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Monday, February 23, 2009

Articles of Faith - The Democrat/Environmentalist/Socialist Agenda

I believe there are two types of religion.

1. Honest religions
- Those that tell you up front what they believe and what it will cost you before you join up and leave it up to you as to whether to become a member. Then, they let you go whenever you want to part company with them - no hard feelings.

2. Dishonest religions
- Those that won't tell you what they really believe till they already have you signed up, that use fear-mongering or other forms of pressure to induce you to join up and either won't let you go or punish you for leaving.As far as I'm concerned any formalized system of belief, a significant portion of which must be taken on faith, is a religion. This includes atheism, agnosticism, liberalism, socialism, environmentalism and (Heaven help me) conservatism. Various religions have greater or lesser percentages of their beliefs that are based on fact or faith.

My friends on the left claim their articles of faith are entirely based on fact. The problem is, I can't seem to pin them down on anything you could actually identify as fact or faith-based. Instead you get statements like:

"Things are bad. We have to do SOMETHING!"
"The people are tired of 8 years of failed policies - they want CHANGE!"

"Only the government can save us."

"If we don't do something the planet will die."

The problem with all of these statements is they assume a disaster is coming and that doing something about it will help.

So the next thing they say is: "Well, we have to do something!"


Why must we do something? Why do we need to meddle? Why don't we let everybody fix their own little corners of the world? Will things not inevitably get better if all of us individually get better? This makes sense to me.

I do realize that leaving it alone doesn't satisfy the need to scratch that folks have who love power and position. Even though our Mom's told us we shouldn't "pick at it", we do anyway!

When I challenge members of the Obama nation, I get counseled to 'give him a chance'. Why should I? I believe that he wants to do things that are bad for the country. If he does something good for the country, I'll praise him. But why would I want to wait for him to fail before opposing him? If he fails, he takes us with him!

If I had a headache and someone pointed a gun at my head and said, "Hold still. I'm going to shoot a hole in your head. You'll feel much better."

How should I react to this proposal? After all, it's still only a proposal. Should I give it a chance? Should I wait till he ventilates my skull or should I do a quick duck, bob and weave.

Me, I'm from the "bob and weave" school. Same with the approach the president and congress have proposed. I think it's going to be about as effective as putting a bullet through out collective heads. I think we need to avoid this if at all possible.

The guys on the left may complain about my not "giving it a chance" on the grounds that they haven't really said what they are going to do yet. Well, it's true they've danced around the issues pretty well, but we can identify some pretty basic beliefs common to most members of this ragtag alliance of atheists, spiritualists, environmentalists, socialists and new age Christians. They seems to share a new religion - one they believe that Americans have elected to govern the country. These are some of the tenets of that faith that I have teased from all the rhetoric from the politicians, the pundits and true-believer bloggers:

1. That the planet is dying from global warming caused by man
2. That man can and must do something about it or the planet will die.
3. That a massive change in our behavior will fix global warming
4. That we must do something to fix the economy or everything will collapse and probably permanently if we don't do it right now -you don't need to look to closely at the details (see principle #10).
5. That spending a bunch of money on social programs will "fix" the economy
6. That the government must take over the health care system or it will collapse unless it does.
7. That Democrats are incorruptible and can be trusted to take good care of you if you give them more power and authority.
8. That centralized power and planning will work better than decentralized power; that more regulation is better for us than less regulation.
9. That government control of the auto industry, the banking industry, the energy industry and the health care industry is a good thing.

10. That government controlled by Democrats is inherently good and benign and you can trust the Democrat party with your money, your health, your job and your freedom.

So, tell me where I'm wrong.

What part of that don't you guys on the left believe? Because if you believe any or all of the 10 things listed above, I think you're crazy and shouldn't be running the country. I don't find a shred of reliable evidence that indicates that a single one of these ideas works or even makes sense.

Most of the argument I get from people on the left is that we should believe all these ideas; that they have been proved beyond doubt and everybody knows it. Now, the left would never lay out the above tenets of their religion in anything like this clarity. These are ideas that are repugnant to many Americans and have cost Democrats their seats in government when some enterprising conservative has pinned one of the tenets on them.

That's why I say that the new religion is dishonest. It doesn't tell you what it really believes. Instead it tells you that anyone who disbelieves is wrong, that everybody believes the new religion and pressures you to serve it. It tells you that the planet will die and the economy will collapse if you don't let the new religion have it's way.

