and his good old boy network would have laughed at the practitioners of Nature Worship in Pre-Imperial Gaul.

Or, they go strongly to the ad hominum and attempt to intimidate any who oppose their views into silence. Recently, The Drudge Retort, ran a story about John Paul II receiving nutrition through a tube in his nose during the last days of his coalescence. The comments were truly illuminating. Here's a sampling of what our enlightened elite had to say about the then mortally ill pontiff.

1) Time to let the old fart go....

All he can do is barely wave. He can not even give a sermon....


2) No. Keeping him alive cripples the power of the Catholic church. Leave it.

3) Kinda like Ah gets new-trition from the rolled up hunerd dollar bills stuck up mah nose! SSnniiiiifff!! Ahhh! (signed GWBUSH)

Now these are the very deep thoughts of a group of people who consider themselves far superior to the rest of the human race. A self-selecting elite that finds itself increasingly disconnected from the rest of the country around them. Perhaps a few of these geniuses would wake up one morning and wonder how terrifically brilliant they really were if 7 out of 10 people lived a totally different life than they did and were basically glad of it. But they don't. When they don't blame it on others, a la John Edwards' "Two Americas Speech", they consider it an affirmation of their own superiority.

While I'm not sure Jack Kelly accurately predicts a 4th Great Awakening over the Terri Schiavo incident, there is a genuine philosophical need to define what constitutes a human being, and how that life should be valued. Engaging that debate without a biased understanding of Christian Theology regarding that subject could very well be like showing up to a gun fight with only a knife. Religion will inform the politics of tomorrow no matter what the elitists believe.

This may not presage the dreaded Rovian Theocracy that many on the left currently rail against. Jimmy Carter won the presidency with the strong support of religious voters and Bill Clinton didn't give those votes away without a fight. However, this is because both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton knew that they had to at least follow the example of Henry of Navarre and accept that maybe Paris was after all worth the mass.

Update I: Of the Mind puts the spotlight on a blogger who blames Pope John Paul II for the child molestation scandal. Read the post and judge for yourself. Honest criticism or shiek, Post-Modern Christophobia?

Friday, April 08, 2005

At The Bottom Of The Pyramid

For about two months after I graduated from college, I went back home to my home town while I waited for my Army OBC reporting date. This was a fairly boring and uneventful two months except for one peculiarity. These two guys I knew but wasn't really buddy-buddy with in High School, I'll call them Huey and Louie, kept trying to get me interested in this phenominal opportunity.

This phenominal opportunity was something called "interactive marketing." This was the current euphemism for AMWAY. These guys had been duped into joining a pyramid scheme and now were looking for a way off the bottom. All of a sudden they noticed "Good Old Steve" was back in town and they both hoped to latch on to the sucker who would take them off the hook.

Needless to say, I had no real desire to sell scented soaps and Fruit Of The Loom underwear to 20 of my closest friends. It took me about two weeks to get rid of Huey and Louie and as far as I know, they still have that lifetime supply of mens underwear stashed in their parents' garage somewhere. However, it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of younger Americans felt the same desperation with the US Government's very own federally funded pyramid scheme. Namely, Social Security.

A recent report by the Social Security Trustees, does nothing to asuage the sense that the generation of workers now aged 25 to 35, are the newest suckers with the garages full of scented soap and unmentionables. The excellent blog Cold Hearted Truth tells us that according to the Trustees, "benefits are scheduled, not garunteed." Run that one by your attorney for a smarm check.

An FAQ at the Social Secuity website ( gives us a more comprehensive, and even less reassuring, explanation of how SS will not work. The gory details follow below.

Q. I'm 35 years old. If nothing is done to improve Social Security, what can I expect to receive in retirement benefits from the program?

A. Unless changes are made, at age 73 your scheduled benefits could be reduced by 27 percent and could continue to be reduced every year thereafter from presently scheduled levels. See the 2004 Trustees Report

Q. I'm 25 years old. If nothing is done to change Social Security, what can I expect to receive in retirement benefits from the program?

