Stephen Hawking 100-Year Horizon – Human Nature Will Not Let US Survive

The most sacrosanct assumptions in projections of the future pertain to the uninhibited “right” to have children.  Arguments galore might pan the notion that having children is not a right, it is a luxury the future may not afford.

Ask yourself:

What is the source of pollution?
What is the source of famine?
What is the source of war?

The answer to all the problems posed by fatalists is simple:  people.

People, from birth to grave consume and emit.  Without technology, with technology, it does not matter.  Being alive adds to the problems we work so hard to offset.  Yes, you and I demand food, water, clothing, shelter, and many products and services that require resources.

In the extractive era, all we had to do was harvest.  We fished, hunted, drank water, felled trees, built fires, made tools, developed agriculture, and diverted rivers to allow us to harvest even more from nature.  And what did we contribute in exchange for the bounty we consumed?  Effluence.

So vast was the trove of resources, we had the energy, tools, and bodies to plant and husband, delve and drill, sail and dive, smelt and forge ourselves weapons and consumptive infrastructures.

The constant threat of extinction was real and constant.  The rate of mortality for mothers and babies was daunting.  The mortality of hunters and soldiers was also constant.  Not only was procreation allowed, it was demanded of women by men, relatives, and religions.

Numerous times, depopulation was significant, through wars and diseases.  The specter of extinction haunted our species, and still does in nuclear and cosmic ways.

It is ironic that the solution to our fears is the source of our threats – more people. Preserving resources ranks lower than species’ survival.  Increasing consumption of resources, and the byproducts that creates, threatens our existence.

Our nature demands that we dig our own graves, rather than curb our breeding.  Is it wrong?  Define wrong.

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Democrat in Republican’s Clothing – George W. Bush

George W. Bush supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.  He has become an ersatz Republican elitist, who still thinks he is right to oppose President Trump.  He remains a sore loser, who did not get his way.  He is worse than the Democrats who continue to moan and groan because they lost the election.  George is a Democrat in Republican’s clothing.  It appears that his mission is not yet accomplished.

“Wolf in sheep’s clothing” is a term for something that seems innocent, but is a lethal enemy.  Nothing could be a worse disguised enemy than someone who pretends to be in the same political party, but who attacks the president, being not too careful in hiding his true feelings.

Who would want the return to elite political power more than GWB?  He was born, raised, and steeped in the rarified, upper echelons of the Republican party.

The Associated Press published part of a recent interview, at a book promotion in Simi, CA.  Bush asserted that receding from global interaction creates a vacuum that would be filled with “… people who don’t share the ideology, the same sense of human rights and human dignity and freedom that we do,”

On his assertion of what will fill vacuums:  Just exactly what countries does he mean?  Does he really think we have friends in every nation into which we pour money?  No, they still hate us, but they love our money.  Does he think adversarial ideology will take over Europe, Britain, Mexico, etcetera?  It must be much more complicated than I thought.

Whoever tries to fill the “vacuums” will do so at their financial peril.  Estimated total foreign aid by Russia and China combined was less than half of US expenditures.  If these evil forces had enough money, they would already have forced us to find other places to put our dollars.

What would be lost by focusing on our internal problems?  I read recently that our foreign aid expenditures total about 1% of our budget.  I also read that only 34% of our budget is discretionary.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/aug/17/facebook-posts/pie-chart-federal-spending-circulating-internet-mi/

That means 1% is really 3% of our discretionary expenses.  With a total 2016 budget of about $4.15 trillion, $42.4 billion goes to “foreign assistance.”  (And everyone made a big deal about Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase in military spending; just 1.35% of the total budget.;)

In the interview, Bush stated that he, “… didn’t intend to criticize Trump when he said recently that a free press is essential to democracy. Trump has referred to the press as the “enemy of the people.” Bush said at the library, the nation needed an independent press, but added that it needs to be accurate.”

The “independent press” used to be 98% news, and 2% editorials; today, editorials are more like 50 to 100% from many sources on both the left and the right.  That changes the character of the press from providing information, to publishing propaganda.  This is an abuse of the public platform and audiences.  This is a perversion of journalism.

Wikipedia says, ” Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the “news of the day,” and that informs society to, at least, some degree.”  Note that the word “reports” means relays, or conveys factual information about what happens, without interpretation.  Also note the chagrin of “at least some degree.”

Spin, commentary, opinions, editorials, exaggerations, conflation, are not reports.  Neither are unbalanced, “soft ball” interviews with only strongly opinionated, partisan, advocates or critics, selected to advance an ideological agenda.  (e.g. Fox, MSNBC, CNN) That is propaganda.

