Monday, March 27, 2006

Give them Amnesty













Congress is pretending to get tough on illegal immigration now, and one of the issues is, what to do with illegal immigrants already in the United States? Apparently a lot of people disagree with me on this one, but you know what, I say let them have amnesty. I am 100% for people who want to work hard and make a living for themselves. Many of these people work difficult, manual labor jobs for very little pay. They escaped oppressive lives with very little hope or opportunity in order to come to the US to seek a better life. And I can respect that.

Yes. Seeking that "better life" by sneaking into the US is illegal. It is legitimate to say that all of the other people who are legally trying to enter the US are, in a sense, being punished by giving amnesty to the illegal ones. True.
Others say that giving amnesty is rewarding people for breaking the law. Also true.
These points are totally valid and accurate.

The United States has its share of responsibility for this situation though by not protecting the borders or even pretending to address the issue sooner. The illigal immigrants who are here came, in large part, because we did little to nothing to stop them. I say, sunk costs. It's time to accept the fact that you cannot "right" the "wrong" in any way that won't result in more government beaurocracy, huge costs, and probably little results. Let's be honest, the government just isn't capable. There is no way the government can find and deport all illegal immigrants..in all honesty, we don't want to do that anyway. We should all get off our high horse, telling everyone what the situation "should" be, and give the illegal immigrants in this country a path towards living a legitimate, respectable lifestyle, and at the same time we should devote our energy and resources to securing the borders like we should.

M

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Interesting Experiment in Socialism and Individual Choice:

Some of the comments from yesterday’s Cuba posting sparked an idea, so I am just going to throw this out there. “Leftside” said that 95% of Cubans vote in elections and that they would overwhelmingly vote for Castro. This sparked an idea for a hypothetical experiment, but my hypothesis is that the statistic quoted yesterday about Cuba’s voting trends actually hurts the argument for socialism that the writer was putting forward. My hypothesis may seem counterintuitive at first, but it is sort-of my job to look at numbers and question them, so here goes.

In the situation in Cuba, there is basically a closed system, so for this experiment, assume a population of humans with no immigration or emigration in the group. The population only changes through birth and death, but for the purposes of the experiment, the population is fixed and does not change. Now, a small, powerful section of the group decides that it must establish a government to protect the population, so it forms a government. This government is a single-party government that takes control by force and any member of the population that disagrees with or voices opposition to the government is silenced (jailed – assume no one dies here). The remaining population is then encouraged to vote for whomever they want. The result, 95% of the population votes for the current government to show their support.

Now, does the result of this experiment truly show unity and support for the government?

Here is another one. You and nine other random people decide to go to lunch. Everyone must vote for one restaurant through a blind ballot method. What are the chances that nine or ten of the votes are for the exact same restaurant? Performed on a statistically valid number of groups, what are the chances then? The chances are pretty little that you would all choose the same restaurant, and if you did, many would likely choose different meals at that restaurant anyway.

This is a little oversimplified, but the point is that given free choice, people display individual tastes. When there is only one option, what do you think people will choose? In the US, there are basically only two political parties. Given this choice, logic would then dictate that approximately an equal number of each party would be elected. This is in fact observed. If there were four viable parties, the statistical curve would broaden again because of the spectrum of individual beliefs and values. Look at the diversity of religious values and practices in the US.

So, to say that 95% of people in Cuba vote and they vote with one voice, really means that they don’t have another choice. Human behavior should observe differences of opinion, and when those differences are not observed, a red flag should be raised in your mind because this is not natural. Your statistic actually proves that the Cuban people are not being given the opportunity to show their true, individual beliefs. This may sound reasonable to you though, since you believe that individuals should not have individual beliefs because they should be told what is best for them by their government and not question it.

M

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Intellectual Honesty - Cuba Libre

M here...

During my recent travels out of the country, I had to take advantage and have a Cuban cigar. This little self-indulgence brought up the topic of Cuba and its government. I mentioned that if Cuba wasn't run by a Communist, military dictator that I would like to be able to buy their cigars in the US. Forgetting that I was a US Citizen traveling abroad, meaning that I was the face of the enemy, I apparently sparked some anti-US, pro-socialist sentiments from another person close-by around me. I was "informed" that Cuba has "a great educational system and public health-care" that was much better than what we had in the evil United States, where everyday "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

Let's be honest here. First of all, I don't think I am the enemy. I have never intentionally harmed anyone else. I have donated time and money to those that need it out of a personal desire to leave the world better than I found it, which I find to be true of just about every American I know. I have helped to build houses for the homeless, worked for a summer at an orphanage, volunteered at the local children's hospital, etc. If that makes me evil in your eyes, then I will never be able to understand your point of view.