A. Unless changes are made, when you reach age 63 in 2042, benefits for all retirees could be cut by 27 percent and could continue to be reduced every year thereafter. If you lived to be 100 years old in 2079 (which will be more common by then), your scheduled benefits could be reduced by 33 percent from today's scheduled levels. See the 2004 Trustees Report

Q. Should I count on Social Security for all my retirement income?

A. No. Social Security was never meant to be the sole source of income in retirement. It is often said that a comfortable retirement is based on a "three-legged stool" of Social Security, pensions and savings. American workers should be saving for their retirement on a personal basis and through employer-sponsored or other retirement plans.

Thus, we have a pension system that promised more than it can deliver and based itself on a pyramid scheme. Thus, the older people who already contributed their whole working lives want to make sure they get what they feel they were promised.

For the younger people, these benefits weren't promised, they were scheduled. Like a minor league baseball game, these benefits can seemingly get unscheduled in a hurry the next time an older member of Congress feels like raiding the Social Security Trust Fund and leaving a risible IOU in the account instead.

Therefore, the taxes we younger members of the workforce pay for Social Security go into a lock-box. The benfits we are supposed to get back out are only "scheduled." America's so-called safety net has left it's younger generation at the base of a SCAMWAY pyramid. Social Security must be reformed and the sooner the better.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Wesley Clark: The Return Of The Barracks Emperor

It's Very thoughful of Barracks Emperor Wesley Clark to advise the House of Representatives when it should hold hearings, and what they should be about. It shows a level of decorum and tact that catapulted him to such hieghts in last Winter's Presidential Primaries. He may have struck his guidon and retreated last year, but he has now returned to explain to us all how to deal with Iraq and Syria.

To whit, he has strongly reccommended we reassure both Iran and Syria that our intentions in Iraq will not cause either of them any harm. Except this would not be honest. Any action we take effects these countries. They have fundamentally organized themselves around opposing us and condemning our society and way of life. So if we are in Iraq, and we organize it to resemble the United States in any way, shape or fashion, we drop the gauntlet in front of the leadership in both of these nations. They can pick it up, or they can suffer the penalties that accrue to cowards.

While niether country can put armed formations against our Iraq force openly, they are currently using Fabian tactics in hopes that our population will demand our leadership to remove our forces from Iraq. This very well may work against the US. It has in the past.

However, reassuring two countries wo are selling weapons and providing logistical support to a guerrilla force bent on our destruction will not make these countries abate. It will enhance their belief in the effort they are engaged in. The rewards of cravenness then arrive in our inbox.

Thus, when Barracks Emperor Wastely Clark demands that the House of Representatives hold hearings about what we will do if Syria collapses, we should mail The General Emeritus a bottle of champagne and a party favor. Even if that's not what Denny Hastert would do if Syria tanked, it's what millions of other people would do in Lebannon, Isreal, Turkey, Jordan and without a doubt in Iraq as well.

Reassuring Bashir Assad of anything, is like telling the school bully who steals your lunch money that it doesn't bother you at all. It's as counterproductive and ineffective as Wesley Clark's last political campaign.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Quality Vs. Sanctity - Why Should I Get To Live?

It didn't used to require a PhD in Philosophy to tell whether Peter Singer was a nutcase or a genius. The Associated Press reported Singer's comments:

"I do think that it is sometimes appropriate to kill a human infant," he said, adding that he does not believe a newborn has a right to life until it reaches some minimum level of consciousness."

"For me, the relevant question is, what makes it so seriously wrong to take a life?" Singer asked."Those of you who are not vegetarians are responsible for taking a life every time you eat. Species is no more relevant than race in making these judgments."

I won't persume credentials I haven't earned, but this humble man opines that Peter Singer is niether. He is evil. As evil as evil gets and meaner than the Balrog, who nearly dispatched Gandolf, deep underground, in The Mines of Moria.

Now that wasn't a particularly nuanced statement. In fact it was downright judgemental, if you ask me. That's also OK in my book. God issued me judgement, I use it. That makes me judgemental.

Not judgemental in the sense that Judge Greer was judgemental. I didn't just yank a feeding tube out of anyone's throat and let them dry out and expire like a beached suckerfish on La Playa Del Rio. That's not only judgemental, that's flat-out cold.

