Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The unchecked bleeding of legitimacy: Why Turbotax Tim Matters

I'm reminded of the spectacle of Turbotax Tim Geithner becoming the master of the IRS and the Treasury by my first sightings in the wild of bills with his name on them stamped with 'Tax Cheat'. I hope to see many more such bills. Hopefully the gentleman who markets said stamps prospers.

For a government not to have to incessantly remind its citizens of the guns and cages at its disposal, it needs to have the perception of legitimacy in the minds of the population. Giving the impression that the powerful are not subject to the same law that the rest of us are de facto, while maintaining the pretense of the rule of law de jure is a recipe for undermining this perception. And indeed, Timmy is cooking up a storm in his kitchen. Already some folks in tax court have attempted to use his example for why they should not be slapped with large penalties in their own cases, unsuccessfully of course.

Now I'm going to make a suggestion to the current Administration. I only make this suggestion because I know that it won't take it, and it increases the amount of legitimacy bled away per unit time if it can't say that it wasn't warned. Here it is:

Anyone involved in the making of law, be it formal law or administrative rules and interpretations, must be slapped hard when they violate said law. The penalty afforded them should be at at least the 95th percentile in terms of harshness that others received in similar circumstances. Anything else feeds the (correct) perception that the laws are only for the little people. Anyone care to speculate what will happen when the middle and upper middle class of the population starts to 'game the system' with the same disregard for legitimacy and what gamers would describe as 'Rules as Intended' that the top 0.1% does?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Besieging Moldbug's Cathedral: The University System

The various universities are a very important node in Moldbug's Cathedral model. They exert a powerful influence over society and culture because they control the only major credentialing system that won't get you, as an employer, sued to hell and back for disparate impact.
If you want reactionary change, obviously the university system has to be weakened, subverted, supplanted, or destroyed. Moldbug is quite correct in his model that the various nodes of the Cathedral will tend to act to resist any attacks on any of the other nodes, so in practice you need to attack them all more or less at once, if only with spoiling attacks. Fortunately, most of the elements of the Cathedral are doing an excellent job of destroying themselves, but the university system probably will require a little more help from the forces of reaction.

The way to assault the university system is through logistics rather than strategy or tactics. Choke off its long term supply of oxygen--in this case, money. There are ways we can do this with help from conservatives and ironically enough, liberals, the more bleeding heart the better.

1. Dump the exemption of student loans from being discharged during a bankruptcy. In fact, degrade their debt status to the same level as credit cards or other unsecured debt. The bleeding hearts will help you a lot on this, as the 1998 bill that moved this was pretty much a rent seeking move from the banksters. Conservatives who realize who this hurts (mostly their enemies) will also likely get on board. The long term effect of this of course would be to drive up the rates of interest on student loans and make them less available. This will put a choke hold on the ability of the various universities to rapidly raise tuition (cheap money usually creates bubbles after all).

2. Take advantage of initiatives like this one of Rick Perry's.

I'm not a big fan of Perry, as I don't trust him on the national question, but he does have the habit of occasionally, even perhaps inadvertently, aiming at the correct targets. To him I suggest doing the following:
a. If you don't already have it, institute a common course numbering system and full and free credit transfer from all Texas public universities to all Texas public universities. Getting aligned with a few other states in a reciprocal agreement would be excellent also. The State of Florida has such an arrangement. This move is pretty easily masked as a simple 'good government' effort.
b. Once a) is in place, you can then prevail on one university in your system (i.e. the one with the weakest Alumni) to force the availability of a straightforward credit by examination with only a very nominal fee on most courses wherein a comprehensive final is the standard. Start it out pretty conservatively, i.e. if you score at or above the 70th percentile of people actually taking the course, you get credit for the course for a mere fee of $100 or thereabouts.
If you do that, you'll greatly shorten the degree time for autodidacts and those who just need to credit as they already have the knowledge and further choke more money out of the university system.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why Game works and why that fact is so intolerable to the non-neurotypical mind

There exists quite a bit of overlap between the reactionary sphere, the HBD sphere, the 'Manosphere' and the Game sphere. I suppose that the common thread is that they're all based on the flaunting of certain truths that polite people agree not to talk about. Politeness is a good thing, but it should never be presumed to be the best thing, especially not when different groups are held to different standards of it.

