Wednesday, August 24, 2016

An Open Letter to Women in Politics (Re-post)

(This is a re-post, in honor of the fact that Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination for President in the 2016 election.  The TSAP originally was "feeling the Bern" but now (grudgingly) supports Hillary instead of Donald Chump.  And we believe that she will most likely win, Goddess willing.)

To any Women who are running for office, in office, or considering running for office in the near future:

You have probably noticed that the world is on fire, and has been for quite some time now.   We stand on the verge of World War III as we speak, and our overburdened planet is in grave danger.  We continue to flirt with the prospect of mass extinction (including humans, by the way) in the not-too-distant future, as we continue to cook the planet with reckless abandon.  We know what is causing all of these problems, and we already have the technology and wherewithal to solve them if we really wanted to, yet our current Big Wetiko "leaders" refuse to solve such problems because they are sycophantic lackeys to the parasitic elites, if not the very same elites themselves.  And these plutocrats are hopelesly addicted to "business as usual".

So how did we get here in the first place, exactly?  The answer lies in ancient history, about 7000 years ago or so, when men apparently got the bright idea to take over the (known) world piece by piece, by deposing you from power.  That's right, it was originally Women who were in charge for most of humanity's existence, and us fellas apparently thought we could do a better job as leaders than you ladies did.  Well, history shows us that we were wrong--dead wrong in fact.  Indeed, the best advice that us men can give to Women is "don't be like us", because we f**ked the world up royally. We paved paradise and put up a parking lot, we created a desert and called it "peace".  We have devoured and suffocated our own empire, and now we are all paying a heavy price for it.  That's right--WE did it.  And we're sorry about that--though we can clearly stuff our "sorrys" in a sack! 

And now it is time for you to reclaim your rightful position as the new leaders of the free world once again, starting with the USA and eventually spreading from there.  In fact, it is LONG overdue for you to do so.  We cannot apologize enough for handing you such a monumental clusterf**k of a world for you to fix, of course, but we fellas have plenty of faith that you will be able to do so. We know that Women, not men, are the real natural-born leaders, and you can clearly handle power a lot better without it going to your heads than us.  We know that your preferred paradigm of society, what Riane Eisler calls the "partnership" model, is far better than the "dominator" model that we have been practicing for the past 7000 years.  As the saying goes, never send a boy to do a man's job--send a Woman instead.  Truer words were never spoken, and we need you now more than ever before.

It's now 2016, and there are plenty of elections in which you can win this year.  The highest and tallest "glass ceiling" in the world--President of the United States--is just waiting to be smashed, as are plenty of other important political offices as well.  We wish all of you the very best of luck.  Now, go forth and make old Buckminster Fuller proud!  Vive la femme!

Sincerely,

Ajax the Great, Party Leader of the TSAP

Technical Difficulties Resolved

It has come to our attention that this website recently had a problem where it kept crashing and redirecting every few seconds after loading.  Fortunately, the technical difficulties that caused this problem have now been resolved.  You may notice that the "widgets" at the bottom of the page that had been there since 2009 are now gone.  That is because they were apparently causing the problem, unfortunately, so they were removed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Enough is Enough Already!

The worst mass shooting in American history has occurred just a few days ago on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.  It seems that mass shootings have become a daily occurrence in recent years--in the USA at least.  But the rest of the industrialized world doesn't really seem to have this kind of problem.  Why is that?  Well, there's always....

GUNS.

America is the land of 300 million guns, and combined with a culture that is crazier and more violent than most other "developed" countries, and much more extreme inequality, it is a very lethal combination indeed.  Of course, the biggest elephant in the room is the fact that at least 96% of mass shooters are MEN.  Thanks to the patriarchy and the sort of "toxic masculinity" that it creates, combined with the above factors, too many men end up resorting to violence.  Like the Iron Maiden song says, "a briefcase, a lunch, and a man on the edge".  With a gun. I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right?

