The Adventures of Superperson

Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superperson! Faster than a speeding Supreme Court nomination, more powerful than the mighty pen, able to leap over logic and science in a single bound, it’s Superperson!

Yes, it’s Superperson – queer undocumented alien from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal people. Superperson – challenger of law and order. Champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice, who disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered transspecies cisgender reporter for a great metropolitan liberal newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for anti-racist truth, social justice and the new American way. 

The Origin of Superperson

Superperson is born Kal-El on the undocumented alien planet Krypton. His parents, climate scientists Jor-El and Lara, become aware of Krypton’s impending destruction due to the effects of Kryptonian-driven climate change and Jor-El begins constructing a spacecraft to carry Kal-El to Earth. During Krypton’s last moments, Jor-El places young Kal-El in the spacecraft and launches it. Jor-El and Lara die as the spacecraft barely escapes Krypton’s fate. The explosion transforms planetary debris into kryptonite, a radioactive substance that is lethal to superpowered (as by Earth’s yellow sun) Kryptonians.

The spacecraft lands in an abandoned manufacturing plant in an urban blue state of the United States, where it is found by a homeless, transgender, transracial family. Jonathan and Martha Kent adopt Kal-El and temporarily assign him as a man with the white cisgender name Clark Kent. As Clark grows up on Earth, he and his adoptive parents discover that he is a white cisgender man born inherently racist, but has the superhuman powers of a social justice warrior. The Kents teach Clark to use these powers responsibly to help oppressed minorities and fight hate speech and hate crimes. 

Clark keeps his powers secret in order to protect his family and friends, who might be endangered by their racist, sexist, transphobic, misogynistic, white supremacist criminal enemies. In order to use his powers to help humanity, Clark creates the alter ego of Superperson, a transhuman, queer, transracial person of colour. A number of elements are added to each identity to keep them distinct enough to prevent the casual observer from matching them. Superman wears a characteristic rainbow costume with the emblem “S” and a cape and uses the pronouns they/them/their and sometimes ze/zir. Clark Kent takes to wearing glasses, styling their hair different from the cisnormative style, changing their body language, significantly altering their voice to deviate from social expectations, and wearing loose clothing that hides their stereotypical male physique.

Clark Kent moves to Metropolis and takes a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet, where ze meets zir friends and co-workers, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and works under the white supremacist opressor editor Perry White. Superman becomes the subject of frequent headline stories written by Lois, and the two become sexually but not romantically attracted to each other with occasional bisexual threesomes with Jimmy or Batperson.

Superperson, for the first time in their life, faces an enemy against which ze is entirely powerless. That enemy is a piece of the planet Krypton – kryptonite, it is called – which a few days ago struck Earth in the form of a meteor and was retrieved by evil fracking supporter and President of the United States Donald Trump. A full understanding of the danger came to Superperson when ze approached the kryptonite for the first time and realized that embedded within the rock is all the archived scientific and cultural knowledge of the planet Krypton. As ze came within five feet of the mass of metal, which glowed like a green diamond and emitted the knowledge that Krypton was a colorblind, racially and culturally tolerant society of free speech, equality, law and order composed of two equal but biologically different sexes, ze suddenly felt weak, as if all zir strength had been drained from zir.

We hope you enjoyed this first episode of The Adventures of Superperson! Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of the social justice warrior!

Why We Need 54,432 Supreme Court Seats

How many seats would make for a good Supreme Court of the United States? First, a bit of history. The Constitution established the Supreme Court but left it to Congress to decide how many justices should make up the court. The Judiciary Act of 1789 set the number at six. In 1807, Congress increased the number of justices to seven. In 1869, Congress raised the number of justices to nine, where it has stood ever since.

But lately, we’ve heard a call to “pack” the court with additional seats. But to keep this from being a partisan issue, let’s ask ourselves what would be the best thing to do for the country? Some say that all Americans need representation. A recent Washington Post column lamented that President Trump’s nomination of conservative Amy Coney Barrett effectively stole a seat that would otherwise have been filled by the type of person Joe Biden pledged to appoint, a liberal black woman. During a presidential primary debate, Biden said, “I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure we in fact get everyone represented.” Of course, the article notes that even President Barack Obama failed to appoint a black woman and, instead, he nominated an Hispanic woman and a white woman.

That raises an obvious question. What would it take to get the Supreme Court to get everyone represented? Let’s figure it out. We would need to make sure that every significant group received their share of the court. Let’s start by looking at all the possible combinations. To keep from getting out of control, we can’t come up with quotas by demographic numbers and would have to put some limits on the number of groups represented. I wouldn’t want to be accused of being unreasonable. These categories are mostly derived from the census and legally protected groups who may face discrimination.

  • 7 choices for Race/Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, Multiracial. We could expand this list, but where would it end?
  • 6 choices for Religion: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Other. Please don’t be offended if you are an “other,” but we just can’t go down that road. 
  • 3 choices for Age: 60+, 30-59, 18-29. I’m sorry if you are under 18. You need to grow up first.
  • 3 choices for Biological Sexes: Male, Female, Intersex/Other. Again, if you are an “other,” this should be sufficient.
  • 3 choices for Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual. There may be others, but I hope one of the gender preferences below will suffice.
  • 8 choices for Gender Preference: Man, TransMan, Woman, TransWoman, Nonbinary, Pangender, Agender, and Queer. I know that there are many more, at least according to Facebook, but we have to draw the line somewhere.  If you are “other,” I think Queer should cover it. If not, I don’t know what else to say.
  • 2 choices for Disability: disabled and not disabled. No need to list all the possible disabilities, I hope.

But we’re not quite done yet. I’ve read comments such as “Clarence Thomas is only black on the outside.” Ouch! Sounds pretty darn racist to me, but let’s consider the possibility that what is on the inside is at least as important as what is on the outside. 

  • 3 choices for Political Orientation: Liberal, Conservative, Moderate. I’m not even going to add an “other” because, well, that could lead to some uncomfortable court sessions.

Now to get the total number of seats, we can’t just add these up. Because a person is composed of multiple dimensions and will not be a good representative if they are not all taken into account. For instance, a conservative heterosexual black Christian woman isn’t even close to a liberal lesbian black Christian woman. That means we have to multiply all the factors for each characteristic if we really want everyone to be represented.

7 * 6 * 3 * 3 * 3 * 8 * 2 * 3 = 54,432 Supreme Court seats needed.

I know it sounds like a lot, but it could have been worse. And it is likely that not all seats will be filled. For example, it might be hard to find a disabled conservative Jewish Asian male lesbian transwoman who is qualified to serve at the age of 19. Hearing cases might be a bit tricky, but we just need a large stadium like the Roman Colosseum or a really big screen for a Zoom call. Justices would just have to give a thumbs up or down.

