Friday, September 19, 2008

What Is Property?

With recent "purchase" of AIG by the U. S. government, the word "socialism" has been receiving a lot of unwarranted attention.

We have long thought about and played with various economic systems. There are all manner of theories out there, but they mainly are based upon the different views of the ownership of property. We can argue about capitalism versus socialism versus fascism versus communism until the cows come home but it is meaningless if we do not understand what we are arguing about. And to begin to understand economic theories, we have to understand what property is. Because that is the dividing line of economic theories.

We can dismiss personal property and intellectual property from consideration because both of those items are determined by the economic system; they do not define the economic system but are defined by it. So basically we are talking about real property. Land and the resources within the land. We can also include improvements made to the land, such as a factory and equipment permanently installed within it. The means of production, thus, are the land, resources and improvements thereto.

There are essentially two theories about the ownership of property, now that we have defined it. First, is the theory that rejects the idea that property, nature, can be owned by individuals. The second obviously accepts the idea that property can be owned by individuals. That's it, folks. Nothing more complicated than that. And they cannot be reconciled with each other. There is no combination of the two. You cannot accept the idea of private ownership of property and reject the idea at the same time.

The theory accepting private ownership is obviously capitalism. The other theory is basically ever other economic model ever created. For simplicity's sake, we can divide the theory rejecting private ownership into two camps. The first would be those who believe nature cannot be owned and is available to all; this would be communism. The second would be those who believe that the government owns nature on behalf of the . . . whatever (whatever being the separation in the remaining economic models; generally some type of aristocracy); this would be socialism.

Socialism is the predominate economic system for most of mankind's recorded history. Fascism, feudalism, you name it, are variations of socialism. Communism being the predominate economic system for much of mankind's unrecorded history.

That may be debatable because we never consciously created capitalism; it just sort of snuck up on us and we didn't even see it until Adam Smith pointed it out to us. It arose from feudalism, when monarchs started giving land to subordinates. At some point, that gift of the monarch became less of a noble's "duty" and more of a noble's "right." When the nobility further began giving land away to commoners, the concept of private ownership became entrenched.

We have pretty much done away with any valid concept of socialism or communism and they are relatively useless terms to be casting about in a capitalist society. At best we have concepts of capitalism that may resemble some loose concept of socialism or communism in a general sense. But they are based on an entirely different view of the world and cannot be mixed with capitalism.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why I Am A Liberal

Because I am an American and believe in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Because I am a Capitalist.

Because I am a Christian.

I cannot think of three more liberal institutions than those.

This has been another episode of simple answers to simple questions.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

McCain Chooses A Running Mate!

Heh. Indeed.

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

Seven short years ago today the President of the United States was briefed on a summary of intelligence related to terrorists activities in the United States. As the then National Security Advisor to the President was fully aware, that summary briefing was titled "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike Inside The U.S."

The President responded to be being briefed about 70 full field investigations into possible terrorist attacks inside the United States by telling the briefer: "You've covered your ass."

He wasn't covering his ass, Mr. President; he was providing you with information so that you direct the Administration on their efforts to protect this country. You failed.

And more than 3,000 Americans died as a result of your failure.

As bad as that was, you continued to make poor decisions that led to the deaths of thousands of other Americans and hundreds of thousands of people in other countries.

In honor of my friend Todd's birthday, I offer this birthday song in remembrance.

It's you're birthday.
Oh, happy birthday.
Misery, grief, and despair
People dying everywhere
On your birthday.
Oh, happy birthday.

Beating Irony To Death

A headline on the last page of the front section of today's Post & Courier caught my eye. The headline claimed that 2 former CIA officials denied telling Ron Suskind that they had been told to fabricate intelligence linking Iraq to the 9/11 Hijackers. So naturally I read the article.

It was an AP article under Brett J. Blackledge's byline. I couldn't find a link to the article on but here is a link to it at Newsweek with a headline similar to the Post & Courier headline.

One of the first things I read in the article was not that two former CIA officials deny Suskind's claims, but that the White House issued a statement on their behalf. Then I read further that itself wasn't really true. The White House issued a statement on behalf of one of the former CIA officials who himself was claiming to speak on behalf of the other.

But the entirety of the story revolves around accusations that the White House is fabricating communications for people.

So, you know, maybe it might be better to not use the White House as a source for communications it claims were made by others!