The BBC is the best example of journalism today.  They clearly delineate news from opinion, and entertainment.  Walter Cronkite is a shining example of the qualities of journalists, and the journalism of the past.  Persuasion is not the intent of true journalism.

What if a news source is not accurate, on purpose?  What if the “free press” is vicious, verging on hate speech?  What if their articles contain accurate facts, wrapped in overwhelming opinions, “newspeak,” “analysis,” and commentary that is clearly inaccurate, subjective, and savagely slanted in scope and innuendo?  What do you call an organization that is staunchly, and consistently opposed to the elected government of the USA, almost to the point of sedition, subversion, insurgence, even insurrection?  What kind of “free press” pounces on, and amplifies every mistake?  What good is a free press that fearfully, and angrily projects, and postulates every possible, negative, future outcome of executive proposals?  Does a free press overlook, denigrate, and downplay every positive possible scenario to extinction, or discredit?

I appreciate GWB’s talent as a painter; he was president during the most shocking attack on American soil since WW II.  His standard-issue ideas, elitist disloyalty, and blindness to the enemy within is not what we need right now.  We do not need disgruntled words from a veteran patrician.  But I do not mean to criticize him.

 

Free Press – Free to What?

Is a free press free to use public forums to promote their own adversary, political agendas?  Are public figures free to eschew blatant attacks, avoiding angry public exchanges by picking and choosing news sources, and using more moderate press pools to communicate?

Managing news coverage has been an important strategy for recent presidents.  The news media has paid a great deal of attention to President Trump’s conflicts with them.  However, the press has a short and selective memory when it comes to which presidents used such strategies.  President Trump is far from the first to employ the tools about which they complain.  Here is what the Atlantic said in an August, 2014 article about Richard Nixon’s, George W. Bush’s, and Barak Obama’s relationships with the “media.”

“… the Obama White House has used new media to take image control to new levels. It sends a stream of tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos directly to the public while bypassing journalists. Last year, (July 8, 2014) in a separate letter*, 38 news organizations complained to Obama’s press secretary that photojournalists are often barred from public events. They said the White House prevented photographers from covering presidential meetings with congressmen and Middle East peace negotiators but then released its own photos of these events using social media.

 Obama also avoids interviews with White House reporters, preferring appearances on The View and late-night talk shows where easier questions are asked.”

 https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/08/nixons-revenge-his-media-strategy-triumphs-40-years-after-resignation/375274/

*http://www.spj.org/news.asp?ref=1253

The proliferation of “news” media has been exponential since 24/7 CNN.  The internet has allowed anyone to pose as a journalist.  At the same time, the public has become enervated to violence, scandal, and weirdness.  The competition for “eyes” has fomented “Jerry Springer” news.  Now the media is dominated by “breaking news,” and blatant, personality-driven opinion/commentary/spin/attack entities (e.g. Fox, CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, New York Times), versus the few remaining sources offering dull, objective reporting of events from balanced, professional, factual reporting (e.g. BBC).

This evolution has turned “news” into espionage, and propaganda.  That means idea wars; that means information combat.  No intelligent person would stand still for their enemies to strike them.  Hence, defense and offense to offset the attacking forces.  Now we watch and listen to accusations, threats, partisan presentations, and ad hominem attacks.

Through such perspectives, we no longer have well-meaning people making bad choices, we have evil people making sinister choices.  We have rampant, belief “racism.”  We have created unthinking, philosophical camps with labels for “us,” and “others.”

Why do we decry racism, ethnic hatred, and other generalized biases?  Because it keeps us from knowing each other as people; it causes us to treat other people with contempt without knowing anything else about them.

How do we create these idea-based “races?”  We assert that all liberals believe “X”, all conservatives believe “Y”, all evangelicals believe “Z”, all millennials believe nothing, etc.  With this context, we form “righteous” cohorts of like-minded people to oppose other “inferior” or “evil” cohorts.

This intellectually lazy “groupthink” replaces critical thinking; this dissuades individuals from developing personal, unique, diverse combinations of beliefs, which they form over time, from life experiences, education, discussion, and research.  It also inhibits real exchanges of ideas.  Conversations, and discussions become unchanging, competing monologues.

The press is free to publish and broadcast what they will, but pernicious ideologues need not be ushered through the gates of those they despise.