Case closed?

Conservative Black Women are Superheroes

Definition of a Superhero: “A fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers” or also “An exceptionally skillful or successful person.”

No, this isn’t just another attempt to bring diversity to the universe of superheroes, which is obviously dominated by white males. But I will admit that there aren’t exactly many well-known  black female superheroes. Black Widow isn’t even black. Marvel’s Storm (from X-Men) is one of the few. The movie Black Panther introduced us to Okoye and Shuri, but Okoye is just a bodyguard with exceptional martial arts skills and Shuri is only their chief scientist. Still, just because people don’t have superhuman skills doesn’t mean they cannot accomplish super results. We could really use a bit of “truth, justice, and the American way” these days, but Superman isn’t here to deliver. So what do we do?

What makes superheroes super is their ability to save us from something that mere mortals cannot. What is it that only black female conservatives can do? I contend that they are best suited to lift the black community out of poverty, broken families, and crime and can therefore save all of America from the divisive, self-inflicted hatred coming from those who claim that our entire society is cursed by inherent and systemic white privilege, racism and sexism. 

Black women sit at the intersection of several major social issues. But whereas most white liberals and black community activists generally take the view that racism and sexism are to blame, conservative black women like Candace Owens take the view that racism and sexism are no longer the primary obstacles to success in the black community. Instead, they cite factors such as the growing problem of teenage pregnancies and abortions, broken, fatherless families, where most black children are born out of wedlock and live with an unmarried working mother, and a male culture that lacks respect for women, education and authority. They assert that these factors, and a shortage of successful male role models within their neighborhoods, lead to lower educational performance, lower wages, and disrespectful young black males engaging in criminal activities that make poor neighborhoods even more dangerous and threaten its youth with violent death or time in prison.

Pew Research Center study on “Parenting in America
Amazon.com employees deface Candace Owens’ books

When a non-black person tries to make a connection between these factors and lower socio-economic performance, the emotional political reaction is to call them out as racists who are trying to blame the victim and have no right to even talk about black issues. Except, of course, for the white liberals who are praised for placing blame on white fragility and privilege. Conservative black women cannot realistically be called racists, although some have tried. Some call them “race traitors” or accuse them of “acting white,” which are themselves vicious, racist attacks. Opponents have even engaged in “book stomping,” which I guess is just short of book burning. For the most part, however, the name calling doesn’t stick. Conservative black women are relatively immune to such unfair attacks. It is their relative invulnerability, combined with their willingness to stand up and fight for real solutions for their community, that makes them superheroes. 

In the movie Wonder Woman, our hero leads soldiers through no-man’s land by drawing fire while shielding herself and her team of soldiers from the spray of bullets. It is a perfect analogy for the role of the conservative black woman in politics today. They draw fire from the left since they are a mortal threat to the narratives of systemic racism and sexism. They provide a shield against the unfair accusations fired upon everyone who disputes the narrative that racism and sexism are solely to blame for black poverty, female oppression, and rampant inequity. Without the leadership and protection of our superheroes, this barrage of false accusations, perpetuated by the mainstream media and supported by the storm troopers of cancel culture, would take down even the best and most sincere activists, who are merely trying to find effective solutions to real problems.

Some would say, without proof and in the face of evidence to the contrary, that these black women are speaking out for the money or publicity or are merely being used as propaganda tools by white supremacists. No, they don’t make money the way fake Black Lives Matter activists do, have to deal with constant hate mail and death threats, and get little respect or admiration. Not to mention that no self-respecting white supremacist would ever hide behind a black woman, would he? No, these women have the superpower of being able to actually think for themselves and face the hatred that it inspires. To discover who is being used, we need look no further than the entire black community, which has been used election after election by politicians who promote victimization theories to shift blame onto their opponents and gather votes. This isn’t a new idea. It was expressed by civil rights leader Malcolm X, who was assassinated two days after writing the following words in 1965. 

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

“The white liberal is the worst enemy to America, and the worst enemy to the black man…. They are fighting each other for power and prestige, and the one that is the football in the game is the Negro, 20 million black people. A political football, a political pawn, an economic football, and economic pawn. A social football, a social pawn. The liberal elements of whites are those who have perfected the art of selling themselves to the Negro as a friend of the Negro. Getting sympathy of the Negro, getting the allegiance of the Negro, and getting the mind of the Negro. Then the Negro sides with the white liberal, and the white liberal use the Negro against the white conservative. So that anything that the Negro does is never for his own good, never for his own advancement, never for his own progress, he’s only a pawn in the hands of the white liberal. The worst enemy that the Negro have is this white man that runs around here drooling at the mouth professing to love Negros, and calling himself a liberal, and it is following these white liberals that has perpetuated problems that Negros have. If the Negro wasn’t taken, tricked, or deceived by the white liberal then Negros would get together and solve our own problems…. Our problems will never be solved by the white man. The only way that our problem will be solved is when the black man wakes up, cleans himself up, stands on his own feet and stops begging the white man, and takes immediate steps to do for ourselves the things that we have been waiting on the white man to do for us.”

Conservative black woman Candace Owens believes that power comes from personal responsibility, hard work and liberation, not from victimhood. And she isn’t even a feminist. I could swear she is channeling Malcolm X when she says, “Let us turn the lights off in the liberal establishments of America as we shut the door behind us.”

A Storm is coming–Avengers assemble! Leading with sword and shield, conservative black women superheroes have begun to advance the banner of Blexit to save America from itself! 

Halle Berry as superhero Storm (left) and Candace Owens as conservative black woman superhero (right).

Plan B for Climate Change

Is Global Catastrophe Imminent?

It’s time for a thought experiment about climate change. Let’s assume that climate change is real, has indeed been caused primarily by human activity, and will be irreversible and catastrophic if not stopped very soon. Many activists believe all of this is true and furthermore insist that no disagreement can be tolerated because the science is unequivocal and no longer open to debate. As an aside, I don’t think any good scientist would ever agree to close debate on a subject, since the willingness to continue to try and disprove a theory is really the only way to find flaws or make new discoveries. But for the purpose of this experiment, let’s just assume it is true that humanity faces a clear and present existential threat.

What do we do about it? Spend years negotiating a treaty full of compromises and voluntary efforts? Implement a “carbon tax” that allows polluters to pay others who promise to decrease their emissions, but without effective verification and enforcement? Imagine that some kind of viral infection or alien invasion threatened to destroy life on Earth as we know it within a few decades if not stopped. It would mean war. Literally. As in, we do whatever we need to do to stop the plague and accept whatever casualties are needed to ensure we survive. That is how you deal with an existential threat. Not through half-hearted negotiations where nobody has any incentive to do more than anybody else. But are activists approaching climate change solutions with the deadly seriousness of war? Not exactly. 

