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Some Wisdom From Voltaire

December 28, 2009

I haven’t posted in a while, but I wanted to leave something on here before the year ends.  Here’s  three of my favorite quotes from the French philosopher Voltaire:

“It is forbidden to kill, therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

“The less superstition, the less fanatitcism; and the less fanaticism, the less misery.”

“I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Most all people would acknowledge the first quote as true, but seem to forget about it once the propaganda starts up.  In our modern day, just a small propaganda campaign can make it look like the other country is the aggressor, and then it’s ok to invade their country, drop bombs on them, and kill hundreds of thousands of their civilians.

Religious fanaticism is less potent than it was a couple hundred years ago, but it’s still a problem.  As for the last quote, it’s basically the most fundamental tenant of civil liberties.  It’s hard to think of a world where you can’t say what’s on your mind, but that right is very modern, and historically not many men have had the luxury.  Voltaire himself was kicked out of France for years after insulting a pompous French noble.  I can hardly imagine living in such a world, but that’s how it was in the past, and if we don’t fight for our civil liberties, they’ll soon be gone.

It looks like Obama is trying to capitalize on this recent plane bombing attempt to steal even more of our civil liberties.  More surveillance.  More monitoring of our every move.  I hate this shit.  Go to the airport and we have “behavioral specialists” watching every little expression on our faces.  Make one wrong little grin and BAM, they’re pulling you out of line, frisking you, interrogating you for an hour, and digging through your bags.  How did all this happen within 10 years?  When I was in high school the world was nothing like this.  Under Bill Clinton, the budgets were balanced.  We were running surpluses.  Clinton had plans to pay off the entire national debt within a couple years.  But George Bush, in 8 years totally demolished America.  Ran it literally into the ground.  And Obama, he’s not helping either.

I have no idea how much longer the United States will be a free country.  Healthcare costs are exploding, and millions of Americans are losing their health insurance.  We have an inept Congress which passes bills like the Patriot Act without even thinking, bails out Wall Street for trillions of dollars, and finds trillions of dollars for worthless wars in the Middle East, but can’t find the money for healthcare for millions of uninsured citizens.

College costs are shooting through the roof, but they do nothing.  Banks are running wild, and they do nothing.  No regulations have been passed.  Banks are gambling away our retirements in credit default schemes, and all other sorts of nonsense, for short term profits, and … Congress does nothing.

I’m not 100% myself convinced of global warming, but then again I haven’t studied Climatology texts in depth yet.  I plan to within the next couple years, but I’m too busy with cosmology, general relativity, nuclear, and quantum physics at the moment.  It seems the vast majority of scientists in climatology and astrophysics acknowledge man-made global warming, so it seems the rational action is to pass strict carbon emission laws, considering we’re going to destroy the very inhabitability of our planet…and what happens in Copenhagen…. nothing.

They’re all useless.  They can’t do anything.  The United States right now is driving right off a cliff at full speed, and nobody will hit the brakes.  We have exploding deficits.  We can’t even borrow money anymore, so the Fed’s printing presses are going full boar.  Our currency is about to take a wild tailspin and plummet down to the bottom.  They’re printing trillions and trillions of dollars.  It’s insane.  They’re not cutting any spending programs, trying to eliminate waste.  They’re not regulating the banks, who are still scheming.  And they’re printing vast sums of money to continue operating day to day, while state governments are already so broke they too are needing printed money to operate.

Jobs are outsourcing overseas to India, Mexico, and other countries, all because of corporate greed.  Any way to increase their bottom line.  Things like unions, laws regulating proper working conditions, minimum wages, and all of that, are cumbersome.  But they can find cheap work to exploit overseas.  But will anyone address NAFTA, or even securing the borders?  Nah.

Self-destruct mode, activated.  How much longer do we have… I don’t know.  Before long nobody but the richest of the rich will have healthcare.  We already have a society where 95% percent of the wealth is controlled by 1% of the population.  15 years from now, what’ll it be?  99% controlled by 0.5%?  How is this not slavery?  And to make it worse, the people earning the huge profits are the worst scum of the Earth – the Goldman Sachs types, who earned billions in creating schemes to implode our entire economy for short term gains.  These guys are like the mafia, and they have Congress held hostage.

But even with these financial problems, Obama is creating yet another war with Pakistan.  He sends more troops to Afghanistan for God knows what reason.  American dominance agenda?  Banks wanting to bury us further and further in debt?  Defense contractor corporate welfare?  Probably all of those.  But Obama hasn’t got us out of Iraq yet.  And from what I can tell, the good old boys in Washington are turning the propaganda presses toward Iran, preparing to invade there, to expand the elite’s empire.  Though the wars cost trillions, they don’t care.  They’re too busy manufacturing fear.  Just like Iraq, they’re claiming Iran has “Weapons of mass destruction.  Weapons of mass destruction.  Weapons of mass destruction.”  Big red alarm goes off, and flashing red-text on the bottom of the Fox News screen, “Iran has nukes!  Iran has nukes!”  They could send every child to college with that money, but no.  Another reckless quagmire coming up.