Political “Racists” Accuse Tom Brady of Racism

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Tom Brady had just led his New England Patriots football team to an historic, overtime, victory in the Super Bowl, after overcoming a 3rd quarter, 25-point deficit –  a Super Bowl record.  But, he is a friend of the president.  How stupid and arrogant can political “racists” be to cast racist aspersions on Tom Brady for quoting inspirational, non-racist words from Rudyard Kipling’s poem to his son John, “If–”?

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, ‘
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay, India.  He grew up in the age of Imperialism, as the British Empire was reaching its peak.  Critics point to his 1899 poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” as racist, and it was, as was the rest of the Eurocentric Imperialist world.

Nonetheless, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author.”  That did not make the Nobel Committee racist.

If we discarded all works of culture, art, music, & history because they came from times, authors, artists, and views we now condemn, the libraries’ shelves would be empty, the walls and pedestals of museums would be barren, the world would be silent, and we would be ignorant savages, banging stones against stones; but wait, some people insist on just that.

When have human beings not been “racists?”  How long have civilizations existed and progressed despite built-in bigotry, bias, and fear?

Ignorance, when clung to righteously, becomes stupidity.  Criticism from a platform of vapid views of hatred is wicked silliness.  I would not give any credence to the blather spewing from such a source, nor would I value anything else it produced.

(In their related article, the Heatstreet Staff called the critics “liberal nasties.” http://heatst.com/culture-wars/tom-brady-under-further-fire-from-liberals-after-sharing-poem-from-racist-rudyard-kipling/?mod=sm_tw_post)

Public Radio – Public Disgrace

You would think the 2016 campaign is still raging, after listening to two segments of Think on KERA, hosted by Krys Boyd, today.  Both were patently political, and anti-Trump fearmongering.  Is inappropriate, biased, rhetorical conjecture the policy of KERA and public radio?  Is anybody reviewing the balance or objectivity of the programming?  If so, who?

The first segment was an interview with Kennette Benedict, who has a BA from Oberlin College, a PhD in political science from Stanford University. She is a former executive director and publisher of the  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which recently moved the Doomsday Clock from 3 seconds to 2.5 seconds until midnight. The whole discussion was a not-so-thinly-veiled criticism of President Trump for the increased likelihood of nuclear war, and, with a strange detour, the woes of unchecked climate change.  I did not hear any details of her solutions to these issues.

The second segment was naked rant of hatred against the president, forecasts of dire consequences, and calls for mobilization against him.  The guest was David Frum, author of an essay about “Building an Autocracy.” Published in the March issue of The Atlantic.  The subtitle, “The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.”

According to Wikipedia, “Illiberal democracy is a term used by  Fareed Zakaria, a journalist, in a1997 article in the journal Foreign Affairs.[4]    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1997-11-01/rise-illiberal-democracy   It refers to governments that give the appearance of democracies, but are autocratic in practice.

The very long treatise may qualify as “future-fiction,” as it starts by describing America in 2021 as Donald Trump starts his second term.  He describes a downward spiral towards a corrupt, Orwellian democracy, in which Trump enriches himself, pardons his friends, harasses and punishes opposition; Slovakia owns The Washington Post; illegal aliens can stay in the shadows to work; young, black, and other liberal voters find it difficult to register and vote in some states.

This is followed by pages and pages of postulations and fears; he took way too many pages to say, “We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered.” “Trump bad!”  “Trump evil!”  “Trump hurt us!”  “Hate Trump.”  Stop Trump.”

 

Animal Farm – Social Algebra

The Power of Words

Ayn Rand authored several books that captured the attentions of whole generations of rational American readers during a cataclysmic battle between individualism and collectivism.  She was born Jewish in Russia in St. Petersburg, in 1905; prophetically, this was a year of Revolution that began with the tsar’s Imperial Guard firing on a peaceful workers’ demonstration, killing 200, wounding 800, and ended with the formation of the first Duma (lower house of parliament).

The turmoil continued with the people and the aristocracy battling over the supremacy of the tsar.  Ayn grew up during the First World War, the rise of the Bolsheviks, the fall of the Tsar, the death of Lenin, and the union of the communist soviets.

She graduated from Petrograd State University in 1924, 2 years into the formation of the Soviet Union.  She came to the United States in 1926, and became a US citizen in 1931. She witnessed the collectivism of the USSR, and the rise of Stalin, from America, as the global depression suffocated economies and hope; as the world precipitated into war.