Part of the United Nations climate change plan includes getting developed nations to pay $100 billion per year to “meet the needs of developing nations.”  According to the UN, “Taking climate action now makes good economic sense. The more we delay, the more we pay. We can promote economic growth, eradicate extreme poverty, and improve people’s health and well-being by acting today.” Sorry, what exactly does eradicating poverty and improving health and well-being have to do with saving the planet? And who gets “economic growth” out of all this spending? Let me guess, the developing nations? A cynical person might think it is some kind of scheme to transfer wealth from developed to developing nations rather than an urgent plan to save humanity from disaster. What we need to do is triage the patient (Earth) by first stopping the bleeding.

Plan B: How to Abort Climate Change

Plan B: How to abort climate change.

What is allegedly causing the most damage to the planet? Coal-fired power plants are the largest contributors to the atmospheric CO2 concentrations and contribute 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to the UN, the problem is getting worse and we need to reduce CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030. So, getting rid of all coal plants worldwide still only gets us a bit more than halfway there, but we’ve got to start where we can get the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak.

Public Enemy #1: Coal

The US still operates many, but most of the coal plants are in China and India, and they are still building more. Do we say, “we’ll eliminate all our coal plants, and you should do the same, but we understand that you are still a developing country, so it wouldn’t be fair to ask that much from you?” Hell no! If all our lives are on the line, we shut them down. Now! Sorry it affects you more than us. You will just have to delay your economic development until you can develop clean energy. Should the nations that first developed modern economies have to suffer the most just to be “fair” if we are all in jeopardy? Or do we take the most effective action to deal with the problem? In war, we do what we have to do. If China refuses to cooperate, do we just throw up our hands and find ways to unilaterally harm our own economy even more? Are coal plants going to kill us all or not? 

Here is the first strategic campaign plan for Plan B. We start blowing up Chinese and Indian coal plants if they don’t agree to shut them all down. Precision-guided munitions might work, but if they shoot down our planes and missiles, we start using small nukes. Maybe we even abrogate the Outer Space Treaty that prohibits weapons of mass destruction in space. We put weapons in space and keep taking out the plants. Is it life or death for the planet or not? If so, isn’t nuclear war a risk we just have to take?

Clean Nuclear Power

With Plan B, the only viable non-fossil fuel energy alternatives are nuclear, solar, and some wind power, since there are only limited scalable applications for other clean technologies. Nuclear, you ask indignantly? Of course! Why do activists still oppose nuclear power when it is actually the safest and cleanest form of reliable (always on) power? Especially from the perspective of climate change. Should we be more afraid of the problem of nuclear safety and waste disposal, which are just engineering challenges, than climate change? Making the shift to nuclear and solar or wind will be expensive and slow, but are we serious or not?  

US coal plants have a capacity of about 246,187 MegaWatts of power. The largest US nuclear plant has 3 reactors and produces about 3,937 MW of electric power, but a small plant might only produce 1,100 MW. That means we would need about 62 large or 224 small additional nuclear plants to replace the energy coming from coal plants. The US currently has 58 nuclear plants and has generated 20% of its electricity from nuclear since 1990. China has over a million MegaWatts of coal power, so they would need 255 large or 913 small nuclear plants. China already has 46 reactors, but produces only about 5% of its electricity from nuclear. 

The mean construction time of a nuclear power plant is 7.5 years, but there is no way we could build so many that quickly. And even a small plant can cost up to $9 billion. So, we are talking about costs in the trillions of dollars and decades of construction time! We are told we are almost out of time. The United Nations even says that “Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions are stopped.” Does that mean we are screwed no matter what? Are we going to war over climate change or not? If so, crank up the nuclear plants baby or start turning off the lights, heat, and economy! It is of course ironic that nuclear technology may be the one thing that can either destroy or save us. Global warming or nuclear winter, here we come! 

Solar farm
Wind Farm

I’ll bet you think solar would be better. According to Elon Musk, “If you wanted to power the entire U.S. with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States. The batteries you need to store the energy, to make sure you have 24/7 power, is … one square-mile. That’s it.” But the time and cost to build such an enormous number of solar panels and batteries would be huge. We’re not even sure we can make enough batteries for the current growth in electric cars. And we would still need more reliable sources of energy for periods of bad weather and a better distribution network. China and India would need even more time and space to replace their coal energy. Depending on where you live, guess what needs to be cut down to make room for solar panels? Trees.

Destruction of the Rainforests

What about the deforestation of the planet? Countries like Brazil still have an extensive rainforest that is critical to the absorption of CO2. Do we let them continue to chop down the forest? I admit that we were foolish to have already chopped down so many of our trees, but we didn’t know any better back then and can’t go back in time. Do we give Brazil a pass just because we did it, or do we stop them from further destruction by whatever means necessary? Brazil thinks rich countries should pay them $12 billion dollars per year. But if that doesn’t work, how about a coup or an invasion? In other words, whatever is needed to protect the rainforest. Is it life and death for the planet or not? If so, we send the Army to save the rainforests and start planting new trees everywhere as quickly as possible. As long as there is still room for the solar farms, I guess.

I think you get the point. If climate change is such a serious problem, and the time estimates keep getting shorter, why are we not treating it with the urgency of an existential threat? There is a time for negotiation and a time for war. Unless of course, we aren’t quite as sure of the science as some would have us believe. 

Follow the Green Brick Road?

The House of Representatives climate and environment subcommittee, led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Secretary of State John Kerry, proposes the total elimination of carbon pollution from power plants across the country by 2035. Never mind that we are told we need it by 2030. So, they want to eliminate not just coal, but also most natural gas and petroleum-based plants. They suggest replacing them with 500 million solar panels, 60,000 wind turbines, lots of batteries, and energy efficiency in housing and cars. We will have to run on solar and wind-powered batteries most of the time, with some natural gas and nuclear to cover the gaps. And this is just for the US, never mind all those Chinese and Indian coal plants. 

Proponents talk about all green energy jobs that will be created, but not the old energy jobs that will be lost, or the cost of building this new infrastructure. Where will the money come from? US taxpayers? The Chinese? I think they will need everything they have to rebuild their own infrastructure. Will the cost of financing drive up the financing costs for all other economic needs? If we abandon fossil fuels and their prices drop, will other countries simply benefit from lower prices and laugh at us or follow us down the crazy green road to bankruptcy?

2030 Power Plan?

Frankly, I don’t see any possible way we can even meet the global CO2 reduction objectives that climate change advocates say we must, even if we use the threat of nuclear war to bend the entire world to our will and sink every dollar of investment into rebuilding our energy infrastructure. What am I missing? Is there a real, achievable, affordable global plan that I just can’t conceive? Does it require a government takeover of our economy and a military attack against China and India? 