There exists a certain irony that the fundamentals of Game are very reactionary indeed. Some of its exponents, Roissy, for instance, grok this. Boiled down to a few sentences, it is this:

Women in our society are attracted to the high status male. Men are attracted to the young and beautiful woman .

You can argue that these are universally true statements across all cultures, but such is not really necessary for the observations to be useful.

This of course is directly contrary to the line we push in our culture and absolutely contrary to the naive projection of the non-neurotypical mind. I mean----STATUS!? Such a fuzzily defined thing, so ridiculously vulnerable to being spoofed. But that is what women of the neurotypical variety react to, and it is in truth very subject to being spoofed. Spoofing the status game is something we do so commonly we even have tons of euphemisms for it, like 'putting one's best foot forward' and 'showing one's self in the best possible light'.

In much more reactionary times--which is to say, any time before the late 20th century, most societies had pretty strong disincentives for those who presumed to affect higher status than they officially possessed. Acting like a superior tough guy, for instance, would much more frequently draw you into actual physical fights than is the case today. The realities have changed, but the gut feeling of the woman really hasn't. Hell, if you go back further, you'll find that even spoofing the status signals involved in clothing was strictly verboten via sumptuary laws.

Now, the woman seeking to assess your status at a visceral level must frequently just fall back on what level of status you implicitly and explicitly take. Do you treat her as if you had higher status, the same, or lower status? Your luck will be the best if you treat her as if you had higher status, and this infuriates the non-neurotypical mind. This is why teasing her, making her qualify or prove herself to you, and generally not hanging on her every word or taking her very seriously works so damnably well on the neurotypical woman. Reactionary men, which is to say men before the 1960s, generally acted as if they understood this. Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew' is a pretty explicit treatment of this essential fact about men and women. You can mine it out of the Old Testament if you like, the more concentrated ore is to be had from the Bard. I've previously talked about how someone doing YOU a favor tends to make them like you better, a truth that I've seen first articulated explicitly by Ben Franklin. This works extremely well on both men and women. The more positive things you get her to do for you or with you, the more she will like you. This is so insanely contrary to reason that I can easily envision it driving the not so neurotypicals to distraction. But what must be remembered is that human beings are not, in the whole, very rational creatures. For whatever reason, 95% or more of us behave and react this way, and those that don't need to accomodate ourselves to that fact.

Yes, this is the reason why charities are always spamming you with more solicitations talking about the generous gifts you've already given them, why salesmen try to get you to do them some innocuous favor to 'get their foot in the door', and why political groups are always trying to get you to make some meaningless symbolic gesture. They're trying to trigger some of the subroutines (crazily ingrateful diplomatic model and faulty sunk cost processing) that you might not have as a non-neurotypical, but are nearly universal otherwise. Much effort over the centuries has been put into learning to exploit the neurotypical mind's nature. Studying some of the works in sales and propaganda can be very helpful there if you keep one thing in mind---generally these techniques work and work quite well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Flexible Boycott, Another Tool of Reaction

One tool I might suggest for reactionaries and conservatives alike is the flexible boycott. By this, I mean treat any businesses owned by your friends (and frankly there are few of those) as if they were offering a 20% discount relative to the norm. Treat any business owned and operated by neutrals (and usually only a few large corporations fit into this category, but lots of local businesses do) as if they offered 10% off. Then make your normal price-based decisions with those adjusted numbers. There's no need to announce it with a great deal of fanfare, just apply it. To some extent, encouraging people to 'buy local' also feeds into this, since local is more likely to mean neutral or even friend than is a large corporation, which is almost always enemy.
The problem with rigid boycotts is they get old for those that practice them---Alinski will tell you this straight up. Discriminating in favor of your friends on the other hand, never gets old.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What is the real crime rate anyway, a request for information