Her plays and books advocated reason over emotion, and individualism over collectivism.  Among my favorites are “Anthem,” and “Atlas Shrugged.”  “Anthem” describes a world in which there is no word for “I” or “me;” “mine” or “yours.”  All personal pronouns are collective.  She demonstrated the power of language in controlling the minds of people.

The Myth of Equality = Good

“Atlas Shrugged” tells the story of talented, creative, productive people whose individual efforts and contributions benefit average citizens; they profit personally from their efforts.  When these people are hounded and what they produce is confounded, and impounded, they escape to a hidden, peaceful, prosperous place populated by others like themselves.  They were “inequal” in the parlance of today.  Their society lost the benefits of their gifts.

George Orwell wrote a book, “Animal Farm,” which was required reading in my high school English class.  It tells the story of farm animals taking over the farm because of inequality.  They establish 7 commandments of “Animalism,” the seventh of which was “All Animals are Equal.”  The operation of “Animalism” proved very unequal.

A Call to Collectivism

Now we have lots of vague talk about “inequality.”

Question:  Where and when have equalities ever existed among humans?

Certainly, humans have been born all over the globe and across a wide spectrum of attributes, but nothing has ever been equal on any measurable attribute.  The only “equality” experiments I know of are utopian communes, and communist governments, none of which have had durable successes, except perhaps, to spread poverty and suffering equally among members and comrades.

The most glaring example of equality today, is North Korea.  I am sure the average American pines and prays to have that thrill of starvation and repression in the name of equality.  Oh, and some comrades are more equal than others.

The Absence of Definition & Context

The term “income inequality” is not a recent invention.  Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men, in 1754.  He describes two types of inequality:

Natural, Physical– differences one human’s body and another

Ethical, Moral – wealth, nobility, power, personal merit.

He proposes that natural, solitary man is a savage who lacks language, reason, and society. He is not motivated by fear of death, because he cannot conceive of it. He is only corrupted by social association with other men, causing:

  • Competition – best dancer, singer, strongest, fastest, handsomest, smartest
  • Self-Comparison with Others – ranking, e.g. second-best, IQ, “the Joneses”
  • Hatred – envy, jealousy, covetous, fear, anger
  • Urge for Power – dominance, entitlement, control

This led to the source and basis of inequality:  private property.

Angus Maddison, a respected economic historian tracked global income inequality of 25 nations since 1820.  His findings show increases in globalization were the major factor in disparity of incomes.  Retreats from globalization resulted in lower inequality.

The recent rants about “inequality” sound like envy to me.  Envy is not constructive.  The authors neither define equality nor any acceptable level of inequality; they also omit the context, methods and means of achieving less inequality; the ranters do not appear to have a clue about the sources of wealth, business success, or any idea what they are proposing.  This is evident from the example they have chosen to shock the reading public.

The Eight Richest People on Earth have wealth equal to half the people on Earth.  Sounds amazing, until one does the math or looks at who these men are.  Wealth is defined as: $Assets – $Debts.  It does not mean income.  These eight men have $485 billion dollars’ worth of valuable assets more than what they owe*.

Who What Arena Billions**
Bill Gates * Microsoft Computer Software           91.0
Amancio Ortega* Zara and Inditex Fashion Retail           71.2
Warren Buffett* Berkshire Hathaway Investments           73.6
Carlos Slim Helu* America Movil Telecom           49.4
Jeff Bezos* Amazon Computer Retail           67.2
Mark Zuckerberg* Facebook Computer Social Media           50.8
Larry Ellison* Oracle Computer Software           41.8
Michael Bloomberg* Bloomberg Investments           40.0

*Created their own companies

**Bloomberg reports as of 12/31/2016

I am not astonished at these numbers, nor that six of the eight are Americans, nor that five of the eight are in technology.  Look at what they have built.  Think of the services and products they have created and distributed to willing buyers.  Their wealth is the result of creating value for others.  All of them created the companies that represent most of their wealth.

What astonishes me is the fact that 3.6 billion people, (including children) own an average of $135 each.  Who do you know who has $135 total wealth?  Think; who owes more than they own?  Anyone who has a job, rents an apartment, has no savings, uses credit cards, and borrows money to buy a car, or go to college.  During the recent recession, plenty of people were “under water” on their mortgaged homes.  That is here in America; I am sure Asia, the Middle East, India, Central America, South America, and Africa have plenty of poor people with no prospects for improvement.  Whose responsibility are they?

It is unclear what the article is suggesting, but the point is lost on me.  It sounds like envy.

