The story of the evil witch and the naïve children. Europe with a Brothers Grimm Twist.

There once was an evil witch who wanted to rule the world. She knew that the people wouldn’t let her unless she was a little devious. She’d tried many different approaches, and eventually came up with a brilliant plan.

She built a house made of all the things that she know the people would want, and she offered it them for free, as long as they came and lived with her.

All the people had to do was come inside her house, and bring with them everything they owned. Then she would take all they owned in an exchange give them all they needed.

Many people moved to her house and happily gave the witch everything they owned and were given food, housing, education, healthcare, and a supply of little gold colored coins called euros which they could use to buy whatever else they needed from the witch.

The people were quite happy for a while, but over time they used up their supplies of euros and needed some more. So they asked the witch for some more. She looked at the people and frowned and said “I can’t just give you more euros, you will have to earn them. Give me something and I’ll give you more euros”. But the people had already given the witch all their gold and money, so they didn’t have any more to give. But the witch said “I’ll take your mines, your banks, your railways, your industry, your forests, and your children”. The people were shocked, but what choice did they have, they needed food, and services, so they gave more and more of their wealth to the witch, until eventually she owned absolutely everything and everyone.

There was a few groups of people who didn’t totally fall into the witches clutches. One of these groups lived on a little island just to the left of the witches house. These people really wanted all the free stuff that the witch had to offer but were worried about giving her all their money and gold, they visited the witch often (she really did have a lovely house), but decided not to take her money. Over time it became clearer what the witch was trying to do, and they had a choice – do we go for it and give her everything or run away?

They tried to run away, but the witch wasn’t going to allow that to happen. She chased them and tried every trick she could to convince them to join her.

Today they are still running, and she is still chasing. But this story is definitely getting closer to the end, at least of this chapter.

Will the people of the little island be able to stay out of the clutches of the evil witch?

If they do, will they be able to survive?

Some of the people are still wondering – Is the witch really evil?

What will the witch do, when the people living in her house, see that there are other choices?

What will happen next?

(36)

The War On Plastic Bags Is Just Obfuscation

war on bags

There seems to be a war on plastic bags, every city around the world seems to think that charging a small fraction of a penny to every shopper will cure the world of garbage. Let’s be clear, it will not.

Plastic bags have become the target of some sort of green war, but I suggest that these bags are not the issue at all, but have become the target of people who really do not want to solve the true issue.

Everything we buy is over-packaged. Fruit and vegetables come on polystyrene (Styrofoam) trays covered in plastic wrap, with a label on the outside. ALL of this packaging ends up in the garbage.

Every packaged product comes with an inner bag, outer packaging, all wrapped in plastic and with a label on the front. All of this packaging is garbage.

What you buy at the supermarket is often over 90% packaging, which is the waste that ends up directly in the garbage.

The plastic bag you use to transport your goods from the supermarket to home, will then become the garbage bag that you use to transport the garbage to the next step on its lifecycle (the trash can). If anything, this plastic bag is actually the least of the issue. The other choice you have of course is to buy additional plastic bags to line your bins, and this is just revenue for bag manufacturers.

Here’s how we fix the issue. Charge people for every bag of garbage they ask to be taken away by the refuse collectors. It’s simple, ask the consumer to place a tag on each bag, and charge them for the tags. The more you dispose of, the more you therefore pay.

At the same time make the supermarkets take back their packaging and have them send this back to the distributors and manufacturers on the trucks that are already delivering to their shops.

Sounds like a lot of extra work doesn’t it, and guess what the shops and the manufacturers will quickly find ways to reduce their packaging to reduce their costs.

Now you have less garbage.

It’s not the plastic bags that’s the issue, it’s the process that demands you bring all this packaging into your house in the first place.

Instead of campaigning to make people use reusable bags to shop, start to campaign to have wasted packaging reduced on every product.

(12)

There are no simple fixes for complex issues.

You start by understanding the multitude of dynamics at play that create an outcome, and you look at what can be influenced to change the underlying conditions that lead to a situation.

