You should listen to Libertarians.

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Julius Thiengen Bloch (American (born Germany), Kehl 1888–1966 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

I don’t mean that you should agree with them. What I mean is that you should listen to libertarian media even if you don’t agree with the philosophy. Why? Because they question everything. You know where they stand and it is against the government. Oh and by the way, they are also against big business and they way it uses government to set regulations. They are skeptical of the whole damn system.

Right now we have a team mentality when it comes to politics. We are all invested in these bubbles and have a complex system where we signal each other to let each other know which team we are on.  The worse thing is that we are emotionally invested in these political identities. The great thing is that the libertarians are not. They sit on the sidelines and boo both teams. They give an outsiders perspective to our political climate.

If you have strong partisan stand then you should definitely not listen to the other side because it is simply a dark mirror of your own views. You should listen to libertarians who are the third way of American politics.

I think the one of the most damaging myths is that most Americans are basically non-partisan and just want Washington to be bi-partisan. I’m calling bullshit on this. If this were true we wouldn’t have MSNBC and FOX News. I think there are what Roger Stone would call a lot of low information voters, who don’t have have strong ideologies and therefore open to sway. The libertarian mindset is the opposite of this. It is high information and you will find libertarian media to appeal to the highest common denominator.

If you don’t already have libertarian media in your line-up then I would recommend starting with these two:

Jason Stapleton

https://www.youtube.com/user/jasonstapletonshow

Tom Woods podcast

http://tomwoods.com/podcasts/

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Mass denial, the American people are asleep at the wheel.

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I have trouble deciding whether we are just allowing ourselves to get distracted because we have real problems (mass denial), or if Trump is so masterful that he is  distracting us while Rome burns. Most likely he is a buffoon and we are chasing the latest spectacle.


Defense One: Air Force Putting B-52s Back on 24-hour Alert

So why isn’t this a huge story?

Basically B52’s are being out on 24 hour alert for the first time since 1991. This is huge yet I cannot find it on google trending news. The American people are asleep at the wheel.

If you buy that Trump is a master distractor then it is proven by the politics subreddit. Here are a selection of articles from the the subreddits front page:

Ex-Governor of Puerto Rico tweets photo of surgeons operating by cellphone light after Trump dubs aide efforts a 10

‘It made me cry’: Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson breaks silence over Trump’s condolence call

After Gold Star widow breaks silence, Trump immediately calls her a liar on Twitter

John Kelly Is ‘Donald Trump’s Puppet And Owes Me An Apology,’ Rep. Frederica Wilson Says

Of course there are legitimate stories there but most of it is culture wars and following the spectacle. The American people don’t think, don’t care or are in denial that we may be headed to war and a possible economic crash. If not a crash and at least a stock market correction.

Look, I don’t know what the future holds. Hopefully I am wrong in my pessimism. If I am not wrong then what upsets me the most is that we are not going to see it coming. We are going to blame the mainstream media and the politicians for our predicament as we ignored all the warning signs and spiral down into more collective dysfunction.

What’s so special about 2030?

DP123847

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For some reason the year 2030 keeps popping up. This seems to be an anchor year for projections and futurist. It may be because of the influence of the Fourth Turning by Howe and Strauss. They have 2030 as the year we exit a crisis period were America will be challenged to it’s core. There have also been some UN projects that target the year 2030. I am not sure why it keeps popping up but I have collected a few links below that target 2030. I will continue to update it if I find more.

 

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, The Global War of 2030

The U.S. Is Retreating from Religion. By 2030, say projections, a third of Americans will have no religious preference

What the Army thinks war will look like in 2030.

Army is preparing for a hybrid war by 2030.

Why American “Crisis” May Last Until 2030

Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

33 Dramatic Predictions for 2030

Beijing to set out artificial intelligence development plan up to 2030

In 2030, a huge population decline is expected. Is this decline the New Normal for China’s economy?

Blind spots, things we cannot talk about in America.

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Illegal immigration and employers. When the right or the left talk about illegal immigration neither one talks about the employers hiring them. This is like persecuting  junkies and ignoring dealers to fight the war on drugs. I believe the that right does not discuss this because the employers are mostly small, mom and pop businesses. It would be incredibly unpopular with the Republican base if they started cracking down on  these businesses. This is a huge hypocrisy. The same is partly true with the left.

I believe the left does not talk about cracking down on businesses because then they would have to discuss the high cost of hiring employees and the various ways government creates disincentives to employment.

You will know that they are getting serious about illegal immigration when they start talking about cracking down on employers.

Trump is a reflection of a wide swath of the American people. Pundits like to rationalize why Trump was voted in. They give excuses like: people just wanted change, blue collar workers have been ignored too long, voters simply hated Hillary etc… All of this is true but I think some voters truly like him. I think there were a lot of voters who like the reality show sensibilities that Trump brought to the race. They love it when he drops his tweet bombs. They would like to see the Rock run against Trump in 2020. They enjoy the whole spectacle and are glad someone made politics entertaining.