Update: To be clear, the former CIA officials in question are named Robert Richer and John Maquire. The White House allegedly issued a statement on behalf of them both. It actually was only Richer allegedly making the statement. In the statement Richer alleges that he spoke with Maquire who authorized Richer to say that Richer never order him, Maquire, to fabricate evidence. It is all very self-serving from beginning to end.

Update II: Suskind is standing by his book and says it is all on record in his notes and recordings. Suskind also claims that Maquire was pressured to make a statement based on misleading information.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

To the South Carolina Democratic Party

You suck.

No. Seriously. The state party is a joke. Its candidate for U. S. Senate was a member of the Horry County GOP Executive Committee when he filed to run as a Democrat. Apparently, the Horry County GOP did not kick him out until June, so for much of the primary campaign he was still a member of the Horry County GOP Executive Committee. Every time he was asked about it, he was lying when he failed to acknowledge his realtionship with the GOP.

I know. I never mentioned any of this either. Guess what? I suck too. I knew the guy was a Republican and I hardly ever said anything about it. I made shadowed references to it. At the Galivants Ferry Stump Meeting, I said that I didn't join the Democratic Party to run in this election. That was as close as I ever came to attacking my former opponent to a large group of people. I made the conscious decision not to attack him. I made a conscious decision to tell people about myself, not my opponent. I tried to be a nice guy.

Nice guys finish last.

Yeah, the news media sucks too. Jim Davenport at the Columbia Bureau of the Associated Press seems to be the only news reporter interested in finding out anything about Bob Conley's relationship to the GOP. His colleague Seanna Adcox was thorough in finding out about my background. So I certainly want to say that the Associated Press did a good job of trying to find out about the candidates. The Big Picture, a show produced by SCETV, and its host Mark Gwinn did a good job interviewing the candidates (I am including all of the staff of The Big Picture in this). It isn't their fault that Bob Conley elected to lie to them about his affliation to the GOP. But the rest of y'all, y'all suck. I know y'all thought it was supremely arrogant of me to presume to run for United States Senate. It seemed to be the only thing y'all were really interested in covering. Really, there is no ranking of aristocracy in this country. Anyone who wants to run for the U. S. Senate is entitled to do so.

Oh, and Bob Conley is a liar and that is beyond suck.

But all of that fails to relieve the state party of sucking. The state party did nothing to find out anything about the unknown people who filed to run for the party nomination. And I do mean nothing. There are many good people staffing the offices of the state party and I am not saying any of them suck. They are great people eager and determined to work hard for our state. No, I mean the "highly placed Democratic Party leaders." Not one of them ever tried to contact me to find out anything about me. On the county level, yes. County chairs were constantly seeking to contact the campaigns. But not the state level leaders.

Although those state level leaders were all to happy to tell reporters they had never heard me, even though they may have actually worked with me previously. To his credit, Joe Erwin has expressed his regret at having told reporters he had never heard of the candidates. However, when I spoke with him, he didn't seem the least bit interested in speaking with me. But he is certainly not the only state level leader in the South Carolina Democratic Party. He isn't even the state party chair any longer. So, it really wasn't his responsibility and certainly not his alone.

After the June 10 primary, I told a reporter that the Democrats had just nominated a Republican. In the article in which that quote appeared, Don Fowler was also quoted seemingly discounting my quote and saying that the Democratic Party welcomes everyone, even those with conservative beliefs or former Republicans. I did not say Bob Conley was a former Republican; I said he was a Republican. The following week, after the automatic and mandatory recount (not anything I requested, Minuteman assholes), an Horry County GOP official broke the news that Conley had been a member of their Executive Committee up until shortly before the June 10 primary. That is what I meant, Mr Fowler. Maybe I should have said "he is not a Democrat" to more precisely get my meaning across, but as I said, I suck too.

But Don Fowler is not the only Democratic leader in this state. He isn't even a DNC Committeeman any longer. His only leadership role really is as the husband of the State Party Chair, Carol Fowler. And she has only been Chair for a year. I look forward to seeing great things with her as our Chair.

No, the people I am really referring to are our elected officials. Not one of whom reached out to me. Not one of those whom I attempted to reach out to bothered to return my calls or respond to my emails. It is sort of a "I got mine" attitude. I saw nothing resembling an appearance that separate campaigns were preparing to work together in a coordinated effort. How are we ever going to win back this state if campaigns don't work together? How are we ever going to do what is best for our state if elected officials, or candidates, seem more interested in protecting their own territories rather than helping others get elected?

And that was the most disappointing thing I learned during my brief campaign.