For example mandating car insurance, driving licenses and annual inspections leads to safer cars, better drivers and the ability for accidents to be handled more simply. It doesn’t stop idiots from driving badly or drunks from killing people entirely, but it does reduce these things over time. As a drunk or crazy driver will have their license revoked and may even be imprisoned, others are then less likely to act the same way.

Countries that have regulated guns see less guns killing people – there are still murders, but less, and specifically less mass murders, and a lot less with guns. The total impact on controlling guns is less weapons available for theft, resale, lunatic fringe hoarding and general craziness. 

The simple and obvious flaws in having different gun laws across a country with open borders between states, doesn’t need to be restated.

You don’t have to solve every potential problem to solve the majority of scenarios. 

If your reason for wanting a gun I because you are scared of the government or are worried about people who look different to you, the issues are deep and demand a lot of long term work.

Just because there are no simple solutions to complex issues, is not a reason to take no action at all.

(5)

Brexmaggedon

History will not be kind to this decade.

Let’s be clear global warming is not a binary issue, but one that has been impacting the world for a very long time. Over hundreds of years governments have co-opted farming to generate revenue as opposed to food. Farmers in poor countries have been cutting down forests to grow cows, corn, oil baring seeds, tobacco and poppies. They have sold these products in exchange for money, which helped economies. But as weather patterns have changed and these mass crops failed to produce the volumes of previous years, along with the need to use ever increasing levels of pesticides and fertilizers or use expensive copyrighted genetically modified crops, these farmers have not been able to sustain their lives, and so are migrating.

The same has happened to desert countries which have become reliant on oil. Oil will not last forever, and so they need to invest their short-term wealth in new industries, some have chosen to become knowledge-based economies while others have reverted to using religious driven hate to grow a power base.

All of this movement of people and ideas has allowed right-wing focused sentiments such as xenophobia and racism to become mainstream. With neo-fascists appearing in the leadership of much of the world.

At the same time Europe was created as a Union, with possibly the most impressive social programs anywhere in the world. With free trade and free movement of people and laws allowing people to live their lives with greater levels of personal freedom than anywhere else in the world. But there was a price for these freedoms, which wasn’t that obvious initially, but is still there. Much of Europe was running these freedoms without a way of paying for them, and the way they were able to do so was by buying into the European Central Bank and the Euro. Quite simply every country joining the euro, had to ship all their money and gold to the European central bank, and in exchange were given huge piles of euros. Sounded fine, until it became clear that the costs of all the incredible social programs was greater than the about of Euros they had. So they needed more, and unlike when you run your own currency it isn’t as simple as just printing a bunch more, creating some inflation but being able to pay the bills. Instead to get more euros each country has to give more of itself to the European central bank, literally given them banks, mines, railways etc. It’s a simple idea, over time it will increase the power of the European union and reduce the power of individual countries. But some countries were not willing to give up control and didn’t want to join the Euro. This created a problem, because if a country isn’t being fully absorbed into Europe, then the big plan would fail. And so came the next issue of Brexit. The UK population wasn’t happy to become a full state of Europe, and wanted to trade and have the social benefits without the political cost.

But the UK is only one of a small handful of countries in Europe that actually pay more than they take, and if you take the UK out of the mix, it’s unclear that the other net-investors will have enough to cover the shortfall. So Europe needed the UK to either not leave, or pay a massive divorce bill to help cover the gap. And the UK was not willing to do either of these.

If the UK does leave Europe (and it really doesn’t matter to history if it’s hard or soft), then Europe is screwed in the medium term.  And if Europe can’t change their spending and funding model to balance the books, it will not end well. If they do change their spending to solve the problem, it also will probably not end well.

So between global warming, oil rich countries looking for their next phase and a broken Europe things are not well.

Now add to that the desires of other major world players, Russia (who is still sore from losing the USSR) and China who desires to become the leader of the world in terms of economics by breaking any and all treaties and laws they need to (copyrights, trademarks, patents, currency pricing etc). Add to ths the usual distribution of crazy (The Koreas, a bunch of countries no-one remembers but all end in -stan, and more)

And all the elements are set for a really messy period of instability.