Generally in the past, I've always used the homicide rate as a proxy for crime as a whole. I've done this primarily because every other number is gamed all to hell. For instance, I know of cases of grand theft auto that the police around these parts didn't even bother to investigate and might not even have recorded when reported in their actual reported numbers. The constellation of 'identity theft' crimes never seem to be pursued. I know quite a few people who have had such crimes done to them and none who ever had a chance to see justice done to the perpetrator. Considering how lucrative such crimes may be, it is perhaps not surprising if lots of forms of theft have been rendered passe.

However, recently a fact has come to my attention. I suppose I should have known it all along considering how many of my relatives are doctors or nurses.

Trauma medicine has gotten really really good. A lot of people who make full recovery now from gunshot, stab wounds, blunt trauma or the like would've been six feet under with the standard of care even twenty years ago. The old numbers, for instance, that I recall when I was in college were that pistol wounds were 10-15% lethal, shotguns and rifles closer to 80%---I think these were from some of Gary Kleck's studies. Anyone know what these numbers are now?

For example, I know of one case one of my sisters in law worked as a nurse. The patient pulled a Hemmingway---i.e. he tried to commit suicide by cleaning a 12 gauge with his mouth. Tried was the operative word, last I heard he'd made a full recovery.

So what I'd like to see is a plot of homicide normalized to, say, 1960 level trauma care. How much of the decrease in homicide is the result of formerly deadly wounds that were downgraded through improved medicine to merely serious ones? How does this change our insight into the suicide and fatal firearm accident rates as well?

I know some studies on this have been done recently, anyone have the links or further insights?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gaming the budget crisis, why hitting the wall is almost certain


Imagine, for a moment, that you're the leader of the Republicans in Congress.
Actually solving the problem, and balancing the budget, would require making rather massive cuts in Medicare/SS/Medicaid and Defense. If you make the cuts somehow, you will be blamed for making them, even by a neutral media (that doesn't exist). Since the cuts are here and now, and not an impending doom with an uncertain arrival time, you will get absolutely slaughtered in the next election. And guess what, because you got slaughtered and are in the wilderness for a generation, you probably won't even have your handiwork stay fixed. Your incentive is to try to box the other party into having to make the cuts.
If you're the Democrat leader in Congress, you've got a largely symmetric situation, except that the media is considerably friendlier to you in general. But that won't matter in this circumstance, you'll be beaten black and blue in the next election if you actually do the right thing, and what's more, you know it.
It is really a very ugly circumstance, one that ends when what can't go on forever eventually doesn't. The downgrade by S&P is an attempt to impose a little discipline on the process, but what you've got is a room where two guys who dislike the other are sitting, with a bottle of cyanide that unless one of them drinks it, poison gas will be pumped into the room at a time to be chosen by the studio audience. Expecting one of them to take one for the team is folly.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mens Rights Activists/MGTOW: What do you want?

I ask because a significant number of you now are opting out of the marriage market and the task of child rearing.

Now, most traditionalists conservatives would insert the cue to the shaming language here, with some vague nonsense about how you need to 'step up' or 'be the man'. Attempting to shame you isn't my style, and it is rarely my intent to make a moral language appeal to you. I find that sort of thing generally insulting, partly because of the implicit parent->child communication mode that it tries to invoke. I'd prefer to address you adult to adult, as peers and potential allies. Now that we have that out of the way.

Let me explain what I want. I'd like you to get married, stay married, and have lots of children and grandchildren who will give a damn about you and form your true social security when you get old. I want this partly because I believe this will make you and yours happier in the long term, but let's be honest, a large part is because I know your primary demographic I'd rather live in a world where your children and grandchildren are numerous than one where they are few. So this isn't about anything universal, it is very particular and I make no bones about it.

