The Shame

This just in: “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” – Joseph de Maistre

Last night I had a dream.  I was some sort of Terminator-type guy and I was fighting off an alien invasion that was enslaving mankind.  In the end, I saved the world.  There was a brief celebration and then everyone turned against each other to see which of them would be the new leader and thus, the new “enslaver of mankind.”

At this point, I turned my back on the populace and walked away knowing I had accomplished…nothing.

I think the moral of the story is that the enemy is within.

Our government is in a shambles.  I can’t blame Trump.  I can’t blame the Republicans.  Why?  Because if we get rid of them, the “system” that gave birth to them will endure and thus…produce replacements that are just as bad.

What do I mean when I say “system”?

I think if I had to choose one issue…it would be the absence of accepted facts.

Pick any issue.  Let’s use tariffs.  I think we should know exactly why the tariffs are in.  We should know exactly how these affect our target (China) and our allies.  We should know how they affect us.  We should know how, as a tool, tariffs stack up against other options that may achieve the same goal.

We don’t clearly know any of this.

What about the tax cut that was passed?  What about immigration?  What about NATO or the Paris Accord?  What about Kavanaugh?  What about auto emissions? What about Net Neutrality?  What’s the impact of income inequality?  Can we do better with healthcare?

Suppose we knew exactly the impact and various solutions to these and many other issues.  We could then make good choices.  Perfect decisions come from perfect information.

This brings me to the title of this post: Shame.

The “Shame” is that we are completely able of finding the answers to these issues and making them public.  We are smart and capable.  We can do this.

But we don’t.

We don’t because people are “influenced” to turn the other way.  It could be “vote this way for me and I’ll vote that way for you” type of thing. It could be “I don’t’ want Trump to give me a nickname.”  It could be, my billionaire campaign contributor won’t back me if I don’t vote a certain way.”  Once influence, the fact are often hidden as they may contradict a desired action.

These types of influencers are what got a tax cut passed that is adding trillions to our debt so the extremely rich have even more money.  These types of influences gives us a circus for Supreme Court nominations where 90% of Kavanaugh’s history is kept secret even from the Judicial committee’s Democrat members and the FBI is directed to apparently “not find anything.”

What’s that you say, “We don’t know what the FBI was directed to do.”  That is true.  So I ask, “Why don’t we know exactly what the FBI was directed to do?”

We now have permission to lie.  We have permission to hate.  We have permission to ignore science.  We have permission to scam the tax system.  We have permission to ignore the plight of women and minorities.

And with this permission came an astonishing revelation:  We have been waiting all along for this to be okay. 

The most shameful thing of all is that the mirror has been turned towards us and the picture is not pretty.

That Shame may also be the hidden blessing.  I can pretend that my face is not dirty so long as you don’t make me look in the mirror.  When confronted with the fact…maybe I’ll decide it’s time to bath.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Besides Guns and Trump

This just in:  I don’t know about you but there are certain things I have come to accept as normal.   Mass shootings followed by “hopes and prayers” followed by increased gun sales is normal.  Trump doing the exact opposite of what is the right thing to do in EVERY situation is normal.  Republican’s hiding Trump’s Russian affiliations is normal.  Fox News blathering absolute nonsense that is gobbled up by a large portion of our population is normal.

It’s become normal to me because I watch a lot of news and this is all I see.

Today I found myself wondering, “What would I like to see on the news?”

This gives rise to the question, “Is news supposed to be informational, educational or merely entertaining?”

I suppose a little of all three.

Here would be my programming:

  • A segment on conflicts around the world.  Who is fighting who and why.
  • Something about entertainment
  • A segment on advances in medicine.
  • A segment on advances in technology.
  • A good news story with maybe a puppy
  • A segment that compares the current rating of the top 25 countries in the following categories:
  1. Math scores
  2. Science scores
  3. Cost of health care
  4. Quality of life
  5. Quality of the Democracy
  6. Work-Life balance
  7. Military spending
  8. Crime
  9. Economic growth
  • I would sprinkle in some sports.
  • There would be an international segment about places like Africa or Asia that covered things we don’t normally hear about.
  • There would be a segment where political actions and statements are evaluated based on effectiveness and truth by an neutral third party like IBM’s Wilson.
  • There would be section on national social issues like poverty, equality, racism, jobs, wages etc.

That all sounds like a good start.

I think its high time the people of the United States realize that we are quickly falling behind the rest of the world in nearly every category except military spending and gun deaths.

A good dose of reality television that showed the truth of our ongoing fall from the top of the heap may be what we need to make us take action to reverse this trend.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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When Math Lies

This just in:  I had a friend mention that she didn’t think gun research would work due to two reasons: (1) It would take too long and (2) people would still choose sides on the research results.

My less-than-clever retort was “2+2 will always equal 4”.

Then, I thought about this some more and decided there were times were math could be used to fool you.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

A political example.

Newt Gingrich said, a month after Obama took over the presidency that “There are more people on food stamps than at any other time in history.”  Newt was right.

However…

The implication is that in a single month, Obama was responsible for every single person on food stamps.  What had actually happened was that the economy crashed at the end of the Bush administration.  It was continuing to sink for the first few months of Obama’s administration.  So, under Bush, a record was set for people on food stamps.  As soon as Obama took over, and one more person signed up for food stamps..a new record was set.

So, one person signing up for food stamps under Obama allowed Newt to rightfully say what he said.

A non-political example…

Suppose a drug company has a new product; an antidepressant called drug XYZ.  The FDA will only approve use of this drug if there are 3 successful trials showing this drug can outperform a placebo.  So, the drug company runs 100 trials.  In 80 of those trials, the drug does no better than a placebo.  In 17 of those trials, the placebo actually outperforms the drug.  In 3 trials, the drug outperforms the placebo.

The drug company then throws out 97 of the trials that didn’t give them the results they wanted.  Instead, they publish the 3 trials out of 100 that seemed to show their drug worked.

The FDA approves this because the 3 trial standard has been met.

A stock market example…

A broker sends out 100,000 texts.  In half of these he recommends buying stock in company XYZ as it will increase in value during the year.  In the other half of these, he recommends the exact opposite saying that the company will decrease in value next year.

Unless the company stock does not change at all, this broker will be right in half of his texts.

Next year, he does it again.  However, this time, he only sends the texts to the 50,000 that got the right recommendation last year.  He claims “I was right last year!”  In the new text, he has another company but dhe sends the say 50/50 recommendation; half say “buy” and half say “sell”.

Again, at the end of the year, half of these texts will be correct.

This means that 25,000 have gotten texts that accurately predicted the market.

He does this over an over; sending out 25,000 (50% buy and 50% sell) and now 12,500 will get the right recommendation. This is 12,500 that have only seen texts from this broker that have been 100% correct.

Every year he has a smaller pool to send to. Every year, half will get good recommendations and every year, half think he is a genius….even though he is wrong half the time.

Why is this?

Those that get bad recommendations are dropped from his mailing list.  Those that get good recommendations have no idea about the 50% that got bad recommendations.

Math counts and 2+2 will always equal 4.  However, we can all be fooled; especially when we are hearing what we want to hear.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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