History has a way of making events look ridiculous in the rear-view mirror, and frankly it seems that the people alive today are going to be remembered are possibly the biggest idiots of all time. The choices we are making don’t show any signs of being either sane or ending in any way well.

(13)

No Problem Ever Gets Solved By Using The Same Logic That Created The Problem In The First Place.

Hearing politicians espouse about their new plans to solve student debt, healthcare, immigration or even war leaves me with a sense that they are all either frauds or simpletons.

Student debt has several causes, including the high prices of education, predatory lending, and the legal framework that has been placed on education, driven by lobbyists promoting the cases of those who sell education services. Strained vocal cords with impassioned pleas change nothing.

Healthcare is driven by profit, and as such is always going to find new ways to charge more. It doesn’t matter if it’s private, public or a mix, if you pay a healthcare provider more for delivering more healthcare then that is what they will do. The only healthcare systems that buck this trend and those that are focused on key outcomes such as the length and quality of human life. And those systems are “socialist” and it’s easy to scare people away from, and no one running for the office of president is willing to go that far.

Immigration has been the evil of empires for all time, and the USA is no exception. Our track record of care of migrants is among the worst in the world. From classifying people as white and non-white to signs stating Irish, Italians and Jews not welcome, to the sending back to Germany of ships full of fleeing immigrants during world war II who were subsequently murdered to the inhuman care of babies separated from their parents happening right now, we have never been a Bastian of care for those who most need it, and tears on stages changes nothing.

And the USA has been at war continually, with more wars happening right now than most people could even name. We have the largest military in the world, and it’s very busy, and yet we hardly notice. Wars only ever end when worn out warriors decide it’s time to put away the swords and talk peace, and politicians just get in the way.

I listened to 10 people on a stage yesterday, and the difference between them was tiny. And the difference between them and the guy that currently holds the job they are all after isn’t big enough.

Frankly I’d take any of these 10 over the Crook in chief we have today. But not one of them is going to solve the endemic problems we suffer from today. They probably will just make them slightly worse at a slightly slower rate, and maybe the world will survive a little longer.

(0)

VOTE!

If you believe that poor people are the problem – Vote!

If you believe that immigrants are ruining this country – Vote!

If you believe that the government is evil and must be destroyed – Vote!

If you believe that America is a Christian country, and white means smarter, more powerful, richer – Vote!

If you believe that businesses can choose to not serve people they hate – Vote!

If you believe that countries that are our partners are idiots and countries run by totalitarian dictators are our new friends – Vote!

If you believe that women are less than men – Vote!

If you believe that woman’s health care is a pre-existing condition that murders babies – Vote!

If you believe it’s okay to say whatever you need to say to win and then do whatever you want afterwards – Vote!

If you believe corporations are people too – Vote!

If you believe that the Bible is the absolute word of god (even if you choose to ignore some bits) – Vote!

If you believe any relationship that’s not one man, one woman is evil and should be killed – Vote!

If you believe that healthcare is not a right – Vote!

If you believe that spending money you don’t have is okay so long as taxes are low – Vote!

If you believe it’s okay to make working peoples lives harder while you make the rich, richer – Vote!

If you believe it’s okay for politicians to profit from their decisions – Vote!

If you believe it’s okay to take from others, as long as it doesn’t effect you – Vote!

If you believe that the press are liars and politicians are honest – Vote!

If you believe global warming is a lie – Vote!

If you believe guns are a right but any gun control is wrong – Vote!

If you believe that black people are scary – Vote!

If you believe unions are bad, but weak employment laws are good – Vote!

If you believe its okay to pay a fortune for for-profit education – Vote!

And of course if you happen to think any or all the above is abhorrent – Vote!

If you are a citizen and you don’t vote, then you are the problem!

(13)

Where I want to Live

In the past I’ve been pretty confident in my view that both parties in the US held some good ideas.

I’ve always thought that the best places to live allowed individuals almost unfettered personal freedom, with the only limits being that since everyone is equal, no one can tell you what to do. So, if your ideas demanded someone else change their way of living, then you couldn’t do that.