It also involves making a decision based on crappy information that is itself based on a graveman that does not stand the test of truth. Judge Greer has assumed away the sanctity of life. He's based his decision on the faulty assumption that he can scientifically determine the value of a human life and thereby terminate said life if it imposes a cost to society greater than it's benefit.

I'll proceed from a more fundamentally honest premise. I'd never just chuck the sanctity of life ona lark. I like the idea of other people holding my life sacred. After being stretchered off a rugby pitch and taken in for surgery once, I'm really fond of my life having sanctity and having doctors treat it with such. I appreciate those guys wholeheartedly.

People will say that I'm in favor of the sanctity of life because I'm in fear for my own skin. I'd answer the way Robert Dinero's character Sam did in the movie Ronin. I'd look at the guy like he was an idiot and state the obvious.

"It covers my body."

That's one objection to abolishing sanctity of life in favor of quality of life, now here's another one. Judge Greer attempts to convince us that he can measure the quality of Terri Schiavo's life. Again, I'll be more honest with you. I can't tell you the true, intrinsic value of a can of green beans.

If a were a dialectical materialist, I would add the value of the intrinsic materials to the skill of the labor endowed. If I were Milton Friedman, I'd ask what my nieghbor logically perceives this can of beans to be worth. If I were Confuscious, I'd take Beano first so that I wouldn't offend the others at the dinner table.

There you have it. Niether I, nor Hegel, nor Kierkagaard nor Judge Greer can tell you what a can of green beans should really be worth. We, as fallable human beings, are in no position whatsoever to stick a price tag on Terri Schiavo's forehead.

It really is that simple. I'm not a good enough Christian to claim God told me to protect Terri Schiavo. I'm not even close to being smart enough to tell you objectively that Terri Schiavo's life or even a can of green beans had a positive intrinsic value that does not depend a certain leap of faith.

But on this one, I'll swallow my agnosticism and the egoism that it entails. I want life to have a certain, inviolate sanctity. I want this because I want my life to be treated like it has an intrinsic value, and because, as an analyst and a person who spends his professional life calculating values, this is one analysis I'm utterly underqualified to perform and hope that I never have to pull the trigger on.

I'm not sure what scares me and p-ss-s me off more. Judge Greer deciding that Terri Schiavo should have been killed, someone deciding that Judge Greer was qualified to decide such a thing, or Judge Greer believing he had the normative prowess to make this decision.

Whether you live a life that is the perfect imitation of Christ or whether you behave like I used to on Saturday Night, monotheism is an excellent principal to leave intact. Let God evaluate the value of Terri Schiavo and hope that others will let him do the same in terms of the value of your existence as well.

Update I: Wizbang posts a picture gallery in memory of Terri Schiavo.

Update II: I don't totally buy into VodkaPundit's take on this, but I must admit, he really says it well.

Update III: Judge Birch not only represents everything I'm afraid of in a judiciary, he's also a sadistic little creep. If he didn't believe The Schiavos had a legal leg to stand on, he should have just rejected their appeal and called it a day.

Update IV: Sue Bob's Diary comments on the cruel and oppertunistic behavior of Judge Birch.

Update V: Chris "Meatwad" Matthews shows us why he's one of a kind. His brain stopped working long ago, Judge Greer, may we please stop feeding him?

LAPD Gets A Wake-Up Call (Thank MS-13)

Just when I convince myself that it really is all going to heck in a handbasket. Just when it looks like no one has an ounce of sanity left in them at all. Something surprising happens that completely knocks me off kilter and forces me to reevaluate.

Today, finally, the LAPD has received a wake-up call on illegal immigration. Today, they finally realized that allowing a gang like MS-13 to operate out of the barrios of East LA could not coexist with their mission of upholding the law and protecting the peace.

Against a stark backdrop of growing violence and audacity from members of Mara Salvatruca - 13, the LAPD finally has woken up to the problem on their doorstep.

"The LAPD is working on language that would direct officers who see suspects they believe to be felons in the U.S. illegally to call their supervisors for a check with immigration officials, Assistant Police Chief George Gascon said. If a person is determined to be here illegally, federal authorities would seek an arrest warrant from a judge. At that point, LAPD officers could arrest the suspect.

