Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; (D&C 98:10)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joseph Smith on Socialism

From Believe All Things

In 1843, Joseph Smith attended lectures on socialism given by John Finch, a follower of Robert Owen who attempted to create a utopian society in Indiana. Following the second lecture, Joseph stated “I did not believe the doctrine”:
Wednesday, 13.–I attended a lecture at the Grove, by Mr. John Finch, a Socialist, from England, and said a few words in reply.
Thursday, 14.–I attended a second lecture on Socialism, by Mr. Finch; and after he got through, I made a few remarks, alluding to Sidney Rigdon and Alexander Campbell getting up a community at Kirtland, and of the big fish there eating up all the little fish. I said I did not believe the doctrine. Mr. Finch replied in a few minutes, and said–”I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. I am the spiritual Prophet–Mr. Smith the temporal.” Elder John Taylor replied to the lecture at some length.1
  1. Roberts, Brigham Henry, ed. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1912. 6:33. Emphasis in original manuscript. Google Book Search. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
Here is another citation

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What is your -ism?

This post got me thinking about my views on government and society and how they have developed over the last few years.  I particularly like this comment.
I am, for instance, a moderate neo-con with war policy, social con with social issues, but a libertarian economically.
Here is where I am:
1, War is absolutely necessary and the old structures of war are long gone. We are living in an era when lines on a map cannot define or contain enemies. They are out of everyone’s control. Strict rules of war, for me, are today for losers no matter how powerful.
2. My religious moral convictions are open for political consideration. Freedom guarantees that I can “force” my views on the whole country just as much as atheists can “force” their views. Whoever convinces and comes out on top wins. The U.S. Constitution is already ripped to shred, so there is no turning back. Moral decay can only be put under control when the laws support morality.
3. Corporate welfare is the number two cause this nation has no economic progression. Obama care became number one reason. The markets are not free and haven’t been for some time. That means that the losers are just as likely to continue as the winners, and therefore we all lose. Let banks and businesses work alone; no help and minimal hindrance.
It is close to how I see myself. Though I am more libertarian in my social views.  I tend to be more like this.
2. Why must our nation be a nation of internal battles? If it becomes a battle between religious conservatives fighting for traditional marriage and against paying for contraceptives vs liberals that are fighting for gay marriage AND to make conservatives pay for their sexual revolution, then all we’ll ever see is the pendulum swing back and forth until there is an absolute winner and an absolute loser. Ever read about the French Revolution? That’s where such divisions end up in history. Freedom does not mean there are political battles. It means we leave each other alone to enjoy our freedom. Tyranny forces itself upon others, and sometimes this includes religious people forcing religion on others (ever hear of the Inquisition?).
In American history, there really wasn’t a problem with Mormons doing polygamy until it was made a national issue, and people demanded the nation to force the Mormons to stop. Yet, today we have a judge that wants to end Reynolds v USA as unconstitutional (which it really is bad law), because there is no evidence that polygamy itself is bad. Heck, our nation is full of people living together outside of marriage with little/no committment, and we’re worried when people want to establish a committed relationship?
How about we keep the federal government out of all social issues, and allow states or localities to make their own determinations. So liberals could gather together and be happy, while conservatives could congregate in their freedom to assemble/associate without having others impose their moral/amoral views upon one another?
This also caught my attention, "Bush’s concept of pre-emptive war places the nation in an ongoing war state that does not end."  It may be the biggest shift in my views of good government over the last few years.

There is much more in the post and comments.

I also retook a political spectrum survey with these results.  Some of the questions I had to pick the least worst answer.  I didn't like the options.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Two Americas

A friend of mine post this article about how there are two Americas.  Here are some of my thoughts on it.

David Simon said, "that notion that capital is the metric, that profit is the metric by which we're going to measure the health of our society is one of the fundamental mistakes of the last 30 years."

I agree with this. We must get past the singularity of profit. I really like this phrase, "capitalism is the least worst system available to us — until Zion can be achieved".  I found this phrase here.  I like how Geoff compares capitalism to economic systems.

So, let’s consider again:  capitalism is a bad system, but which system is better?  Certainly the 20th century has shown us that the alternatives — Communism, fascism, authoritarianism, monarchy — do not provide people more freedom.  In fact, the greater economic control over a society, the less freedom for individuals.  And there is a crucial point — no matter how much tyrants try to stamp out capitalist activity, it always exists.  Some of the best capitalists in the world are free marketeers in Cuba, who make money on the margins of the Communist system.

