No one seems to be writing opinion pieces quite the way I would, so I decided to do it myself.
The name? Taverns are places where one goes to discuss the interesting events and things in the world, so this is my tavern.
I will offer my views on politics, economics, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Friday, March 25, 2005
You may have noticed a lack of activityThat's because I am now writing at Politics Plus Stuff for general political and other things, and at Social Security Notes for information and my opinions on the Social Security reform efforts. Please go se me.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
Social Security Reform? Why not the real problem - Medicare?
Capital Hill Blue offers an article that points out that although the more pressing problem facing America is Medicare, Bush wants to spend his political capital to “solve” (read “privatize and destroy”) Social Security this year.
The question has to be “why?”
In my opinion, Medicare is off the radar because the problems can’t be solved using private market means (those have been tried since the Truman Presidency with worse results for each successive effort, most recently the creation of HMO’s and private medical accounts). Besides, Bush has already done Medicare once. Not only is there no likely solution, there is no political gain for attempting to solve Medicare.
But Social Security? Conservatives have been out to get it since it was created in 1935, and the conservative propaganda machines have been describing it’s impending doom with greater and greater volume and inaccuracy as the conservative movement has gained power in the federal government. Now for the first time since the 1920’s the Republicans have control of the Presidency, the Legislature, and there is a strong conservative bent in the Courts, and Bush does not have to run for reelection again.
So Bush has the opportunity, there is no telling when such a opportunity may recur, and the conditions for actually doing something are better than they have been since the 1930’s. The mere facts that 1. there is no real major system problem to solve and 2. the proposed solution will destroy the system are totally irrelevant.
So what do we get? A destructive “solution” to the non-problems of Social Security while the real problems in Medicare are going to be completely ignored and left for more competent people to deal with.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
This is how we are losing in Iraq
The media are presenting some numbers that can explain how badly Iraq is being managed.
While I don't guarantee the validity of the analysis, the historical references are accurate and I don't see anything wrong with it.
I would guess the real question is whether the numbers change after the elections scheduled for the end of January. The only reason that I can see for such a change is that the current attacks are a major push and the resources (human and military) that the insurgents have will run out.
I have no evidence that the resources available to the insurgents are even in doubt. My bet is that they are not.
Nasty and Isolationist Right-Wing Publications.
Do you really want to know how bad the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal have become?? They have made up a story about a UN official complaining about how stingy the US was over aid to the Tsunami-stricken nations. The Gadflyer
This is the largest natural disaster to occur in decades, and what do the right-wing sleaze-rags do? They use it to lie about how badly Bush is being treated by the UN.
Do they even care that well over a hundred thousand people (especially children) were killed within about six hours? Apparently not. They have to make up lies about a UN official who never said that the US was being "stingy."
The funny thing is that their very lies make the story true. The thousands of deaths are irrelevant to them if they can use the disaster to make up political lies that appear to show that they are being "Dissed."
Monday, December 27, 2004
Pro-Choice, not pro-abortion
I found this on Steve Gilliards' blog.
Democrats support women being able to choose when to have children, ensuring that all children are wanted and cared for. The ability to choose means that
1) women get to choose when and with whom they have sexual relations,
2) are able to choose from a full array of birth control options to avoid becoming pregnant if they do not want become pregnant, and
3) as a last resort access to a safe and legal abortion only up to viability or to protect the life of the woman.
Our position is properly called pro-choice, because it is about having the ability to make the choices necessary to control when and how to have children.
It is not pro-abortion, because if the first two parts of choice are guaranteed then the number of abortions will be reduced dramatically.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
The Economist Warns about the Dollar
The Economist Dec 02, 2004 has a rather frightening article on the fate of the American Dollar. Here are two key paragraphs, but the entire article is important.
The dollar is not what it used to be. Over the past three years it has fallen by 35% against the euro and by 24% against the yen. But its latest slide is merely a symptom of a worse malaise: the global financial system is under great strain. America has habits that are inappropriate, to say the least, for the guardian of the world's main reserve currency: rampant government borrowing, furious consumer spending and a current-account deficit big enough to have bankrupted any other country some time ago. This makes a dollar devaluation inevitable, not least because it becomes a seemingly attractive option for the leaders of a heavily indebted America. Policymakers now seem to be talking the dollar down. Yet this is a dangerous game. Why would anybody want to invest in a currency that will almost certainly depreciate?
The dollar's loss of reserve-currency status would lead America's creditors to start cashing those cheques—and what an awful lot of cheques there are to cash. As that process gathered pace, the dollar could tumble further and further. American bond yields (long-term interest rates) would soar, quite likely causing a deep recession. Americans who favour a weak dollar should be careful what they wish for. Cutting the budget deficit looks cheap at the price.
At one point in the article it states that ”The OECD's latest Economic Outlook predicts that the deficit will rise to $825 billion by 2006 (6.4% of America's GDP) assuming unchanged exchange rates.” American readers need to remember that a British billion is 1,000,000,000,000 or one million million.. In the US we call that a trillion.
This provides some confirmation about my previous postings about the financial hole the Bush administration is placing the US into. And they are still digging it deeper.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Someone with a reasonable view of Religion
Thank you, James Wolcott and H. L. Mencken.
I'm really getting fed up with all the pious hogwash we're supposed to accept now about faith and belief and the need for God in our lives. "There is, in fact, nothing about religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other opinions get," wrote H.L. Mencken in 1929, and oh were he with us in this hour.
Most people use religion to justify what they were inclined to do anyway, picking and choosing the Biblical passages that best feather their proud modesty. We're cautioned now that snickering over Bush's choice of Jesus as his favorite philosopher only reveals how snobby and elitist we are. Well, too bad.
For all his compassion for the poor and lame, Jesus also possessed a punitive mean streak, and as a philosopher he was a primitive compared to Eastern thinkers such as Buddha, Shankara, and Longchenpa, a point Sam Harris drives home in The End of Faith: "Even the contemporary literature on consciousness, which spans philosophy, cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience, cannot match the kind of precise, phenomenological studies that can be found throughout the Buddhist canon."
But now David Brooks is enjoining us to pay heed to evangelical theologian John Stott. I'll leave the last word to Mencken: "The average theologian...disseminates his blather, not innocently, like a philosopher, but maliciously, like a politician. In a well-organized world he would be on the stone-pile. but in the world as it exists we are asked to listen to him, not only politely, but even reverently, with our mouths open."
The three finest men I have met are two Roman Catholic Priests and an ex-Southern Baptist Preacher become Charismatic Preacher who I knew as a chaplain in my Reserve Unit. None of them required me to accept their blather without question.
If you understand Herbert A. Simon's concept of Bounded Rationality and the theories of General Semantics as described by Korzbski and S. I. Hayakawa will find Biblical Inerrancy irrational and phoney. Religion really has to be more than some preacher standing there and saying "Believe what I tell you or go to Hell."
The DFW Center for General Semantics offers an interesting list of people who have been exposed to General Semantics.