Subtle, Yet Somehow Rather Troubling
Finally, Some Decent Conspiracy Theory for a Change
No, the conference was not a meeting by World Health Organization officials bent on taking over the world; and the brochure, which is presented below, does not convey nearly as much ominous threat as some of the rather strange conspiracy theorists like Jesse Woodrow claimed in a YouTube video that's working the rounds at conspiracy theory Websites.
However, the brochure is not without its disconcerting perhaps even downright disturbing passages, particularly with regard to the themes of some of the Friday workshops.
Read the brochure by clicking here, and note the titles of all the different workshops being provided for attendees.
Regular visitors here at The Dark Wraith Forums are not wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, at least not for the most part. In fact, I dare say that I am probably more of a conspiracy theorist than most of you who read my articles, although as I've mentioned before I long for a return to the days before the Right-wing crazies ruined good conspiracy theory management practices with their bizarre stuff about Obama's birth certificate and the health care reform bill "death panels." It's just not much fun anymore trying to be a moderate of any kind, even a moderate conspiracy theorist.
Anyway, enough nostalgia.
Read the brochure for yourselves. See what you think. Do aspects of the conference bother you, or are the topics that were covered nothing other than comprehensive, responsible planning and training?
Speak your peace. If things about the conference bother you, let everyone know; if not, say so.
The Dark Wraith awaits your judgment.
The Dark Wraith Audio Lecture Series: Lecture 11
Lecture 11: "The Fundamental Economic Problem"
Size: 36.4 Mb
Click on the link above to launch the lecture in your computer's default media player or use the shockwave player below to play the lecture.
This lecture sets forth the social problem economics as a discipline addresses: How do different individuals, groups, and societies allocate their scarce resources among competing possible end uses? Early in the lecture, the students are reminded of the essential importance of "opportunity cost" to economic decision making. Opportunity cost is the cost of the best foregone alternative. Whenever any choice is made, be it by an individual, a group, a business, or an entire society, many things are surrendered that would have been alternatives. The most valuable of those is the opportunity cost of the choice that was actually accepted.
At the personal level, opportunity costs incurred are often those involving the allocation of time. Choosing leisure (recreation, sleep, resting) is at the opportunity cost of the best wage that could have been made by working, instead. In fact, as I explain to students, choosing to be in a class for three hours a week, with two hours of studying for each in-class hour, means that a 16-week semester of economics for a person who could make $10 per hour at a job has an opportunity cost of $1440. (That's $10 per hour × 9 hours per week × 16 weeks.) The tuition the "direct cost" a student pays is a fraction of this "indirect cost"; hence, decision-making about whether or not to go to college is driven far more by a hidden cost than by the out-of-pocket money paid for tuition, books, and commuting or residency expenses. (That's why college enrollments generally go up during recessions: overall, wages are lower, so the opportunity cost of being in a class is lower!)
When a company chooses to use land it owns for a project, that land becomes an opportunity cost that must be included in the overall cost of the project. Even though the company owns the land and therefore does not have to pay for it to carry out the project, that land could have been used for other purposes and could, in fact, have been sold; the fact that it was not sold means that it is a very real cost of the project.
At the societal level, whenever a nation chooses to take on a given project, an entirely thorough cost-benefit analysis would have to include costs related to what must be given up for this project to be carried out. Although these costs do not appear as money out of the treasury in any immediate sense, they are nevertheless real, and they will express themselves sooner or later in the relative success or failure of the project and the losses incurred from the projects that had to be surrendered.
With that brief survey of opportunity cost as background, I encourage readers here to listen to this altogether engaging lecture, offered as a service of Dark Wraith Publishing. Although you will incur the opportunity cost of about 40 minutes of your time, it is well worth that modest expense. You are being afforded the chance to sit in on a real college lecture taught by an award-winning professor, who also happens to be your host here at The Dark Wraith Forums.
What more could an intelligent person with an insatiable thirst for quality education want?
An Opus for Health
Long-time readers of my own articles know that I am not one to write an article that is just another writer's work; while extended quotes from other sources, where allowed, are just fine for spreading good information especially when a useful, integrated compilation is the resulting post making a blog of nothing but aggregated articles strikes me as too parental for my own style. Moreover, given that Dr. Weil published his article at The Huffington Post, I am doubly reticent to use Websites of my publishing company for an extended quote from the author, given my open disdain for Arianna Huffington as a journalist and as a user of other people's talent to asymmetrically enrich herself.