The media in general seems to try to explain Trumps election without acknowledging that a lot of the voters simply like him and relate to him.

Trump might be a sign of decline. I don’t think the trajectory of leadership in the US is upward. Trump has already lowered the bar on political discourse. He is going to set the trend and going forward political debate will only get coarser. I tell my wife that future Presidential debates will be two people yelling and flinging poop at each other.

Here are a few more that don’t really need explaining…

It is not the main stream media, it is us.

There is a coming economic decline or crisis.

There are probably more people addicted to prescription drugs than we know of.

 

Possible futures: how Trump or a populist could capture the left

Possible-Futures

 

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Around the time that the Democratic and Republican conventions were over, there was an expectation that Trump and Hillary would swing towards the center. This is the traditional maneuver for Presidential candidates. I argued with my wife (a lefty) that Trump could capture a segment of Democrats if he kept his platform but changed the way he sold the ideas. My wife thought I was crazy, that he would never change and dismissed him as a typical boomer. She was right about him not changing his message. Then I thought that he might move more to the center during and after the inauguration.  Of course I was disappointed, he doubled down on partisanship. So it looks like Trump is not going to change and is going to continue to drive wedges between the left and right, which is really disappointing.

In this article I would like to give a rough outline how I think Trump could have sold his basic platform to lefties. Regardless of your political persuasion you should try to drop your normal framework before reading further. My outline is not oriented around the traditional left/right axis or ways of thinking about these problems. Also these are not necessarily my views but rather ways I think they could be sold.

Illegal Immigration – Clearly the whole illegal immigrants are rapists statements he made would have been hard to overcome, but he could of pivoted his message to one of class in America. Basically pointed out that there are two classes. Illegals who have no citizenship and are preyed upon by by businesses and subject to crime. We have a black market for labor which only benefits business. It hurts blue collar working people and those that need entry-level jobs such as young people. These entry-level jobs are also gateways to better jobs and businesses. He could also have skewered the Democrats for creating this “class” system and furthering it. He could have offered a more permanent solution instead of the band aids that the left proposes.

I think he could have skirted around the whole amnesty issue by saying that he didn’t want to incentivise more illegal immigration which hurts the children of illegals and creates a larger black market of labor for businesses to exploit. It also further drives the hopelessness and despair felt by blue collar workers. He could have attacked the left by being completely out of touch on this issue… which they are.

Bottom line he could have made it a issue of working people vs. black market labor, business and the left perpetuating the system.

Immigration or the so-called Muslim ban – Instead of driving this issue with fear he could have played it differently. Basically he could have called into question the whole “we fight them over there so we don’t have to over here” argument. In the big picture which is more compassionate/humane? Invading, dropping bombs and trying to force our way of life on foreigners (what McChrystal called insurgent math)  or simply cutting off immigration from these countries?

Trade – Both Trump and Bernie were similar on trade. Basically Trump could have borrowed some Bernie’s arguments. In other words he could have stopped talking about trade as if it was just bad negotiation and started talking about it more as hurting working people. Trump could have also borrowed from Bannon regarding China and their unfair trade practices. He could have sold this to lefties in terms of government policy and crony capitalist being in bed to sell the American people out. To be fair Trump did some of this but it is more of matter where he put the emphasis.

Trump seems to have stumbled into a populist wave but he doesn’t really know how to sell it beyond his base or those who just want any change. I’m sure someone is watching this and taking notes. This is what really scares me. Competent people are watching and learning. Those are the ones who should keep us vigilant.

Unicorn Culture

unicorn

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Silicone Valley has a term for companies that grow exponentially quickly, unicorns. For obvious reasons these are some of the most admired startups. Checkout the Techcrunch list. It seems to me that these companies are worshiped. This bothers me. For one thing they set false expectations on what a company is and what to expect.  If you read entrepreneurial websites you will see a few main themes that run through them. First is that traction is hard to get and takes time to learn. It involves constant work and the creation of a lot of content/product that doesn’t work before you get results.  The vast majority of businesses take a long time to find their fit in the market. But really all this is about service. It is about creating a product that people find useful and services a community. These are deeper and timeless values. Unicorns on the other hand are admired for their seeming instant gratification and fast growth.  They are every wantrepreneur’s dream. Put a product out and it takes off to the moon.

This unicorn mindset is symptomatic of larger issues in American culture. We as a country are in deep denial. We stand on the edge of economic collapse and possibly another world war.  If you look at the Cape-Schiller index we are in the second largest S&P500 P/E ratio in history.

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The debt to GDP ratio is the highest it has been in recent history.

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The stock market bubble and the debt go hand in hand, because of the debt it will limit the Fed’s and the government’s financial maneuvering when the stock market bubble pops. Furthermore the market seems to not care about the possibilities of war. This denial is deep and it is because of this unicorn mindset.