The only thing this article suggests to me is, that if you took every penny from the world’s 8 richest people, and distributed it among the 3.6 billion poorest people, they each would have $135 more than they have now, and we would not have the services and goods these eight produce.

Our Glass House

One thing that stands out about the debate over equality is the way Americans limit their geographic boundaries.  We seem to talk about inequality only within national borders.  Income and wealth disparity is greatest among nations.

If you want to silence a discussion of inequality, mention this: The USA has 4.5% of the world’s population and owns 33.2% of the world’s wealth. We Americans would have to give up 86.4% of what we have, to equalize wealth with the other 7.2 billion people in the world.  Is that what the authors propose?  I doubt it.

One estimate of the total wealth on our planet is $255 quadrillion dollars.  That would mean about $36,000 per person when divided by 7.5 billion people.  However, infrastructure, education, access, communications, logistics, culture, climate, security, resources, health, age, and many other elements are not evenly distributed or available.  Some societies do not allow women to own property or have money unless it is controlled by a man.  Other societies are so corrupt that what they have is stolen from them at every turn.

History suggests that even if all assets were evenly distributed, the money would soon be redistributed to the few who provide the goods and services for the many.

Bloomberg’s listing of billionaires includes 197 whose total wealth is $3 trillion.  I do not know what percentage of the world’s population that matches, but it is about 15% of the $20 trillion national debt of the USA.  That would be $2.86 for every person in the world; $62,700 for each man, woman, and child in America.  What would be the average wealth of an American if we subtracted $62,700 from their net worth to pay the debt?

A Bigger Pie

Consider this:  those who decry inequality pose it as a problem, but offer no solutions.  What would the authors of the inequality protest recommend to raise the wealth of the earth’s inhabitants without confiscating the value created by others?

Whining the Election – Trumpled Aspirations

Over the 52 years and 13 presidential elections I have been eligible to vote, I have never seen such sore losers, and humble winners.

I am disappointed with the disparate responses to the results of the 2016 presidential election.  Smug expectations from pollsters and pundits seem to have set a trap for Hillary’s disciples, and set a stage for impetuous, righteous indignation.  Rejection, disputation, refutation, spoilsport language, protests, and denial among disgruntled Clinton supporters is “over-the-top,” and “unpresidented.”  “He is not my president,” spake Gloria Steinem, Wednesday morning.  (Ironically, in the past, she also said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”) 

Why have Mrs. Clinton’s avid proponents gone off the rails into the deep waters of denial and despair?

I believe the presumption that Hillary Clinton had a commanding lead over Donald Trump was their downfall.  Belief in optimistic statistics led to haughty attitudes and supercilious sneers on the faces of Hillary’s fans.  The extreme vanity of the oracles’ predictions led to nasty, braggadocios, arrogance.  When pride met gravity, the indignity of the pratfall magnified the embarrassment of hubris. The expectations of overwhelming victory were shredded, by the unexpected appearance at the polls of hordes of angry, underserved workers.  The ambush of the uncounted, disenfranchised citizens prevailed.

The carefully crafted deception of optimistic unemployment statistics did not fool the people who took discounted wages and lesser jobs over the last eight years.  These voters had no voice among Democrats who applauded the “champion of hope” for his rescue of the economy, and restoration of the American Dream.  They were not deceived by or grateful for their thinly disguised demotions and the smiling, dismissive, carefully worded denigrations spun by an accommodating media on behalf of the Obama administration.

The scales did not fall from their eyes, because no scales formed as they lost their jobs, houses, cars, and pride.  The Affordable Care Act did not replace the healthcare insurance they lost when their employer dropped their health coverage; when they lost their jobs, their hopes were dashed by the failure of the “marketplace” to make personal health insurance and their out-of-pocket costs affordable.  Instead, they found themselves ravaged by astronomical premiums, deductibles, copays, and incredible prescription prices.  Hospitals and pharmacies raised their nominal, private pay prices to offset the discounts demanded by insurance providers.  The uninsured were left with impossible choices.

Promise after promise lay fallow by the roadside.  Example after example of the USA borrowing trillions of dollars to pay for the rest of the world’s problems and defense festered, while Americans suffered from the Great Recession.  Pact after pact, treaty after treaty left us at disadvantage.  Military efforts left us looking weak, as we shrank from conflicts under cover of spin.  Former allies spat disparaging invectives on our leaders.

Did Hillary’s followers believe she could pull us out of the ditch of weakness and doubt created these past eight years?  Did her apostles think her baggage and prevarications would evaporate by inauguration?  No wonder they were blindsided when Trump won.