So what is it that you want? What changes to laws, culture, or social attitudes or contracts would be needed for you to be able to contemplate what I want without the need for too much alcohol or harder drugs to make it seem like a good idea?

Now, obviously I can't wave a wand and make your desires happen. But articulating what it is exactly that you want is generally a prerequisite to obtaining it. It also points the way to the path of alliances and exchanges that you may need in order to obtain it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How much of Pro-Choice is About the Money?

A few years back, before my eldest was born, my wife and I went on a "Steps For Life" march for the Pregnancy Resource Center. Along the way, we encountered a pro-choice gentleman who, seeing our pro-life paraphernalia, inquired whether we would be willing to adopt all the children that were presently being aborted. As we inferred his question to be directed at the collective you representing pro-lifers, and given that the supply of newborns up for adoption is much much less than the demand for same, we answered Absolutely.

Now a lot of people would be inclined to view this gentleman rather contemptously, saying that it was 'just about the money' for him. But honestly, I'm inclined to view such a statement as an indication that a negotiation can take place in good faith. Frankly, I'd prefer that it be about the money, and the money is no small matter. Money and status drive most of what most of us do most of the time. When we can't see it, it is really more a case of a fish not realizing that it is wet. A person opposing a change in the laws because it will foreseably result in higher taxes and wealth transfers from he and his is a person with legitimate cause for complaint. But indeed there's also the possibility for a real solution here:

What if any child that someone committed in advance to adopt and posted bond for same was illegal to abort? This would necessitate a waiting period of perhaps 3 days on an abortion, something that has existed to buy a gun in a lot of states for some time, and the demographic data of the mother and father (if known) would be entered into the system as well. If nobody stepped up and posted the bond and committed in advance to adopt, the abortion would be green lighted. If they did, then immediate adoption after childbirth would be fast tracked.

Under this solution both sides are enjoined to put up or shut up. The pro-lifers have to demonstrate a willingness to pay for the costs of their preferred policy, and that fraction of the pro-choice movement that is motivated by the lack of desire to pay for a bunch of indigent offspring would be satisfied as well. This sort of thing, where the side that claims principle is opposed to a side that claims cost, is best solved this way in general---make those who claim principle pay for the 'right of way'. What say you?

Predictably, the offspring that would otherwise be aborted of certain demographics would be favored by this 'free market' based solution, but I don't have a problem with that, indeed I view it as more of a feature than a potential bug.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Predictions regarding the 2012 Elections

1. Obama will win the election if gasoline prices in most of the US are less than $3 a gallon. He will lose if they are $4 a gallon or more. Between those two price points, victory will be largely a matter of who the Republicans put forward after the primary.
The exception to this is if the gasoline price drops because the economy has utterly tanked. By this I mean a significant further reduction of the Labor Force Participation rate, which is currently at a low not seen since 1984.
I base this prediction on the fact that the press will be totally in the tank for Obama, as will the other organs of the culture. With a neutral press he'd be totally toast, but we don't have such a press.
2. The House will likely stay approximately the same, probably shifting only slightly. The Senate will probably become somewhat more Republican.
3. Whoever wins the election will regret it, and will almost certainly find their party on the outs in 2016. The economic headwinds are strong, and actually solving our fiscal problems would incite so much rage that it would kill the party associated with a bona fide solution (most of our spending is entitlements and defense, both of which have powerful bases of support).

But for a reactionary, all these things are not bad things. We are, after all, long volatility.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Debt Downgraded after the Debt Limit Hike, Now What?