Simon also said, "Labour doesn't get to win all its arguments, capital doesn't get to. But it's in the tension, it's in the actual fight between the two, that capitalism actually becomes functional"

Separation of Powers is one of the founding principles of the Constitution. We must prevent the accumulation of power by anyone be them capitalists in an oligarchy or socialists in government.  James Madison said
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
We need to set up our economic systems to have the same tension that should be in our government.

David Simon again, "I'm utterly committed to the idea that capitalism has to be the way we generate mass wealth in the coming century. That argument's over. But the idea that it's not going to be married to a social compact" The compact has to be voluntary. It should not be enforced by the law, but by volunteerism and contract. I like the way Joseph Smith implemented capitalism with a social compact.
Joseph accepted the economy of private property and individual enterprise. Even under the consecration of properties, individual stewards operated independently in a market economy, though they were obligated to return their "surplus" to the bishop
But capitalism never ruled Nauvoo as it did Chicago, a city that in 1844 was the same size as Nauvoo. The original name of the Nauvoo site, Commerce, was dropped after the Saints arrived. Rather than promising entrepreneurs great wealth, Joseph asked that "money be brought here to pay the poor for manufacturing." Profits were secondary to creating jobs.
(Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Lyman Bushman, 2005, pages 502 and 503, view online)
"capitalism is the least worst system available to us — until Zion can be achieved"  Zion means that we are of one heart.  I would never sever my arm just because it caused me some pain.  I would care for it and help it heal.  So it should be with our community.  We must seek to uplift each other and to become self sufficient.

See also Free Will Offering vs Charity from Tax

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Newt Is Right About Mandela

From "Why Newt Is Right About Mandela" by  W. JAMES ANTLE III.  I tried to find a shorter excerpt and didn't know how to leave any of it out.
Bob Dole once made a droll crack to the New York Times about Newt Gingrich, then the speaker of the House. “Gingrich’s staff has these five file cabinets, four big ones and this little tiny one,” Dole said. “Number one is ‘Newt’s ideas.’ Number two, ‘Newt’s ideas.’ Number three, number four, ‘Newt’s ideas.’ The little one is ‘Newt’s Good Ideas.’” 
Here’s one from Gingrich’s little file: he has been pushing back against some of the more thoughtless conservative reactions to the death of Nelson Mandela. The backlash has ranged from the merely tone-deaf—think of Rick Santorum drawing comparisons between Obamacare and apartheid—to the morally obtuse. 
Gingrich issued a statement entitled “What Would You Have Done? Nelson Mandela and American Conservatives.” Like most of his commentary, it’s not entirely sound—but in this case, it’s worth taking seriously. 
“Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country,” he argued. “After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech.” 
“As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny,” Gingrich continued. “We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army’s dictatorial assault on our freedom.” 
Newt didn’t flinch from the c-word, noting that Mandela “turned to communism in desperation only after South Africa was taken over by an extraordinarily racist government determined to eliminate all rights for blacks.” 
“In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government,” Gingrich observed, “you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.” 
He might as well have mentioned the help received from Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union in defeating Hitler. 
Interestingly enough, some liberals display this sort of myopia when discussing the Founding Fathers. Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, full stop. Nothing else to see here. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are irredeemably tainted, and that is where the conversation should end.
The Founders’ sins are worthy topics of discussion that should not be whitewashed out of American history. But neglecting the context of the times, the specific injustices they fought, the institutions they built, and the principles they imperfectly embodied is ideologically motivated malpractice. 
Similarly, it is right to point out that many fawning Mandela obituaries ignore the injustices he tolerated himself, his kind words for terrorists and dictators, the violence of the ANC toward blacks as well as whites, even the sins of post-apartheid South Africa and the virtues of the country before it was transformed. But any reference to these things that neglects or minimizes the injustices of apartheid is woefully incomplete—and unlikely to result in a meaningful dialogue about the very facts such contrarian commentary hopes to expose. 
The right tends to have one of two responses to figures like Mandela abroad or Martin Luther King, Jr. at home: suggest their radicalism is more important than the struggles of the people they championed or to try to claim them as conservatives. Neither approach will do. 
The lack of empathy many white conservatives feel toward communities of color may not be the only barrier between the right and minorities. But it is an important barrier. 
Many conservatives who have been supportive of civil-rights struggles overseas err in another direction: expressing their concern through bombing and sanctions, as if the people and their leaders live in separate hermetically sealed containers. Condoleezza Rice once compared the war in Iraq and the fight against Jim Crow, an analogy that may strike many Iraqi refugees as inapt. 
Conservatism at its best has an appreciation for human nature, including a realistic assessment of man’s inhumanity to man. That means attempting to conform to a just moral order while realizing that history isn’t always a simple morality tale. 
At the very least, it’s a thought worth saving in Newt’s good ideas file.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Simple Rules for a Complex World

I long for simple rules that can order a prosperous, healthy society.  Here is a short video outlining 7 sets of simple rules that Richard Epstein says can do it.

