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“I’m an aspirational anarchist. Society’s not ready for it, not close, but it’s the direction I’d like to see us head toward.” — a SF writer

The central problem of power is the central problem that anarchy theory correctly defines but the solution proposed — eliminate all power structures that could allow one person to impose power upon others — is nonsense if we are talking about humans. There are always humans who are more physically powerful than others, there are always humans who end up in control of scarce resources needed by others and thus are in a position of power over others, and the sociopath problem has no solution in anarchy theory, the sociopath problem being where those with the least compunction for harming human beings always rise to the top unless there is some other power structure to prevent them from doing so. I basically have not come up with any solution to this problem of power that in any way resembles traditional anarchy solutions that require consensus because they fall prey to the Liberum Veto problem where sly people use the need for consensus as a tool for obtaining power.

The only way I can see to make anarchy work is the unlimited resources and the (literal) deus ex machina of the AI “Minds” of Iain Banks’ “Culture” novels. And even there, we have seen Minds go insane and space their entire human contingent before heading off into the wilds of the galaxy to do whatever. Making anarchy dependent upon a deus ex machina in order to work properly in short isn’t a perfect solution, though I’d far prefer life in Banks’ “Culture” to life here.

So what can we do? Well. Democracy is the best solution we have thus far to the central problem of power. Unfortunately what we have seen is that democracy requires an educated, involved, and informed populace or else it is susceptible to being hijacked by rich jerks using propaganda and lies. Still, what is your alternative? Anarchy? Anarchy doesn’t work. Everywhere that it has been tried, it has turned into rule of gun as the most venal and ruthless gain followers and use concentrated force to impose their will and concentrate wealth in their own hands. In a sense the current state of Russia is a result of the anarchy that occurred after the fall of the Soviet Union. If there had been a smooth transition to a functional democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union, it is unlikely that Russia would currently be ruled by a strongman who maintains power by jailing and/or killing opponents.

Fuck anarchy, in other words. Everywhere it’s been tried, it’s ended up with strong man rule where armed thugs impose their will upon those who are less ruthless. Either it has been ineffective at fighting the armed thugs due to the liberum veto problem, or the people end up rejecting it in favor of the armed thugs because the armed thugs at least keep the common criminals in check. If you have a counter example, let me know about it. But thus far the only “anarchy” I’ve seen that actually works, works only because it’s embedded in a system that’s *not* anarchy. Which is sort of not a solution to the general problem of power, yo.

– Badtux the Anarchy Penguin

Centrally planned economies in the information age don’t work for the same reason that we don’t write computer programs that detect bombs in luggage — the problem set is so huge that there is no set of heuristics that can cover all the permutations. Instead we set up a system that learns, and some rules to let it know when it’s working right, and then train it in the real world. In the industrial age the Soviets could compete, albeit with significant inefficiencies that I’ll discuss separately if you’re interested. Once we moved into the computer age, economies became too complex to centrally plan. Training them with tokens, a.k.a. money, really is the only way that works with modern economies.

Unfortunately the set of rules has been hijacked by rich jackasses who care only about themselves and not about the health of the economy as a whole. Or as Michael Roberts says, “a rentier economy is a dying economy”. But people continue to think that the set of rules that currently exist, “natural law” rules that are actually “survival of the richest” rules, are the only ones that can exist. Our nation grew its economy best back when the government imposed a set of rules that redistributed money back to the people who actually created wealth (i.e., the workers who actually built Buicks and Chevrolets) rather than allow it to concentrate in the hands of a few rich people, because that allowed the tokens to be used to train the economy to generate wealth that benefited the common folk. Obviously now that money has become magic talismans and “market economies” have congealed rule sets that have become religious in nature rather than practical, we end up with what we observe — an economy that benefits only the few, not the many.

Rich people continue to whine that changing the rules is “Communism”. No, it’s not. They are pushing a religion that contains a rule set designed to enrich the rich, rather than upon the concepts of money and markets as a whole. I am quite capitalist, capitalism is the only proven way of actually encouraging the creation of wealth. What I’m against are rules that benefit only owners of capital, not the workers who generate capital. We’ve had rules that benefited both owners and workers before, and it worked out well for this nation. Saying that this was “Communism” is saying that the entire USA of the 1950’s was Communist — which is patently absurd in every way possible.

– Badtux the Economics Penguin

I made the trip back to Louisiana to visit the relatives again. Nothing to say about Louisiana. Texas, on the other hand…. everything is bigger in Texas. Including the assholes. Yeesh.