My prediction that no meaningful positive outcome would come of the debt limit struggle has come to pass. The limit was upped by a couple trillions coupled with a promise to reduce the debt by a couple of trillions over 10 years (read: will never happen, the only cuts that you can actually kind of count on are the ones that are immediate). Hell, we're still not operating on a bona fide budget and haven't for a couple of years running now.
So now S&P has finally downgraded the US's debt, something which honestly is long overdue.
Overdue I say because AAA is supposed to mean as practically riskless as exists in the real world. Does anyone think that US government securities fit this classification? Yes, they might not technically default---through the expedient of just printing more money/inflation/QE/other slight of hand, but the value of what securities you hold in real terms most assuredly will decline in such a scenario. And that is what risk ratings are SUPPOSED to tell you. There's another, albeit scarier, way to look at things though I suppose. And that is, to say that SOMEBODY has to hold the AAA, no matter how much their credit objectively sucks, so long as it sucks less than everyone else's. Try explaining that one to your middle class & upper middle class clients as a financial advisor. If that's the rating rubric that we'd like S&P to use, we ought to at least have the decency to say so in no uncertain terms, so that investors can consider 'alternative investments'. A fair bit of the investing public appears to have already concluded this, which is why we've got gold presently north of $1600 an ounce.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A modest proposal regarding the War on Drugs

Predicting exactly what would happen, if, for instance, we were to legalize all drugs more or less overnight by removing authority for their regulation from the FDA is a difficult matter. Accordingly, I suggest a first step.

1) Remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances. Basically, legalize it at the federal level. Let states do what they want insofar as state or local regulation with it, in much the way alchohol is handled post Prohibition (there are still dry counties in the US if memory serves).

2) Concurrent with step 1, make users of MJ an 'anti-protected class'. This is to say, they're totally fair game for any public or private discrimination, and membership in the MJ users class removes any other protected class memberships you might happen to possess. Thus, if you're a pot-smoking elderly black handicapped lesbian Moslem, you'll be treated for all legal purposes like a white 30 year old Christian heterosexual able-bodied male---which is to say under almost all circumstances, you can't sue for discrimination or the like. This is intended to insure that the non-using population has means of expressing their disapproval of the using population without necessity of recourse to the hammer of the state. If they want to break out their old 'we don't serve your kind here' from very cold storage...so much the better. Enforcement of these provisions would likely require a user registry and probably an MJ purchaser's card or maybe just a stamp on your driver's license. MJ prices would fall to those commensurate with other leaf crops and the violence inherent in the distribution and sales as well. It could be treated much like cigarettes or alchohol.

If 2) results in a greatly enhanced ability of the non-using and the using population to coexist peacefully without either side feeling the need to launch governmental crusades, this solution could be advanced to regular smoking as well, and perhaps to a few other relatively soft drugs. My gut is that legal MJ would suck a lot of the oxygen out of the harder drug market---prohibition has always tended to drive a move towards more concentrated drugs.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A warming to the very rich in the US

By the very rich I mean that top 0.1% discussed in this article


First off, let me say, you are fortunate that the population that you live among is American, and still mostly that of European extraction. A large fraction of the population is like myself and doesn't begrudge you your cool toys---be they fancy custom cars, personal jets, mansions or castles, or the like. A smaller fraction that includes myself doesn't even begrudge you the ability to pass vast wealth and advantages along to your descendants. An even smaller fraction, including myself once again doesn't even begrudge you the ability to not be personally bothered by a lot of the effluent spewed by our government. You won't get this graciousness from any other population.

But you've got a big problem in the future---you are perceived as owning the government and the organs of the culture, and this is largely an accurate perception, not that accuracy in this case actually matters. The prestige of the government presently is at an all time low, and if trends continue, we may be in a circumstance that Lenin would recognize. Your conventional allies against expropriation, like myself, are disinclined to defend you if you use your power to threaten our existential interests, such as demographic hegemony. What's more, we're smart enough to know what would actually hurt your interests, as opposed to primarily falling on the bottom half of the top 1%, which is what the conventional 'soak the rich' crowd normally accomplishes. Think very hard on this when deciding which politicians or media organs to buy or what to tell them to say.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why I don't write

I've seen a number of 'Why We Write' posts throughout the blogosphere in the last week, and it occurs to me that it is at least as important, in my case at least, to discuss the objectives that I do not have in writing.

