Thursday, October 28, 2010

Inherent Necessary Inefficiencies.

Since I have been of the mind to pay attention to politics, and I am certain long before, I have heard from politicians and politicians-to-be that government should be run like a business.  I have heard that government needs to be more efficient, it needs to treat money like we who have to live and work do.


We are inherently different than the system of government.  Business is inherently different than government.

Think of it like a system with a purpose. 

A business is a system whose purpose is to generate money.  What other purpose does it have at its core?  Sure, some businesses and organizations have other purposes but by far, the vast majority of businesses exist to make money, for the owners, for the shareholders, or perhaps as tax dodges so that someone doesn’t have to pay out money on the other side.

A household is a system with a purpose.  Its purpose is to provide basic needs for people who work to earn money, and use that money to pay to maintain the household.  It serves the householders who are part of the same system.  A household would not work if it were maintained with the purpose of generating money.  I don’t even know how that would work.

A government is a system with a purpose.  Government’s purpose is to serve the people.  It serves them by building them infrastructure so that they can carry on business and householding.  It sets policies for imports and exports and regulates how businesses can treat workers.  It regulates what persons can do to each other with the purpose of creating a civil society in which everyone can carry on business and householding.  It prevents overreach of many aspects of society, and necessarily so, it serves humans.

Government to a degree facilitates everything that happens in a society.  Government can’t go bankrupt like a corporation and be dissolved and assets sold to pay debts.  Government can’t be sold like a business or a house.  Government can’t buy other governments. A government cannot be run like a business because it doesn’t create wealth or serve to generate money, it distributes it by its very nature.  It collects money via taxes and fees and provides services based on what needs to be accomplished to move the society forward.

Unlike a business, government serves the people.  Unlike money, the best needs met for people do not lie in what makes the most money.  There are inherent and necessary inefficiencies.  Because government controls so much, it needs inherent drogues to keep it from commanding everything in its path.  It needs to apply drogues to businesses and householders so that they may not overstep their bounds also.

Consider the Senate of the United States of America.  According to James Madison, "The use of the Senate is to consist in proceeding with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch."  The Senate was necessarily less efficient than the House, more deliberative, less apt to act with haste, a necessary and inherent inefficiency.  At this point in time, progress in the senate has slowed to a crawl because some senators value the business of money more than they value the business of serving the people.  While this is a seriously annoying hang-up, it is an inherent necessary inefficiency to keep the government from overreaching in faster times.

Inefficiency in government prevents great evils from coming to pass if they work right.  As a price for this, great goods are also slowed.

The justice system works similarly.  In order that the minimum number of innocent people are dealt with unjustly, sometimes a known criminal must be released because he was not read his rights when he was arrested or because proper procedure was not followed in some other aspect.  We complain about these miscarriages of justice because we know a guilty party got away with something.  How much more would we complain if we the innocent party were unjustly prosecuted for the same crime?  It is a necessary and inherent inefficiency that keeps the system from running amuck. 

Democracy itself is likewise inherently inefficient.  Why spend so much time debating and arguing and legislating in one direction and then another when we could have some glorious all powerful leader who could make changes to our society en masse?  Because though that kind of government is far more efficient at getting things done, it is also inherently unjust, or so history would tell us.  Democracy, when it works correctly, allows people to govern themselves and move in a direction that generally has the best interests of the society as a whole.

As an aside, let me cut you libertarians, corporatists, plutocrats, autocrats, and republicans off at the pass before you try to tell me that democracies are inherently evil and that the majority will eventually confiscate rights and freedom from the minority.  I have done my best to test that assertion, and I have found it to be categorically false.  I even had a libertarian try to tell me that Hitler was democratically elected.  It’s simply false.  I can’t find an example where a democracy has confiscated rights from a minority.  If you can provide me one, I’d be happy to consider it, but expect to defend your assertion.

Yes, we all know government is inefficient.  We try to make it more efficient.  We want it to work for the benefit of all citizens.  But to do that, there are some things it can’t do efficiently and we need to accept that.  It shouldn’t be wasteful, but some waste is inherent in a system that serves people.  A system that serves money is allowed to be far more ruthless. 

When government becomes ruthless and cold, you know it is serving money and not the people.  When moneyed interests make plans for government, you know they are seeking to change government so that it serves money and not the people. 

But it needs to be inefficient.  It requires, and was designed with, a certain necessary inherent level of inefficiency so that it would fulfill its purpose in serving the people and not the money.