So tell me which of these 10 tenets of faith is not what you believe. If you think I should support Obama's agenda, then as near as I can figure out, these are ideas that he and his supporters ask me to believe and accept by faith. Is this what you mean by hope and change?

If so, I'm still convinced I should oppose Obama's agenda.

I'm just sayin'


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Honeymama, Dr. Pepper & Behavioral Science

My grandmother was a formidable woman. We cousins called her 'Honeymama' - a blending of my grandfather's name for her (Honey) and the name all our Moms called her (Mama). She was of Scots-Irish-Indian descent. I married a woman of Scots-Irish-Indian descent too. Like my Grandpa King, I learned early on that you don't want to mess with a Scots-Irish-Indian woman. I'm just sayin'. They will strap on a kilt, pick up a shillelagh and go on a warpath on your fuzzy hindquarters.

Mabel McClure grew up in a family of 12, the oldest daughter and, of course, the one her parents most depended on as backup substitute parent. She babysat the little ones, helped with the laundry and on Saturday afternoon when the boys went off to town to the movies to watch Lash Larue and Tom Mix, she stayed home with Nanny and cleaned house. She never quite forgave her siblings for that bit of parental injustice, but she did pay them back.

As was common in those days, all the kids worked in the cotton fields from a very early age. Paw-Paw used to give them all a bag and line them up each at the head of a row. Then he announced that anyone who got to the end of their row slower than Mabel (my grandmother) would get a whipping. Paw-Paw was a tough customer; so much so that when Grandpa and Honeymama decided to get married, they sneaked off and found a preacher in Itasca, Texas to marry them rather than tell Paw Paw. My grandpa brought Mabel home that night and they didn't tell Nanny and Paw-Paw about it for two weeks. When my Grandpa did finally fess up, he did so fully expecting to get pounded, even though Grandpa was a big strapping boy, a boxer and tough as nails. Paw Paw was about 130 pounds sopping wet, but he had a reputation as a tough and dangerous customer.

So, Honemom knew he meant it when he threatened to whip anyone who didn't pick cotton as fast as she did. Now you'd think she'd have given her brothers and sisters a break, at least the youngest ones anyway.

But, you'd be wrong. Instead, my grandmother would set a blistering pace, shoving cotton into her bag at alarming speed. And Paw paw was true to his word according to the stories and more than one got their butts warmed for not keeping pace with their sister (my grandmother).

Then, on Saturday, Paw-Paw would load them all up and leave Honeymama and Nanny behind to give the house a thorough cleaning. It was unjust, no doubt about it, but he always did take her for granted. She really hated being left behind, though. I think it ruined the movies for her. I don't think she ever went to the movie theater again for the rest of her life, except once in 1980 when "Coal Miner's Daughter", the story of Loretta Lynn came out. She made an exception for that one movie.

She didn't have much of a sense of humor that I remember. My Aunt once took her to see Jerry Clower in a futile attempt to get a chuckle out of her. She dismissed the witty Mr. Clower as "silly" and told Aunt Sandra she was glad she hadn't spent her own money on the tickets. She laughed at ordinary things, though and for some reason (probably something to do with cotton picking and the movies) she did seem to get a kick out of unhappy children throwing tantrums. Don't get me wrong, she wasn't a monster or anything. She'd laugh at family jokes and enjoyed get togethers. There was nothing she liked better than having her kids and grandkids about her and she was a genius in the kitchen. We all lived for Thanksgiving and Christmas and 4th of July and Easter - those were the big ones, but any time you could get an invitation to Sabbath Dinner, you took it. She made whole wheat dinner rolls that didn't need butter, they were that good!

But I have this picture of my son, Micah throwing a little tantrum and Honeymama is standing behind him grinning from ear to ear with this impish, almost wicked little twinkle in her eye.

As long as I could remember, she always kept a wooden case with bottles of Dr. Pepper in it down in the basement. When we went to visit, we would sometimes get a bottle to drink, but not always. It took me a while to figure out what triggered the invitation to run down to the basement and get myself a Dr. Pepper.

We were never allowed to ask for one. Mom was very strict about that. We were pretty sure asking for one would not work. You apparently had to deserve one. Except nobody ever told us exactly what we had to do to deserve one. I figured out after a while that not running or being noisy in the house was one of the criteria. Letting the grownups talk was another one.