The move comes several months after the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department changed its policy and began checking the immigration status of foreign-born inmates in County Jail and turning illegal immigrants over to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Additionally, the LAPD's Rampart Division has been working with immigration officials on a special task force designed to crack down on violent gangs whose members go back and forth from the U.S. to Central America." - LA Times

The spread of MS-13 to every corner of the US and throughout Central and South America particularly embarasses the LAPD. The first American outpost for these drug and weapon smugglers was 13th Street, which runs near Rampart Station. LA has become home to one of the first immigrant street gangs to legitimately become a terrorist organization since La Cosa Nostra.

While the LAPD has been under executive order not to cooperate with Federal Immigration Officials, MS-13 grew wealthy, grew strong, grew audacious and grew in stature. It even had business meetings with representatives from Al Quaida. When the local drug selling operation negotiates with Al Quaida, this problem cannot remain solely under local jurisdiction.

MS-13 elevated its profile even further in the ongoing issue over what is being done or not done to secure the US border between Mexico and Arizona. A group of US activists calling themselves "The Minuteman Project" recently announced it would assist the Border Patrol by standing watch over the border and calling in the police any time they spotted illegals.

The leadership of MS-13 resented their border being appropriated in this fashion and threatened them with violence. This led the Department of Homeland Security to send in 500 agents. MS-13's arrogance and shamelessly brazen contempt for the law have finally brought the immigration issue out of the dark.

It was a leader of MS-13 in LA who finally got the LAPD to take action.

"Senior LAPD officials have been talking about creating clearer guidelines for Special Order 40 for years. But the issue came to a head several months ago in Hollywood.A group of officers came face to face with a Mara Salvatrucha gang leader walking down the street, Capt. Mike Downing said.

The officers believed that the man had been deported after being convicted in a string of violent crimes a few years ago.There was a debate over what the officers could do. In the end, the LAPD decided to get immigration officials involved. Immigration and Customs Enforcement determined the man had reentered the United States illegally and received a federal warrant for his arrest." - LA Times.

Sometimes people get drunk on power and totally overplay their hand. MS-13 had gotten away with murder and everything else for decades. They treated the US Border with open contempt and laughed at any concept of it as a deterrent to their evil. Now they've laughed too loudly, and maybe the law will finally begin to get enforced.

Whither North Korea? Nowhere good either way.

Even the official name of North Korea suggests that things have gone badly off track and are mired in the ditch. On a really good day, I can spell Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Even on a great day, I'd never want to live there.

If a country's official name gets any longer or more bureaucratic than say, Los Estados Unidos de Mexico, a lot of things have probably gone terribly wrong in the State of Denmark, or anywhere else that happens to call itself a People's Republic. As if there was some other kind...

North Korea's problems begin with its climate and geography. According to the US Library of Congress,

"Topography: Approximately 80 percent of land area mountain ranges and uplands. All mountains on peninsula over 2,000 meters high are in North Korea.

Climate: Long, cold, dry winters; short, hot, humid summers. Approximately 60 percent of rainfall falls in June through September. "

To make a long analysis get to the point, the place is an agricultural failure waiting to happen. It takes good, competent managers to prevent this. Which brings us, regrettably, to the cretinous moorlocks currently in charge.

The US Library of Congress works for a bunch of congressmen. This requires them to develop the use of nuance and euphemism to the point where they can technically describe the North Korean government without resorting to profanity.

"Political System: Communist state under leadership of Kim Il Sung, general secretary of ruling Korean Workers' Party (KWP)and president of state, elected May 1990. Power centralized in hands of Kim Il Sung ("great leader"), son Kim Jong Il ("dear leader"), and select few holding positions on three-member Standing Committee of twenty-member Political Bureau (elected to five-year terms under 1992 revision of 1972 constitution; as of September 1992, thirteen full members; seven candidate members), inner council of 303-member KWP Central Committee (as of September 1992, 160 full members, 143 alternate members). Preeminence of party control (estimated 3 million members) unchallenged and as of mid-1993 no discernible signs of internal opposition to Kim Il Sung's absolute authority. Members of Supreme People's Assembly, unicameral legislature, also elected to five-year terms (as revision to 1972 constitution) in May 1990, with power to elect and recall authority of chairman, National Defense Commission, on president's recommendation; universal suffrage age seventeen. Constitution revised April 1992 at Supreme People's Assembly; text released in November 1992 by South Korean press. Nominally Marxist-Leninist in doctrine, but since mid-1970s, chuch'e, indigenous doctrine, promotes ideology of national self-reliance."