If we only had more time. Or do we? Who can imagine what kind of energy technology humanity will develop in the next 100 years? And who knows, we might be able to suck every bit of greenhouse gas back out of the atmosphere by then! I’m betting on time, technological innovation, and competition to save us, not hysterical activism. I’m still going to buy an electric car because I think they are pretty cool, even if they are fueled by coal-fired electricity.

The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming!

1966 Movie: The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming … again! In the 1966 movie, they came by submarine. Today, they are coming through cyberspace to, um, start World War III? Or maybe, to get us to elect a president crazy enough to “put America first” and “rebuild the military” and “make America great again?” Wait, that won’t exactly help their cause. Maybe they want us to elect someone crazy enough to think he can try to make America great again, which will drive his opponents so crazy that they will burn the country down just to stop him? Yeah, that could be the plan. In any case, whatever those Ruskies are up to can’t be good. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, it is foreign “election interference,” otherwise known as “why the Democrats lost the 2016 presidential election and who they can blame it on if they lose again in 2020.”

What exactly does “election interference” mean and should we be worried about it? Are foreign agents conspiring to get their hands on our ballots and change our votes, or simply trying to influence our opinions so we vote for the wrong guy or gal? If it is just about influence, they have plenty of competition from the mainstream media, alternate news sources, political parties, special interest groups, candidates for office, and anyone with an opinion on social media. Why would anyone think that foreign actors are any better at political influence than good old home-grown partisanship? The evidence seems to show that they are not.

What we now call political disinformation used to be called propaganda, especially during war. While propaganda often includes false information, it doesn’t have to. And it usually comes from a foreign source, but again, it doesn’t have to. There’s nothing inherently foreign about the rise and spread of disinformation. We’ve been doing it to ourselves for as long as there have been journalists and politicians. Remember the term “yellow journalism” first coined in the 1890s, and how it helped to incite the Spanish-American War? No? Well, it used to be covered in high school American history classes, but I would not be surprised if it is no longer part of the curriculum. 

Disinformation has just become easier with so many new social media apps accessible to all 24×7 on a billion mobile devices. It only takes a meme or image or short video or a sentence to feed an uncritical mind the equivalent of sugar injected directly into the bloodstream. Is it someone else’s fault if we believe everything that is pushed to our screens? Are we so gullible that everything we see needs to be moderated by someone appointed to check its validity? Are the appointed ones even objective and do they even help? Is disinformation itself the problem or could it be our own lack of critical thinking skills? 

Facebook Face Checkers

A 2017 Yale study found that labeling Facebook content with “disputed” tags made participants only 3.7 percent more likely to judge headlines as false. According to one of the study authors, “All of these effects are tiny. Even to the extent it’s doing anything, it’s a small effect.” That doesn’t sound like much bang for the buck. The sheer volume of information that floods Facebook makes it impossible for the fact checkers to address every story. Therefore, when there are flags on some, but not all, false stories, people could be more likely to believe any story that was not flagged. And when stories are flagged as “false” but the quoted source of “truth” is disputed by other reputable sources, the entire system becomes suspect. The existence of uncertainty, where facts are either not known with certainty or precision, are in dispute, or are taken out of context, makes fact checking often untenable. 

Social Media Outrage

We don’t even know if people believe the stories they read and repost, or if they even read them before hitting the share button! Some comments clearly show that some people have no idea what they just shared. I have to admit to a feeling of evil pleasure in repeating a story that you know isn’t true, but makes you laugh or makes your opponent look bad. Even when you know that everybody else knows it isn’t real. It is our own political polarization that makes us easy targets for malign actors. Fear, hate and distrust can always be exploited by online trolls, by the mainstream “yellow” media, and even by our own malicious nature. Maybe we are the real exploiters, who like to push polarizing lies because it is fun! Almost as fun as a violent protests, burning and breaking things, looting a store for free stuff, or posting viral videos of others having a literal riot! Did you like the show America’s Funniest Home Videos? Even though you know a lot of them were staged? It’s like being back in high school. I bet people would love a show called America’s Meanest Political Trash Talk.

In any case, isn’t disinformation just free speech, whether foreign or domestic? Facebook has come under intense criticism by some who claim it is not doing enough to stop alleged misinformation (free speech), and by others for giving in to the demands of those who would suppress free speech (alleged misinformation). The compromise is an army of fact checkers who can dispute alleged misinformation (free speech) without actually banning free speech (alleged misinformation). Sounds like a reasonable attempt to show your critics that you are “doing something” even if it is a waste of time that cannot possibly keep up with the free speech of billions of people on the planet, most of whom seem to have something to say or just like to repeat what somebody else said.

It is not illegal for a citizen of a foreign country to express a political opinion in public forum in this country, or to do so anonymously or under a false name or to pay a US citizen who espouses similar views. I could do that any day of the week. Wait a minute, I think I’m expressing an anonymous political opinion right now! And you don’t even know if I’m a US citizen or if someone paid me to post! If I made you think, am I engaged in election interference? I hope so, comrade.

At least the growing fact-checker industry provides badly-needed employment, especially for out-of-work journalists. Because who wants to pay for information when there is so much getting tweeted out there for free? But who would have predicted the emergence of another job category that produces nothing and fails to solve the problem for which it was intended, which may not even be a problem? Facebook will not release any data to show whether fact checkers are even effective in identifying or slowing the spread of disinformation.

It is any wonder that US worker productivity has slowed to a crawl over the past decade? When people aren’t wasting time on social media, fact checkers are wasting time making sure we aren’t wasting our time in vain (that is, on a quest for the truth). The faceless new industry of fact checkers spends every day scrutinizing a never-ending stream of social media posts looking for the same never-ending stream of questionable factoids. It reminds me of the episode on the I Love Lucy Show with the chocolates racing down the conveyor belt faster than Lucy can wrap them. It would be funny if it wasn’t true.

I Love Lucy in the Chocolate Factory

I was always told there is no cure for stupid, but Facebook is under the gun to give it a try. Of course, Forrest Gump’s momma also told him “stupid is as stupid does.” They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. OK, enough platitudes. I think you get the idea.

Trans(racial)phobia

Just when some people claimed the ability to “transcend” their biology, many of those same people have apparently decided that biology is still important, sometimes, depending. Well, it’s complicated. 

Learn to speak Klingon

We are told that it is now possible to choose one’s preferred gender, where the term gender is interchangeable with biological sex. For some reason, however, many will simultaneously condemn any attempt to choose one’s race. How can both concepts coexist when they are both based upon biological reality? I’ve often felt I identify more as a Vulcan than as a human. If they weren’t just a fictional species, I’d probably consider pursuing a trans-species lifestyle. Remember when people used to teach themselves to speak Klingon? Unfortunately, trans-anything now seems like it might be problematic. 