Sometimes we would go outside to avoid screwing up our chances, timing the end of our play so we were sitting in the den looking overheated and expectantly innocent just before it was time to leave. Sometimes we'd sit on Grandpa's lap and listen to him tell stories and play his harmonica while the womenfolk talked in the kitchen. We had to be careful about giggling and laughing too much or we'd get grandpa in trouble right along with us.

Sometimes Honeymom would hint that the garden needed weeding and if Grandpa was out there working in the garden, we'd go out and give him a hand. We were lousy at weeding, but if we didn't do too much damage, we could usually count on a Dr. Pepper being offered. Of course, working the rows in the garden in the blistering Texas summer heat, you pretty soon began to wonder if it was worth a Dr. Pepper to put yourself through this misery. By then, however, you were afraid to quit without being bidden to because since you'd invested that much sweat and sore muscles into it, you didn't want to lose what reward there was likely to be, so you'd toil on.

The only ones of us ever figured out how to get out of weeding were my two boys Matt and Micah. They were 4 and 2 respectively and cute as buttons. One day, deciding they were old enough, Honeymom sent them out to "help" Grandpa in the garden. When my grandmother went out to check on them they were each halfway down a row of English peas. The vines were stripped of peas, but there weren't any peas in the buckets. The boys had been eating the raw peas as fast as they could pick them. They loved raw peas right off the vine. Honeymom sent them both inside for a Dr. Pepper so Grandpa and I could salvage at least some of the peas for cooking. My grandmother had that twinkle in her eye then too. I think she liked mischievious kids. To this day, I think I went about mooching Dr. Peppers all wrong with her.

Her favorite child was my Dad and that man was a complete rascal. Of all his siblings, he was the one most like Honeymama's brothers and sisters. He could get away with almost anything with her. She killed an entire peach orchard wearing out switches on his butt when he was a kid, but she doted over him. I do believe she'd have sent him off to the movies while she did housework if he'd wanted to go.

I, unlike dear old Dad, grew up to be an upright citizen. Most kids have a period in their lives where they go over fool's hill and get in trouble or raise a little hell. I never did. I was a good boy.

I think it was the Dr. Peppers. I never figured out how to get around being "good" to earn one. So, I never quit trying. It was kind of pitiful really. My wife had the same thing with her Mamaw only it was Coca-Cola and Sheila did housework when she stayed summers with her grandmother.

In the last few years, my wife has started keeping Dr. Peppers and Cokes in those small glass bottles in the closet. Whenever I've been working around the house especially hard, she chills a couple of bottles and then brings them out of the fridge when we're done. We pop the tops together. It's a lovely sound, that bottle cap coming off with a hiss.

She gets a Coke in the small bottle. I get a Dr. Pepper made with cane sugar and bottled in Dublin, Texas as God intended.

And we sit in our chairs under the fan or out on the porch and we drink our drinks slowly, savoring the familiar taste - a good little boy and a good little girl, rewarding themselves for a job well done as though my Honeymama and her Mamaw were still watching us to make sure we behave ourselves.

© 2009 by Tom King

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Feeling vs. Thinking: Does Faith Cloud Reason in Political Debate?

One of my friends among the loyal opposition made a statement that:

“Indeed, but the religious right is failing to be (respectful of other religions or philosophies), in that they simply will not accept non-religious-based social policy. And in so doing, they've dragged the Republican party out of the mainstream.”

In response another friend made the statement that "when logic and reason has slipped … people start thinking that somehow God has a hand in everything..."

The argument continued in this vein with another poster making the tacit assumption that “Believing in a Creator, a God, a higher power as one being, thinking that God controls the universe and our lives is based on your faith and not on logic. This is not insulting. It is a fact. Just like being in love with someone is not based on logic, it based on emotions and feelings.”

Okay, let me see if I’ve got this right. Apparently, there are those on the left that believe that the only way for people to think God has a hand in everything, there has to be a slippage of logic and reason – that persons of faith have to be a little whacko?

The logical followup thought is that if persons of faith are basing their political decision making on emotion rather than reason, then their views cannot be relied upon to make sense.

Okay, let me make one thing clear. I believe God is everywhere present and that all things work together for good for his people. That doesn't mean I believe an airplane disaster, or a bloody genocide or Adolph Hitler is His will. I simply believe that, for his children, God makes sure that whatever happens in this world will work together to insure that his children get home safely.