I’ve always thought that if didn’t matter what color you are or what sex you decided you’d like to participate in, that was entirely up to you.

I don’t like to wear my trousers below my underwear, so I don’t. I don’t really like seeing anyone else do that, but quite simply it’s up to them, not me and I don’t have the right to change their clothes.

If men want to dress as women, or women want to dress as men, to me it’s really no different as any other configuration. I don’t have any issue with men marrying men, women marrying women, or any other permutation of the wide and varied spectrum of sexual modes that exist. Actually, I think it’s great for everyone to be whatever they desire, either my nature or nurture.

I never really realized how much prejudice people of color suffer. I guess being white I inherently have white privilege, as racists don’t pay me any attention.

I know I’m conflating race and sex, but that’s the point, we’re all the same and I just don’t get why anyone gets treated differently based on anything.

I’ve never seen a difference in the workplace based on people’s ability based on sex. Man or Woman really makes no difference, except for the pretty obvious ones, that women generally have to do a lot more in life than men. A job is hard enough, but women also have to look incredible every day (Men’s clothing is much simpler and the whole makeup thing bamboozles me, I couldn’t do it) and have to deal with being the factory to create other people. Frankly I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be a woman, and I’m in awe of how women don’t let the extra pressures of social expectations and biological processes hold them back. It seems very reasonable that a woman doing the same job as a man should be paid more, in the same way that people who work in expensive cities get paid more, a weighting for the extra work and costs that are incurred. Seriously why don’t women get paid more than men for the same work?

How can it be that people with darker skins go to different schools, have less money and get treated worse? I get the history, if your parents had less opportunity, then you will have less opportunity, it’s a very simple and calculatable model. But it’s also very obvious and fixable. The law can be used to straighten out these issues, but instead we continue to use the law to exacerbate these issues. And with inequality everyone loses, no one wins.

No one want’s to pay taxes, obviously, everyone wants to keep more of what they earned themselves. So how can we build a society where we get everything that is needed to create and maintain a prosperous society without massive taxation? Obviously, there is a cost to creating and maintaining society, but it seems nuts to expect cuts in tax to solve the issues. We need infrastructure, schools, laws, protection, and that costs a lot. I believe that today (partly because of the excessive costs of healthcare) we in the US pay more overall than anyone else. The tax rates vary country by country, but so does what they include. Federal, state, social security and local taxes plus health, car and house insurance, plus payments for retirement, purchase taxes, fuel taxes, licenses and approvals, educational costs all are bundled to some extent in most countries. When you add all these up I think we pay MORE than pretty much everyone else. But any tax cuts that happen here, really only impact the people who don’t pay any of these taxes.

I love the idea of running a surplus as opposed to a deficit, and year by year paying off debt, so that taxes can eventually be lower. It will take a long time, but just like balancing a personal account, that’s the only way to solve long term debt issues. There are many things that need to be improved, but often the answer is not to spend more, it’s to pay less for the services and good that are needed. But we have a model whereby business pays politicians to spend top $ on products and services, in no-bid contracts at multiples of the prices paid by others.

We have shitty roads, not just because of a lack of investment, there are national deals with industries that mandate what types of roads are built. We have concrete roads, when we know that concrete roads don’t work as well as more modern materials, but it’s the deal that lead to a bunch of politicians getting a lot of money fifty years ago, and every politician since still drinks from the same trough.

We pay more for the same drugs as people in other countries, because politicians were paid to sign laws saying the government can’t negotiate drug deals but will pay list price. Seriously how can that every be right. The drugs are American, designed and often built here, and yet we pay the highest prices anywhere in the world, because politicians were paid to agree to the deal, and politicians from all parties fill their pockets the same way every day.

This practice has been made illegal all over the western world, where politicians regularly swap their pin stripe business suites for black and white arrows when then break these laws, but in America it’s all legal. Politicians are supposed to be servants of the people, not the other way around.

The issue has become worse year by year, as we have learnt to hate “the other” and allow the flaws of the ones closest to our own team.