Sets of rules
1. Rules that have to deal with individual autonomy
2. Rules with respect to first possession
3. Contract
4. Tort
5. Taxation
6. Eminent domain
7. Income inequality. Voluntarism solution.

Clear definition of where the rights and responsibilities for me and my neighbors lie.

First four sets of rules can be set up without a government.

Individual Autonomy

- every person owns his own body
- parents are guardians of their children
- two alternatives: arbitrary despot or no hierarchy

First Possession

- You acquire land by getting there first and claiming it


- voluntary, clearly defined transaction


- Sue to get what you need from contract breakers.


- flat tax is fairest

Eminent Domain

What do we spend our taxes on?
Public Goods - goods that if you provide it to someone you must provide it to others. A park. General Defense. Roads.

Income Inequality

Voluntary charity - charitable deduction of taxes
Maybe this is not enough to deal with income inequality
Redistribution Last -  Address the violations of the first 6 rules and do redistribution last

Wal-mart example - If it allowed negotiation of each transaction, the check out line would take a long time.  Instead, it is take it or leave it. Wal-mart sets prices so that enough people won’t leave them.

Regulation plays by the same rules. Instead of expensive regulation. Progressives want high transaction costs and a low number of transactions.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Long-Term Debt: An Unsustainable Future

Long-Term Debt: An Unsustainable Future  A very clear and easy to understand presentation regarding national debt.

From the Peter G. Peterson Foundation


Friday, August 9, 2013

Who I am voting for in the Surprise City Council Election

UPDATE Aug 26, 2013
I changed my vote.  I voted for Lou Provenzano. At the very least, I want to make sure that there is another opportunity to hear them both and vote again in the fall.

I like that Lou hasn't taken public union funds for his campaign. A bond measure might be better fiscally than a general property tax increase.  A bond is meant for a particular purpose and then the tax goes away.

I hope the best candidate wins.

There are three people running for the election of Surprise city council in district 6.  I am voting for Todd Tande because he is the most qualified and is a fiscal conservative.

Here is an exchange he and I had on Facebook Thursday.

Richard Alger Are you committed to a level revenue stream? Would you vote to reduce the city property tax rate as home values rise again? 
Todd Tande Because I know that the property tax assessed values are going up, and that the assessed values lag two years, I am confident I can make an argument to the other councilors that the levy rate could go down (even keeping the revenues level) and that would be my intention. I will strive to have the City achieve savings and efficiencies. I will be cautious until I see the risk management issues (some very large potential issues) the city is dealing with and I will ask for a better long term forecast of finances (something the City I think may just beginning to get a handle on) before I commit to something like level revenue (especially as the City grows and service demands increase). Not allowing to cover for the City growth demands in service could cause a severe self imposed crisis. I have made bold decisions to fix things fast, but I want to be able to ask the hard questions before arbitrarily setting a policy without all the facts. If you look on my issues section of the website, I have listed my goal of having the City Measure performance and hold regular structured operational reviews (I am hopeful that I can get enough votes to have the city manager do that).... getting enough votes to have an actual impact is a very important role for a councilor.... I have experience from a STRONG STAFF position of getting unanimous votes of 29-0 from a very divided partisan council on big and complex controversial initiatives that successfully were implemented. 

Todd Tande

FB Campaign Page
Endorsement Cover Letter
Priorities Flyer
Most Qualified Leader Flyer

Randy Miller 

Lou Provanzano

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mike Rowes Mission For Skilled Labor

Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs talks about the need to work hard and smart. There are many great jobs available for skilled people. Not all skills come from college.
More at http://profoundlydisconnected.com

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Simple Explanation of Natural Law

"What makes some laws worth obeying, while others demand to be overturned? In Part 4, Bill examines the difference between Natural Law and Political Law."