However, what Dr. Weil has to say is far too important to allow myself to pass unrepeated and unpraised. It is a predicate to some of my gravest concerns about health care "reform" as it is now being cast by the Democrats who have crafted the House and Senate versions of responsive legislation.
Suffer me this relatively short, elided passage from Dr. Weil's article, after which I shall close this opening essay about health care reform with harsh words and then an altogether reasonable, if unusable, path to progress.
From Dr. Weil:
I'm worried -- and if I'm worried, you should be, too.
The reason I'm worried is that the wrong diagnosis is being made.
As any doctor can tell you, the most crucial step toward healing is having the right diagnosis. If the disease is precisely identified, a good resolution is far more likely. Conversely, a bad diagnosis usually means a bad outcome, no matter how skilled the physician...
But what's missing [from current reform legislation], tragically, is a diagnosis of the real, far more fundamental problem, which is that what's even worse than its stratospheric cost is the fact that American health care doesn't fulfill its prime directive -- it does not help people become or stay healthy. It's not a health care system at all; it's a disease management system, and making the current system cheaper and more accessible will just spread the dysfunction more broadly.
It's impossible to make our drug-intensive, technology-centric, and corrupt system affordable...
[Read the entire article at The Huffington Post]
Most unfortunately, the hysteria-whipped mobs now showing up at town meetings where health care reform legislation is supposed to be discussed have made any reasoned, rational attack on the reform efforts virtually impossible. This same problem faces any critic of Obama's policies and actions in other spheres, too. In my article, "A Paleo-Conservative Message to Republicans," I tore into the current breed of Republican conservatives for what they are doing to constructive debate:
My worst problem now is you Republicans: you swirling gaggle of disgraced, naked clowns still dancing on the stage while adults try to speak; you crowing blast of hot air gusts still trying to fan the flames of hate you once used to scorch the land of tolerance; you craven, culled pack of eviscerated hyenae nipping at heels of people far larger than you can ever again be.
I am maddened to find that opposing certain of President Obama's policies and personnel appointments, opposing the prevailing current in health care reform, opposing the already-established directions that financial services industry reform are taking put me in apparent, superficial league with vicious demagogues and their blind, uninformed masses.
It is like trying to give a lecture on exobiology while surrounded by Star Trek fans in full Federation and Klingon regalia.
It is like trying to explain the catastrophic failure of the Federal Reserve of the past eight to ten years while sharing the stage with Ron Paul's neo-Nazi followers slapping me on the back and saying, "You tell 'em, Boss! The Fed must DIE!"
(And in the interest of full and honest disclosure, that last one is way too close to my actual experience for comfort.)
Nevertheless and may God help me in this trial I shall have my say. I shall expect no increase in my popularity as an analyst: calling the Right-wingers and some conservatives "imbeciles" and calling some Leftists and liberals "air heads" is not the way to make friends and influence people, but if it is of any comfort to those on both sides of the political debate, I will have some kind words for what underlies your rhetoric. Setting aside self-serving, craven politicians and talk-show entertainers who care about nothing other than the power and wealth they garner, the rank-and-file of both the Right and the Left are not really stupid, and they generally, at least in their quieter moments of reflection, speak from their own hearts, even though their own hearts can be used by those who really care about no one but themselves.
I have much to write in opposition to what both sides are doing; and it is not that I am a contrarian that I take such a dim view of what is going on.
In fact, although beside the point right now, I am a contrarian. For example, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says that current Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, should be appointed to a second term. I condemn this: Ben Bernanke is a failure, and Paul Krugman is a self-serving, lousy tool of an economist. Note that I provided a link for each of those harsh statements: read for yourselves that I provide sound reasons for my otherwise seemingly cruel assessments. When I can speak from facts, sound theory, and strong personal experience, I waste little breath speaking of my "feelings"; those come at the end of the day and speak for themselves through the subtext of my expositions and narratives.
At the beginning of this article, I quoted from an article by Dr. Andrew Weil and wrote favorably of what he had to say. Promoting fools, uneducated (and educated) imbeciles, and political opportunists is not my style. When I quote someone, especially at length, I confer an assessment I rarely give even to a President I might to some minimal extent, anyway actually like.
In at least one following article, few will be my opportunities to have good things to say about either side in the current debate about health care reform. An ignorant, hateful opportunist like Sarah Palin is a good place to start in condemning the Right for opposing reform. Any Congressman who thinks forcing uninsured people to buy "public option" health insurance under penalty of law for non-compliance the way Massachusetts does is a good place to start on the Left.