There should be no doubt at this point that something needs to be done   However, we do not believe that banning all guns for everyone, or adopting British or European-style gun laws, as the genie is already out of the bottle, and there is also that whole Constitution thingy as well.  Thus, the TSAP recommends that the following measures be taken:


  1. Bring back an improved 1994 assault-weapons ban yesterday, this time with more teeth.  Include all magazines with more than ten rounds in the ban as well.
  2. Remove the 20-year ban on gun violence research, yesterday. 
  3. End the gun-show loophole and implement universal background checks, yesterday.
  4. Put a significant excise tax on all bullets/ammo, like Chris Rock recommended. (Seriously)
  5. Treat ammo sales the same as gun sales.
  6. Pass a "one gun a month" law at the federal level.
  7. Require reporting of lost or stolen guns.
  8. Regulate firearms like other consumer products in terms of health and safety standards--currently such standards are nonexistent.
  9. Improve enforcement of existing gun laws, which tend not to be enforced very well these days, and improve state reporting of prohibited persons to NICS.  Also, prohibit anyone on the terrorism watch list from buying any guns, period. (Believe it or not, the Orlando shooter was on the terror watch list and was still able to get a gun)
  10. And last but not least, improve our woefully-inadequate mental healthcare system.
Of course, to truly solve our gun violence problem would require a fundamental overhaul and transformation of our society, which the TSAP clearly supports.  We need to go from being what Riane Eisler calls a "dominator" society to more of a "partnership" society, as the latter kind is far less violent overall.  But in the meantime, the aforementioned recommendations would go a long way towards taking the dangerous edge off of the problem.

And for those who blame the Orlando shooting on Muslims in general, while it is true that the shooter was motivated in part by radical Islam, we should remember most Muslims are not radicals and don't commit mass shootings or other acts of terrorism, and most mass shooters in the USA have been decidedly non-Muslim, typically either Christian or no known religious affiliation.  And while radical Islamic terrorism is indeed a major global problem, one should note the difference between Islam and other patriarchal religions is really more one of degree rather than kind.  It's really the patriarchal element that's the problem.

In this particular shooting, a deadly combination of toxic masculinity, homophobia, extreme religious zealotry, and readily-available assault weapons led to the deaths of over 50 innocent people.  If that's not the all-time  KING of wake-up calls, I honestly don't know what is.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Bernie's Tax Plan Is Good, But The TSAP Can Do Much Better

Bernie Sanders' tax proposals have recently been published and analyzed by the Tax Policy Center.  You can read about it here.  It happens to be a rather biased analysis that has some glaring omissions downplaying the value of public investment, and a more accurate one can be found here.  While the TSAP continues to wholeheartedly endorse Bernie, we feel we can come up with a tax plan that is even better still.   So here is the latest version of our own:

Universal Exchange Tax (UET)

Implement a tiny Universal Exchange Tax of between 0.05% (50 cents per $1000) and 0.1% (1 dollar per $1000) on all automated financial transactions of any kind.  With a tax base estimated to be in excess of $4 quadrillion, this tax should raise between $2 trillion (half the federal budget) and $4 trillion (the entire federal budget).

Not only would it eliminate the deficit, it would create a surplus large enough to eliminate or dramatically cut all other forms of taxation at both the federal and state levels.

NOTE: We do NOT take credit for coming up with this idea; it was found posted on an anonymous website.  Also, economist Dr. Edgar Feige apparently thought of a similar idea back in 2005.

Individual Income Tax

Overhaul and simplify the federal tax code by repealing the regular income tax while retaining and tweaking the AMT to reflect the following:

Absolutely no income tax on those making less than $20,000 per year, period.

Ideally, no income tax on those making less than $50,000 per year.

With preferably the following marginal income tax brackets for individuals:

Below $20,000 -- no income tax
$20,000 to $50,000 -- 5%
$50,000 to $90,000 -- 10%
$90,000 to $150,000 -- 20%
$150,000 to $250,000 -- 30%
$250,000 to $1,000,000 -- 40%
$1,000,000 to $10,000,000 -- 50%
Over $10,000,000 -- 70%

With no loopholes and no deductions other than state/local taxes and a limited amount of charitable donations.