I eventually plan to start a business where one of the stated purposes is to provide jobs, to serve people.  To do that, there will have to be a necessary inherent inefficiency introduced fundamentally into the system so that the sole purpose of the business is not simply to make money, but to serve the people working there.

This post serves to further one of my overall messages that catchphrases, soundbites, and litmus tests are truly useless to our representative democracy.  The truth lies in in-depth study, discussion, understanding, and reason.  The truth and the best good for the society and our nation lies in seeing every side of an issue, in not yelling, not offering incendiary arguments, and not offering catchphrases in place of reasoned discussions and compromises.  Nuance is as important as progress.  Depth of understanding is as important as passing a bill. It’s an inherent necessary inefficiency, that we have to slow down and think about what we are doing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Do You Believe?

In our culture today, so many times the question is asked about what we believe, especially in politics and religion.  Do believe in Jesus as your personal lord and savior?  Do you believe that a woman has the right to control her own body?  Do you believe in the death penalty?  Do you believe the earth is 6000 years old?  Do you believe in fiscal responsibility?

It doesn't matter what you believe, it matters what you're going to do about it.

That's my stand.  In the bible, James said:  "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."  "Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?"  So I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what you believe because what you say you believe makes you a liar unless what you do backs it up.  If James calls it useless, than it is useless.  Apart from the Bible, I still say if you can't back up what you believe by what you do, then it truly is useless!

The American Christian (you know what I think about these people) culture today is one in which you are defined by what you believe, or at least what you say you believe.  Are you against abortion?  Are you against gay marriage?  Are you against taxes?  Are you a fiscal conservative?  Yes?  Well then by Jove, you're okay in my book!  But like I said, so?  What I want to know is what are you going to do about it?

Conservatives have been against abortion for forty years.  They have used it for forty years to gain votes, but in the end, what have they done about it?  Little more than nothing.  Well, they won elections, so I guess that counts.  I have recently been encountering atheists who are now approaching the ability to discuss moral issues in a playing field which for so long has been dominated by people of faith.  Jen Roth is a so-called pro-life atheist and she has such a powerful case against abortion that usually argumentative commentators can't but sit and listen to her lay it out.  I'm currently reading a new book by atheist Sam Harris called "The Moral Landscape."  And it's hard to fathom, but atheists are now, at least in my view, making better cases for moral issues than the staid Christian apologists. 

If this plays out, American Christianity is in some sh!t!

P.S.  I really hope it's deep!

But how could I say these things?  I'm a follower of Jesus after all, I believe all the stuff I'm supposed to believe right?  The difference is what I am going to do about it.

Jen Roth with her "Pro Peace" makes the best case, and I'm gonna mix hers and my stuff here for a minute to make an aggregate case for thought, action, and nuance.  Okay, so we all, on all sides can agree that abortion is not a good thing.  Even pro-choice people can usually agree that having less abortions is better.  There's something about the psycho-physical interaction that is a woman that says that the loss of a child is a damaging event.  But pro-choice people still want the option to be there just in case, and typical pro-life people think the benefit of life to the being is more important than the emotional or other state of the woman. 

Okay, so we want less abortions, now what?  The belief is out of the way, so what should we do about it because it's the doing that is the important part is it not?  That's what I said up there, so that's what it is.

What are our options?  Some say overturn Roe vs. Wade.  Truth be told, this is not a viable option.  It's a decision that gives federal rights to people, a whole bunch of people aren't gonna let that happen.  There will be riots and if it does succeed, it will be driven by the American Church and the Church will lose the American people for generations, and probably forever.  In short, it isn't going to happen.  It's just not.  It's not a viable option, it's not a peaceful option.  Likewise, making abortions on demand and free is not going to make their numbers go down like we all want.

Now if we come to the table to form a solution in the spirit of cooperation and reason, you know, being reasonable, both sides need to make some concessions.  This is how cooperation and negotiation works.  This is how it is done.  You can take power by force and alienate your opponents, or you can meet in the middle and step by step, progress can be made.  By the way, that is my definition of progress, moving forward, getting things done piece by piece, thing by thing.  That's why I can be against the health bill because it doesn't do what we need, but for it because it takes several steps in the right direction.

First of all, we just have to abandon abstinence only education.  It doesn't work.  It simply doesn't work.  Teens are gonna have sex.  The good parents can have a good lifelong effect on that, but the schools are gonna have a really rough time getting that to be effective.