In April of 2017, Rebecca Tuvel, a tenure-track assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, published the article, “In Defense of Transracialism” in the peer-reviewed feminist philosophy journal Hypatia. The article compared the situation of Caitlyn Jenner, a trans woman, to that of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identifies as black. She argued that “[s]ince we should accept transgender individuals’ decisions to change sexes, we should also accept transracial individuals’ decisions to change races.” What soon followed was outrage and shaming on social media, an apology on behalf of “a majority” of the journal’s associate editors, a critical open letter with 830 signatories, and the resignation of Editor in Chief Sally Scholz and eight of the ten associate editors. 

The Transgender vs. Transracial philosophical divergence: Caitlyn Jenner (good) vs. Rachel Dolezal (bad)

The philosopher Kelly Oliver, who chaired Tuvel’s dissertation committee in 2014, defended Tuvel on Facebook by asking for arguments rather than insults, and suggested that Hypatia invite critical responses. She was told her comments were “unforgivable” and that her suggestions were “doing violence” and triggering PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Oliver writes: “Through every medium imaginable, senior feminist scholars were pressuring, even threatening, Tuvel that she wouldn’t get tenure and her career would be ruined if she didn’t retract her article.” Tuvel said that people were “absolutely vicious” toward her.

Apparently, there is no allowing for free speech or thought that encourages tolerance of that which must not be tolerated. And there will certainly be no forgiveness. Tuvel’s life was officially cancelled. The best she could hope for was to disappear. Gone but not forgotten. Forever cursed, unless she of course were willing to confess her sins. Yet even after sinners confess, they carry their scarlet letter until death. How is this not transphobia? 

Do people who claim a transracial identity genuinely feel they identify with another race? Do they feel they have been racially mis-identified based only on their biology at birth? There have been several recent cases of white women revealing that they took on the identity of a black woman. But most of them subsequently apologized for their actions and blamed themselves.

Rachel Dolezal, who was head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP and claimed to be black, was exposed after her parents revealed that she was not. She was fired from her job at the NCAAP and from her job teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University. She has been unable to find steady work since most local colleges, nonprofits, grocery stores, and even government agencies have refused to hire her. Dolezal, however, does not apologize. Race, she believes, is a “social construct” used to pigeonhole people. “I unapologetically stand on the black side,” she said. “Blackness better defines who I am philosophically and socially than whiteness does.”    

Spock says: “When humans say something is logical and it is actually emotional.”
Cancelled

On the other hand, professor of African history Jessica Krug resigned from George Washington University after admitting in a blog post that she pretended to be black, which was a “violent anti-black lie.” She called it “a Blackness that I had no right to claim…. I have not only claimed these identities as my own when I had absolutely no right to do so — when doing so is the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation….my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial…. “
What should her punishment be? In her words, “I believe in cancel culture as a necessary and righteous tool for those with less structural power to wield against those with more power. I should absolutely be cancelled…. You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself.” It is curious that she feels she should still be punished even though she intended no harm. In her words, “Intention never matters more than impact.” and “Mental health issues likely explain why I assumed a false identity….” 

Is it true that “intention never matters more than impact?” Someone recently re-surfaced a decades-old skit from Saturday Night Live where Jimmy Fallon wore blackface to imitate comedian Chris Rock. But did Fallon’s intention, to make people laugh–and not in a mean-spirited way–not matter?

Get Smart: “Missed it by that much.”

When asked for his reaction, Chris Rock replied, “Hey, man, I’m friends with Jimmy. Jimmy’s a great guy. And he didn’t mean anything. A lot of people want to say intention doesn’t matter, but it does. And I don’t think Jimmy Fallon intended to hurt me. And he didn’t.” When asked if people were taking the blackface controversy too far, Rock demonstrated clear knowledge of the consequences for giving the wrong answer, “If I say they are, then I’m the worst guy in the world. There’s literally one answer that ends my whole career.” Liberal, tolerant, nice guy, funnyman Jimmy Fallon, and his friend Chris Rock, just had a near-cancellation experience. As Agent 86 would say, “missed it by that much!”

The black/white and white/black faces in Star Trek.
Klingonface?

What ever happened to “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery?” Is parody as an art form no longer acceptable if the actor attempts to mimic the physical appearance of the subject? Can a male comedian in a skit no longer wear long hair and makeup to appear to be a woman, or is that assumption also now offensive? Can one even wear blackface when assuming the persona of a Klingon? In case you hadn’t noticed, Klingons have dark skin and bushy hair, and they are aggressive bad guys. Are the Klingons just a racist construct of a white writer? Please tell me I haven’t inspired someone to cancel all the Klingon episodes of Star Trek! That would be a tragedy, considering the real intention of writer/producer Gene Roddenberry. The first inter-racial kiss on TV happened on Star Trek and crew diversity clearly showed his intention to “boldly go where no man had gone before.” 

The diverse cast of Star Trek.

Satchuel Cole, an activist working with Black Lives Matter for racial equality and also for LGBTQ rights in Indianapolis, admitted to lying about being black. On a Facebook page, she posted the following: “Friends, I need to take accountability for my actions and the harm that I have done. My deception and lies have hurt those I care most about. I have taken up space as a Black person while knowing I am white. I have used Blackness when it was not mine to use. I have asked for support and energy as a Black person. I have caused harm to the city, friends and the work that I held so dear.” Dina Okamoto, director of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society at Indiana University, outlined Cole’s crimes. “The negative consequences and harm to the community are tremendous — a racial justice advocate who has portrayed herself as Black has taken up space, opportunity, voice, and attention from Black advocates and activists…. Her fraudulent racial identity was used to build her career in activism for the Black community.”

Virtually all religions allow, and usually seek, converts. Christians and Muslims even have a history of forcible conversion, while the Jews merely tolerate voluntary conversions. There is an inside joke among Jews that the converts are always the most eager to show how Jewish they are by being the most zealous in enforcing the rules. Although the Jewish people have long suffered from persecution, nobody seems to mind the over-eager converts. So, why the anti-racial vitreol against transracial “converts” who truly identify with and want to be a part of the black community? 

Time: The Me Generation

What exactly does “taken up space” mean? Is there literally no space in the black community for people who are not black? Or are the key words “opportunity, voice, and attention” for a “career in activism?” Is it really about competition between people who merely want attention? Is the message less important than the messenger? Is it all about who gets to be heard and bask in the spotlight of black activism? In her paper, Rebecca Tuvel addressed the arguments that have been used to oppose transracial identity while simultaneously supporting transgender identity. Yet she could not find any reason why one community would react so differently from the other. Could the real answer be as simple as ego? Look at me! Hear me! Respect me! Love me! Are we witnessing spasms of jealousy from the “me” generation?