All forms of income would be taxed equally at the normal rates, including dividends and capital gains.  For capital gains, the basis will be indexed to inflation (which is currently not the case).  The exclusion for capital gains below $250,000 from home sales will remain as is.

NOTE:  If the Universal Exchange Tax (UET) is implemented and set at a high enough rate, we could theoretically reduce the income tax to only 10% on each dollar above $100,000 and 50% on each dollar above $1 million.  We propose a UET rate between 0.05% (50 cents per $1000) and 0.1% (1 dollar per $1000) on all transactions, which would most likely be high enough to do so. 

Corporate Income Tax


Overhaul the tax code to eliminate all loopholes and favoritism of any kind.  Then implement the following tax brackets for corporations:

Below $100,000 -- no income tax
$100,000 to $1,000,000 -- 10%
$1,000,000 to $10,000,000 -- 20%
$10,000,000 to $100,000,000 -- 35%
Over $100,000,000 -- 50%

Unlike the current law, only undistributed profits would be taxed.  Amounts distributed as dividends would not be taxed at the corporate level, but would be taxed at the normal rate for the individual shareholders.

Tax US corporate foreign income as it is earned, rather than when the income is repatriated.

Payroll/FICA Taxes

Remove entirely the wage cap for Social Security portion of FICA tax, or raise it to a very high value (i.e. $10 million) for as long as we still have a FICA tax.

Reduce FICA tax rates to the lowest possible level needed for long-term solvency, or better yet eliminate FICA entirely (if an alternative funding source such as the UET is implemented).  If no alternative source is present, then raise the FICA tax by an additional 0.2%.

Create a tiny, fixed "Occupational Privilege Tax (OPT)" of about $50 per year at the federal level, similar to what many states and localities do.  Use it for general revenue.

Luxury Tax

Similar to a sales tax, 2% on all new items priced at $1000 or more, and only on the amount over $1000.  For vehicles of any kind, the exemption amount would be $30,000.  For new homes, the exemption amount would be $1 million.  Items purchased overseas would be considered "new" and taxable upon entering the country if purchased within the past year or two.

Estate Tax

Resurrect the estate tax ("death tax"), this time as a progressive one.  The exemption amount would be $3.5 million, then 45% up to $50 million, 55% up to $500 million, 65% up to $1 billion, and 75% for $1 billion and above.

Excise, Vice, and Other Taxes


Bring back the Superfund taxes that expired in 1995, and expand it to cover ALL harmful and toxic chemicals.

Increase and equalize the federal alcohol excise taxes to $22 per proof-gallon for all alcoholic beverages, equal to the liquor tax in 1991 adjusted for inflation.  Microbrewers (those who produce less than 6 million barrels) would continue to pay the current rate of $0.58 per gallon ($18 per barrel) on the first 2 million barrels.

Equalize the federal tax for all tobacco products by weight to $1.55 per ounce, and tax the tobacco itself at the producer level.  Set a national price floor for cigarettes of at least $5.00/pack to encourage low-tax states like Virginia to hike their own tobacco taxes. 

If and when cannabis and/or any other currently illegal drugs are legalized, tax them as well.  For example, cannabis could be taxed at a flat rate of $10-$50 per ounce, or perhaps set proportionally to potency (e.g. $5 per ounce, multiplied by percentage of THC).

Raise the gas tax by 1 cent/gal each week until it is $0.50/gal higher than it is today.  "A Penny for Progress."

Enact the following "menu" of new taxes:


  • coffee beans or grounds ($0.10/lb) 
  • pure caffeine ($1.00/lb)
  • refined sugars ($0.10/lb)
  • salt ($0.10/lb)
  • hydrogenated fats ($1.00/lb)
Enact a tax on bullets and other ammunition at a rate of at least $0.10 per round for long guns and at least $0.25 per handgun round.

Enact a financial crisis responsibility fee (leverage tax) of 0.15% of covered liabilities of so-called "too big to fail" banks with more than $50 billion in assets.

Enact a Wall Street Gaming Tax of 0.5% specifically on derivatives and any other exotic financial products designed primarily for the purpose of speculation or gambling.