And anyone on either side who thinks shutting down a vigorous conversation with a "my-way-or-the-highway" mentality merits nothing other than scorn, and I will be more than glad to mete it out.
I wish I could offer an olive branch to everyone passionately involved in this acrimonious debate. Those opposed to health care reform are difficult for me to reach at this moment. They have built a fortress of certainty around their sentiments. It will be hard to overcome the sound-deadening ramparts that insulate them from alternatives to the extremes to which they believe they are justified in going; but that is precisely why I shall, instead, offer some words to my more progressive friends, should they be interested in a non-aligned, alternate idea for overcoming not just the barriers stopping reform, but also the despair of trying to talk with people who are not listening.
I need not tell you that this is a difficult and wholly new area of social progress you are seeking in health care reform. The United States of America is not Europe, and it is not Canada; it is not even the United States of the 1930s, when sweeping changes brought the federal government into the lives and business activities of the people more than had occurred since the War between the States.
Yes, our health care system is in desperate need of reform, but its need is part of a much larger, much more complex need for reforms of our antitrust laws, our regulatory structures, our courts, and even our law enforcement model. Underlying and, oddly, beyond all of these, though, is our need for renewal of ourselves and our civil society. As Dr. Weil implied in his article, we cannot cure a disease by addressing symptoms alone. We can, of course, offer comfort while the illness, itself, is being addressed, and that is what health care reform at this time should be about.
The last attempt to reform our system of health care in this country met with complete failure, but this was not, as many progressives believe, because of the conspiracy of business interests and their feckless minions in politics; instead, it failed because it was crafted beyond the view, input, and dialectical process of the people the people who would be its beneficiaries. That early-1990s reform proposal came to the citizenry fully developed, complete and integrated, with virtually no room for deep change based upon the input of real people with honest-to-goodness, real ideas, concerns, fears, and questions.
In a democracy, we the educated the elite, the informed, the knowing simply cannot presume that we know better than those we govern, those we educate, those we pose to lead. As frustrating as it might be, we are no better than they when it comes to either the ballot box or the grocery store. Simply handing the electorate the products of our ideas and saying something to the effect, "Now, ask us how this works," is a prescription for disaster.
The considerable and legitimate fear of a neo-fascist movement in this country is not addressed by labeling it, demanding action against it, and decrying its beliefs. Beneath that extremism is a penetrating, unspoken, sometimes unconscious fear among far too many of our brother and sister citizens that their lives all of our lives are now beyond our control, in the hands of faceless technocrats, academics, shadowy forces, and law enforcement personnel who are without mercy, without control, and beyond redemption.
Ignore the fears of these people as you will, but I can draw straight lines for you across the years and decades from the here and now clear back to 9/11, on back for some of those "Right-wing crazies" to Ruby Ridge and Waco, and on back from there.
Symbolic representations are not just for dreams. We lose control of our children to entertainment media and its unwashed trash, to technological innovations, and to education theoreticians, so why is it surprising that this billows forth as out-sized fear of everything from evolution education to child predators around every corner?
We lose absolute sovereignty in our own homes and in our cars, so why is it surprising that this comes out in skyrocketing sales of personal firearms and cries for more of the very police who will treat us all like we're criminals waiting to get caught?
We lose control of the right to work, to earn a living without being fired for no reason, so why is it surprising that people blame everything from unions to immigrants?
We lose control of our bodies to media-flogged fears of cancer around every corner, diseases of which no one even heard (including doctors) a generation ago, so why is it surprising that a non-existent status quo is far preferable to a situation where bureaucrats take control of the health of people who have no control over it, as it is?
Stop. Think. Most importantly, shut up and listen. Do what President Obama did with Gates and Crowley.
In fact, President Obama, to whom I gave high praise for sitting down with the professor and the policeman, should do the same right now, except that he should let the progressives stay at home. He needs to peel off common citizens protesting against the health care reform effort, bring them to the White House, and talk with them. Get them away from their mean, opportunistic, talking-points cheerleaders, and let them speak for themselves to him; and once an honest dialogue has been fully engaged and exhausted, let Mr. Obama take what he has heard to the Congress with the full intent of making its Senators and Representatives listen, that they may have yet another chance to reform themselves before they seek to reform that which is outside their chambers and their own interests.
