Archives for category: Regulation

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-26/largest-u-s-wind-project-dealt-potentially-fatal-blow-in-texas

“Texas dealt a potential death blow to what would be the largest-ever U.S. wind farm: American Electric Power Co.’s $4.5 billion Wind Catcher project.”

Not really. If Warren Buffett and his big-money pals really think this is a boon, they can continue. They only have to accept all the risk, or at least a lot more of it. The hypocritical investors want to pay as they go with ratepayer money, years before any power is produced. If they are willing to pony up the funds themselves, the building approvals will mostly be clear sailing. (The powerline is still a problem. Significant oversight on the part of the investors, and obvious hubris.)

“American Electric’s proposal tapped a financial model that utilities have long used to build nuclear, coal- and natural gas-fired plants: by tacking costs — plus a profit — onto customers’ bills. The company asked regulators in four states for permission to use the strategy for a sprawling project…”

This isn’t quite true. Oklahoma utilities don’t earn a profit. It is a cost-basis monopoly. I’m not familiar with Texas, but it must be about the same. Sure, overall, our utilities make money, but it is tightly controlled and transparent. OG&E was going to build a second coal plant next to an existing one. It was in the plans a long time, and there was a significant amount of work to be done before OG&E would be passing costs to ratepayers. When the state-approved planned time came, cold-hearted Scott Meacham overstepped his office and launched a smear campaign against coal. Millions were instantly flushed down the drain, and Oklahoma is paying for it all in higher costs and more pain on the least among us. Our bats and birds are being slaughtered for it too. It is the fear that we will never be able to build more reliable coal plants that is causing us to engage in these risky and unreliable wind schemes.

These investors aren’t playing fair. They won’t take the risk. I mean, can’t Warren Buffett write a check for the full $4.5 billion today? It isn’t like they don’t have the money if they have the confidence they are advertising.

There is another tell. Why is Wind Catcher advertising with all these feel-good PR spots on radio and TV?

“American Electric’s Southwestern Electric Power has proposed owning 70 percent of the 2-gigawatt project. Arkansas and Louisiana already approved the plans. Oklahoma has yet to issue a final decision. The project includes a transmission line to take the power to Tulsa and into Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.”

Oklahoma is balking, and Texas refused. Note the share of risk. Texas has a full 70% and Oklahoma has most of the rest. Is it any wonder Arkansas and Louisiana approved? They share almost no risk regardless.

Note the blatant falsehood of 2GW. We can ignore the conflation of power with energy because the point remains. The hand-wavers point to 800 towers with 2.5-megawatt capacity turbines on them. 800 x 2.5 = 2,000, right? Sure, but how much does one typically get from a given wind turbine? Here is the fact: The transmission line is only being built for 600 megawatts!

https://newsok.com/article/5587106/oklahomas-corporation-commission-asks-public-service-co.-of-oklahoma-to-seek-settlement-on-its-wind-catcher-plan

If the 800 towers ever actually exist, and if 100% are running at peak capacity, then over two-thirds of the power will be dissipated and wasted because it cannot be carried on the transmission line. Of course, 100% capacity is practically impossible. An average efficiency of 30% is probably a little optimistic. It is probably optimistic to suppose all 800 towers will ever stand at the same time, for that matter.

If Wind Catcher is a good deal, the investors should stop trying to pass costs on to the public until power is feeding into the grid. If Wind Catcher is good, prove it. Prove me wrong. The saddest fact hasn’t even come up yet: Taxes.

The whole investment doesn’t work without Federal money and Federal and State capital gains tax credits. Most of Warren Buffett’s profit is associated with manipulating taxes and receiving tax money straight out of our pockets. Buffett has done this many times. He invests, he rakes in the taxes, and he bails before the maintenance costs start showing everyone there is no free lunch, not even free breezes.

At best, in 20 to 25 years, all 800 of the bird/bat-choppers will be decrepit and hazardous. Who is going to clean up the mess? Will the investors do it? Will they come back with all their profits and make right for the landowners and land users?

Over and over for over 3,000 years we have abandoned windmills. We will this time, too, and someone has to clean up the mess.

This is one history lesson I wish we could learn. A windmill is a very limited tool, and industrial scale electricity production is not a use for which it is suited.

Oklahoma, did Texas just push us off the tracks in front of the oncoming train? I think so. Are we going to rush right back in front of the locomotive?

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https://kfor.com/2018/07/03/oklahoma-landowners-speaking-out-about-proposed-wind-farm-construction-project/

Wind Catcher is almost certainly going to be built; so we will see. The video in the above-linked report contains a lot of untruth in the last half-minute. Scott Norwood outright lies. He stumbles through his statements.

The rated capacity of 800 towers with 2.5-megawatt turbines is easy to calculate. The power production project is not like current, standard power plants. It will be limited to wind availability and to other inefficiencies. It will be irregular and uncontrollable regarding power production. The tell is the disputed power line, which will obviously steal value from all landowners near it; it is only being rated for 600 megawatts, a third of the pretentious rated capacity. They were calling this a $4B project. That number went to $4.5B soon after. The latest total cost estimate I’ve seen is now $5.4B. Also, keep in mind that the majority of the power from these bird choppers will be delivered to neighboring states, not the poor folks having to live in the midst of an industrial power generation facility.

What a mess!

Over and over for over 3,000 years we have abandoned windmills. We will this time, too, and someone will have to clean up the mess.

I applaud our State Attorney General for opposing the current request to start charging Oklahomans for the construction costs long before any power production.