To say that Cuba's government is somehow "better" because they offer good, public, state-run healthcare is the moral equivalent of saying that it is okay to rape someone as long as you take them to a good doctor afterwards. To impose an act on a person, without their consent, is just that, a nonconsentual act from a more powerful entity on a less powerful entity. I'm not saying the US government is anywhere near perfect, but at its core, its central philosphical basis, the American people get a choice about what is imposed on them by their government. The state exists by the consent and for the benefit of the citizen. In Cuba, the state is greater than its citizens; at its extreme, citizens exist only for the benefit and at the consent of the State, as can be seen by the population control tactics in communist China. The "State" decides what is best for its citizens without their input.

My statement to the woman who decided to "educate" me about Cuba, is that the ends should not justify the means here. Maybe the people of Cuba would rather not have the kind of government that they have. The fact is, no one knows, because they do not get a vote.

This conversation is especially prudent given the participation of the Cuban baseball team in the World Baseball classic. My brother lives and works in San Diego, and works in the hospitality business there. He was able to observe the Cuban team this past week, and made some interesting points that I wanted to post. The team is on lock-down. They go from the hotel to the field, and when they return to the hotel, they are locked in their rooms. This is done to prevent anyone from defecting. I'm sure that their family members are under threat of retaliation from the government should anyone choose to try to defect to the US. Could this truly be the actions of a "just" government? These players have proved that they are among the best baseball players in the world, yet their Communist salaries pale in comparison to the potential that awaits them in the Major Leagues. They don't have that choice though. One player, allowed to play in the US, could make enough money to support an entire village in Cuba quite comfortably, but what would happen if the Cuban people were allowed to advance themselves in a free-market society? That would certainly threaten the control of the State, which is why its not allowed, because the beneficiaries of that success might not be so against the idea of capitalism then, huh? A government's primary role should not be self-preservation at the expense of its people. Those amazing Cuban athletes deserve a chance to be all that they can be. The Cuban people deserve a choice in the way their lives are governed. And, one-day, I would like to buy a Cuban cigar without thinking of it as contraband. And this does not make me evil. In fact, a true, intellectually honest person, has to believe in freedom for the people if they do in fact truly care about the well-being of the people.

M

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pura Vida!

M here...

Just got back from a two week vacation through Central America. I have decided that Organic Costa Rican coffee is the best tasting, best quality coffee in the whole world. My wife and I took a tour of the Doka Estates coffee plantation, and I think I am going to start importing it just for personal consumption. It's amazing. The Peaberry variety is the next best. Apparently we missed Starbuck's CEO, Howard Shultz, taking his yearly tour and placing his order by one day.

Anyway, if you are looking to connect with nature, go to Costa Rica. We did tons of cool things like whitewater rafting, hiking up an active volcano, swimming in the Pacific ocean, hiking through the National Park, etc. Here is a picture from the beach at Manual Antonio, Costa Rica.

Well, Blogger doesn't seem to want to upload any pictures right now, but I will try again soon. Meanwhile, haven't read or seen the news in two weeks, so I have no idea what is going on in the world. Maybe something worth writing about will come up today.

M

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Still here...

Partamian here...

M is on vacation with the lovely E and I have been busy with the new job, the new baby, the Army, and in my spare time getting accurate as-built drawings of my house drawn. I'm making a lot of progress on the drawings and I'm going to start building a model soon, so I can start looking at different things like roof lines, adding a garage, etc.

At my new job, I'm not surfing the net as much, which is really how it should be. I'm not checking out the blogs as much these days. I'll try to get to it more often. Maybe when M comes back I will be spurred on to write more.

Snaus... you're off the team.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Why I am so glad I don't pay Atlanta city taxes anymore!

M Here...

Reason # 1: (Mis)use of funds...
















(WSB Radio) -- The City of Atlanta has added $72 million to Georgia's bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame bringing the total commitment to $102 million.
The financing package now includes $25 million previously committed by Governor Perdue in State support plus the original $5 million from the city plus a $15 million grant from the city's Tax Allocation District program and $62 million in city-backed bonds.


Reason #2: ...wait, it's (mis)use of funds again...



















Here's some info on our former Atlanta City Racketeer, ahem, I mean Mayor Bill Campbell. How many federal indictments have come out of his administration? Is it even possible for the average person to count that high? He is charged with, among other things, accepting bribes, including $50,000 to give a liquor license to a strip club. Nice.

Don't get me wrong. I think the current mayor, Shirley Franklin, is amazing and probably the best thing to happen to this City that I love in a long, long time... but come on, a NASCAR Hall of Fame for $102 million!?! Can't we just put up a sign that says "Free Beer"? Wouldn't that attract the same crowd in the same proportions?

M