Most people see a life as only that bit of existence between birth and death; even some Christians have difficulty seeing anything beyond death as connected with that which goes before. As a Christian I choose to see a bit farther than the threescore and ten allotted to us on this Earth. Scripture says that God grants eternal life to those who choose to follow him – not later or only after death. They receive it NOW. So, I believe we Christians are already living forever.

Yeah, some object, but you guys still die like everyone else. That’s true, but irrelevant. Death ain't death if you wake up - it's just a nap. That’s what Christ called it.

My friend protests, “…good grief...what people like this have is's not based on logic or reason or science...that is why it is called faith...and that is fine...but once someone believes that God has a plan for you or that God controls your destiny then what is the point of you ever exercising your brain and using it since no matter what you do, it will fail cause God has other plans for you. Believing in a Creator , A God, a higher power is one being, thinking that God controls the universe and our lives is based on your faith and not on logic. This is not insulting. It is a fact. Just like being in love with someone is not based on logic, it based on emotions and feelings.”

I disagree with my friend. Belief that God controls my destiny is a belief based not based on feelings, but on sound reason and experience. I suspect that is so for all Christians who have actually met God somewhere in their life and made a commitment to follow him. When I became a Christian it was with a lot of questions that needed answering - some of them the same ones my friends outside the faith ask.

I’ve always needed logical, reasonable answers to my questions. I'm not a feeling driven person by nature, though I tend to be emotional. My belief in God's intervention in my life is based on study, the interpretation of the events of my life through logic and reasoned thought. In this way, my emotions support what my mind has reasoned rather than driving my beliefs and opinions. Through a life of study and experimentation, I have come to a conclusion that makes sense to me; namely that God knows what He is doing, that what he allows or causes is best for me and for the universe at large. I may not understand it all now, but I’ve understood enough to have evidence that I can trust Him with the tiller of my personal ship!

Because of that carefully considered belief system, I also can judge whether a socialist system, centralized human planning and the consolidation of power in the hands of a powerful central government is a good idea or not. It is also my Faith, which is the result of a lifetime of reason and study, that helps me understand that, conversely, if you wed church and state it’s also a bad idea. My Christian beliefs predispose me to distrust any too powerful centralized human power. God told the children of Israel that if they chose a King, they’d be taxed, drafted and have their daughters swiped. They did and so did the Kings. Human government is always a compromise between our liberty and the governments need for money, power and control. I firmly believe in separation of church and state.

That does not mean however that we should act as though there has been a brutal divorce between church and state. The two are not enemies. Perhaps we should view them simply as devoted friends – at least in America – to be included in the round table discussion that is the American Experience.

Historically, you will find that government (or whoever wields royal or dictatorial power) often co-opts religion as a tool to achieve it's goals. In the absence of a suitable religion, it will create a pseudo-religion such as nationalism or environmentalism or socialism which wear all the trappings of religion needed to create a community of faithful - unquestioning adherents without the name of religion.

It's about power, not faith when religion becomes a tool to rob men of their liberties. Religion, however, is not the sole tool available for that purpose. You need only talk to a convinced socialist to hear statements that are as much the result of an emotional “faith” as you are likely to hear from a Kentucky Snake Handler or “Holiness” preacher.

Yes, my faith makes me suspicious of certain ideas about what government should do & the power it should have.

Two ideas I’ve heard lately, not just from the left, but from our President disturb me:

  1. The people should not expect the state to serve them, rather people must serve the State.

Whether you ask people to serve the church, state or party, this calls for a willing surrender of your liberty and independence to something larger than yourself. That’s instinctive in people, but the target of your devotion in these cases are man-made institutions which should serve the people and not vice-versa. The only one to whom a person should surrender his or her will is God – because God will give your freedom right back to you. Governments, churches and parties don’t like to give anything back once they’ve got it.

  1. And this: You must surrender your will and your liberty to the church / state / party etc. to be saved.

    Whether it’s a church or political institution, to surrender your will and your liberty blindly to any human created institution is to voluntarily don the chains of slavery. Fear is often the tool used to induce people to give up their most precious possession. The Saracens are coming. The Mongols are going to destroy our world. You’re going to hell if you don’t join up! The negroes will steal our rape our women and kill our children! We must save the Planet! We must save the economy! Fear is the tool used by every dictator, king and church grandee in history to convince people to surrender their liberty and grant such authorities power to control their lives.