I just read an article yesterday that this Christmas 65% of Americans bought their family gifts that they needed, not fun luxuries.  At my family Christmas I looked around and nearly everyone was in poverty.  Hardly any gifts were given out to anybody.  Some of my relatives are on the verge of bankruptcy and could lose their home any day.  Cars are being repo’d.  Others in my family are so buried in student loan bills they can’t even live.  They continue to go to school only so they don’t have to start making payments on their huge student loan bills.

When I was in high school, Christmas was filled with Nintendo 64s, video games, new techie gadgets, computers, and other neat gifts.  Now everyone’s handing each other cards and trinkets.  “It’s the thought that counts this Christmas.”  I’m sitting in my chair gritting my teeth – not because I barely got anything worthwhile,  But because of what’s going on in Washington and how it’s affecting those I love.

Paul Krugman recently came out and said its reasonable that we’ll have another economic recession next year.  I myself think it’s going to get much much worse.  I don’t know if it’ll all hit next year, of in several years, but it’s coming up.  There’s 600 or 700 trillion (can’t remember the exact number) dollars worth of gambles on credit default swaps and other schemes, which is over 10 times the entire GDP of the entire world.  The banks were about to go under, we stuffed them with trillions and now they are paying back the money to the government by profits made in short term gambles, in these schemes.   Nothing’s been fixed.  In fact, it’s worse.  Too big to fail has become even more bigger and impossible to fail.  Big banks have bought up other banks for pennies on the dollar.   There’s going to be a massive implosion before long, and there’s no way in hell the government is going to be able to print money to fix that.  I don’t know exactly when all this is going to blow, but the pressure is on.  It’ll all cave.  It’ll wipe out everyone with it as well.  And Congress seems to keep upping the maximum federal debt limits.

I saw an article on the Huffington Post where a guy calling investors to come into Detroit and buy up the real estate.  A bunch of fucking vultures.  Feeding on others misery.  That’s not real investing.  That’s investing for losers.  For guys who can’t create value, so have to destroy in order to get ahead.  The Fed extended too much credit, leading to a car boom, but once the cheap credit faucets ran out, uh oh, car manufacturing revenue tanked, because nobody could borrow money to buy a new car.  Car makers went under.  Then we print money to buy up the crippled GM.  No more money to borrow against already overpriced, and overinflated homes.  Now half of Detroit is homeless and living in relatives basements.

*Goes on back porch and screams*

I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.  I’ve read too many economics texts, and they’re not following the advice of any of them.  Keynes warned that the bankers would create a casino and destroy everything.  He also warned how the government loves to cover up all its problems by printing money, which is a hidden way to rob the public without them knowing it.  Austrian economists are screaming their heads off, telling us that the Fed is socking it to us and destroying the economy with overly cheap credit, handing out money likes its water, bringing about inflation.  And who’s voted Time magazine’s man of the year?  Ben Bernake!  My God!  He implodes the economy.  Fails to see the housing bubble, which even a relative amateur such as myself clearly saw.  How could you not see it?  Just look at the charts!  Housing prices go up in a straight line… Uh, that’s not normal Ben!  When the slope of the statistical average trend drastically changes out of nowhere… Hey, something’s PROBABLY UP.  How about looking into that?  I wonder if you all can notice it?

Let’s see here.  How to analyze this chart.  Well, in the beginning prices are falling, as any good economic system should.  New construction techniques, and more efficient methods make it easier to build, and hence housing is cheaper.  Thinks are going along nicely.  Then World War II, the troops are coming home and starting families.  We get a spike.  Things are looking ok.  Everything’s account for.

From 1945 to the late 1990s, it pretty much stays the same with some minor spikes.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Then… What is this?  1997 and on the line goes… Straight up?  Housing prices … Double?   What reason?  There’s no troops coming home starting new families… There’s no good reason for this at all.   But wait, aren’t you guys are all making a minimum of 700k a year?   You study charts and numbers all day long, but you don’t notice this?  I thought you guys were the best and the brightest?  Or possibly the most nefarious?   Why would something like that happen out of nowhere?   Hmmmmm.  It doesn’t Ben.  It doesn’t.  You guys at the Fed did that… Didn’t you Ben?  That’s you and Greenspan’s lil housing-bubble-baby.   You loaded us up with cheap credit, and debt grew much faster than the economy… Yep, that’s what happened.  Just admit Ben.  You fail.  You’re no hero.