Primarily it is my goal to never convince a reader to do something that is contrary to their own best interests, and especially never to convince said reader for reasons of cosmic justice or a moral crusade. I will lay out in as clear and complete a fashion as I am able what I believe your interests are for your present, future, and extended selves, but ultimately you decide your interests, not me. This is how it should be, I consider anything else to be rather insulting to a fellow child of God.

For example, I will not attempt to convince a Hispanic person that his group should not seek to seize demographic hegemony over the United States. Obviously I don't want him and his to take it from me and mine, and I am willing to contest it rather vigorously since I consider the issue existential, but to attempt to bamboozle him into believing something that is manifestly not true (i.e., that for he and his, possessing such hegemony is not desirable) is a deed I want no part of.
Said individual is naturally my opponent, but he isn't really an enemy in the way a disingenuous white liberal is.

Now for Americans of black, Jewish, or Asian extraction, I will argue that your best interests are served by the demographic hegemony of me and mine. I argue this based on two points:
1. Your group ascending to such hegemony is a non-starter, so you're pretty much destined to always be 'living in the tents' of another group in the US. If you don't like that there are places where you and yours can enjoy the control over your collective destiny that demographic hegemony gives. I say this in perfect sympathy with the various separatist groups who would prefer to rule themselves horridly than have some other group rule them marginally tolerably.

2. I challenge you to find another group in the world that treats groups similar to yours as well as me and mine have. And, of course, there's not an open audition here, the second group that is challenging has already been determined. If we're being honest with ourselves, we know which side your bread is buttered on. You'd be wise to call for the ejection of any and all illegal immigrants, initiate Operation Wetback II, and retroactively revoke birthright citizenship for anyone not born of a citizen, especially in cases where they possess another nation's citizenship (as in the case of Mexico, which considers anyone born to a Mexican parent to be a Mexican citizen).

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Tale of Two Doomsayers

AGW/CC and Peak Oil are both tales of doom. Accordingly, most of us are inclined to bin them in the same batch, often the circular file. This would, IMO, be a mistake, because these two tales of doom couldn't be more different, despite the fact that the two have a significant overlap in adherents. This overlap is somewhat curious I suppose, given that if the fossil fuels available at reasonable effort and cost decline, so too would the purported driver for AGW/CC. But let's summarize:

1. AGW/CC generally goes out of its way to avoid making predictions that are falsifiable in the short term and when it does, they've generally been wrong. Peak Oil on the other hand expounded the prediction that global oil production would peak sometime in the 2000 timeframe. Most observers note that we've been on a fairly flat plateau of production since around 2005. If the peak oil crowd is right, we'll start to slope downward, probably before 2015. US oil imports have already sloped significantly downward. If they're wrong, then we'll see us rise from this present plateau.
2. AGW/CC has significant power to punish its enemies, especially if they're scientists looking for grant money or favorable peer review, and it uses it. Peak oil has no such power, in fact you can argue with a fair bit of success that it has negative power in that arena.
3. There's a lot of money in AGW/CC for the rent seeker, at least if you're a warmist. Peak oil can barely support a few cheap websites on the internet and a motley assortment of hangers-on.
4. Mainstream AGW/CC believers say we should sacrifice more power to the governments, which will buy indulgences and save us, and governments push AGW/CC very heavily themselves. Peak oil believers tend to just believe we're screwed, and if anything, governments tend to seriously downplay Peak oil.
5. AGW/CC types VERY rarely advance a program of solution that would actually solve the problem that they've identified. Peak oil believers generally believe that without a major technological rabbit from a hat (e.g., cold fusion, major battery technology and power transmission improvements, or the like) that there is no real solution.

Either proposition, AGW/CC or Peak Oil might be correct or might be false. AGW/CC however has 5 big glaring red flags that Peak Oil does not have---the sort of flags that historically scream scam. Therefore I recommend some investigation into it to reactionaries who are doing contingency planning for their future and that of their children.