Carbon Tax and Dividend

Additionally, implement a "carbon tax and dividend" on all fossil fuels similar to what Steve Stoft proposes in Carbonomics. Start it at $10/ton in the first year, and double it every year until it reaches $160/ton, then increase it further by 5% each year or the rate of inflation, whichever is greater.  Refund 100% of the proceeds directly to We the People.


Do these things and we can easily pay for all of what Bernie proposes and then some.  Especially if we also nationalize the Feral Reserve and make our currency interest-free and inflation-free, as well as zero-out the national debt via money creation as discussed in a previous post.  And our proposal would be even simpler and more progressive than his proposals currently are.

And yes, progressive taxation is indeed the fairest method and best for the economy as a whole. History has shown that "trickle-down" voodoo economics does NOT work, period.   Cutting taxes at the top tends to create short-term "sugar highs" in the economy, followed by painful crashes. All while worsening inequality, and too much inequality ultimately kills growth in the long run.  As Robert Reich famously said, the economy exists to make our lives better. We don't exist to make the economy better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Ultimate Stimulus Package

Wanna know a secret, everyone?  An open secret, yet probably the best-kept one of all?  The total amount of global debt, all $233 trillion (!) of it, is 100% man-made. That's right--the very concept of debt is man-made, because money itself is man-made.  That includes both private debt as well as the public debt that the austerity hawks won't stop fretting about.  Every single penny of it.  Money is really nothing more than a simple accounting entry in a computer these days anyway.  So make the entry and be done with it already.

Wait, hold on--did he just say what I think he said?  You got that damn right, and I didn't stutter either.  The single best stimulus package that could possibly be done given the current state of the global economy is--you guessed it--a DEBT JUBILEE of sorts.  You know, kinda like the ancient Israelites did every 50 years, where all debts were cancelled and forgiven across the board, period.  The only difference today is the scale and the technology involved, and the fact that we use pure fiat currency instead of specie makes it even easier still.  So why aren't we doing it?  I mean if the world owes $233 trillion, who on Earth do we owe it all to?  You guessed it--the BANKSTERS.  And the biggest contributor to the gargantuan size of the debt (and the number one cause of inflation as well) is compound interest, also known as USURY.  So there are plenty of powerful vested interests who would oppose such a thing, and it's time to take the power back.

We could start by paying off the national debt in one fell swoop via money creation, as is recommended by Richard E. Noble.  The Noble Solution, if you will.  And contrary to popular opinion, doing so would NOT cause hyperinflation if done properly because while creating money is inflationary, paying off large debts (i.e. "debt-deflation") is inherently anti-inflationary, so the two effects would cancel each other out.  And the newly created money would be done interest-free as well.  And also give everyone $1000 or $2000 as well.  Remember, back in 2011 Bernie Sanders audited the Feral Reserve and found that they gave a whopping $16 trillion secret bailout to the banks in 2009-2010 (and later rose to $29 trillion in total).   And with that money, they could have paid off the entire national debt (below $12 trillion then) and still had trillions left over to give to We the People by depositing money in our bank accounts.  And the government would have been able to do a much bolder fiscal stimulus package since there would be no worries about the debt.  Yes, really.  And the "recession" (i.e. depression) would have ended a LOT sooner as a result.

As for private debt, an Act of Congress could conceivably be passed that nullifies all such debt as well, including (but not limited to) student loan debt, mortgage debt, credit card debt, and medical debt. Creditors wouldn't like it, of course, but debtors greatly outnumber creditors, so the net effect would be beneficial overall for society.  And repeat every 50 years or so.

Additionally, while we are at it, we should also nationalize the privately-owned FERAL Reserve and make it a truly public FEDERAL Reserve that creates its own money interest-free, as Ellen Brown recommends.  We should also put a 10% cap on ALL interest rates period, including private loans and credit cards, and eventually phase-out the very concept of interest altogether.

Also, the TSAP would recommend a Universal Basic Income Guarantee for all, an idea whose time has come and that is in fact LONG overdue.  That would solve so many problems indeed.