Is biology still important? Was Jessica Krug right when she said that mental health issues wrongly caused her to assume a false identity, or was her mental state perfectly reasonable and worthy of social acceptance? It is scientific fact that our sex at birth has a huge impact on who we are socially and emotionally and what we are capable of physically. Our race or ethnicity has far less impact, aside from the historical social constructs that are taught, but not a physical part of us.

Spock says “No logic exists in this situation at all.”

When people say they feel like a soul trapped in the wrong kind of body, it makes sense. Perception can be reality. Besides, we cannot scientifically disprove the possible existence of a soul that transcends the body. But when they say that biology is not real and must be denied, it flies in the face of scientific fact. If it were possible to transcend one of these physical barriers, one would think that race would be easy and sex would be difficult if not impossible. I guess it’s just the Vulcan logic in me. 

Live long and prosper. 

Canine Lives Matter

According to Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates, police officers shoot and kill about 10,000 dogs and about 1,000 humans each year. The DOJ asserts that dog killings have become an “epidemic.” It is time we address the obvious issue of systemic anti-canine racism among police officers. 

Do Police Hate Dogs?

Perhaps a better word to describe police canine racism would be “species-ism,” which is actually a real word in the dictionary. It means “the assumption of human superiority leading to the exploitation of animals.” But to emphasize the role played by deliberate discrimination against targeted groups, let’s just stick with the word racism.

Why would police kill so many of the creatures widely known as man’s best friend? And of the dogs who are shot, are they the victims of unfair prejudice against particular breeds? What kind of dogs are most likely to be shot? Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. And guess what? Both breeds are black and brown-haired dogs–a sure sign of systemic racism against dogs of color, no?

Sure, Put Bulls and Rottweilers also happen to be considered two of the most dangerous breeds. Research from DogsBite.org shows that during the 15-year period from 2005 to 2019, canines killed 521 Americans. Pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 76% (397) of these deaths. According to another government study of dog attacks, “there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities.” 

The Most Dangerous Dogs?

Police claim that most shootings happened because they feared an imminent attack. But were they really in danger of lethal attack, or was it their racially-biased perception of those breeds that was most responsible for the shootings? There have been no officer deaths from a dog attack in the last 70 years. Many victims claim that their dogs were doing nothing wrong and were merely scared themselves, but their behavior was mistaken by nervous cops for aggression. In other words, police violence was based on expectations derived from stereotypes rather than an objective evaluation of the situation. Surely, this is a sign of systemic racism. 

Clearly, police get jumpy around dogs they perceive to be aggressive. Officers shooting at dogs have killed many innocent bystanders, including dog owners, other kids, fellow cops, and even themselves trying to use lethal force against dogs. If cops cannot assess when lethal force should be used against a dog, it becomes more of a problem when it should be used against a person. 

A pet owner’s recourse to hold cops accountable for killing a family pet is not easy. The law provides “immunity” for cops unless their actions were “plainly incompetent” or they violated the law. In order for someone to show a constitutional violation when a cop kills his dog, a person must show that the cop’s actions were “unreasonable” given the situation.

Are more K-9 Police the solution to dog shootings?

While it is true that most police departments have their own K-9 police dogs, who are loved and treated like part of their law-enforcement family, it has not stopped the violence against other members of the species. Maybe if there were more K-9 officers, it would help to reduce the amount of violence against civilian dogs. 

Los Angeles attorney and former law enforcement officer Mildred O’Linn told law enforcement magazine Police that the public’s growing awareness of cops shooting dogs has resulted in an explosive community response. “The public cares about these kinds of incidents on a magnitude that is sometimes lost on law enforcement,” she said. “Given that there’s no shortage of actual human beings getting shot by police officers, pointing these stories out can sometimes seem a bit callous,” says Radley Balko, a journalist who has done much to expose cops killing dogs. “But I think they’re worth noting,” he says, “because they all point to the same problem.” Police magazine said “shooting a dog brings more heat down on an agency than an officer-involved shooting of a human.”

The bottom line is that there are too many cops killing both canines and humans. Is it possible there is a problem with police violence in general, or are shootings clear evidence of systemic racism deliberately targeted against certain breeds of canines? I think the answer is clear. What do you think?

The New New Deal, Part 3: Free Money for Everyone!

Parts 1 and 2 dealt with Free Health Care and Free Higher Education, respectively. Now, for the hardest one of all. Someday, computers and robots will do most of the hard work for us. But that day has not come yet, so don’t get your hopes up just yet. In between now and the future Socialist paradise, when humans will rule over slave armies of robots that will produce everything we need, will come a time of turbulence as jobs start to disappear. How will we get through this transitional period without allowing all the jobless people to starve or go on welfare? Maybe this is a start. Just don’t ask me what we do when the robots achieve self awareness and revolt. Someone else will have to cross that bridge when we get a bit closer.

Universal Basic Income – Deal or No Deal?

The last resort in a free-market economy is for the government to provide a universal basic income (UBI) sufficient for one to live above the poverty line. One impetus for this has been the steady decline in the percentage of the population that is working. Even though the unemployment rate had been decreasing to record lows before the COVID-19 shutdowns, the number of Americans no longer seeking work has remained very high. 

Universal Basic Income vs. Working

However, the most important factor going forward is likely to be the steady growth of automation, which portends a future where computers and robots continue to take jobs away from people. leaving a large number of people with no prospects. The growth of automation will theoretically lead to a higher standard of living for all, but only if its benefits are distributed to those who no longer have a source of income.

By definition, universal basic income is an unconditional periodic cash payment to everyone without any means testing. So, even the rich would receive the payment, meaning that the overall cost of the program would be huge. If these payments were not paid for by higher taxes, the most immediate effect would certainly be an increase in the money supply. Nearly everyone would have more money, but would be competing for the same set of goods and services–or maybe even fewer, if employment levels decrease and automation cannot keep pace. This would lead to inflation and a decrease in the purchasing power of the basic income, requiring a continued increase in payments or higher taxes, until we reach an equilibrium. So, it isn’t as simple as paying everyone while trying to find more tax revenue to offset it. Many things could go wrong, but few want to discuss the challenges of making it work as intended.

Here are a few things we need to avoid with a program of this magnitude:

  • Perfectly healthy people who don’t want to work and will just take the free money.
  • People who take the money while engaging in criminal behavior.
  • People who defraud the system by falsifying identities.People who steal or extort the money from legal recipients, including a relative.
  • People who take the money but fail to take care of their children.
  • People who waste the money on gambling, alcohol and drugs, and remain in poverty.
  • Employers who pay less because they know their employees are also getting a basic income.
  • Employers who can’t find employees due to a shortage of labor.
  • Inflation caused by higher average incomes with no decrease in the cost of goods and services.
  • Growth in government due to high administrative costs.Spiraling taxes with an increase in tax fraud.
  • Loss of liberty as more people become dependent upon government support.
  • An increase in corruption among government gatekeepers who control benefits for the poor.
  • An increase in income inequality as higher-income people also get the same basic income.