The fewest number of laws that free people need? Richard Maybury says in Whatever Happened to Justice?that the two laws that we need are:
1) Do all you have agreed to do, and
2) Do not encroach on other persons or their property.

Fractals - Hunting the Hidden Dimension

You may not know it, but fractals, like the air you breathe, are all around you. Their irregular, repeating shapes are found in cloud formations and tree limbs, in stalks of broccoli and craggy mountain ranges, even in the rhythm of the human heart. In this film, NOVA takes viewers on a fascinating quest with a group of maverick mathematicians determined to decipher the rules that govern fractal geometry.
For centuries, fractal-like irregular shapes were considered beyond the boundaries of mathematical understanding. Now, mathematicians have finally begun mapping this uncharted territory. Their remarkable findings are deepening our understanding of nature and stimulating a new wave of scientific, medical, and artistic innovation stretching from the ecology of the rain forest to fashion design. The documentary highlights a host of filmmakers, fashion designers, physicians, and researchers who are using fractal geometry to innovate and inspire. (PBS)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ancient Greek Computer

NOVA, Ancient Computer
A Greek shipwreck holds the remains of an intricate bronze machine that turns out to be the world’s first computer.
Full Episode 

Friday, April 12, 2013

"The Greatest Anti-poverty Program Ever Created"

Sometimes my liberal colleagues at Princeton and Harvard will say to me, “OK Robbie, maybe you’re right.  Maybe you've got the correct theory of marriage. Maybe the Jewish and Christian idea of marriage as a husband/wife thing is correct.  (Now it happens to not be only the Jewish and Christian idea but every other culture in civilization) Maybe you’re right about all that.  But, that is a minor issue.  Why do you devote all your time and attention to that?  Why don’t you devote that same time and attention to fighting poverty?” And I say [puts hand to his head], “You guys don’t get it! The reason I fight for marriage is that it is the greatest anti-poverty program ever created. In fact is it such a great weapon and tool for human elevation and ennoblement for overcoming poverty and lifting people up, that its almost as if it wasn't a mere human creation.” (Professor Robert P. George, Sutherland Institute Annual Dinner, Apr 10, 2013 at 51:54 )

Friday, April 5, 2013

How Long Should a Microwave Last?

We bought a GE microwave in Feb 2012 from Home Depot.  A with a trim kit to fit into the cabinet above our oven.  It cost us $515.71.

Starting yesterday it started cooking at less than 5% power.  I put in 3 cups of water and a cup of grits.  After about 9 minutes of cooking, the the water was tepid.  I put in about a cup and a half of water, after 9 minutes I could barley tell it was warmer than after I got it out of the tap.

Anyway, we did not buy an extended warranty.  We rarely to never buy them.  It is like buying insurance for your purchases.  It certainly would have been worth it in this case, but over the averages of all purchases of electronics and appliances, I am sure it has been a better deal to skip them.

I am not sure if this defect is common or if it was a fluke.  It looks like we are shopping for a new microwave.

The model number is JEB1860DM2BB.  Here is the manual.  Here is a similar model at Home Depot.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The True Science of Parallel Universes

It describes our known reality and some theories that have been dreamed up to explain why life exists among other questions. None of which have been experimentally confirmed.

"Physics is science, not philosophy"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Percent Job Losses In Post WWII Recessions

I found this chart from http://www.businessinsider.com/pct-job-losses-in-post-wwii-recessions-2013-1
And in Jul 2013 from http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/08/percent-job-losses-great-recession-and.html

We still have a ways to go.

Here is an update from May 2015
This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms, compared to previous post WWII recessions.  Since exceeding the pre-recession peak in April 2014, employment is now 2.4% above the previous peak. 
Note: most previous recessions end on the graph when employment reached a new peak, although I continued the 2001 recession too.  The downturn at the end of the 2001 recession is the beginning of the 2007 recession.  I don't expect a downturn for employment any time soon (unlike in 2007 when I was forecasting a recession).
("Update: "Scariest jobs chart ever"", Bill McBride, 25 Jun 2015)
If April 2014 is where we broke even we can subtract 75 months to conclude that Jan 2008 is when the recession started. It looks like the bottom of the graph is on month 25 which would be Feb 2010.

"According to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (the official arbiter of U.S. recessions) the recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yellowstone and Wolves

Here are some interesting documentaries on the history of Yellowstone and the reintroduction of wolves.

BYUtv Yellowstone America's Eden (1997)

BBC Wolf Pack (2005)

PBS Nature In the Valley of the Wolves (2007)