Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Insight on The War on Terror

I used to think that The War on Terror was a misnomer in that terrorism is a tactic. How do you wage war on a tactic. But recent events illustrate that terrorism is not just a tactic. It's a motis operandum, a strategy, an environment one creates and maintains to achieve and maintain control of a population. People who subscribe to this operating model are the enemy, and the U.S. is not alone in the fight.

It occurred to me that Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi is a true terrorist. He has ruled his country for over 40 years by demonstrating continually that there is no limit to his capacity for cruelty. He had the population in constant fear for their lives. A recent dispatch out of eastern Libya (not under Gadhafi's control as of this post) by a local man stated that, in the past, if the people of his town protested, they would simply all be killed and nobody would ever hear about it. The new technologies and services on the Internet enabled people across the whole continent to communicate and share ideas and frustrations despite government's all out efforts to stop it.

In the real War on Terror, Gadhafi, Mubarak and anyone else who governs without the express consent of the governed, has to be on the hit list. I'm not making the list. The White House isn't making the list. The list becomes clear when you realize that the freedom to communicate and associate are not things people will give up. They've had a taste of the liberation that comes with the free flow of ideas and it's spreading like wildfire.

Gadhafi is losing because he's lost the fear factor. His proposal: "My way or you die." was answered with "We'd rather die." The Internet is no small factor. Dying for your principals when nobody will ever know about it is noble, but not very compelling. A chance to go down in history for standing on your principals is another matter altogether.

With a clearer view of the enemy, the battle lines and the battlefield conditions, I now feel much more confident that the good guys are going to prevail. Now if we could just have a popular uprising in support of accounting and budgeting...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nice one Peru

From Al Jazerra English

1:55am: Peru becomes the first country to formally severe all diplomatic ties with Libya. President Alan Garcia said:

Peru is suspending all diplomatic relations with Libya until the violence against the people ceases.

Peru also strongly protests against the repression unleashed by the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi against the people who are demanding democratic reforms to change the government which has been led for 40 years by the same person.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The trouble with public sector unions

The battle of the budget continues in Wisconsin with Democratic lawmakers hiding in Illinois to prevent a vote on a bill that would restrict collective bargaining by the teachers union to wages only. The idea is to give local authorities in charge of balancing the books, some flexibility.

It's tough to get an objective description of the issues involved. Most pundits will either suggest that supporters of the union are lazy, greedy and irresponsible or that opponents are mean spirited hate-mongers who want to destroy working families. I'm going to dispense with the emotional hyperbole and try to present a logical description of the actual dynamics at play.

Public employees have had the right to collectively bargain for around 50 years now. They cannot strike for a couple of reasons. One is public safety of course. The other is that they generally work in monopolistic enterprises. If Safeway employees go on strike today, I can go to Albertsons instead. If public school teachers strike, my children are denied services due to a dispute I'm not directly involved in. It gives the union a vastly unfair advantage if they are allowed to strike, hence they are not. Some teachers have gotten around this restriction by calling in sick in Wisconsin.

Over the years, public employee unions have gained the right to collectively negotiate not only wages, but other "working conditions". You might think this applies only to benefits such as health care and retirement. It goes much farther than that. Almost anything that happens in the workplace can be called a "working condition". This puts the union in a position to dictate the actual operational details of the enterprise and not just employee compensation.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that unions can and do make large political contributions. They have wisely chosen to favor one party over another (Democrats), which creates an alliance whereby unions help get their folks elected and their folks help the unions get what they want. The result is not a negotiation between two rivals, but a joint venture to capture as many tax dollars as humanly possible. Both parties look out for their best interest and the taxpayer doesn't get a seat at the table.

A simple fix would be to forbid unions from making political contributions. But, since the politicians would have to vote away a huge source of their own funding, that's not likely to happen.

However you feel about the issue, the reality is that Wisconsin and a lot of other states are in deep fiscal crisis. Either the taxpayers have to agree to pay more or the public employees have to agree to take less. It's not good guys vs. bad guys. It's employees and employer trying to deal with reality to reach an agreement everyone can live with. The status quo will not work. The terms must change and the system that lead to this mess must change.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We have met the enemy and he is us.

As we prepare to raise the debt ceiling once again, and inflation begins to rear its ugly head, there seems to be a general awareness that we're in serious trouble, but no will to do anything about it. I'm not talking about politicians, but their bosses, the American public.

Our government is fixing to collapse under it's own weight, yet every proposed cut meets with shrill opposition. The real issue is the proper role of government. Is it to provide for the basic needs of everyone by confiscating as much wealth as possible and redistributing it to those people, causes, companies, organizations and projects it deems worthy? Is a society's progress directly proportional to the size and scope of it's government?

The actions and behavior of the general public seems to indicate that most believe that is the case. They still believe quasi-socialism can work. We just need to tweak it. The mandate? Make the budget issue go away, but keep the entitlements coming. Raise taxes on everyone that has more than me if you have to. It's just that easy.

The fiscal meltdown will not be the fault of the representatives. It's the represented that absolutely will not tolerate the actions needed to avoid it. Therefore we will not avoid it. A few years from now it will be Americans chanting in the streets, demanding higher subsidies on bread and a larger allotment of government cheese. I sure wish I were wrong, but I'm not. Like the man said, You can't stop what's comin'

Iranian warships heading toward Suez on "training mission"

Cheering on civilian protesters is one thing. How will the White House respond to a direct confrontation?
I hope we don't find out.