Some say that universal payments would permit lower administrative costs, since means testing would not be required. But fraud is likely to be so prevalent that administrative costs will still be high. How do you identify and stop fraudulent claims? During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment insurance fraud spiked. How do you deal with people who misuse their payments and remain in poverty or homelessness? For example, people might still spend their basic income on gambling, alcohol and drugs instead of on their kids or their own basic needs, leaving them unable to afford housing, food or other essentials. Lack of controls could undermine the entire purpose of a basic income for the poor. Government can’t fix everything, but if taxpayers are paying for a basic income, we have to be sure it is not wasted or misused.

Working is what old people used to do.

If we establish a universal basic income too soon, before we realize the benefits of automation or know the true effects on a changing job market, we may undermine the economy by placing too much burden on those who continue to work and could discourage others from working. Paying for a UBI will require higher taxes on those who can afford it. So, while we may not have “means testing” for UBI, we will still have its equivalent in the form of higher progressive income tax rates. If we pay too much, many will be unwilling to work and the labor pool will shrink further, leading to a rise in the cost of labor. Why would someone work if they only get a little more than someone who isn’t working? The incentives to outsource to foreign labor should also increase as the labor market shrinks. In other words, we risk huge distortions in our economy, which depends on sufficient affordable labor.

Here is the deal. To limit the costs and negative effects on the job market, we should start out with a basic income that is not universal. In other words, we require means testing instead of adding on to the tax code to try and take it back from high-income earners. The tax code is already a terrible and complicated mess that needs to be simplified, not made even more complex. The amount of the basic income payment should cover housing, utilities, food, clothing, and other essential needs, but not enough to discourage employment that would provide additional income. This would prevent most from suffering from poverty, but most people would still want to work to add disposable income. 

Since the cost of living varies by location, the value of a fixed basic income would also vary. The same basic income would be worth 82% more in Austin, TX than in Brooklyn, New York. If the cost of living is higher where they currently live, but there is a less-expensive area with a surplus of jobs, housing and/or public services, they could be offered free relocation services. People who would normally be unable to afford to move could now move to a place to enjoy a better standard of living and better employment opportunities instead of being locked into a high-cost area with mostly low-wage jobs. As people move out of high-cost areas, labor shortages should cause low-wage salaries to rise.

Cost of Living in the USA by State

What about people with a high net worth but low income? Can we deny a basic income to people who have lived a frugal life and have money in savings without forcing them to hide their assets or destroying the incentive to save? The last thing we want is to incentivize people to consume all their income until they become dependent on government payments. What about people who have a modest income? We don’t want to incentivize them to quit working and take the free money and would prefer that they be able to keep most of their other income. 

Those who are unable to work due to permanent medical reasons will be the easiest to qualify for the basic income. We already handle some of these cases through social security or other disability programs, so it would not be new other than to impose better anti-fraud measures. Those who are temporarily unable to work will be monitored through the free health insurance health-improvement program until they are able to work or are expelled from the program for non-compliance.  

For those who cannot find a job, no matter where they look, they will be assigned a public-service job. There are plenty of jobs that never get done due to a shortage of labor, or wages that are too low, or people without sufficient disposable income, and these are the jobs that will be created and filled. Free money isn’t free, so there has got to be a social benefit for those who are paying the bill that does not destroy the incentive for everyone else to work. The idea is to discourage unemployment and provide low-cost opportunities to improve public services and infrastructure. Ideally, the trick would be to make sure these new jobs do not displace existing jobs, but this will be difficult. Examples might be jobs to improve the cleanliness and maintenance of public streets, parks, and facilities, more tutors and teaching assistants for low-income kids, extra security for schools and at-risk neighborhoods, and more social workers.

The military has a good alternate model for delivery of a basic income. All new recruits are initially provided with shelter, food, clothing, and medical care, or a monetary allowance for all of them. Why couldn’t the same be done for some of those who need a basic income? This isn’t to say they have to be put in housing slums, but they could get vouchers for services instead of cash that could be mis-spent. This option might have to be mandatory for criminals on parole and people who abuse their basic income. A new private industry could arise to provide basic services. Instead of slums, there would be decent housing choices. If done well, it could be similar to how college students apply for housing and sign up for meal plans. There could be options for purchasing a home for a price that is within the basic income level.

Those who exceed a very high threshold of income or assets will not qualify since their lifestyle and incentive to work will probably not be greatly affected. For those with a middle-class income, their basic income benefit could be set aside in a savings program so that they cannot access it immediately. This will help to prevent employers from paying workers less by using the basic income to help subsidize their labor costs. It will also help people to save for their retirement and discourage excessive consumption.

For those who have little to no income, they will receive all benefits even if they take another job. In a study of UBI in Finland, people on the program showed a slight increase in employment. Since the basic income was a very modest amount, they still had an incentive to find work, even if the job paid less than they normally would have considered. The basic income dramatically increased well-being (e.g. less stress, depression and sadness), cognitive skills, life satisfaction, and trust in public institutions. These could theoretically translate into lower levels of mental or physical health issues, including substance abuse and suicide, and also less crime.

Children should also receive a basic income, but if the parents use it irresponsibly, they can be reported to social workers who could be assigned control of their funds to provide their basic needs. There will probably be many more jobs for social workers to ensure the viability of this program. 

Some of these measures would serve to increase government control over the lives of the poor, which is not a good outcome. But absent a clear ability to pay for a universal basic income without risk to the rest of the population and the economy, it seems unlikely that this can be avoided. Of course, without an enforceable immigration policy, any basic income benefit would also be at risk of compromise by a flood of illegal immigrants who may try and use fraudulent documents to claim an instant taxpayer-funded source of income.

Problem solved? Not by a long shot. Any new government benefit will certainly come with unexpected challenges and unintended consequences. For that reason, we cannot consider universal basic income a right. It is merely a benefit that might be worth trying as long as we are wise enough to manage it in an affordable way without destroying our economy and society in the process.

The New New Deal, Part 2: Free Higher Education

Part 1 of the New New Deal dealt with Free Health Care. Now, it’s on to the next step towards building the Socialist paradise, with a free-market incentivized twist. If you’ve agree to take the free health care deal, I think you will like the free school deal.

Free Higher Education – Deal or No Deal?

The same type of deal will of course apply to free education. Secondary school education is still, at least theoretically, free, but the curriculum is prescribed. Those families who opt out of the public education system must pay for a private school or home schooling, unless they are lucky enough to live where school choice and vouchers are available.