People on the right and left agree more than they disagree. A solid majority of Christians and non-Christians believe that no religion should hold governmental power (except maybe their own). The abuse of religion has resulted in some awful things - crusades, holy wars, genocide, the Inquisition and jihad. In each case religion was merely the tool of those who would force their will on others. Those same people will use any tool they can whether it's religion or as we’re seeing lately - anti-religion.

It is why the socialist policies and programs discussed in the thread I was reading earlier are frightening to me - not because they are against my religion, but because the arguments in favor of those programs and policies sound so much like a religious debate!

Using fear tactics like global warming and economic collapse, the social engineers of today are assembling true-believers to their cause as surely as any jihadist or crusader ever did. Watch the arguments in favor of these policies and see how many of them sound exactly like the arguments you’d hear from radio preachers or Sunday School teachers.

I keep hearing people say that this or that program will succeed because the party or my leader says it will and we must do what he says! Everybody knows that we need change. Everybody knows that if we don’t do something quickly, the Earth will be destroyed.

Sounds like religion to me. I would agree with my friends above that religion, unsupported by an actual faith in God, does generate belief systems based on feeling rather than faith. The trouble is you have religious true believers debating with anti-religious true believers and both of them are basing their arguments on emotion rather than information and good sense.

True faith does not blind you. God will not allow his children to be blind. Often it’s uncomfortable to see so well. The irrationality of some on the left is not only painfully obvious, but so is the irrationality of some on the right. Both are a bit embarrassing to watch.

Religion and faith are two quite distinct things. One serves a cause, the other serves a loving God. Religion, by itself, can lead to intolerance and violence and a loss of liberty. Those who surrender their will to a mere religion remain in chains. Faith, however, surrenders the will to God who promptly sets you free; in fact, frees you even from the bondage you come into the relationship already bearing. Faith in God leads to tolerance, peace and freedom.

The trick to telling the difference between Faith and Religion is that one leads to clear thought and beliefs based on reason, the other leads to blind passion and beliefs based on emotion. Even agnostics, atheists and environmentalists can allow their beliefs to become a species of religion, when they start refusing to look at anything that challenges that belief system. Persons of Faith are not afraid of facts; your beliefs do not threaten their beliefs. They have no reason to do you harm simply because you disagree with them.

Religious fanatics, on the other hand, are terrified of anything that challenges their cherished beliefs and it is that terror that causes churches and states to murder their fellow humans by the millions without compassion or mercy and to feel totally justified in so doing.

Powerful preachers have arisen here at the end of time and great multitudes of true believers are massing to their banners. For what new war are troops being gathered, though? We should listen very closely to Rev. Gore and Bishop Obama, the high priests of the new religion. They are telling us what is coming. You need only read their words or listen to them when the cameras are turned off or in the rare unguarded moment when they slip and tell us something we weren’t meant to know.

I’m just sayin’

Tom King

Monday, February 09, 2009

President Moves Again to Seize Permanent Democratic Majority

In a quiet announcement on Friday, the Obama administration transferred control over the US Census Bureau from Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg, the new "bi-partisan" Republican appointee to the president's cabinet.

We didn't hear much about it because its a weekend and everybody's kicking back with a cold Coors or going to church or doing yard work. That was intentional.

So, who's the new boss of the Census Bureau?

Well, let's see. First lets look at the kind of boss we ought to have......
  • The Census figures are used to allocate the distribution of government funds to states.
  • The Census figures are used to plan government programs and determine who gets what and what kind of programs are created to meet what needs.
  • The Census figures are used to draw congressional districts and determine representation in state and federal legislatures.
  • The Census figures are used as ammunition to argue for or against government policies.
  • The Census figures are used to plan taxation strategies.
If the census data is to be truly useful, it sounds like who ever is in charge of this should be someone who is able to be as unbiased as possible, who is careful to maintain political neutrality and who is able to be objective.

So, who's the new Census Czar????

You guessed it. RAHM EMMANUEL.

Who is this Rahm Emmanuel who has been chosen for this honor and why pick him to oversee the census? Well, let's see:

1. He is NOT the Commerce secretary who has managed the Census as provided for in federal regulations. That man is Republican Judd Gregg!

