Archive for April, 2015

Of Riots, and Causes

April 29, 2015

The president has condemned the rioters, as have most politicians.
I’m not happy with them either. They did indeed burn businesses, loot them, put their neighbors out of work. All those and more beside.
I read a few statistics about that neighborhood in Baltimore. I hope you’ll take the time to look up things for yourself. I certainly don’t know everything about it. I don’t know anything at all about the police who arrested the young man or what they did to him. I’ll only say it’s suspicious, and that officials are looking into the matter. Six officers have been suspended. Some will probably be charged, although it hasn’t happened yet. An investigation is ongoing, although it seems to be moving far slower than a similar investigation would take that involved a civilian.
So what’s the neighborhood like, other than that it’s filled with minorities who are likely overwhelmingly black?
Less than half of the residents have jobs. Why?
One in four young men have been arrested by the police in the past. Why?
There are gangs in the neighborhood, criminal gangs. We know that because the police know it and implied that they’d received intelligence that major gangs were allied and were going to ‘take out cops’. The gangs quickly responded and said that no, there was no such alliance and they weren’t going after the cops. Duh.
I wonder how these folks live? You can be sure their income is less than the official poverty income. So how do they buy food, buy clothing, pay for electricity and gas service, things like that?
And of all those politicians, from President Obama all the way down to the mayor and city council, how many have had an opportunity to do something about the impoverished, black neighborhoods of Baltimore?
And decided that no, it wasn’t worth fighting the entrenched interests who insist on no taxes. No taxes to improve people’s lives. No taxes to build good schools, hire good teachers, hire enough policemen to suppress the gangs and the drug trade that supports them. No taxes for urban redevelopment.
It’s a vicious slope. The residents don’t have enough money to do anything, including pay the necessary taxes. State and federal politicians aren’t willing to spend the money on a blighted neighborhood filled with blacks.
And then, when a trigger point is reached, the riots erupt. Arson. Looting. Violence and vandalism. Police cars torched. Rocks thrown, sometimes shots fired.
Most major cities have neighborhoods just like the one in Baltimore. And, before Baltimore, Ferguson.
It will happen again. Los Angeles? New York? Kansas City? Atlanta? Birmingham, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston…
I expect a long, hot, summer of unrest.
And all the politicians, including the wannabe’s, will wring their hands and condemn the rioters.

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Economics, and the Best Economic System

April 26, 2015

So many curse the idea of ‘socialism’, but have no idea of what that means.
Look at the history of the Great Depression; it was caused by unrestrained capitalism, and only socialism was beginning to reverse the economic disaster. Things like the CCC, the WPA, others, where the government became the employer of last resort.
Consider for a moment what would happen if we made the government the employer of last resort now and paid those employees a living wage, not a punitive wage? Say, for example, $15 an hour.
No more unemployment insurance, or the taxes to pay for it.
No more minimum wage. What the government paid becomes de-facto the ‘minimum wage’.
Food stamps and disability insurance only for the truly disabled. Yeah, they exist; and if we expect to be called a civilized nation, we have to take care of our own. My son drew disability from Social Security for about five years. Before dying of the disease that rendered him unable to work, at age 44.
No more ‘booms’ and ‘busts’ from gambling capitalists. No more bailouts. Let the banks go broke, no golden parachutes left, take over those failed businesses and make them part of the ‘socialist’ government employment of last resort.
Use it as a governor for the economic system, in other words. When labor is needed, employers will have to pay more, hence fewer people on direct government employment. When a downturn comes, automatically pump more money in and employ more people.
About the people employed: they have to spend the money, buying food, housing, clothing, appliances. No foreclosures. No default on education loans. All that spending generates economic activity in the private sector. That’s why I consider socialism the governor for a mature economic system.
Private enterprise? Absolutely. Capitalism, where invested money earns income? Absolutely. Regulated private enterprise/capitalism (gas service, phone service in some cases, insurance when ownership of insurance is made mandatory), absolutely.
The best economic system is a mix of private enterprise, regulated private enterprise, capitalism, and socialism.

Deadly Force and its Use

April 25, 2015

We’ve had a lot of questionable behavior recently involving police. It appears that people question their behavior, and in many cases that is deserved.
Part of the problem is that most of us don’t understand police work and the decisions that police officers make. For that matter, I’m not at all certain that POLICE understand when they’re permitted to employ deadly force.
I was trained to do that, and also given a ist of occasions when deadly force was authorized. That was a long time ago, more than fifty years, but I think I remember most of them.
I think those same rules are applicable today to police officers or others authorized to carry arms. Police or licencees with concealed carry permits, the rules must be exactly the same.
1. Deadly force is authorized in self defense or in defense of another person. ‘Self defense’ requires that the person employing deadly force feel that he/she is either personally threatened or that another human being is under threat. Taking a human life is justified only when it’s employed to prevent the taking of a different human life.
2. Deadly force is authorized to interrupt a felony in progress and apprehend an armed felonĀ if he resists arrest. This means that traffic stops or other encounters with the public rarely require the use of deadly force. Only when circumstances change such that the first rule is in effect would deadly force be authorized.
3. Deadly force is authorized to apprehend an armed and dangerous person who resists arrest. Note that possession of a weapon does not automatically make a person dangerous, nor does ‘resisting arrest’. Many now have permits to carry weapons and certain states permit open carry of weapons upon their person. In such circumstances, should an arrest be necessary, an officer should call for backup (which is standard procedure in most cases). Only when there are several officers on scene should the effort be made.
An unarmed person fleeing is not ‘armed and dangerous’. An unarmed person committing a felony does not present sufficient danger to the police or general public to authorize use of deadly force. There are other, better, ways of taking such a person into custody, including calling for backup.
‘Deadly force’ means use of firearms. Batons and tasers, as well as beanbag rounds and similar, are not ‘deadly force, per se, but can become so. Methods of grappling used to subdue a felon who resists arrest can also be deadly if misused. Whatever the method, if a death occurs, the presumption exists that deadly force was used, and that use must be justified under one of the three rules I stated.
Police officers should not be exempt from scrutiny. The rules above apply to them as well as to civilians, except that civilians will rarely perform an arrest.
This is my take. What do you think?

Work, Time, and Climate Change

April 21, 2015

I’ve neglected this blog; that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working. Instead, I’ve been very busy with a lot of concerns, some that have to do with completing my seventh novel (Veil of Time, about 50 000 words written of what I expect will be a 70 000 word book; it’s the fourth novel in the Wizards Series and as you might guess, it involves time travel). I’m also managing my writing as a business, performing music once or twice a week, and my Facebook interests take up considerable time too. Plus my wife and I are getting ready to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Yes indeed, busy!
I began working on global climate change a few years ago. This led me to design and build an experiment, which I used to collect data. I’m continuing this effort. I won’t listĀ all the things I did in this essay; there are three essays already on this blog about what I did, how I did it, and the results I measured. If you’re interested, the essays won’t be hard to find.
I’m finally to the point where I can take this public. I’ve also interested a scientist in looking at my idea, so we’ll see what happens now. He indicated that if he finds my ideas have merit, he knows people to contact to spread the information.
I hope the concept can at least be tried before it’s dismissed out of hand.
If anyone who’s reading this blog is interested, you can contact me for further information.