Or to put things more accurately and less euphemistically, they have a dictatorship that does not dictate well, quashes dissent after they screw up, fails to share anything with anyone in the country and then tells the nation's people to go practice an "ideology of national self-reliance." You'd think they were People's Republicans or something.

They are not. They are insane idiots. Their subjects eat less than 50% of what the World Health Organization suggests a healthy adult should. These people serve a government that hates The United States, and wishes us nothing but rampant colon cancer.

Perhaps, on a primal, carniverous level, this is a good thing. Except that it isn't, unless you're Judge Greer and find these people extraneous anyhow. North Korea's suffering will become a major problem for us.

Why? Because everyone's suffering becomes a major problem for us. We are the world, we always get stuck feeding the children. The rest of the planet despises us for that, but that will never stop them from begging.

Another reason why? 39% of the North Korean population undergoes at least semi-regular military training. Out of 22 million people, that equals lots of them. To put this less flippantly, they are a potential juggernaut, commanded by a leadership, that would expend their lives like a business enterprise would blow through its petty cash fund.

To make this situation even less pleasant, we're technically at war with this nation. It's the hairball in East Asia's digestive tract and it's stubborn and determined in a way that only the truly fanatic can be.

So how will this mess probably end? Not well. There are no winners. It's the ultimate sucker bet for anybody involved. So I rank what I perceive as probably outcomes in order of least pestilent to most tragic.

  1. The North Korea government falls victim to it's own irrational stupidity. It fails and it's fuedalistic primates all purge one another. This is good because the hellfire never rains on Seoul and the Koreans can begin the awful rebuilding project. This is bad because China and South Korea end becoming the primary care givers for over 20 million people who haven't had a good, juicy Big Mac in over a decade. This is also bad because the US, Russia, Japan, S. Korea and China have a jump ball over who gets to play with North Korea's nukes. This, of course, assumes they find those nukes before they show up on E-Bay.
  2. The South Koreans get tired of the US Army and kick us out with KIJ still running The Nuthouse to the North. According to a Pew Survey, 58% of South Koreans regretted the fact that the Iraquis didn't put up a better fight against the US Army. It's not like these people still consider us an ally. The immediate result would probably be massive military and diplomatic pressure from both North Korea and China on South Korea to fold its tent and join the Worker's Revolution. Pyongyang would come to rapidly rule a united Korea and the South Korean economy would work about as well as Cuba's or North Korea's. That is to say, the world would then have to feed 60 or so starving, miserable Koreans with over a 12 million man military and nuclear weapons, or else.
  3. The North Koreans get desperate, hungry and invade S. Korea to steal what they can't grow. The carnage is awful. The entire Korean Peninsula gets returned to the 4th Century AD. China and Russia deploy millions of soldiers and tanks to seal their borders and stop refugees from crossing. The US and ROK Army probably win an exhaustive war that grinds about 3 or 4 million people into fertilizer. Maybe, a nuclear weapon gets used on Seoul or on a US base.

So the Korean Peninsula is the ultimate no win situation. Everyone plays what Coach Dean Smith termed "The Carolina Four-Corners" and hopes the other side runs out of time and fresh players off the bench. The entire fiasco perhaps lends credence to General MacArthur's poignant assertion. "There is no substitute for victory."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mythology And Health Care Costs. Prices Don't Just Go Up.

No one really likes it when a product increases at a price that's twice the rate of inflation. This quickly puts that product out of the reach of the average consumer. Predictably, the mourners will sing about how it is all unfair. This has been especially true in the case of health care costs.