2. He is a hyper-partisan Democrat whose most obvious talent is as an "enforcer" for the party

3. He is not the new Commerce secretary.

4. It might be nice to screw around with the data if you're trying to prove your policies are working and they're not.

5. Have I mentioned that he's not the token Republican on the cabinet!

6. The Latino and Black caucuses don't like the token Republican on the cabinet and don't think Secretary Gregg will deliver the kind of census they'd like to see.

7. Oh, and Rahm Emmanuel is a Democrat and not a Republican and that's always better.

President Obama
may even have violated federal law. According to Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Bureau is to be administered 'within, and under the jurisdiction of, the Department of Commerce.' According to U.S. Code, the Executive Branch is limited to providing support for the Bureau in the form of information and resources." This was done to provide a layer of protection for the process to reduce politicization of the Census so that we get an accurate picture of our country and not some politician's fantasy. President Obama has circumvented this code provision in forcing the Census bureau chief to report directly to his Chief of Staff.

If this stands, the US Census in 2010 could very well be an air-brushed, Photoshopped Democrat glamour shot designed to support liberal policy and to jury rig the electorate to insure another 50 years of Democrat dominance in U.S. politics.

God help us, but you can hear the jack boots marching.....

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King

Monday, February 02, 2009

The False Promise of “Economies of Scale”

Our new masters in Washington have hit the ground running, you can't argue with that. The question really is, "Where are they running to?"

We here a lot from media pundits and in clips from political speechification about plans for centralizing planning, creating smart grids to run our power systems, new regulations and new agencies designed to get our economic system "under control" and an improved military style homeland security force and rapid response force in the event of something called "a national emergency".

Here we go again.

I thought we'd learned our lesson in two world wars, a civil war, a revolutionary war, two gulf wars and 232 years of American history that too much power at the center is almost always a bad thing.

George Washington rejected this idea when some of the Continental Congress proposed creating an American nobility with Washington himself as the hereditary king.

Thomas Jefferson rejected this idea when he read the constitution and discovered it didn't protect the rights of the individual adequately. He immediately wrote a bill of rights and saw to it that this became part of the constitution so that government did not have the power to stifle the liberties of the very people who gave our new country energy, brains and ambition.

Abraham Lincoln found out about central planning when he finally got so fed up with Secretary Stanton's and General Halleck's meddling with the armies that he found the feistiest, most stubborn man in the Army and made him commander of all the army and then stood between U.S. Grant and the Washington bureaucracy so that he could get his job done. Which he did. Grant won the war by finding good commanders and giving them the freedom to win battles and thus won the war.

Theodore Roosevelt saw that giant companies and their robber baron masters were grabbing power and trampling on the rights and freedoms of small business and entrepeneurial Americans to conduct business in freedom and without persecution. He waded into the fray busting trusts and illegal conglomerations with a fierce determination that got him carved into Mount Rushmore.

Ronald Reagan saw that America was losing its liberty and with it the fiery spirit that had made America great. He started his fight in the midst of a crippling recession and fought punitive taxation and stultifying regulation, triggering the longest sustained period of prosperity in American history.

In World War I and II, American forces, often called "cowboys" by their opponents who were highly regimented and centrally controlled. The American forces featured highly trained ground commanders who knew the mission, understood why it was important and went in with the troops and fought beside them. We learned quickly with the Japanese and the Germans that if you cut off communications with headquarters, their troops had no idea what to do next. When the Germans tried the same thing at Bastogne, the cut off and isolated American commander told his German opponent "Nuts!" when asked to surrender. Meanwhile, George Patton was standing at a crossroads directing traffic and praying for clear weather and kicking his tankers collective butts to relieve Bastogne. They found that when you try to bite off the head of the American Army, it's tail had teeth as well. We were like the hydra of mythology. We just grew a new head.

Other of our country's leaders like Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara bought into the socialist idea that central control and top down management was the way to go. They fought the Vietnam War, not to win it, but to manage pressure on the North Vietnamese hoping they would stop bothering South Vietnam. Every thing that happened in Vietnam was controlled and approved or disapproved from Washington. If somebody shot at you, LBJ had to give you permission to shoot back. Through their centralized command and control system, they succeeded in reducing the most powerful military in the world to a demoralized, inefficient mess that couldn't even rescue some hostages without crashing into each other in the desert.