Some years back, State Treasurer, Scott Meacham, similarly opposed a proposal to start charging for a conventional power generation facility. It was killed. That power plant will never be built. It was being built, in accord with agreements and published plans, next to an existing power plant. It already had millions of costs. Construction was far enough that OG&E asserted the project could not continue without cost recovery. Thus, when the State Treasurer started grandstanding (Who? Why?), the project was killed. It cost us Oklahomans millions and subjected us all to the suffering imposed by industrial fans. Scott Meacham owes us!

The State Attorney General is standing on legal grounds. Meacham simply threw a temper tantrum on emotional grounds.

https://newsok.com/article/5600278/oklahoma-corporation-commission-wraps-up-testimony-on-proposed-wind-catcher-settlements-but-no-decision-was-made

Many questions and responses centered on whether the project would benefit the utility’s typical residential customer, especially during the last 15 years of the project’s expected 25 year life.

For what it’s worth:

Commission Chairwoman Dana Murphy again discussed concerns she has about complaints the agency has received from various Oklahoman landowners that could be impacted by a proposed 360-mile line to get power from Wind Catcher into the utility’s Tulsa-area grid. Many have said the utility and the land company it has been using to acquire needed line rights of way have used deceitful and bullying tactics.

Note:

But in Oklahoma, a commission administrative law judge who considered PSO’s proposal recommends the commission deny the utility’s request.

The judge recommends denial because the utility did not seek competitive construction bids for the project and because that work had started before PSO filed its request.

While PSO estimates its 545,000 customers would see a rate increase of about $78 million in 2021 if the cost recovery were granted, it also maintains lower energy costs and connected federal wind production tax credits would offset that increase.

I’ve found no explanation of how Federal dollars (taken from us) will offset rate increases. If rate powers will collectively pay an extra $78M in 2021, how do they get back their money? PSO and the investors get the Federal tax credits. When does the homeowner (electricity user) get the money back?

Over the years, money people, like Warren Buffet, have invested heavily in wind and solar startups. They always pull their money out of the projects soon after starting, soon after they’ve collected all or most of what the Federal Government gives them from taxpayers. It is hypocritical, but it is a good way to fleece America. I really don’t see how taxpayers and ratepayers in Oklahoma are going to benefit from any of this.

Here in Oklahoma, a quarter-century from now, our children will have to figure out how to clean up the mess left by Wind Catcher. The fat cats will be gone, made all the fatter by those too greedy for a little extra revenue into municipal and county coffers. The short-term gain is small. The overall costs are large and enduring.

Production of energy is never free. There are always costs. Industrial fans happen to be the most certain long-term high-cost way to produce electricity. We will live to regret it. Our bird and bat populations already regret it.

Winds blow. Windmills suck!

 

 

 

Philadelphia Dec. 23. 1791.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. — Thomas Jefferson

A friend posted on Facebook about the Oklahoma State Question 788 legalizing marijuana per doctor’s note. I had commented about the legal prohibition forcing me to be responsible for the harm caused by the law.

I was camping for a few days, so now I’m able to take time to write a bit. We Oklahomans vote on the matter tomorrow (26 June 2018).

To be blunt, I oppose all legal prohibitions of vices. If there is no victim, there can be no justification for laws criminalizing the action. (Rationalizations and mental gymnastics should be employed for liberty, not for coercion.)

I’m using the word vice to mean actions that are reasonably called bad, even harmful to oneself, and perhaps, by extension, hurtful to ones loved-ones. I mean actions that are done willingly, even if unwisely, with malice toward no one. That is, if I abuse a substance, I will likely harm myself, but I’m not doing it with malice. I don’t intend to harm anyone, even if the end result will hurt those who care about me. On the other hand, there are natural crimes where my actions intentionally, or at least directly, harm someone else. The most obvious is murder.

It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have. Will Munny (Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven.)

If I may use “natural crimes” to mean that which victimizes at least one other, and vices to mean that which harms no one directly except the doer, then perhaps I can be clear.

I first must set forth my consideration of law, any law, every law. When I consider whether a law is justifiable, I use this criterion: If someone was about to violate the law, and if I had a gun to the would-be criminal’s head, would I be willing to say, “Stop, or else!” If they persisted, would I be willing to pull the trigger?

If the law they are violating is life, if the perpetrator is about to commit murder (a natural crime), or inflict grave injury and harm, then, yes, I could suppose I’d be willing to pull the trigger, and I suppose I would be justified.

If the law they are violating is texting while driving, or smoking a joint, no. Don’t be absurd. Of course not. Yet, we have the laws.

Sure, driving while intoxicated or negligently distracted is dangerous, but it is not intentionally malicious. If someone is negligent along such lines, we have reasonable and justifiable liability laws. We hold them accountable.

Someone might object that a negligent driver may accidentally take a life as a result, and liability and reparations cannot bring back the dead nor satisfy the bereaved. Certainly, but let us consider the natural and often likely extreme; if law-enforcement attempts to apprehend the negligent driver (for citation or arrest), the driver may refuse to comply, and it doesn’t take much for someone to die in such circumstance. A high-speed chase is too often fatal. A “criminal” who objects to being criminalized for a vice often becomes belligerent, and, far too often, such situations end in someone dying.

In many instances, our protection is merely hypothetical. How can we justify proactively coercing someone to protect a life, when the coercion itself is an evil act and very well may result in loss of life. Life for life in the abstract is not justifiable. Life for life can only be justified when the threat of death is clear and imminent. Even in war, it is morally reprehensible for me to take the life of an enemy combatant who is clearly attempting to surrender.