We’re at a point now where the most extreme, corrupt, sexist, racist, xenophobic, flawed president and vice president fiction could ever have imagined became the leaders of the free world, supported by the machinations of the crumbling remains of our cold war enemy who moved the wealth of an empire into the arms of the men who ran their secret police.

And it was in response to a black man being president and supporting a woman as his successor.

I still believe that there are good ideas that can come from both sides of the political divide, but until the right stands up to the crazies they have given power, I don’t think it will matter what the left does.

(17)

Economics, Politics, Society and War

There is a clarity of mind that the Republicans bring, that cannot be replicated by any other political party.

Republicans understand that money is truly a fictional construct. All that matters is that the people who have more, create space between themselves and those who have less. This is the fundamental truth of every society.

“Those who have least serve those who have most.”

You must create huge gaps between us and them, and to do this you need to create categories of “them”, while creating power for the “us”

There is power in clarity of purpose. While everyone has their own personal concerns, the Republicans have focused on bigger, longer-term, more direct power.

Finding every way possible to separate people with a genetic predisposition to have more melanin in their skin from those with little, has become a primary method of creating an us vs them. And if you don’t agree then you’re clearly an evil liberal socialist who should be derided and insulted in every way possible. This model wasn’t invented in America, but it is being perfected by the Republican party of President Donald Trump.

Germany in the 1920’s and early 30’s was the most advanced culture in Europe (and probably the world), their symbolism when looked at without the hindsight of the terrible atrocities that came slightly later, were impressively modern. Art, science and design were centered globally in Germany. And then came a very focused extremely polarizing us vs them concept.

All you need to do is define the “them” and make sure they have less, and automatically you have more.

Take out morality, allow any means to justify an end, insult, imprison and totally destroy anyone who is unlike yourself.

Find a loud and controversial figurehead to take center stage, say whatever he likes, create controversy that takes the focus of the real power, allowing the real power to make real changes to social, economic, political, legal frameworks that destroy the “other”

When eventually the fake figurehead is stopped, it’s too late the real changes that were desired by the “us” are already done.

Read “the rise and fall of the Roman Empire” (or at least find a comic book version to scan). Read up on the history of the Byzantine empire, the British empire, the Spanish empire, the Third Reich, The Muslim empires. And then read the art of war, and learn how power uses strategy and tactics to win.

The United States has quickly tripped to the right, but it hasn’t fallen over fully, quite yet. But it’s still toppling slowly.

(2)

Us vs Them

Finding every way possible to separate people with a genetic predisposition to have more melanin in their skin from those with little, has become a primary method of creating an us vs them. And if you don’t agree then you’re clearly an evil liberal socialist who should be derided and insulted in every way possible.

This model wasn’t invented in America, but it is being perfected by the Republican party of President Donald Trump.

Every step disproportionately impacts “them”

“Illegals”

“Private Prisons”

“Killing Social Safety nets”

“Muslim Terrorism”

“Drug Law Enforcement”

“Build The Wall”

“Pre-exsting conditions”

“Stop Abortions”

“Break there Unions”

even “2nd Amendment”

 

(4)

Lack of empathy is a political tool

I’ve held and postulated the theory that many people have no empathy.

And in case you don’t understand the concept of empathy it is simply the ability to understand the feelings of others.

There is a group of people who exhibit a total lack of empathy. Here are some of the exhibited behaviors:

  • They think being gay is wrong and should be illegal.
  • They think that being dark skinned is an indication of wrongness and should be seen as less.
  • They often think that their sex is better than the “other” sex, is smarter, stronger, more powerful etc.
  • They think their religion the only religion and is perfect, others being wrong and evil.

Some people may call people with this deficiency of empathy – bigots, sexists, racists or fundamentalists.

With the recent ridiculous separation of parents and children, being endorsed by the president and his followers, I’d suggest that Republican is a better name for this lack of empathy.

It now seems to be the single defining, unifying force behind republicans.

The only time that republicans seems to understand the issues with their ideas is when they find out that a member of their kith or kin are gay, changed religion or married someone unlike themselves. If it doesn’t impact them directly they don’t see the issue. That’s the definition of a fundamental lack of empathy.

 

 

(14)