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HUMANITY DOOMSDAY CLOCK - Moves forward to 2125 due to election of US President trump.

Estimate of the time that Humanity will go extinct or civilization will collapse. The HUMANITY DOOMSDAY CLOCK moves forward to 2125 due to US President trump's abandonment of climate change goals. Apologies to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for using the name.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

USA Existential Crises: New Prince Class, National Security

Barry, My Liege:

You have both the privilege and the curse of being President when the country faces at least two existential crises, each of which is equal to the crisis Lincoln faced when the South seceded and we entered the Civil War.

These crises are existential in that each questions our 'existence in an unfathomable universe [where] the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for his acts of free will [is] without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad.' [Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1984]

The first existential crisis is the creation of a New Prince Class of super rich Princes and the simultaneous destruction of the Middle Class.

The second existential crisis is the enlargement of the National Security establishment and the consequent abrogation of the Constitution.

The New Prince Class creates an existential crisis for two reasons.

First, the economic interests of this Class dictate that its retainers work to remove any governmental impediments to further increasing its wealth and influence. As it grows in wealth so does the New Prince Class grow in influence over the legislative and regulatory processes. At this writing, the only check on its power may lie in the election of a majority of legislators in State and national government who are dedicated to reducing its influence.

Such an event happened only once before in our history - during the 1930's and the Great Depression. Prior to that event and its horrible social effects, Americans of all backgrounds cooperated in creating the common good of the country. Sometimes that cooperation was forced, but it was real nevertheless.

The crisis of this time is that the New Prince Class has no perceived interest in cooperating for the good of the country.

Second, it is an existential crisis for the United States inasmuch as our prosperity and greatness as a nation has always lay with a prosperous middle class. The New Prince Class is rising at a time the Middle Class is sinking. An argument can be made that the New Prince Class actively supports the destruction of the Middle Class, but that is for another place and time.

The National Security establishment, NSA, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, Justice Department, etc., etc., creates an existential crisis by actively abrogating several key provisions of the Constitution.

In its zeal to defend our country from the real and perceived threats of suicide bombers and mass attacks similar to 9.11, this establishment routinely subverts key Constitutional protections against arbitrary power.

This space has iterated those actions previously in this post : Thursday, January 19, 2012, titled 'US Constitution Dead'.

Barry, My Liege, I believe it is correct to say that the Constitution is the single thing that has created the United States as a unique place in the world. It gives us the ability to restrain arbitrary power and the ability to check the excesses of a moneyed Class.

When the Constitution is destroyed - whether by those seeking to protect it or by others - the country is in crisis.

Of course it is a difficult task to balance the Constitutional protections of citizens against an arbitrary government with the duty to protect the country from attacks. It appears that the scales are out of balance and tipping toward a repressive establishment at this writing.

We support all the actions you take to solve these crises, My Liege, and we pray you success.

Your faithful servant,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feudalism - Are We There Yet?

Barry, My Liege:

It would seem appropriate to examine life under feudalism since we seem to be taking on some of its characteristics.

I would rather live in the United States of America and I hope we can go back to that happy time.

But, just in case we fail to stop the slide toward barbarism and feudalism, let's see what life was like in that time.

The feudal landlord thought he was a man of great importance; he thought he was superior to those around him. He was chief and master of the family as well as master of the slaves in his house. In his house his word was law, there was no force outside the house or inside the house to check him.

He had no common bonds to family or servants; he defended his property as a part of himself. Some writers thought the relation between him and lesser people was of unmixed hatred, especially when the lesser folk began to gain liberty from their slave-like state of serfdom. Kindness might exist until the law inspired serfs with a notion of freedom, then there was insolence on one side and cruelty on the other.

Feudal lords had the right to wage war privately for gain or for revenge. Since the government was too weak to protect, barons relied on their own force to secure their property and person. This constant war between lords drove poor people to join with a lord on the estate and exchange labor and arms bearing for protection from roving bands of thugs.

In England, the barons and lords established their own courts, which ruled supreme over other courts including the distant King's. Often disputes were decided by God - that is, in a trial by fire or combat the winner was innocent and the loser was guilty. Sometimes, parties nominated stand-ins to do judicial battle for their cause. In 11th century Spain, two armored knights decided a question of theology this way.

Further, in court the testimony was judged more truthful if the person giving testimony had a high rank. Persons of high rank could buy their way out of charges with a defined set of payments: '....the life of every man had a value affixed to it, which was called his weregild, .e.g, king's weregild in England was 30,000 thrismas, a Prince's 15,000 thrismas, bishop's 8,000, sheriff's 4,000, a clergyman 2,000, a ceorl 266.'

Nobles lived in circular towers of thick walls with no light for lower rooms except for opening above. For poor people, the wind whistled through the house.

Barry, My Liege, we pray that you can bring us into the 19th or 20th Century because the 21st Century is looking pretty grim right now.

Excerpts above from 'A digest of the laws, customs, manners, and institutions of the ancient and modern nations', By Thomas Roderick Dew, 1854.

Your faithful servant,

Monday, April 16, 2012

Succeed by Fixing Obvious Problems

Barry, My Liege

One of the world's most popular politicians is Brazil's former President Lula [Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva].

He is popular because Brazil is enjoying economic growth and a rising middle class which are results of the policies and programs he created.

When asked how could a man of such humble origins be so successful, he replied to the effect that he just did the obvious things that everyone knew needed doing. He also suggested that others did not fix those things because of economic interests [read 'greed'] or myopia.

Barry, My Liege, there are many obvious thing that need fixing in the United States of America ; but, economic interests interfere with any changes. If you gain a legislative majority, we pray you will fix our obvious problems.

Here is a preliminary list of obvious problems caused by government policies :

1. Wealth and income inequality - cure it by installing an estate tax that prevents huge fortunes from passing through generations and cure income inequality with a radically progressive income tax system.

2. Union Busting - cure it with better laws allowing unions to organize and better prosecutions of companies which break laws against interfering with unions.

3. Monopolies - they are bad for the country ; install effective anti-monopoly legislation and pursue violators aggressively. Also, make some industries into public utilities.

4. Political corruption - change campaign finance laws and enforce the new laws aggressively.

5. Banks - restore Glass-Steagall ; that will solve the problem - nothing else will solve it.

6. Political inaction - keep Social Security and Medicare effective by solving political gridlock with a legislative majority.

7. Security establishment - they are a problem because they trample our Constitution ; rein them in.

8. Trade Deficits - we cannot survive with huge trade deficits ; please fix them.

Barry, My Liege, as you have said, the country has one more chance to change its course of action and return to the path laid out by the Founders.

We all know that. From the Tea Party to the Progressive Caucus, we all get it.

Only the Kock brothers and the super rich are fighting against the good fight.

We will help you win the fight, My Liege. Do not give up.