Here is the point I hoped to make on Facebook regarding State Question 788 and the decriminalization of marijuana if a doctor signs off on it. The Law currently criminalizes the possessor or seller of a naturally grown plant. Said criminal is subject to all manner of force and coercion at the hands of law enforcement officials. I cannot justify sending our police to enforce such unjustifiable laws. Our police are armed, and they are trained to use force, even deadly force, to uphold the law. Whether the law is justifiable or not, I am literally responsible, given that is our system, and in it, I am the authority and basis of the government. The government rules by my consent. If I consent, I am responsible.

As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, I am much more willing to deal with the problems attendant to too much liberty. I do not have a clear conscience if I am responsible for too little liberty. I am responsible, in our society, here in the USA, here in Oklahoma, if our government is, in fact, tyrannical. I will act in legal, civil, and voluntary ways to increase liberty and to minimize tyranny. I must make a legitimate effort to repeal unjustifiable and unnecessary laws. I must support decriminalize of drug use, even if it is only halfway.

The same goes for immigration, but that is not the topic here. We must have constraints on immigration, but our laws are too restrictive, and worse, too complicated and hard to enforce. Many of our laws are based on fear. Many of our laws are based on favoring some at the expense of others. That is tyranny, and it is wrong.

I hope my point is clear. I oppose prohibitions on vices because I find the prohibitions more immoral than the vices prohibited. I oppose prohibitions on vices because such prohibitions require our police to enforce unjustifiable laws. Further, unjustifiable laws result in unfair enforcement and unfair judicial practice because mercy and justice cannot be consistently considered. Further still, excess laws, unjustifiable or simply unneeded, push our police beyond their warrant. Excessive laws force our police to overextend, increasing their risks unjustifiably.

Specifically, how many police have died because of a marijuana arrest? How many times have drug raids and drug enforcement deprived a more worthy use of police capabilities?

Again, all of this is my fault, our fault, collectively, because we vote for it. We don’t bend the ears of our legislators and peacefully persuade them to repeal the unjustifiable laws. We don’t vote them out and install representatives who will listen.

Prohibition of vices causes more harm than good. Prohibition of vices is more immoral than the vice.

We have the example of alcohol. Of course, it is different. Yet, it is simply a vice. Many people, good, bad, innocent, and otherwise, died trying to prohibit alcohol in our country. We have many problems associated with alcohol. Many people suffer, and many people die. Yet, we don’t cause it. We, collectively, are not responsible for suffering and death resultant from free choices of free people. Our responsibility ends with our innate obligation to love our neighbor as ourselves. I have a simple obligation to my neighbor, my relative, my friend, who has a problem with addiction, or whatever, in so far as I care about them and want the best for them, within my capabilities.

Passing a law and sending the police to enforce it is not the same; it is not a way to fulfill my obligation to love my neighbor. It is coercion, and coercion is evil.

Coercion, being evil, is only justifiable when the coercion enforced is obviously less evil than the harm prevented. By obvious, I mean a clear and imminent harm.

Again, I stand with Jefferson. No doubt, there are problems associated with decriminalizing drugs, but the problems of liberty are not immoral. The problems caused by coercion are immoral. Let us all choose to stand for liberty. Let us all honor every individual as self-sovereign. Let us all refuse to coerce.

 

 

 

There is a problem with facts: There are just so many!

This page, https://www.justfacts.com/pollution.asp, is “Just Facts” pollution page.

Pollution is much less problem than most people believe. It was worth worrying about in 1970, but by the early 1980s, not so much. We are past silly now.

Did you know caffeine is toxic in high doses? You probably know that. It will take something like the caffeine in 300 cups of coffee, all at once to kill about half the adults who took so much. (In other words, coffee is quite safe.) Here is the kicker, you’d need more than 300 gallons worth (not cups) of glyphosate (ya know, Roundup) to have the same fatal effect. Yet, we worry about glyphosate use to keep us from starving to death.

Facts are important. People mostly ignore them anyway.

Here is another tidbit: Peanut butter has a very small, but definable potential to cause cancer. We all know peanut butter is safe; we eat mountains of it. Yet, PCBs are about a hundred times less dangerous than peanut butter. 😮 What? PCBs aren’t dangerous? No. PCBs are not worth worrying about at all, not at all. Still, we waste money and fear on it daily.

Honestly, EPA is the most dangerous thing in all the world, at least when it comes to pollution. The world will be a better place without EPA, and we could be rid of it tomorrow if we just had the gumption.

Here is a hard thing. “The only way to grow out of the state is to not treat it as an alien “other” but as a reflection of a violence-addicted culture.”

We, you and I, commit violence against others with our laws, with our regulations, with our prisons.

You and I have blood on our hands. Our lawmakers ensure it.

For every evil a state-enforced regulation alleviates, it perpetrates more, maybe many more, maybe many times worse. You and I are responsible.

When one causes suffering, that one is responsible. When our government, our state, our laws, our police cause suffering, we are all responsible. All of us have the blood on our hands.

“Don’t be evil,” the saying goes. What is evil? It is at least the causing of suffering unnecessarily. Do our prohibitions cause suffering? Yes. You know our drug laws, our prostitution laws, our petty prohibitions of this and that, our requirement of this or that, they all cause suffering. They all result in harming people and families in prisons and other obvious harms. Why continue?