I remind you of what Mr. Obama said during his acceptance speech in Chicago, Illinois, on the night of Tuesday, November 4, 2008:
I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.
It is not enough to decry "the mob," the obstinate congressional representatives, the profit-hardened pharmaceutical companies, the intransigent GOP, the hateful grandstanders of the Right, and some ill-defined "capitalist system." Break the back of these destructive forces by taking their very instruments the people who have real, honest, and genuine concerns and bringing them into a truthful, productive, nation-changing dialogue.
If you think that cannot be done, you don't believe in your own President. Worse yet, you don't believe what you have seen and heard in his own words and ways when he is at his very greatest.
"Change you can believe in"?
That begins in your own house.
The Sun Does Not Rise at the Nightfall of Freedom
Sixteen years because of cowardly judges, including Sonia Sotomayor.
Then again, as Associate Justice Antonin Scalia once put it, "mere factual innocence" is insufficient not to put a man to death.
Or, as appellate Judge Sotomayor put it, "excusable neglect" that a clerk of courts misinformed the wrongly convicted man's attorney, which caused a filing to miss a new, Git-Tuff-on-Crime appeal deadline by four days.
"Empathy," my ass.
"Liberal," my ass.
And one more thing:
"Change," my ass.
Welcome to dusk; the daylight is behind you.
Bill and Barack
Bill Clinton, carrying no message from or portfolio in the Obama Administration, just waltzed into Pyongyang, sat down with reclusive leader Kim Jung-Il who was supposed to be gravely ill from a stroke he might have suffered last year and left with the two Americans, who were granted amnesty.
The Right-wing U.S. media just can't stand it: The Wall Street Journal Online simpered that the favor dispensed by North Korea "will bolster Kim’s bid to dissolve the six-party negotiations in favor of the direct talks with the U.S. he has long sought. It will also dismay some in South Korea and Japan, which have their own hostages in North Korea and will wonder why Mr. Clinton couldn’t obtain their release as well."
The fact of the matter is that the United States is now back in the hands of adults who are willing to put their reputations on the line and who are, more importantly, willing to bear the future risks of peaceful solutions rather than the far more perilous and fool-hardy risks of bellicose non-solutions that were the hallmark of the Bush Administration. President Obama showed this same character in personally sitting down with Professor Henry Gates and the law enforcement officer who arrested him, Sergeant James Crowley. While some media sources sneered that it was a "distraction," a more mature and attentive audience understands that this is precisely what leadership means: leading pragmatically from the front, on the ground, instead of from the clouds of vapid, simplistic ideals.
Imagine George W. Bush in these, his happy retirement years, going to any nation hostile to the United States, much less going there as a revered elder of the world. To imagine that, one must first suspend any thought of the possibility that a former President of this country might be arrested elsewhere on this planet as a war criminal. While our Right-wing fanatics will spend the remainder of this century shrieking down even the hint that a higher order of morality has already judged the man, his policies, and his underlings, the nations of the world have moved on, rectifying as they can the almost incomprehensible mess Bush created, even as they return to what remains of hope for leadership from the once great empire that is the United States of America.
Bill Clinton walked right into a closed, bitter, impoverished, marginalized, dangerous nation; and there he sat with the very man our own CIA spends untold billions of dollars trying to decipher.
Barack Obama sat right down with angry, embittered rivals of different races; and there, he got those men to talk civilly, bluntly, and constructively in a way that racists would hate and airheaded Leftists would insist only billions of dollars in federal programs could achieve.
As much as I shall harshly criticize Mr. Obama and his policies in the years and days ahead, and as much as I shall condemn the weakness, cowardice, and foolishness of the Democrats now in charge of Congress, I must also recognize that these are matters fundamentally less important than one overriding consideration to bear in mind, now: finally, for the first time in too many years, we have adults in charge of this nation.
The Birthers Were Right
Barack Hussein Obama is an undocumented illegal alien. Notwithstanding the derisive commentary from the Left about those who suspected it all along, the picture above clearly shows that the so-called "Birthers" were more Right than even they suspected.
How we deal this catastrophe is for others to decide. Articles of Impeachment are clearly in order, but is it too late? Time is not on our side: even as you read this, illegal aliens are pouring across the border; and now, one of them has made it to the White House.
From now on, listen to those people the elites call "Right-wing conspiracy theorists." Your nation indeed, your very way of life depends on it.
Dark Wraith Publishing will provide further graphical evidence as it becomes available.