I’ve been thinking about the “superhero” genre, both comics and film/TV versions. It amuses me that there is a whole genre of fiction that basically celebrates criminals as heroes. The only other genre I can think of that does that is Republican politicians’ campaign ads.

Criminals, you say?

Well, yeah. Every episode has them committing assault and battery upon someone. And sometimes kidnapping — tying them up and dumping them at the police station being the politest thing they do. None of that is legal for a civilian to do. Well, if someone’s life is in danger it’s okay to tackle the attacker and hold him for the police, but you can’t just tie him up and dump him at the police station!

Now, the Batman I suppose could have been deputized by his buddy Commissioner Gordon, which would make it legal for him to tackle Cat Lady and retrieve the Cat’s Eye Diamond…. sayyy…. Bruce Wayne is, like, crazy rich, yeah? And how did Commissioner Gordon get elected as Police Commissioner, again? Gosh, no corruption there, right?!

And a sizable percentage of America thinks these guys are heroes. LOL.

Bah Humbug.

— Ebenezer Tux.

This video always cracks me up:

Gosh, no racism there

Neo-Nazis call anybody whose skin complexion is darker than a sheet of paper “mud people”. So now we have Tucker Carlson dog whistling neo-Nazis by calling immigrants “dirty”.

Wow. Just wow.

These right-wing racists aren’t even trying to hide it anymore, are they?

– Badtux the Astounded Penguin

She was seven years old.

Her father turned her over to the U.S. government because they had been without food and water for several days. He turned her over to the U.S. government in hopes they would provide food and water and shelter. Instead, for eight hours they provided nothing. No food. No water. No medical care. No warm bed to sleep on. Just a cage, that’s all, a cage and some mylar “space blankets”.

She died.

Her father had reported to authorities that she needed medical care. They didn’t provide any. They didn’t try to get an air ambulance to airlift her to the hospital. It was not until she was transferred to a station further inland that had a nurse on staff that she got any medical attention, and it was too late by then.

There are people who are celebrating this death. Who are saying, “this is a signal to all of Central America, don’t come here, we’ll kill you!” These same people call the refugees “animals”. But we all know who the real animals are — they are the ones celebrating the death of a child, not the ones mourning it.

– Badtux the Sad Penguin

Right wingers point at Venezuela when whining about the perils of socialism. Bull. Try Denmark or Sweden if you want a socialist country. The chaos in Venezuela is about racism, not socialism — the Blancos (whites) owned the economy, got kicked out of office by the Indios (brown), and think destroying the economy will get them voted back in. It’s all about “the punishments will continue until you vote us whites back into power!” They would literally rather destroy the country than relinquish economic and political power to people they consider their racial inferiors. The most hilarious thing of all is that if you put the average Blanco and the average Indio side by side, the average white American wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them!

I boarded with a Blanco when I was in college. He was a racist piece of shit. I’ve heard many of the exact same things out of the mouths of Blancos today that I heard back then from that jerk’s mouth. They are as bad as the old white elites of the American South who were willing to shut down all government services rather than allow blacks equal access to them. Which is where most anti-government sentiment in the United States stems from, BTW — it’s grounded in racism and in utter spite, a willingness to cut off services to themselves rather than share them with people they consider their racial inferiors.

But anyhow: the chaos in Venezuela is basically about a race war between the Blancos and Indios. Socialism is incidental to that, and more about the Indios trying to punish the Blancos for the Blancos torpedoing the economy as the Blancos try to punish the Indios for voting them out of power than about any real ideological convictions. The situation in Venezuela was caused by a civil war between races, not by socialism. Socialism has its own issues and inefficiencies, but it doesn’t cause race wars. That just isn’t a power of any system of economics.

– Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin

TMF health update

Since I mentioned I took him to the vet yesterday…

His long-time vet called me back with test results today.

  1. Elevation of a type of white blood cell associated with inflammation, but not an elevated white blood cell count altogether. He speculates that TMF may be allergic to something, and to keep an eye out to try to figure out what.
  2. Slightly elevated thyroid. Not to the point where he wants to try treating it, given that TMF is maintaining his weight, but he wants me to come back in six months from now for another blood test, or if I notice TMF losing weight or otherwise not doing well.
  3. Long term blood sugar tests — fructosamine and A1C — absolutely normal. TMF’s diabetes is being successfully diet-controlled. He said whatever I’m doing, just keep doing it!
  4. Everything else looks normal or even good for a 16 year old cat. He said nothing in any of the numbers worries him at all other than #1 and #2 above.

His final words: “This all looks pretty darn good for a 16 year old cat. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”

Heh.

– Badtux the Elderly-cat-owned Penguin