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.” Thomas Jefferson, Philadelphia Dec. 23. 1791.

If we live to “protect,” how? How can we protect anyone older than about six years? We can only protect people by imposing on them. Coercion is evil. Coercion is always evil. Why commit evil to protect? There is one reasonable justification: when the evil prevented is obviously worse than the evil imposed by the coercion, when that evil prevented was clear, present, and imminent.

Coercion, imposition of law, needs to be stripped of its layers and accoutrements, especially the pretty ones. We pretend our laws are for the good, but what good? Strip the law down to its ultimate: Every law has you, ultimately, holding a gun to someone’s head and saying, “Comply or else!”

You scoff. You recoil. You would never do that. Heck,  you may even protest you own no gun, you may even claim you’ve never held a gun, but did you vote? Did you pay taxes? Don’t you sanction the police, at least when you need them? Did you cheer when the law passed? “No more texting and driving,” you cried in triumph. Yet, what of the young person who does so anyway, who is seen, caught red-handed, by an officer of the law? Who, when the siren sounds and the lights flash, refuses to submit? What then? High speed chase? Property damage, injury, loss of life? All because you insisted on assigning enforcement, the guys with the guns, to enforce your coercive, self-serving, even narcissistic and egotistical, will.

You! You supported that. You are responsible. There is blood on your hands.

We must change our ways. We must change our laws. We must abandon punishment in our civic culture. We all know what harm is. When there is a responsible party, intentional, negligent, or something similar, we understand justice. We understand the harm, the wrong, must be set right in some way. Punishing the responsible party is seldom warranted. Locking the person in a cage, how have we remained so evil so long?

When someone is harmed, we must find ways to set it right, ways that may involve substantial hardship for the responsible party. We can be reasonable, merciful, and still see justice done.

The old rule of eye-for-eye and life-for-life may need to be applied on rare occasions, but we normally have much more rational, even more effective, options.

Imposing harm willingly is the height of evil. Yet, we do it every day.

We harm those who violate our laws daily, and we harm those who love them or depend on them. We cause the harm, and we know it! That is the evil of our society, not supposed slights and unconscious bias.

Our laws need to focus on harm done and reparation. We must abandon punishment in most civil and criminal matters. We must figure out how to stop locking up all but our most dangerous fellow humans.

Here is another idea we must internalize, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

I am the monster. You are the monster. Our society, our laws, our enforcement, our systems! We are the monster! “There is none righteous, no not one!

Think, are you not frightened whenever you think of doing something out of the ordinary? Don’t you wonder if it is illegal, if someone might call the police, if the police just might show up for you? Oh, what evil we have wrought! We live in a society where the sensitive among us live in fear of the police, the state. Why?

When we impose regulation on children, on parents, on education, we are restricting, coercing, demanding what is not rightfully ours.

For many thousands of years, we have made do just fine with no imposition of regulations on parents. How can our hubris reach so high as to think this or that rule improves the human lot? Nemesis visits us already. Her reminders to return to humility, to minding our own business, are not usually extreme, but they will become so if we continue our imposing, coercive ways. It is simply the nature of existence. TANSTAAFL and “Mind own business.” That is the existence we have. It is what we should celebrate. We can only have the best when we all trust one another to the good, to be honest, to accomplish our own necessities. Our meddling only, almost always, increases suffering more than necessary.

I allow for the needs, for the necessities, because nothing is ever perfect, at least not in the existence we live.

I want less government, less law, less meddling, less imposition, less coercion. I’m not advocating for overthrow. No! What we have works pretty well. Let’s not blow it up. But, we can start restricting it. We can start repealing laws. We can start lowering budgets and eliminating programs. Such is the road to less harm and more general welfare.

There are no government programs that don’t cause harm. Get it? All government programs, all government action, causes harm. Government programs and actions harm some, some individuals. In many instances, the government action is causing more harm, more human suffering, than it alleviates, even when the best of intentions are legitimate and even when well supervised.

Government causes harm. It is inarguable. Freedom is better. Of course, there are those who will take advantage when opportunity arises, and that is why we need the sanctioned violence, the enforcement, the police, the guys with the guns. Yes, we need them. (We also need to be able to defend ourselves from them.)

However, we need less than we have.

Our needs our meager when it comes to government, yet we surfeit! Why?

Why is government excess the one excess we revel in. Is revelling in excess not sin, simply by definition! Of course, it is. Let us stop insisting on continuing this sin.

Less government, and let’s start with less laws.

 

 

 

Do we really need to outlaw plagiarism?

Does copying someone else’s work without attribution pose a threat so grave that we must send armed forces to stamp it out?

I think not.

It truly is important to think through every law. We must stop and say, if my grandmother was engaging in this prohibited action, do I think it worth pointing a loaded gun at her to try to make her stop, and is it justifiable to pull the trigger if she refuses compliance?

If we review our laws that way, I think we will repeal most of them.

First, an aside, am I justified in calling all law to be so scrutinized? I don’t think justification is involved. That is what we do. If we pass a law, we are threatening to send aggressive, armed forces, law-enforcement, to coerce compliance. When we write a parking citation, we are counting on most people to simply comply and pay the fine, rather than challenge the authority, because when the sheriff shows up, we don’t want to risk the fact that the deputy will probably eventually pull the trigger and put us down permanently because the law backs the enforcer.