Health care costs in this nation are going up at double the rate of inflation and now cost $600 billion a year or a debilitating 11.5% of our gross national product. By comparison, Canada spends 8.5% of its gross national product on health care; Japan 6.7% and Britain 6.2%.

By the year 2,000 it is estimated that if health care costs continue to rise at today's rates that we will be spend-ing 15% of our gross national product on health care and at that point even our big auto companies will break under the cost burden. If America's premier manufacturing companies will not be able to afford employee health care - who will? - Mike Westfall (1990)

Who can afford employee health care? The government. And that, Ladies and Germs, is the graveman of the problem. Health care is no longer retailed in this country, it's auctioned. Even worse than that, it's not just auctioned, it's auctioned via a rigged scheme. As long as that remains the case, you'd better look twice before crossing the busy thoroughfare.

Here's how health care came to be auctioned, rather than retailed. The people who paid for health care started out being, by and large, individual consumers. This put a ceiling on how much the drug companies, hospitals and physicians could bill. My vastly empty wallet was a sure fire cost control mechanism.

People then began to recognize that they could manage risk and pool funds. Several people with a small likelihood of requiring a procedure could gang up and easily pay for the cost of the one poor unlucky soul who needed it. The insurance policy and health plan were born.

Doctors and drug inventors, by their professional nature, are not stupid people. They quickly realized that if people had more money to buy a product, they could afford it even if it cost a whole bunch more. This happened in short order, and people once more became highly concerned that they could not afford the services of medical professionals, even with a health plan.

This situation became exacerbated further, because insurers and health plan coordinators could also manage risk by controlling who was allowed to kick into the pool. People who exhibited health characteristics that led to frequent or expensive demands on the money pool had to pay in more to join or were banned outright. They were still charged for health care as if they were part of a unified money pool. At this point, the health care market was now an auction market.

When a consumer could no longer afford to bid high enough for a scarce MRI or HIV drug, they lost. This is how auction markets work at Southerby's or anywhere else in the world in which they occur. This is not a problem at Southerby's, because no one is going to die if they don't have an original Renoir to hang in the drawing room. They may very well die soon if they don't have a check for colon cancer. Hence, a lot of people felt intense pain at having to participate in an auction to get health care.

Members of the government looked at this situation and saw that the people who would need certain health care services the most would not have them made available unless they were wealthy dillitantes. They then proceeded to pave the road to Stygian health care costs with the finest and most noble of intentions.

When the government entered the health care market, they became a unique consumer for two important reasons.

  1. They could outbid anyone who moved. Their pot of money was The Federal Budget. The Federal Budget is profoundly resourced and has a level of credit that far outstrips the actual cash account that the IRS brings in each year. No matter how badly we bloat our deficit, it's still going to be a long, long time before The Federal Reserve actually issues a junk Treasury Bond.
  2. The people setting the prices had the ability to collude via there lobbyists and convince this bidder to actually inflate it's bid. The AMA lobbied assiduously for the US Government to spend more on health care because of the high costs. The government bid higher, the medical professionals then jacked up the prices.
  3. The recursion here doesn't take Einstein to figure out. You can see a very similar regression line with college tuitions and Pell Grants. What's the only humane solution? More Pell Grants. What happens when the government pumps in more liquidity? Higher tuition.

So what do many advocates of fixing this problem reccommend? National Health Care plans. Letting the government be the only payer for health care. This would constitute an unmitigated disaster on several levels.

The government would price health care where ever a lobbyist told them to. This would bear no legitimate relation to what the services cost. If they made health care too cheap, everyone would demand it at a larger level than necessary. This would flood hospitals with claims that at least quasi-hypochondriatic. Drugs, vaccinations and the time of highly skilled doctors would become too scarce.

The average patient would son have little or no chance of getting these services. This is why Canadian patients wait for months to get an MRI. Sure, it's a cheap MRI compared to the US, but that's why a few million other people are in line and that MRI scanner won't be available for another year or two.

If they price the health care too expensively, you'd have The Prescription Drug Panderation Act. It would wreck our budget and drive our Medicare Program several years closer to bankruptcy. It would hyper-inflate the cost of every prescription drug on the market even more than the current regime. It would sure suck out loud if The President and Congress wanted to saddle us with a really stupid bill like that one.

