Friday, March 25, 2016

JFK on Economics

JFK's greatest success economically was championing a policy of lowering tax rates on average earners. This unfortunately was only realized after his death with the passing of the bipartisan Revenue Act of 1964. His approach was neither that of a strict Keynesian nor that of a supply-sider but hogged the midpoint with the intent of increasing demand via disposable income. It worked. The mid 60's was a Golden Era in US Economic history. Unemployment sat at a low of 3.8 % in 1966. GDP growth was in the 5% range. You are correct Nixon's record is poor but it wasn't all of his doing. The ongoing Vietnam War impacted the Federal budget. It also didn't help that he introduced wage and price controls to curb the inflation that resulted from Johnson's Great Society spending Initiatives.

Logic and Sense Knowledge

I think that logic can be viewed as a type of gradualism that is water tight and invaluable in moving us toward a genuine source of knowledge or truth. However it does appear that there are other mechanisms which use a more punctuated approach, that while not as stringent in its application, and indeed not as gradual, use value judgement acting on sensory information to reach a similar conclusion. Is the latter a type of reason? I too would argue yes. Can it be reduced? Possibly. But perhaps something is lost in doing so. Maybe it functions on a level that bypasses the need for mini-steps, chunking information in bigger bytes to reach its endpoint with a greater efficiency.

On Philosophy

I started my own personal study of philosophy by making sure that I had a strong general overview of the key thinkers before going into any great detail about any one individual specifically. Philosophy is best understood by acquainting oneself with the history of the discipline as many ideas put forward essentially arise out of a critique of an earlier philosophy and build on each other. Hegel's March to Reasons sums up this idea but is not the overriding factor. Avenues of thought can splinter in many directions and these can be difficult to predict. I think that the key point in philosophy is to work with, and in a way, celebrate the idea. Examine thoughts from different angles and avoid the temptation to expect eureka moments at every turn.

The West - A Wake up Call

The West in its present state is weak. Leadership is poor, priorities are wrong and more than anything else most Westerners can't even articulate what our civilization stands for. Jihadism will not bring down the West but the inability to champion our exceptionality and defend the essence of what we have on all fronts will most certainly do. We no longer believe in ourselves and this is tragic.

The Post-Modernist leaderships that dominate most Western Government are partly to blame for fostering such a malaise but so has the culture of guilt and self-flagellation that has worked its way from academia into mainstream society.

While the US –the epicenter of the West - is still ten or fifteen years behind a moribund Europe in this regard but its path has been accelerated by an abysmal Presidency that has to be routinely prodded to recognize evil for what it is and continues advocating for an appeasement of such malignancies. However the opposition has not been much better. While it talks with an air of authority from the other side of the aisle, when in office, it too often succumbs to the lure of a ‘Realpolitik’ that short-changes our values for the sake of political expediency.

It is most obvious that the West is in a demographic death spiral (certainly with respect to birth rates). Entitlement is rampant, education standards are falling, illegal immigration is out of control, and our manufacturing sectors have been gutted by a free trade mania and crony capitalism has shifted power away from the vital middle class to a worthless financial elite that has no loyalty to anyone other than themselves. A fixation with identity politics – both race and gender – has further poisoned the water and encouraged an odious narrative that has proved to be extremely divisive.

Add to this a growing national debt load (19.1 trillion dollars in the US for example and increasing) and the future does not bode well for the next generations. Partisan Hacks will point to declining unemployment numbers when convenient, but these rarely tell the full story and conveniently leave out the growing number of people who have dropped out of the labour market altogether and no longer factor in such statistics. With a weak manufacturing sector and the hypnotic appeal of open border economics this troublesome pattern seems likely to continue.

While we still have the luxury of the circus shows that engulf the lives of so many of us we need to move against apathy and indifference. What is needed is a broad movement centered on the engine of the middle class that cuts across ossified party lines and places at its core the Western values of free speech, rule of law, rationalism, an emphasis on necessary tradition, earned respect, and ultimately self-sufficiency built on a strong work ethic. The People can still take back the nations of the West. In fact not only can they, it is becoming increasingly important that they must.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Obama Doctrine - My take.