It isn’t an academic question. It is what we do. We enforce all law, tax law, civil law, criminal law, and environmental regulations, by putting a loaded gun to the head of violators, held by enforcers willing to pull the trigger if ultimately needed to enforce compliance. It is what we do. We have institutionalized coercive violence and prettied it up such that we can pretend it is a tame beast, but it is not. It, all of it, the institution and the violence and all that pertains, is a fearsome, destructive monster, always ready to pounce whenever unleashed, even in the smallest of instances.

Again, we pretend it is not so harsh because we count on individuals to comply before violence ensues, before the guns come out, but ultimately, if the individual (or the group, or mob) determines to be noncompliant, the bullets will eventually fly. Coercion is evil, but most of the time it is easy to pretend otherwise.

Back to plagiarism: How do we know what anyone wrote before Anne?

Mostly, we know who wrote what, and who originated ideas, because of the honor system. For the most part, replicators of ideas or writings wanted to attribute the origin because of credibility. It was more for personal honor and reputation than for honor of the originator. There was limited commercial value before the printing press. And, since ideas mattered, the surest way to have your ideas gain purchase was to attribute properly, especially to persons who already held the respect of their peers, especially if fame extended to the masses. Attributing your idea to Einstein just might get it accepted even if Einstein never thought of it; just provide a plausible story to make the connection.

It seems at least partly that copyright originated to protect the publishers, not the authors. Monopolies were extended, and that can never be counted good, even if at times it might be argued necessary.

It seems copyrights and intellectual property rights are primarily intended to protect those earning profits from it, not the originator who is the actual rights holder. Copyright and intellectual right, together, are simple; if I wrote it, if I originated the idea, I hold property right to it. I really see a huge disconnect between that simple idea and implementation and enforcement. Freedom and free-market interplay will work better. We need simple protection of the property right, not the profiteering rights.

I think those calling for liberty in intellectual property are on the right track. We really don’t need the guys with the guns to enforce honorable action in ideas, speech, writing, free thought, and all the related spread and influence of information.

We can let freedom ring.

Let’s work for freedom.

Sure, TANSTAFL, but it sure seems everything works out better the more freedom, and everything works out worse for more regulation and centralization.

 

 

Mr. Gornoski has hit it.

I add my agreement. I add CS Lewis:

“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

Faces. We all have one, and only one, even if we try to present more than one. The gods, our God, only knows the one face. Each of us must present our truest face as truly as we are able, and we must each consider the face of our neighbor, be it black, or any other color. Be it gay, addicted, prostituted, abused, rich, powerful, humble or proud, we must face each other openly and equally.

We must speak in truth. We must try to understand. Sure, we need tolerance to ensure we only bounce, that we don’t break, but we need so much more. We must try to understand, and we must walk in love in the understanding.

——————————

Who among you will carry out the next act of violence against your nonviolent neighbor? We cannot hide behind the veil of the voting or jury booth. Face to face, we must make our choice.

Source: Law Has Become the Anonymous Violence of the Crowd | Foundation for Economic Education

Terry Scott Taylor panegyrized the stark harshness of our times when, with Daniel Amos, he had a father explain that for some of us, our lot in life is steel rain.

Larry Norman pointed out years before that life was filled with guns and war, and everyone got trampled on the floor.

He went on to point out:

the politicians all make speeches
while the news men all take note
and they exaggerate the issues
as they shove them down our throats
is it really up to them
whether this country sinks or floats
well i wonder who would lead us
if none of us would vote

and your money says in God we trust
but it’s against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it
you say all men are equal all men are brothers
then why are the rich more equal than others
don’t ask me for the answer i’ve only got one
that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son

Government is the greatest threat we still face.

What is socialism, even in the ideal, if not state-enforced charity?

1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

2“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Is not this a direct injunction directly from the mouth of our lord against socialism?

 With socialism, not only does our left hand know what our right is doing, but so does half the government.

 Forced charity, forced humility, is worthy of no accolades.

I found an article at the Libertarian Christian Institute web page, titled:

Conservatism, liberalism, or non-aggression?

It was a guest post from Randy Peters, who writes at TheGutDoc.com.

http://libertarianchristians.com/2016/01/20/conservatism-liberalism-non-aggression/

He opens by noting that many people attribute their politics to their faith. Hmm…

I’ve always had trouble understanding how people I know have strong and sound faith can have such differing views from my own, particularly in politics.

Part of it is I can never loose sight of the fact that coercion is evil. God never coerces.

I really do not understand why that is hard to see. I don’t get how other people don’t get that.

God always allows us freedom. God does uphold consequence. Accordingly, wisdom is encouraged. Of course, I always say that pain is the only true persuader of error. Experience is a harsh teacher, but often effective.

I like his thought experiments, both the right and left.

I’ll repeat this:

I submit that when any one of us – with civil authority or without it – takes upon himself the presumption to coerce others to do as we think God would have them do, we are no longer walking humbly with God. We have become the Pharisees, enjoying our long robes and places of honor, thanking God that we are not like other men and imposing upon them grievous burdens for which we will not offer the help of our little finger. There are many human behaviors condemned in the Holy Scripture; haughtiness may be one of the most condemned.