Now THAT would be a real stimulus package!  Not only would it act like a giant B-12 shot for the economy by causing increased economic growth in the short to medium term, but in the long run it would also help us end our addiction to growth for the sake of growth, the ideology of the cancer cell which eventually kills its host.

Remember, as Buckminster Fuller famously noted in the 1970s, there are enough resources on Earth for everyone in the world to live like a millionaire, but such resources are currently being hoarded and wasted by the oligarchs to prop up their massive Ponzi scheme.  It's time to end the current obsolete paradigm of scarcity (most of it artificial) in favor of a new paradigm of abundance for all, that we may all enjoy mutual benefit and protection.  Yesterday.

(In the meantime, though, there is always Rolling Jubilee.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Will California Dreaming Finally Become A Reality in 2016?

In 2010, it seemed very likely that California would legalize recreational cannabis use via ballot initiative.  Unfortunately, the initiative failed.  But this year, it looks like they have a much better chance, given how it will be a presidential election and how California would not be the first state to do so this time around.  The California Medical Association even endorses one such initiative. And as goes California, so goes the nation.

Of course, even bigger news is that several New England states are also looking this year to join Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and DC as states in which cannabis is fully legal.   Ditto for Michigan and Nevada as well.  There is even currently a bill in Congress called the "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act", which would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level by removing it from scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act and leave it up to the states to regulate as they see fit.  Thus, it's only a matter of time before the ganja is fully legal nationwide.

And thus far, the best available evidence suggests that legalization has been a resounding success overall in the states where it has already been implemented.  Not only did tax revenue exceed expectations, but practically none of the predicted "parade of horrors" that the fearmongering opponents predicted would occur actually materialized.  And several recent studies have debunked many if not all of the prohibitionists' favorite talking points and scaremongering studies on the supposed dangers of cannabis.  Looks like Brian C. Bennett was right after all--it's nowhere near as scary as they want us to think.

While cannabis, like any other psychoactive substance, is not 100% safe for everybody and can indeed be harmful when abused, the overwhelming weight of the scientific evidence of the past 150+ years suggests that by just about any rational and objective measure it is safer than alcohol, tobacco, most prescription drugs, Tylenol, and even some foods, and is generally less addictive than coffee.  And while there is some evidence that regular use of weed, like alcohol, may present unique risks to people under 18 (and especially under 15), there is no hard scientific evidence that it is any more dangerous for an 18 year old than for a 21 year old or a 30 year old for that matter.  And the best evidence suggests that, as we learned the hard way with alcohol in the 1920s, prohibition clearly does more harm than good.  Thus, there is really no good reason to keep cannabis illegal or treat it any more stringently than alcohol or tobacco in a free society.

We should note that the TSAP is not a "pro-drugs" party. Rather, we are pro-liberty and anti-tyranny. We do not actually endorse the use of any substances, including alcohol and tobacco, but believe that legal adults are sovereign in body and mind and that prohibition of these substances clearly does more harm than good on balance.  Remember, the term "controlled substance" is actually a misnomer since it is virtually impossible to adequately control that which is prohibited.

To all those who live in California (or any other state with legalization or medicalization initiatives on the ballot), especially those under 30:  Get out there and rock the vote this November!

AND NOW FOR A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Kids, talk to your parents.  Show them the following.

This is your country:



This is DrugWar:




This is your country on DrugWar:



Any questions?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

How to Prepare for the Next Big Crash (Part Deux)

As we have noted before, things are really not looking good for the global economy this year.  Whether we actually experience another financial crisis on the order of 2008 or even 1929 (or worse) is a matter of debate, but the time to prepare for such a scenario is yesterday.  At the very least, another recession is inevitable at this point by 2017 at the latest, since no economic expansion has lasted much more than eight years straight in this country (with the notable exception of 1991-2001 that lasted exactly ten years).  Granted, the expansion from July 2009 to the present mostly benefited the rich, and until around 2014 practically entirely benefited the rich, but it was still technically an expansion of the economy even if the growth was largely uneconomic in practice.  And expansions can only go on so long before a contraction (i.e. recession or depression) inevitably occurs--it's just a fundamental truth of the business cycle.