People gotta stop trashing Planned Parenthood simply for fun.  Where I grew up, Planned Parenthood handed out condoms on demand.  That was a good thing.  Who knows how many pregnancies were avoided because of that.

The rights of women to not get pregnant if they choose such must be held high.  There are a lot of women who are coerced into getting pregnant.  This creates a lot of strife and is not a peaceful option for the world.  Also, a great many women are coerced into having an abortion by their boyfriends or their families.  That's unacceptable. 

What I mean to say with all this is very important.  We're not going to get abortion illegalized, at least not in my lifetime and not peacefully.  So let us put our beliefs into action to realistically reduce the number of abortions.  Let us change militant attitudes and single issue voter status quos to affect real change.

Because it doesn't matter what you believe, it matters what you're going to do about it.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review: Harley Motorcycles at Bikes, Blues, and Barbecue.

In the last two days, I had the opportunity to ride six different models of Harley Davidson.  They were Sportster Forty 8, Sportster 883 Low, Fat Bob, Fat Boy Classic, V-Rod Muscle, and one other soft-tail of some sort.  I was also able to ride a Can-Am Spyder, a three wheeled vehicle built more like a snow mobile than a motorcycle.

I was looking for a motorcycle to consider buying when my 1995 Honda Nighthawk 750 kicks the bucket.  This is not likely to happen soon, it just passed the 30,000 mile mark and runs presumably like the day it was made, definitely like the day I got it, that is before I switched it over to synthetic lubricants.

The biggest difference I noticed was between my bike and the others when I switched back which I did after riding two Harleys in a row in each case.  My bike weighs probably 200-300 lbs less than the average Harley and maneuvers much better.  It also vibrates a whole lot less, in fact, the first time I started it up after riding the first two Harleys, I had to rev the engine to see if it was actually on.

Which leads me to my first point.

Harleys vibrate.  With the exception of the V-Rod, Harleys use an air cooled 45 degree offset v-twin.  With their sheer size and power and natural imbalance, they vibrate a lot, especially Sportsters without counterbalances.  The Classic was probably the best beside the V-Rod, but let me explain the V-Rod. 

The V-Rod is not your traditional Harley by a long shot.  It was designed with help from Porshe, and differs in many significant ways.  First, it is offset by 60 degrees which makes it a bit bigger even though the displacement is significantly smaller.  Adding to that factor is water cooling.  It is also counter balanced making it much smoother than the other machines even though the engine is hard mounted instead of rubber mounted like the others.  It makes a sound unlike any I have come across.  Able to rev to 9k, it easily beats any of the other Harleys whose rev limiters kicked in with out much notice around 6k or so.

All the Harleys are big.  They all maneuver significantly slower than my bike.  Several I was able to drag the foot pegs on the ground without trying, and the 883 Low was so easy that I was able to drag pegs on both sides in successive left and right swerves.  That was without leaving my lane and at 50 mph or more.  Probably the best one of the standard machines would have been the one I didn't get to ride, but did get to sit on, the Sportster 1200X with its dirt bike styling (but not functionality) and sport bike peg position.  It's handlebar position was way better too, like some street-fighter conversions I've seen with dirt bars.

Of all the bikes I tried, with a change of handlebars, the V-Rod would be the one I would go with.  It is the most powerful, the best technology, probably the longest lasting, and the best technology.  What can I say, I'm an engineer.

The Spyder was a different bird altogether.  I didn't like it much.  It rides like a four-wheeler on pavement which is to say it's way too sensitive and it seems could toss you if you get a bee stuck in your helmet and twitch too hard.  The electronic shifting sucked.  They tell you not to let off the gas when you shift.  They didn't say why, but it turns out that the machine does it for you which isn't cool.  Fortunately it does have a manual option, so there's that.  I wouldn't ride one unless I lost my left leg.  You still need your right leg because that's the only option for a brake, though I think that could be remedied with a little imagination.  For someone only trained on two-wheelers, the Spyder can be a problem.  A lady in front of me almost ran off the road trying to countersteer like you would a motorcycle. 

The three wheeled configureation is naturally more stable than a standard trike configuration which leaves much to be desired in handling, and as I have said before, one of my favorite cars is the Aptera 2e with the same configuration, but it's a car, it has a steering wheel and not handlebars.  I think the handlebars are what causes the problem.

I hope some real life experience could help someone, if you have any questions, I avidly answer comments.