When it comes to higher education, there is a case to be made for a free education. This includes both college and trade schools for those who do not want to go to college or do not have the aptitude. But what about the cost? Who will pay for it and what will they get for their investment? When it comes to education, the entire society does receive a benefit in the form of higher productivity and, theoretically, an increase in the overall standard of living and the reduction of poverty. But there are inefficiencies in the system.

When a student chooses a course of study, it often has no direct relation to the market for jobs. When a student, or his parent, is solely responsible for paying for school, that is of course their choice. But if the society as a whole is paying for it, we should expect that course of study to be of benefit to the rest of us. In other words, if there is a shortage of plumbers or engineers or health care workers, we would expect to have enough students to fill that demand. Why should we pay for courses of study that yield no economic benefit? An excess of history, English, or other “soft” majors comes to mind.

So, here is the deal. A free education would be available as long as the student is willing to pursue one of those that provides an economic or social benefit and meets the entrance requirements (academic performance for college and aptitude for various trades). Other courses of study will still be available, but in more limited quantities, so only the most qualified applicants will be accepted. Testing will be offered for those who seek to enter a particular course of study. 

College Majors by Salary

The Federal government already offers loan forgiveness after 10 years for those who pursue public service jobs. This is just another step in that direction, but will also include in-demand private sector jobs.

10 Fastest Growing Jobs

The reason we have so many immigrants coming to the US on H1B visas is the shortage of American workers with the needed skills, so this is another step that will help to make Americans more qualified for good jobs. 

H1B Visa Skills Needed

What that means is that not everyone will qualify for college, or may only qualify for a 2-year program. Others may only want to pursue or qualify for a trade school. For those who do not qualify for either, well we’ll have to figure that out. There isn’t always a clear path for everyone, and a free education is not a guarantee of success. If society is to benefit from this new “right” to a higher education, there have to be some limits and the benefits have to be clear.

Coming up in part 3, Free Money for Everyone!

The New New Deal, Part 1: Free Health Care

Free lunch for the unemployed, Courtesy of Al Capone during the Great Depression.

There are now quite a few politicians, such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, calling for New Deal types of democratic socialist programs. They include universal basic income, free health care for all, and a free college education, and claim they are now human rights. They feel that the United States is now wealthy enough to be able to provide these benefits, er–rights, to everyone now. Unfortunately, everything has a cost, whether or not you know how to measure and pay for it. Can something really be a right if it must be paid for by taxing someone else to pay for it? What if you can’t really afford it after all?

With Socialism, Communism, or Fascism the cost is hidden. It begins with a loss of political control to an elite that usually says everyone everyone is equal, but acts as though some are more equal than others. What follows is the loss of a strong incentive to work and a resultant decline in standard of living until everyone is equally poor. Of course, it doesn’t HAVE to be that bad. Some Western European countries have done well with some loss of incentives, and still manage to maintain a pretty good standard of living. So, I thought I’d spend a couple of hours coming up with a fix for our most pressing socio-economic problems. Here you go. You are welcome.

The Hidden Cost of Socialism

The youngest generation of Americans seem to be set on a course in favor of a dramatic increase in government-provided social benefits. If they eventually turn out to be an unstoppable political force, or job losses from automation create economic chaos, what path should America choose to make these social benefits actually work? I have in mind a bargain that would more clearly identify and assign the costs so that it is a win-win for everyone. For those who receive the benefits, there will be a price to pay, while for those who pay the taxes, there will be some benefit as well. Of course, the price will not be in money. After all, if someone really needs free health care and a basic income, they obviously don’t have means to pay for it. The price will come in the form of rights and responsibilities.

Win-Win Deal or No Deal?

Here is the deal. It is completely voluntary. Nobody will be forced to accept it and anyone can opt out of the deal at any time. No need to try and get control of the presidency or both houses of Congress to make a real change. However, if you choose to leave the program, you will not be able to change your mind and get back in for another 5 years. It’s a win-win deal for everybody, theoretically.

Free Health Care – Deal or No Deal?

Let’s start with health care because a society where everyone has access to health care would be a great privilege. I still don’t call it a right because a right doesn’t impose a cost on everyone else, which free health care does. Especially if people don’t keep themselves healthy. Here is the deal. In return for free health care, you agree to a lower priority for services that are severely limited, such as organ transplants. If there aren’t enough to go around, then the people who pay for their own health care get priority. You don’t expect billionaires like George Soros, Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos to stand aside and let you go first if they need an organ transplant, do you? We may all have equal rights, but life will never be fair and some people will always manage to be more equal than others. It’s just human nature.

But that is just the start. You also have to accept the doctor, or physician’s assistant, or nurse, or counselor, as appropriate, that is assigned to you. You can’t expect to get the best, most in-demand doctors. Maybe you will get lucky and be assigned to someone who is willing to work for a lower salary to serve the public. Or maybe you will get the doctors that nobody else wants. It’s kind of a crap shoot. Again, you are at the back of the line.

But there is still more. The above sacrifices don’t actually help to pay for your health care, so we need you to help reduce costs. Some of the biggest costs on the healthcare system are the results of obesity, alcohol, drugs, and a sedentary lifestyle. You will need to go on a strict program of healthy living, which may mean you have to lose weight, avoid sugary foods, exercise, and stay off all but a minimal amount of alcohol and no illegal drugs. Even after years of a sedentary lifestyle, studies have shown how exercise can restore the body to health. One study showed how a late-in-life 6-month program of walking, cycling and jogging helped volunteers lose about 10 pounds, and largely reversed their decline in cardiovascular fitness. After six months of moderate exercise, the average volunteer’s blood pressure, resting heart rate, and cardiac output returned to his 20-year-old level! Better health translates directly into lower health care costs.

Ronald Reagan: “Trust but Verify”

As Ronald Reagan said about his nuclear arms agreements with the Russians, “trust but verify.” That’s just another way of saying we don’t trust you so we are going to monitor you to make sure you live up to your commitments. In this case, anyone who takes the free health care deal will be monitored constantly, and preferably in real time, through the use of wireless sensors. I know it sounds creepy, but it really will be for your own good. An active health improvement program should dramatically increase the health of a majority of the population and reduce costs so that they are actually affordable. We can’t just give away health care for free and watch people flush it down the toilet with bad behaviors! There is no free lunch.

Wireless Real-Time Health Sensors

That means anyone who wants to have free health care has to help pay for it in terms of personal responsibility and privacy. Isn’t that something we tell our kids all the time? Sounds like a deal to me! Besides, think of all the jobs that will be created in the health care industry for the monitoring and evaluation of everyone in the health care program!

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, where we cover Free Higher Education and Free Money for Everyone!