Tag Archives | Government

Let’s Abolish West Point: Military Academies Serve No One, Squander Millions of Tax Dollars

Via Salon:

Many pundits have suggested that the Republicans’ midterm gains were fueled by discontent not merely with the president or with the (improving) state of the economy, but with government in general and the need to fund its programs with taxes.  Indeed, the Republican Party of recent decades, inspired by Ronald Reagan’s exhortation to “starve the [government] beast,” has been anti-tax and anti-government. Government programs, as many of their thinkers note, primarily exist to perpetuate their own existence. At the very least, they have to justify that existence.

In the spirit of hands across the aisle, I’d like to suggest that the first thing the new Republican majority devote itself to is not, say, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but to converting the four hugely expensive and underproductive U.S. service academies (Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard) — taxpayer-funded undergraduate institutions whose products all become officers in the military — to more modest and functional schools for short-term military training programs, as the British have repurposed Sandhurst.

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Corruption Perceptions Index 2014 Results


Via Transparency International:

Poorly equipped schools, counterfeit medicine and elections decided by money are just some of the consequences of public sector corruption. Bribes and backroom deals don’t just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders.

Based on expert opinion from around the world, the Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide, and it paints an alarming picture. Not one single country gets a perfect score and more than two-thirds score below 50, on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Read more.

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Obama’s Trade Chief Pushes Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Michael Froman official portrait.jpg

Michael Froman, US Trade Representative

This should give those wary of a One World Government some New Year jitters: the US Government’s trade representative wants the much-reviled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to expand, reports the New York Times:

For Michael B. Froman, President Obama’s chief evangelist for expanding global trade, skepticism comes with the territory.

He and his colleagues have clocked more than 1,500 meetings on Capitol Hill to promote the president’s big potential trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership — and still its prospects for passage look as problematic as ever.

Even before Mr. Froman began facing a leery Congress, he had to persuade wary colleagues at the White House that it was worth pursuing. They scoffed that the original T.P.P. concept, conceived during the administration of George W. Bush, was too small, with only four Asian countries as members. And in the chaotic days of 2009, when Mr. Froman was deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, embarking on a campaign to advance a new trade agenda seemed less important than averting a global financial collapse.

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History Lesson: America Is the Same Oligarchy It Was over a Century Ago

“Forget the politicians. They’re irrelevant. Politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media news. They own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the information and news you get to hear. They’ve got ya by the balls.”

via Truthstream:

(Truthstream Media) When Americans see charts like this one which illustrate that virtually all the food on grocery store shelves basically comes from no more than 10 megacompanies, or hear statements like this one from our own Attorney General Eric Holder who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that some banks are just too big to prosecute, or check out studies like this one out of Princeton which openly declare we are not a democracy but an oligarchy…it’s kinda hard to believe we aren’t an oligarchy (because we are).

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Geo-Engineering Scientist ‘Terrified’ of Projects He Helped Create

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Via Natural Society:

Dr. Matthew Watson from Bristol University in the UK told the media recently that he’s “terrified” by many of the geoengineering projects currently in the works to thwart man-made climate change, a phenomenon being hawked as an excuse for weather modification programs by many in mainstream science as a ‘threat to humanity.’

Dr. Watson recently told Daily Mail UK online that he is:

“. . . terrified, because the potential for misstep is considerable.”

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Robber barons and silicon sultans

Photo: Michael from San Jose, California, USA (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: Michael from San Jose, California, USA via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Via The Economist:

IN THE 50 years between the end of the American civil war in 1865 and the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, a group of entrepreneurs spearheaded America’s transformation from an agricultural into an industrial society, built gigantic business empires and amassed huge fortunes. In 1848 John J. Astor, a merchant trader, was America’s richest man with $20m (now $545m). By the time the United States entered the first world war, John D. Rockefeller had become its first billionaire.

In the 50 years since Data General introduced the first mini-computers in the late 1960s, a group of entrepreneurs have spearheaded the transformation of an industrial age into an information society, built gigantic business empires and acquired huge fortunes. When he died in 1992, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, was probably America’s richest man with $8 billion.

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Environmentalists Have an Irrational Hatred of Nuclear Power

The first American nuclear reactor of the 21st century, Watts-Barr will soon begin operating west of Knoxville in Tennessee.  This reactor will almost continuously generate 1,150 megawatts of electricity for the next 60 years at $0.06/kWhr, with near-zero carbon emissions (over the same period a coal plant would release 500 million tons of CO2, for reference the US releases 6,526 million metric tons CO2 annually).  With this happy marriage of steadily satisfying consumer demand yet generating very little CO2, one would imagine that greenies everywhere like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund and thousands of other environmental groups would be out in the streets rejoicing and calling for more nuclear plants!  However, it seems that environmental groups roundly and universally decry the vast potential of nuclear technology.  But why?
We in the pro-nuclear community have yet to collate and diagnose the almost-dogmatic hatred of nuclear power in the environmental movement, but it seems to stem from several uninformed but understandable complaints:

1) People seem to widely conflate ‘nuclear power’ with ‘nuclear weapons,’  however the danger of a nuclear explosion occurring at a power plant is the same danger as a 1988 Ford Pinto going 250 mph, that is, not any danger at all.… Read the rest

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The dark web: what it is, how it works, and why it’s not going away

via Vox:

2014 saw the continued growth of the dark web, a collection of underground websites that allow people to engage in often-illegal activities beyond the reach of law enforcement. Here’s what the dark web is, how it works, and why it’s not going away any time soon.

What is the dark web?

The dark web is a general term for the seedier corners of the web, where people can interact online without worrying about the watchful eye of the authorities. Usually, these sites are guarded by encryption mechanisms such as Tor that allow users to visit them anonymously. But there are also sites that don’t rely on Tor, such as password-protected forums where hackers trade secrets and stolen credit card numbers, that can also be considered part of the dark web.

People use the dark web for a variety of purposes: buying and selling drugs, discussing hacking techniques and selling hacking services, trading child pornography, and so forth.

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Promoting the Apocalypse

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Eisenhower warned of the dangerous marriage between government and war profiteers, but did he envision how subtle and insidious it would become today?

via The UNZ Review:

If you read a major newspaper on a regular basis you will no doubt have seen the full page ads placed by defense contractors. The ads generally are anodyne, featuring ubiquitous flags and eagles while praising America’s soldiers and war fighting capabilities, sometimes to include a description of a new weapon or weapons system. That a company whose very existence depends on government contracts would feel sufficiently emboldened to turn around and spend substantial sums that themselves derive from the American taxpayer to promote its wares in an attempt to obtain still more of a hopefully increasing defense pie smacks of insensitivity to say the least. I for one find the ads highly offensive, an insult to the taxpayer.

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Top 5 Moments In Decentralization History

Via COINTELEGRAPH

Decentralization is at the heart of Bitcoin’s core principals. I hesitate to use that term because I think overuse of it can lead to rigid thinking, but if there is even one core principal of Bitcoin, decentralization is it. But Bitcoin isn’t the only major instance of decentralization shaking up the course of history, neither is the internet; at least, if you are able to keep an open mind about what exactly decentralization means.

The Internet and in particular Bitcoin are the two best examples of something resembling true decentralization in history, where pretty much every participant got equal access at a relatively reasonable pace; even then, there are some centralization issues. The other examples that are listed here were hampered in reaching the masses either through intentional suppression by those who controlled it, or technological limitations or both. Nevertheless, they do represents mankind’s previous attempts at or accidental creations of situations that greatly, even if only briefly, broke down the pillars of centralization.

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