I feel like I’m surrounded by lies.  Everywhere.  Barack Obama wins the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE as he expands on our wars.   This is seriously some George Orwell 1984.  “WAR IS PEACE.”  I mean, seriously.  What the hell.  They have some lame excuse.  The Nobel committee based their decision on Obama’s campaign promises.  Are they idiots?  Giving out the Nobel peace prize to a politician based on his campaign promises?  They hardly ever keep their campaign promises.  I just don’t buy it.  The Nobel committee is not that stupid.  If I recall correctly, even George Bush campaigned on the promise to keep us out of wars and entanglements.

All the criminals are being lifted up as heroes.  Old Bernake saved the day!  The supposed Great Depression expert, printed money to save the day.  Woohoo.  Go Ben!  I’m impressed.   Obama, the man of peace!

Just look at that man!  He’s my hero!  I love the international banking cartel, fractional reserve banking, and printing money!  That man is amazing!  The way he stuffed the pockets of his banking buddies with trillions of dollars, and the way he failed to regulate anything, or see any problem coming.  The way he printed money and is helping our deficits explode in a mushroom cloud.  The way he lies, telling us that if we put the currency under Congressional control, instead of his private banking cartel’s control, it’d certainly be nightmare.  And I love how he resists any audits, and does all his operations in secret.  And how he gives 500 billion to European central bankers, yet we can’t find money for the uninsured.

I love you Ben!  I’m rushing out to the store to buy my copy of Time magazine right now!  I have to hear the details of how you did it, and saved the day!  You’re just misunderstood.  I’m glad the guys at Time lent their mouthpiece to tell us the truth, and your real role in saving the day in this time of crisis.

*Vomits*

Just so everyone knows – I hate our politicians.  They’re worthless, murdering, thieving scumbags.

Well, that’s my end of the year rant.  Back to Voltaire.  Here’s an excerpt from a history book of mine, talking about Voltaire’s work Candide, which is a great book:

“Although Voltaire exerted the greatest effect on his age as a propagandist for the basically optimistic Enlightenment principle that by “crushing infamy” [note:  infamy being all forms of repression, fanaticism, and bigotry] humanity could take enormous strides forward, the only one of his works still widely read today, the satirical story Candide (1759), is atypically subdued.  Writing not long after the disastrous Lisbon earthquake of 1755, in which over 20,000 lives were lost for no apparent reason, Voltaire drew back in this work from some of his earlier faith that mankind by its own actions could limitlessly improve itself.  Lulled into a false security concerning what life has in store for him by the fatuous optimism of his tutor, Dr. Pangloss, the hero of the story, Candide, journeys through the world only to experience on outrageous misfortune after another.  Storms and earthquakes are bad enough, but worse still are wars and rapcity caused by uncontrollable human passions.  Only in the golden never-never land of “Eldorado” (clearly a spoof of the perfect world most philosophes seen on the horizon), where there are no priests, law courts, or prisons, but unlimited wealth and a “palace of sciences . . . filled with instruments of mathematics and physics,” does Candide find temporary respite from disaster.  Being a naturally restless mortal, however, he quickly becomes bored with Eldorado’s placid perfection and leaves for the renewed buffetings of the real world.  After many more lessons in the “school of hard knocks,” he finally learns one basic truth by the end of the story: settling down on a modest farm with his once-beautiful but now hideously disfigured wife, he shrugs when Dr. Pangloss repeats for the hundredth time that “this is the best of all possible worlds,” and replies: “that’s as may be, but we must cultivate our garden.”  In other words, according to Voltaire, life is not perfect and probably never will be, but humans will succeed best if they ignore vapid theorizing and buckle down to unglamorous but productive hard work.”

I agree with Voltaire completely.  I have a lot of faith that science can cure many of our world’s problems, but I think a lot of the work which will get us to that point is unglamorous, and very much unappreciated.  The scientists working late hours in the labs making all the advances live, for the most part, uneventful lives, crunching away at numbers and statistics, meticulously arranging experiments and collecting data, and often give up many of the other joys life has to offer.  But I honestly think they’re the greatest men and women living on the planet.  If each generation continues to work, discovering new principles and inventions, slowly but surely, life 1000 years from now, for future generations, will not have near the suffering we today experience.

Slowly but surely, all the details in how our cellular biology works will be discovered, and aging will be slowed down, then eventually eradicated.  Sickness and diseases will be cured.  Knowledge as to why our economic systems fail us, what went wrong, and how to fix those problems will be solved.  Hopefully “economic recessions” will be a thing of the past.  Proper regulations, economic systems with proper incentives, and more, will bring and end to it, and hopefully bring about a world with a more equitable distribution of what that society produces.  New methods of transportation will make it easier to get from point A to B.  And slowly but surely, scientists will bring about progress, one day at a time.

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