Everything right now is magical and about growth. There is no room for other narratives. Doesn’t matter what is going on in the world. This unicorn mindset limits our ability to conceive of solutions that involve conserving and preparing. It keeps us from budgeting and sacrificing. Those values are anti-growth. Hopefully we will rediscover them before it is too late.

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Long Game Institutions

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Updated 10/18 to emphasis that secular institutions can possibly provide better alternatives.

I am an Atheist but I agree with Charles Murray. I don’t think secular humanism can produce the same long game institutions and culture that religion provides. However it could replace them with something different and better.

In yesterday’s post I noted how long game institutions are under attack by the US government and the possible downsides. The same thing is happening in religion. First, what do I consider long game religions? From my consideration, the Catholic church is long game, but Baptists and Evangelicals are not. Jews are long game. I’m on the fence on whether Muslims are. Mormons are long game. Most Pagan religions are not.

Note: well long game does not mean “been around for a long time.” It means that it sprouts secondary institutions, has a culture and it’s followers children are likely to adhere to the rituals and the culture of the religion, even if they are not strict in their practice.

Here are the necessary qualities that a religion needs to be long game:

Must have barriers to entry. This could be a series of rituals and education in order to convert, such as the case for the Catholic Church. The Jews have a barrier in that you usually need to be related to a Jew in order to be in the religion. There are other ways to convert to Judaism, but they are not easy.  There really are no barriers for Evangelicals. You simply have to profess that Jesus is your Savior.  The same is true for Muslims, which is part of the reason I am on the fence about them.

Why are barriers to entry important? Because it filters out those who are flaky, not truly serious, and serves as proof that the convert will contribute to the religious community.

As an aside it seems to me that the Evangelical and Muslim faiths spread more like memes or viruses; they might burn out in the long run. There will always be a core group but their number might dwindle. Islam is the fastest growing religion right now, but if I am correct, then it might spread and burn out.

Unique ritual. Actually, most religions have this. The exception would probably be Evangelical Christians.  I think what separates long game religions is that these rituals are closer to the core of belief and act to reinforce it. They also mark milestones as a believer progresses through life. Pagans have unique rituals but do not seem to have a big picture or reinforce other aspects of the religion.

They create secondary institutions which mutually reinforce each other and the religion. They create schools for children, colleges, hospitals, seminaries, volunteer organizations, lobbying groups, community outreach, and charities etc… Islam does this well which is why I am on the fence regarding whether it is long game or not. Clearly the Catholic church and Mormons do this the best.

A recognition that we are part animal and gives the believer a way to transcend the animal. Christians refer to this as original sin and there are various ways to deal with it. This is another area in which I’m not sure Muslims are long game. Judging by their actions around the world they don’t seem to have effective ways of dealing with the inner animal. Of course, if you go back a couple of centuries you could argue that Christians didn’t have effective ways to deal with this inner animal either. That is a fair criticism, but modern Christians don’t seem to have this problem.

I am an Atheist and a product of Western Civilization. Unlike most Atheists, I don’t see myself as a refutation of Christian values but rather step in the evolution of those values. Honestly even if I tried to refute Christianity, it is such a part of Western Civilization that it influences me in ways I probably don’t even realize.

Right now everything is in flux and this is a time for experimentation. I do think there is a vacuum left by secular humanism. How do we fill it? You cannot engineer a religion, but if I could, here is an outline of what I think it should look like based on the characteristics of long game institutions given above.

Unique ritual:  There should be daily rituals centered around meditation that would involve the whole family.  There would also have to be rituals based on life events. I would also borrow the use of psychedelics from Paganism and create rituals around them. It could utilize known psychological states such as lucid dreaming and deep meditation. These rituals could easily be incorporated in secular thought as inner and outer discovery of the mysteries of the universe.

They create secondary institutions which mutually reinforce each other and the religion. There is a definite need for this right now. A huge vacuum could be filled by Atheists. The problem is that we lack a cohesive structure and authority to bring us together. I think the place to start would be with private schools and charities. Private schools based on the tenants of Western Civilization with emphasis on humanist values. Imagine the Sagan school. I see some humanist charities popping up, but clearly more could be done.

A recognition that we are part animal and give the believer a way to transcend the animal. Secular humanists or whatever replaces them could shine here. You could create a system based on scientific understanding of our moral minds and game theory to explain and re-engineer ourselves into better humans.

Must have barriers to entry. Not really sure what this would look like. Maybe leave some ideas in the comments.

Here is the part where I will lose both religious people and Atheists. If there is a next step after secular humanism, then it also must incorporate the human need to try to comprehend the mysteries of the universe and recognize a bigger picture. It must do this in lock-step with science. This cannot be simply intellectual. It would have to speak to the whole human. It would also have to have room for altered states without contradiction. I am convinced we will see an evolution of secular humanism.

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