So that's how we get a leviathan-like government and no health care. We keep recruiting a richer designated payer for health care costs and then wonder why the product costs go up far faster than the level of value provided via the services. It's a prima-face example of how you wind up with something for nothing when greed and fear replace intellectual thought in the market place.

Doctors and drug makers will provide a certain level of value, no matter who pays for the service. The more cash gets pumped into that particular market, the more these people will vaccuum it off the table without increasing the value they provide.

Giving the whole thing over to the government or a big HMO won't fix it either. That will cause your prostate surgery to be priced by a cost accountant or a GS-13 Operations Research Analyst. I'd rather have my medical bill tallied up by someone who's done an operation or two.

The key to killing off greedy insurers, unethical Doctors and power-lusting government bureaucrats before they become parasites who live off our medical field is to end the hyperinflation. Cut off the money and you cut off the bad guys from their oxygen. When the average American goes to the pharmacist, there should be a single payer. The patient.

Monday, March 28, 2005

MS - 13 and The Permiable US Border

It's not a banner day for any government when a group of its own citizens form a posse to guard it's national border and are publically threatened one of the world's largest drug smuggling operations. This has recently happened at a section of the US border near Tucson, Ariz.

The citizens preparing to set up a vigil on the border dub themselves "The Minuteman Project." In their manifesto, they state the following.

"This project is the result of our government failing to do its most basic duty: protecting each State in the Union against invasion (Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution). ..."

and furthermore,

"At the current rate of invasion the United States will be completely over run with ILLEGAL aliens by the year 2025...only 21 years away. ILLEGAL aliens and their offspring will be the dominant population in the U.S. and will have made such inroads into the political and social systems that "they" will have more influence than our Constitution over how the U.S. is governed. The ugly consequence of an ignored U.S. Constitution is already taking place.

Future generations will inherit this mutated form of the United States of America, consisting of 100 different sub-nations, speaking 100 different languages, and promoting 100 different cultural agendas. That will certainly guarantee the death of this nation as a "melting pot". Instead, it will be tantamount to a sack of marbles...with each marble colliding with the other marbles, as each culture scrambles for dominance of its culture over all others.

The final result: political and social mayhem. "

To make things even more chaotic, a renowned Salvadoran drug smuggling cartel, Mara Salvatruca, or MS-13, as it is known on the streets, has threatened to inflict violence on these 'Minutemen'. Perhaps this is an effort to demonstrate to people exactly who really owns the Southern US Border.

Mara Salvatruca has deadly intent. They have spent years smuggling drugs and weapons over the Mexican Border and are in no mood to stop doing so. This is their lifeblood. The Minuteman Project threatens to hit them where they live.

According to World Net Daily,

"A leader of the violent, terror-connected Latin American gang Mara Salvatruchas, Ebner Anivel Rivera-Paz, has reportedly issued orders from federal prison to members of his international criminal organization to teach a lesson to a group of Americans taking border control into their own hands.
Lately, the gang has joined forces with former members of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, a radical terrorist group, and some U.S. intelligence sources say they may also be cooperating with Islamic terrorist groups – including al-Qaida. " - Hat-Tip Digger's Realm.

The US Border Patrol has announced a significant increase in resources to protect the Arizona section of the US Mexican border. What that means in real terms remains to be seen. What we know right now is the following.

  1. The US Government has not put the necessary effort into controlling the border.
  2. The citizens, particularly in Arizona, have become so sick of this that they are willing to toe the line of outright vigilantiism in order to restore basic civil order.
  3. Gangs like MS-13 have so little respect for the US Government in general that they see no problem publically threatening The Minuteman Project with violence that will take place on US soil.

I can only hope that recent overtures towards putting more Border Patrol agents in Arizona are genuine. This is not a situation that the US government has adequately under control. It will get worse and perhaps quite violent if immediate action isn't taken. Perhaps Bill O' Rielly call for National Guard deployments to the border are not as outlandish as they may seem at first blush.


As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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