Make no mistake: when one argues that government is to be the arbiter of compassion or righteousness, one is arguing that violence is to be the tool by which those goals are achieved; for how else does government achieve its purpose? Taxes, fines, regulations, laws boundaries all rest on the discretion of the government to use violence to enforce them. When one maintains that the state should force his neighbors to do something, he is saying that violence should be used ultimately to accomplish that directive. Note that there are areas wherein there is unanimous agreement that communities or governments are justified in using force: to defend themselves from violence, to protect the lives of their members, to stop other crimes against persons or their property. But can one say that government has a legitimate and justifiable role to use its police powers – its exclusive claim on the use of violence – to force charity? To force acts of service? To force men and women to comply with “moral laws” with which they do not agree and which may not enjoy wide-spread acceptance in a community? Furthermore, may a disciple of Christ take upon himself the authority under God to say to his neighbors, “I speak in the name of God, and I order you to do thus under pain of imprisonment or death.”

Note there are no exceptions. If there is a law, it is using the power of the state, the threat of violence, imprisonment, even death, to enforce it. “Oh, but the penalty is only $50.” Of course, that is how it starts. You know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie.

Sure, we try to keep punishment consistent with the crime, but we also make too many crimes. We let one drink alcohol, but we imprison the one who smokes weed. We feel sorry for the mother driving with her quarrelling toddlers in the back, and though there is nothing more distracting than that, we bother to stop, fine, even take the driving license of the mother who was texting a quick instruction while driving.

We call the 19-year-old driver negligent and criminal for texting, but we give the late commuter a pass for shaving or donning makeup while careening through rush-hour traffic.

Some claim it is justified, but carry it to the end. The 19-year-old has some reason, rational or not, that makes him (or her) bolt when the lights come on the patrol cruiser. The teen is now truly jeopardizing lives, including his own. Perhaps he crashes, perhaps the officer successfully pulls over the car, but perhaps the teen is now too far committed, perhaps even irrational, and violence ensues, arrest, or worse.

Is it worth it?

No!

We have far too many laws. We criminalize far too many behaviors.

We justify too much in the name of safety. We rationalize too much in the name of morality and civic responsibility.

It is a sad world we live in not because of unfairness, lack of opportunity, scarcity, and want. No, it is so sad because so many soft tyrants have sufficient power to coerce.

I used a couple of widely debated examples in criminalizing drug use and texting while driving, but how about school?

Nobody talks about how absurd it is to coerce persons to education. We need not even consider the failures of the education system. We need look no farther than the simple coercion, compulsion of education and truancy laws.

Again, we pretend our punishments are evenhanded and proportional, but they are not. Seldom do those with power us it only for good, and perhaps it is even impossible to do good when the power is being used to enforce the evil of coercion from the start point.

People, persons, individuals, children of God. Yes, that is what we all are from our beginning, from even before our first breath. I bring up hard issues, and people ignore. We need to discuss. We need to look hard and freely at the facts. We need to stand and openly defend our views, and we need to examine closely our own and all others presented. We manage to live together in most instances.

We tend to fight here and there, but it is mostly about who has the power, and how it is used, especially about how it is abused.

Let’s limit the power more and more. Let us be free.

Let us live free.

Various sources have noted that my Oklahoma Senator, Rob Standridge, is proposing legislation to restrict insurance companies in how and how much they use credit score ratings in determining insurance rates.

My first impression is statism.

Why do we need to put the power of the state and armed enforcement agents behind such a simple thing as insurance rates calculation formulas and whether or not a person’s credit rating factors in?

Of course, one must always dig past first impressions.

I like to focus on what is most important first, and work down. Most important when discussing laws is individual liberty. Laws will restrict the individual liberties of the ratepayer and taxpayer on up. In this case, the most affected will be the individual insurance corporations. While many may think that is okay, restricting any liberty, even the liberties of corporations, be they big or small, restricts freedom, and that spreads. Restricting liberty anywhere gradually, and in succession, restricts it more everywhere.

We must look at each law and try to guess what liberties it will restrict, who it will affect, how much, and the ask ourselves if the trade offs are worthwhile. In most instances, we should be judging no.

I wrote about “there ought to be a law” versus “perhaps I can do something” here: https://gottadobetterthanthis.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/an-inherent-problem-of-law-and-lawmaking/

I, like most liberty-loving people, ask not what the government can do, but what I myself might be able to do that would improve the situation. Lawmakers are in the problematic situation of being able to make a law themselves. A lawmaker tends to forget that the government is hindrance, impediment, problem-making, not problem-solving. The lawmaker tends to feel that the job description is making laws, rather than representing constituents against government encroachment.

Regarding the bill Senator Standridge intends to introduce, I assume nothing is set in stone. I suppose he sees a problem and is simply trying to address it. I’m inclined to ONLY increase transparency. Perhaps the government can require service providers to list the factors that go into their premium calculations. I don’t think competition is served if the formula is required, but forcing the companies to admit the information they use, and where that information comes from seems fair. It seems the potential bads avoided are at least as bad as the limited coercion. Maybe.

For the insurance company, it is just a matter of the mathematics, models, and statistics. In the long run for all of us collectively, the situation is good and optimum, but along the way imbalances, and even abuses, seem likely.

It seems appropriate to require full disclosure of what caused an increase in premium. Frankly, what seems to account for most premium increases is brand loyalty. If you want good rates, you have to shop around and change companies every three to five years. Otherwise, you will eventually find your company is charging more than you are willing to pay. 😦

I found this article: http://www.reddirtreport.com/red-dirt-politics/state-senator-attacks-insurance-companies-use-credit-scores-figure-vehicle

I find this quote flat wrong: “Price optimization is used when companies believe a consumer’s credit score would allow them to pay an extra charge per month even if the assessment is not warranted by tickets or accidents. As a result, the extra charge is tacked onto the annual premium.” That is a show-me statement if ever I heard one. Prove it, because for now, I just don’t believe it. It is not in the company’s best interest to overcharge. I cannot believe our primary insurance companies include overcharging as company policy.