Air Force generals like Bill Creech and Chuck Horner learned that decentralization of operations was the best way to make our Air Force run efficiently. They went from having often less than half our aircraft operational in the late 70's to 90+% efficiency during the Persian Gulf Wars. They went from units that were lucky if they could fly 2 missions a day to units that could fly 100 sorties and whose maintenance crews painted their names on the sides of "their" aircraft they were that proud of the work they did.

Our telecommunications industry learned the hard way about the hazards of centralization with the creation of the Internet. At the same time that the U.S. military was learning that decentralizing operations control was the best way to fight a war, a related group were coming up with a communications system designed to survive a nuclear holocaust. It had to be decentralized. It had to be simple - almost stupid. There were tons of telecommunications networks out there all complex and based on proprietary software. Every few years those complicated systems became obsolete. So they built a stupid system with no central control. Instead of one way for your message to get where it was going, there were thousands. Nobody could bomb it because it was everywhere.

They called it the Internet. The cellular telephone industry learned from that experience. Now, going on 3 decades later, the Internet and the cell phone systems are still working like a champion. We've gone from $200 a month mobile phones that you couldn't take out of your car and had to wait years on a waiting list to get, to being able to buy a phone in the Dollar store that you can carry around in your shirt pocket, take pictures with and send letters to your friends from anywhere. We've got Internet communications tools that not only let you picture phone your friends, but the service is free - it doesn't cost you anything extra.

The Internet is amazing. If I hook up a server in my house, I can become part of the Internet. When I'm working on my laptop wherever, I'm part of the vast storage capacity of the Internet. And the system is incredibly stupid as telecommunications go. There's no central brain telling everything what to do and how to do it. Instead there are a bazillion programs on a bazillion computers all sending packets of information around this wonderfully simple system doing whatever the owners of those programs want to do.

And people as a result are busily creating new things, talking about ideas, sharing recipes, photos and news without censorship. All because we created a simple system (the Internet) that lets individuals do what they want, when they want to in whatever way they can figure out to do it. And did we learn something from all this?


So now, what are the folks in Washington want to do is create a "banking system" that is centrally controlled by the government, a health care system that is centrally planned and controlled AND a new "Smart" power grid system that is centrally planned and controlled and terribly smart and complicated.

What a recipe for disaster that is!

It looks like, as Americans, we'd have learned how dangerous it is to place too much power in the hands of too few people. We think that by creating so-called 'economies of scale' that somehow things will run more efficiently.

They won't. There are a couple of key reasons for this.

1. Central planning assumes that all the components of a system are identical (notice I did not say equal). It assumes that people and circumstances are interchangeable. Their responses are assumed to be all alike. Their motivations identical.
2. Central planning is assumed to create economies of scale. In other words it assumes that piling all supplies up in a central place makes them easier to keep track of and control and that, therefore, money will be saved and supplies delivered more efficiently.

The problem with both ideas is that they are wrong.

1. People are not alike. Situations are not alike. Humans are so diverse and their motivation and responses are so different that it is impossible for someone thousands of miles away in a distant office to design any sort of program that will work in the same way for all people in all places. It just won't work. Nobody is that smart. The only way you can exercise efficient control from a central place is to change the nature of people through some sort of oppressive carrot and stick approach that reduces people into automatons with no brains and no will of their own.
2. The problem with so-called economies of scale is that they wind up generating huge volumes of paperwork designed to keep track of the piles of supplies and you have to deal with the "Smaug the Dragon" syndrome in which supply depot masters sit like fat dragons on their piles of supplies like they were treasure and they don't want to give them away. To keep from giving away their treasure they create purchase order systems so oppressive that it soon becomes more trouble than it's worth to get the supplies you need, so people that are supposed to be doing the work actually give up trying and sit around their offices all day playing Tetris and trying to look busy. Central supply systems ironically can be shown to actually reduce efficiency at the front lines AND piles of stuff make it easier for a bad guy to destroy stuff than if it's scattered out there in the hands of the people who need to use it. Today's businesses have learned that "just in time" supply systems where stuff comes straight from the factory to the guys that are going to use it without going through a central warehouse saves the company tons of time and money.

But for goodness sake, don't let any of this bother your pretty heads. The great brains that gave us the mortgage banking industry collapse and the worst recession in nearly 3 decades have everything under control. We just gave them more power, all our money and stuck our collective heads in the sand and our behinds in the air.

The government's going to take really good care of us.


Just one man's opinion,

Tom King