There is considerable buzz on the air waves and data world about Jeffrey Goldberg's overview article in The Atlantic concerning the Obama Doctrine (whose exact nature is proving as elusive as the Higgs-Boson particle once was to determine). Goldberg looks at the history of Obama's actions in office and outlines some key points that shed light on the POTUS' way of thinking. Here are a few:

1. Obama has a great affection for Brent Scowcroft - National Security Adviser under George HW Bush - he likes the concept of limit engagement ;

2.He has clashed with Hillary Clinton, Chuck Hagel and John Kerry repeatedly on the use of force in Syria - Kerry prefers a tougher approach;

3. Does not view the Middle East as a significant region in general;

4. Is obsessed with avoiding the same pitfalls that impacted the Presidency of George W. Bush;

5. Believes that any extended involvement in the Middle East by the US is likely to be problematic and cost lives with limited likelihood of success;

6.Sees the US as an internationalist force that should be more concerned with existentialist threats such as Climate Change;

7. Although he chose Samantha Power to be the American Ambassador to the UN he is not sold entirely on the 'Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect' that is the mainstay of her political ethos;

8. The pullback from the Red Line decision in Syria (2013) was largely motivated by a fear of pushing the US into a protracted war that would cost more lives.

9. He champions the idea of Drone Strikes (as do Republicans such as John Bolton) which in a way reflect the limited engagement philosophy;

Missing from the whole Goldberg analysis (perhaps conveniently) was the Libyan invasion affair that may have bearing on several of these points.

As someone who takes issue with Obama's position on Iran, his handling of Arab-Israeli issues and his relativistic posturing regarding the identification of the Islamist threat domestically, I find myself in unusual agreement with the President on Syria. I think he is correct to avoid a deeper involvement in this troubled country especially in a Civil War that has the potential to cost so many American lives. There is no positive force here and the optimum approach would be for the US to keep funding the Free Syrian Army as the lesser of the evils.On one level this seems harsh but in the context of the greater good of the US makes much complete sense.

However, what Obama needed to do (and may still have time) was communicate this resolve more efficiently. The populace need to be allayed of the fear that the US is in decline. The Pentagon has the ability to act with great efficacy and can as the Drone Strikes have shown eliminate its enemies with a fair degree of success. The electorate must be reminded of this.

The US must act with strategic intent that places the Nation's interest first, The Doctrine of the "Responsibility to Protect' makes sense in a Rwanda-like situation but cannot be applied universally. Neo-Conservative forays are fraught with a deadly blow back and although America has the military might to potentially serve as a Global Police Force it should avoid this responsibility unless driven to do so by calculated reason. This could be the legacy of the Obama Doctrine although I suspect that it may be lost to the great deal of jitter that has come along for the turbulent ride.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Multiverses....A quick summary

On the Multiverse. There are a variety of multiverse models but the most common one is that developed by Hugh Everett III to explain the phenomenon of Wave-Particle Duality. It is also known as the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI). According to Everett all possible alternate histories and futures are real so that the various outcomes are realized over the sum of the many worlds. We live in a world which displays one of those outcomes. Like the other three explanations for Wave-Particle Duality (Collapse, Pilot and Copenhagen) the mathematics checks out.
Multiverse modelling occurs in other areas of Physics. Max Tegmark, arguably one of the most brilliant physicists alive today, posits a classification system that consists of four levels that can be used to describe Multiverses.

Level One – Multiverses produced by cosmic inflation that have same physical constants and laws as does our universe;
Level Two – Multiverses produced by Chaotic inflation that have different constants and laws and are produced by a bubble effect (Andre Linde calculated that there are 10^10^10,000,000 of these);
Level Three – MWI Interpretation described above
Level Four – Constructs within Tegmark’s own mathematical universe hypothesis (a Theory of Everything that sees physical reality as a mathematical structure).

Brian Greene has a different classification system that has nine types and looks at simulations, holographs, cyclic phenomena, Branes etc.