It is irrational to ask what credit score has to do with insurance rates. If the actuaries find a consistent, repeatable correlation, it doesn’t matter to the bottom line why it works. The opposite is true too. If something obviously linked cannot be used by the actuaries to analyze the risk, it hurts the bottom line to try to use it anyway.

For the insurance company, it is only a matter of the mathematics of the models and the overall statistics. If the correlation holds up over various circumstances, the company should use that model with whatever goes into it. If the model uses my personal information, I should have the right of knowing. It should be publicly published that Insurance Company X uses client’s personal information from this and that source in determining rates charged.

Perhaps we can write a law that provides for that without overly infringing on liberty.

I will not support a prohibition on using credit scores for insurance calculations. Such a prohibition would be an unjustifiable coercion and intolerable limit on freedom. Unintended adverse consequences are likely. An obvious possibility of banning credit score use is having an otherwise good insurance company just dropping policies and abandoning the state, reducing competition and increasing the burden on the remaining base.

So, from my Senator, I ask consideration of liberty over regulation, and of transparency over more drastic compulsion.

I came across a 2014 essay at First Things, by Samuel Gregg.

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/08/correcting-catholic-blindness

I wrote the following on Facebook:

Wow. Please read.

Gregg discusses economic freedom in Asia, and says:
“The ADB estimated that between 1990 and 2005 approximately 850 million people escaped absolute poverty. That is an astonishing figure.”

The article is a year old, and the numbers and predictions can be checked for this year, if you care to.

He discusses other examples. If you are a statist, this should shame you. If you believe in your political party, you are probably a statist. If you believe in and hold up the authority of the state and the obligation of the people to subject themselves in obedience, you are a statist. Statism, corporatism, socialism, and various other progressivisms are failed and detrimental to the human condition. Flatly, progressivism is against the human soul. Progressivism as practiced for the last century or so in the USA and much of the rest of the world destroys people by claiming to save them. Progressivism destroys the individual from within.

If you are a staunch Democrat, you are probably a progressive. I aver you hate humanity by your actions and attitudes. You can pretend to “do it for the children,” but you in fact do it for the authority, and the authority is invariably corrupt. The power is corrupted. It is always so.

All authority must be strictly and powerfully constrained. That is hard to do, because who watches the watchers? Still, it must be so. Authority must be strongly constrained, or it is tyranny.

We cannot allow for absolutist authority in any regard. We cannot allow for absolute religious authority. We cannot allow for any sort of political or regulatory authority, because it always seeks its own. It always becomes corrupt. It always corrupts all it controls. We must have strict controls on anything even resembling authority. Of course, all authorities cry foul and claim I’m rebellious, and worse.

Gregg closes thus, “None of this means compromising on the demands of justice. It would, however, allow the “seeing” of Catholic social teaching to take wider account of the empirical without being empiricist, to look at what actually works without lapsing into pragmatism, and to remove some of the conceptual blinkers that have inhibited many Catholics’ vision of how to transform the world’s economies into arenas of human flourishing. The well-being of the poor surely demands nothing less.”

Feel free to comment. I welcome opportunity to stretch and challenge my thinking.

Isn’t this an embarrassment?

Section XIII-4: Compulsory school attendance.
The Legislature shall provide for the compulsory attendance at some public or other school, unless other means of education are provided, of all the children in the State who are sound in mind and body, between the ages of eight and sixteen years, for at least three months in each year.

Compulsion is evil. Yet, here we require it in our state constitution. We institute evil in our governance at its inception.

Coercion is evil. Compulsion is evil. It can only be justified in the prevention of worse evil.

Can we argue that granting someone the freedom, the right, of self-determination is a worse evil than forcing attendance at education?

We all know better. We know it is right and good to allow each self-determination. It is unalienable. Liberty, freedom of association, these are rights with which we are each individually created. Certainly parents and responsible adults owe protection to our young, our childish ones, until they gain modest maturity, but the longer I live, the less mature I realize we all are. Responsibility must accompany privilege, but self-determination is not a privilege, it is innate right. Self-determination is a property of a person. It is part of the very definition of what each of us is.

No one can argue that coercion, compulsion is other than evil. We aver religious freedom. We generally allow so many freedoms, even some freedoms most of us judge as immoral. Yet, we want to deny the right of self-determination and free association to all our citizens less than 16, even 18, years of age.

We all instinctively, rightly, understand that being forced to do anything deprives us, degrades us. Most will comply, but the degradation remains. No matter the end results, the end never justifies evil means.

The end never justifies evil means.

Coercion, compulsion is evil.

The end never justifies coercive means.

Education is a good that has been sought hard through all history. Knowledge is power. We instinctively know that. We understand that information and understanding, with wisdom and sound judgment empower us to fulfill our dreams and to live our lives well. No one has to force us to do good things for ourselves. Indeed, no one can.

Yes, we are always tempted to sloth, but we know the ant. We know the fiddle-playing grasshopper.

It is not possible to justify righteously the compulsion of the grasshopper for his own good. It does him no good, and it diminishes the rest of us, at best decreasing our own productivity and efficiency, and often going much farther bringing forth in us the worst of human nature, especially arrogance, self-righteousness, condescension, and even worse.

