26 May 2010

Rumors of War

A slightly optimistic piece from the BBC regarding the recent flare up on the Korean peninsula. Perhaps the analysis is correct and this is just another incident that both sides will use to adjust their diplomatic and military stance against each other. The relationship between North and South Korea is so dysfunctional (primarily due to the actions of the North) that it almost seems routine that the North can sink a South Korean vessel (and kill over 40 sailors) and only face economic consequences.

I don't think Kim Jong-Il wants war. Although the North could inflict horrible damage upon the South, including direct artillery bombardment of Seoul, any conflict with the South and its allies would result in the destruction of the existing regime. Yes, the U.S. is currently fighting wars all over the place but the combination of allied air superiority, logistics and technology would eventually wear down and decimate the North's vaunted million man army. I think we would also see a surprisingly quick internal overthrow of the regime by the disaffected populace and military units once things started heading the wrong way.

Other analysis I have read opines that Kim Jong-Il ordered the ship attack to firm up his leadership within the regime and help pave the way for the eventual succession of his son. Over the years, Kim Jong-Il has acted like a spoiled child, throwing temper tantrums in order to focus world attention on him and allow him to then negotiate concessions from the South and the U.S. This time, however, he may have finally overplayed his hand.

25 May 2010

If you liked the television ad, you're gonna love the one on the radio !

Following on the heels of the now infamous television ad that I blogged about recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is now running a radio commercial that is even more offensive. I heard the ad yesterday on a local Pittsburgh station and found a recording of it here. Ignore the comments posted in the background, they are the authors opinion. However, the subtitles at the bottom are the same as the ad that I heard (the narrator's voice is the same as well so I'm assuming whoever captured this recorded the actual advertisement.)

It's basically the same carrot and stick mix of penalty forgiveness and intimidation but with the added sound effects of ringing door bells and door knocking. The implied threat is quite clear once again- we know who you are, where you live and we're going to be paying you a visit. These lines from the ad were the ones that stuck with me the most-

"This is a great deal and you'd be crazy not to take them up on it, you mooch, because after June 18th, you are going to be one very unhappy criminal, which by the way, you are."

Pot calling the kettle black anyone ? Are you kidding me ? The very bloated bureaucracy that sucks the blood out of the citizens of Pennsylvania is now accusing them of being mooches ? Listen up my fascist friends, the people who owe the state taxes are typically business owners that, unlike most of the employed sheep in this state, don't have government mandated withholding that quietly sucks off the fruits of their labors.

As a business owner myself, I can tell you that writing a check out of your bank account on a quarterly basis really puts the issue of paying taxes in sharp focus- it makes you start doing crazy things like wondering where exactly all of the money is going and what you are getting in return. It makes you do dangerous things like question the fat bureaucrats that sit on their ass all day without producing anything of benefit for their fellow citizens. It makes you question things like how we are one of only 3 states that still has state owned liquor stores- not, as they say, to control access to liquor, but rather to keep thousands of useless state political hacks employed.

The hypocrisy here is just incredible. I wrote my state senator without any effect and, incredibly, except for some other websites and blogs it seems that the vast majority of my fellow citizens are completely clueless about the subject or wholeheartedly endorse the state's position which has been sold to them- they are being cheated by these no good malcontents who are "mooching" off of them. Us vs. Them- it's all so very North Korean, don't you think ?

I honestly don't know why I even blog or complain about this. The citizens of this state, and this country, have received the government that they deserve. They have given up their own personal liberties and ignore their responsibilities to protect their fellow citizens from the overreach of government. They are nothing but lazy, unthinking masses, content to watch "American Idol" and debate the latest "Apprentice" at work rather than the clear and present danger presented by the shitheads like this that populate our government.

24 May 2010

Dalai Lama Condemns Capitalism

During a recent visit to New York, the Dalai Lama condemned capitalism and declared that he is a Marxist at heart. Although he spoke out about the injustices of capitalism, he was also quick to point out the benefits of living in a free western capitalist society (free press, independent judiciary) vs. the real world application of Marxism by authoritarian regimes (such as China.)

I didn't read anything too earth shattering here and it seems that the Dalai Lama's position is pretty much in line with every college student that ever sat around a dorm room discussing the differences between capitalism and Marxism (the only difference being that he probably wasn't high at the time.) Sure, Marxism seems to be the perfect way to bring a just society into being but, in practice as history has repeatedly proven, human beings are by their very nature competitive and unwilling to be jammed into neat little boxes. When the state has tried to force Marxism upon the people, the result has been terrible tragedy and loss of life.

I used to spend a lot of time on anarchist web sites in various discussion group but have ended that practice due to the fact that most of the "anarchists" that I was debating were actually closet Marxists and communists (I also found it amusing that these "anarchist" discussion groups had the most draconian guidelines regarding what could, and could not, be posted.) There was no balance to their positions since they were primarily supporting leftist causes and opposing anything from the right. As an individualist anarchist I oppose the state, whether left or right, but I might as well have been arguing with my cat for all the good that did. I think capitalism is a corrupt, nasty and brutal system but I also think it's the best choice available when taken in its purest form.

As for the Dalai Lama, I certainly admire the guy and have read a number of his works. Many of my non-Buddhist friends believe that as a Buddhist I must worship him, but I just patiently explain that Buddhism has many schools of thought. The Dalai Lama is the revered leader of Tibetan Buddhism, but as an adherent to the Theravada school, I consider him nothing more than a good man worthy of respect. My gut tells me that as a leader on the world stage, he has to carefully walk a narrow path to support his people in Tibet and if he needs to throw an intellectual bone now and then, so be it.

Daily Dharma

Here are two verses from the Dhammapada that I have pondered a great deal as of late-

"Greater in combat
Than a person who conquers
A thousand times a thousand people
Is the person who conquers himself." (#103)

"As a smith does with silver,
The wise person
Bit by bit,
Moment by moment,
Removes impurities from himself." (#239)

Both of these passages address the need for self reflection and improvement done on a consistent basis. I have been trying to improve certain aspects of my life (more on that to follow) by meditation and study and have found these two gems to be a wonderful bit of foundation to build upon.