There is no need for compulsion in education. Mothers understand its value for their children. Children understand its value when simply allowed to enjoy the process. Joy cannot flourish under compulsion. Children do not enjoy being told they must. No one enjoys being told what to do. Children must learn self-discipline, but that is an entirely different thing than education. Children learn when they play. They learn when they interact. They learn when they are shown how to do something new. They learn when they are shown the usefulness of reading, writing, and mathematics. The same applies to skills in all areas of interest, including sports and trade or industry.

The state must ensure access. The state must protect those seeking education. I will even support state provision of schools and educational resource, but no good can come of forcing our young citizens and their parents to participate and attend.

It is my right to be ignorant if I so choose.

It is mama’s right to insist her child participate in education. Mama can insist her child attend. The state cannot. The state has no right to coerce with regard to self-determination and freedom of association. Mama will choose what is best for her child. We need only ensure her right is unhindered. It is mama’s right to raise her child anyway she sees fit. There are limits. We acknowledge abuse occurs, and sometimes the state must intervene, but in nearly all cases, mother really does know best. Empower her, and protect her from hindrance, and ensure she has at least one adequate option, such as a public school, and let her prove it. Mothers the world over have been proving it over and over since time immemorial.

I will always stand for mothers and fathers, for families. It is what works. For the exceptions, coercion cannot help.

Societally, we must work together and try to make up for shortfalls. We must also stand with those who see things nontraditionally, even when we have sound studies and reproducible data that show the traditional works best. But, we cannot do so by trying to force behavior.

Focus on what is most important. Freedom, self-determination, acceptance of responsibility, owning what we earn, be it for better or for worse. These are the things that are important for human dignity. These are the essentials of society. Understanding these is much more important than acquisition of some arbitrary standard of education as guessed at by some standardized test.

Children are, first, citizens. Children are not resources of the state. Children are not resources of the economy. Children are not property. We adults, specifically, we parents, are responsible for helping our children grow, and we must provide them with the tools they need for success in life. We must prepare them to stand on their own and take our places. We cannot arbitrarily set the standard. We cannot pretend to know the STEM needs of the future. Heaven forbid that for anyone we ever try to determine for him or her. Each child has the right to pursue happiness. Each child must be allowed self-determination in it.

We must amend our state constitution. We must remove the words of Section XIII-4 and replace with words prohibiting coercion, prohibiting compulsory attendance. We must free our citizens, especially the teachers in our publicly funded schools.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

Mr. Miller has comments about teacher evaluation.

http://www.viewfromtheedge.net/?p=7405

Snippets with my comments:

“So, we are right back where we were prior to SB2033. Oklahoma can do anything we choose without the threat of federal interference. We can change this law during this legislative session, and we should.”

“That’s right. I vote to abolish TLE completely. Every part of it–The Tulsa Model, Marzano, McRel, roster verification, value-added models, teacher portfolios, student and parent surveys, benchmark testing, qualitative scores, quantitative scores…EVERY. Damn. Part.”

Absolutely. Get rid of all teacher evaluation requirements. We must trust our teachers and principals. If parents will stay involved, that will work just fine. It is, in fact, the only thing that will work.

Accountability means nothing unless the parents are involved. The state need not be involved if the parents are, and the state will only cause harm regardless.

“Adding layers of bureaucracy and mandates at the state level has done little to improve the quality of teachers in our state. This has always been–and will always be–a function of school leadership.”

Yes, absolutely. Local leadership and parental involvement. With no parents, there is no hope anyway.

“Therefore, the best method of teacher evaluation will always be to hire a great principal and let them do their job.

“Likewise, the best approach for our best teachers is to let them teach. We should provide the resources, training and supports they need and then get out of their way.

“The reality is that great teachers will be great teachers with or without TLE. They are intrinsically motivated and likely harder on themselves than any administrator could ever be. This does not mean they won’t appreciate meaningful feedback and suggestions from their administrators. But it’s just gravy for many of them.”

Actually, with TLE, the great teachers succumb. They find it too hard to love the children and teach them, piled on with the requirements to keep up with all the paperwork and restrictions. TLE doesn’t do much for the good teachers, but it does drive them away.

Mr. Miller speaks of improving incentives, but I don’t think incentives are the problem, restrictions and disincentives are the problem. First, we hold a gun to everyone’s head and force them to school. Then we tie the hands of the teachers with one-size-fits-all requirements. We restrict their options, and we force them to deal with those kids who refuse to cooperate, gun to their head or not.

Children love to learn. We do not have to instill a love of learning in them. It is there. We have to be careful not to squash it. Our system is very much geared for squashing love of learning. It also squashes love of teaching.

Likewise for critical thinking. Kids will, if we don’t throttle them every time they do so. We tend to, since there just isn’t time in the classroom to let the child’s thinking run its course. When Sally makes an astute observation followed by an off-the-wall conclusion, the ideal is to work with her and her peers to sort out the error and find better conclusions. She can and will if we can take the time, but we don’t. The typical response is to tell her that she was sharp to notice, but then the teacher must simply interject the correct conclusion because there simply isn’t time for the distraction. The distractions are important. In the distractions, our children learn to think for themselves. Distractions and focus on them develop the love of learning into lifelong habit. Figuring out and working through the errors and misjudgments develops the critical thinking that simply cannot be taught. Tests and lessons cannot teach critical thinking. Telling students what the critical points are teaches them nothing. They know a fact for a while; then it fades from mind. Doing the process of critical thinking instills it. Teaching it, accomplishes nothing.

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