One thing is for sure--things are very different this time around at least in terms of monetary policy.  At least in 2008, interest rates were well above-zero, and could be cut to stimulate the economy (or, more accurately, stop or slow down the hemorrhaging).  When that proved to be futile, then the Feral Reserve and many of the world's other major central banks resorted to "quantitative easing" (i.e. creating money out of thin air and giving it to the banks directly).  In late 2014, the USA tapered off and ended its QE policy, and in December 2015 ended its zero interest-rate policy by raising the Fed Funds Rate to 0.25-0.50%.  But now, the central banks of the world are starting from zero or close to zero--and some banks including the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan have even resorted to negative interest rates recently.  That means they are effectively charging depositors for the "privilege" of depositing money, and effectively paying borrowers to borrow money, which basically turns the world of finance upside-down.  Such negative rate territory is uncharted waters, since until a few years ago no country has ever dared to do such a thing.  And there is currently no evidence that such a move will be beneficial, and may in fact turn out to do more harm than good overall.

So monetary policy basically needs a new set of tools and a new game plan to deal with the next crisis, whenever it occurs.  The Feral Reserve and the other central banks of the world are basically still using an outdated playbook.  In the near-term, two things need to change yesterday.  First of all, they need to abandon interest-rate targets altogether for the time being, and instead focus on targeting the growth of the overall economy.  Like Paul Volcker did in 1979-1982, but done in reverse since the "inflation dragon" is not the problem this time.  Secondly, implement Quantitiative Easing for We the People in general (as opposed to the banks, which only benefits the ultra-rich) by injecting newly-created money into everyone's bank accounts.  Granted, the latter measure would probably require an Act of Congress to allow it to occur legally, but as the Feral Reserve is currently debating the legality of negative interest rates in the future, I'm sure they could find some sort of a loophole to allow it in an emergency such as a massive financial crisis.  And of course fiscal stimulus would likely be necessary as well, in additional to much needed reforms to regulate Wall Street and the big banks (a law that rhymes with "brass seagull" comes to mind, as well as a financial transactions tax and better regulation of the shadow banking system), but those two changes to monetary policy would go a long way towards preventing the next recession/crisis from turning into another 2008 or worse.  And of course the silly idea of negative interest rates needs to be abandoned as well.

But let's be brutally honest.  What we are really witnessing these days is the death of an obsolete system, one that has been kept on life support for many years now.  And eventually we will have to pull the plug on it, sooner or later.  It's just a matter of time.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

How to Prepare for the Next Big Crash

As we have noted in the previous article, the risk of the next big economic crash continues to loom large, and it may be too late to actually prevent it from occurring entirely.  That's not to say that there aren't things that should be done to prepare for it to make it less catastrophic, though.  Back in 2014, the TSAP had predicted that a crash would occur within a few short years, and we had written an article then discussing how to prevent it before it occurs or at least take the edge off of it, while ending the previous economic "stagpression" for good.   And we should note that these things would indeed help take the edge off of the next looming financial crisis as well.

Two things come to mind right away:  1) a Universal Basic Income Guarantee for all, an idea that is LONG overdue, and 2) Quantitiative Easing for We the People in general (as opposed to the banks, which only benefits the ultra-rich) by injecting newly-created money into everyone's bank accounts.  Additionally, we need to better regulate the Wall Street casino so such a crisis could never happen again, and also JAIL the banksters who caused the crisis (instead of bailing them out) like Iceland did.  A debt jubilee would be even better still, but even the things we just mentioned are a fairly tall order for a government who is bought and paid for by the banksters/oligarchs.  While other things need to be done as well in the long run, such as critical investments in infrastructure and education, the aforementioned measures would go a long way towards fixing our ailing economy.

Those are the things that should be done at the government level, of course.  At the individual level, there is really not much one can do except get OUT of the stock market while you still can, and take at least most of your money OUT of the big banks (before the "bail-ins" begin) and put it into smaller banks, credit unions, or even under your mattress.  Or even in a big, brown bag inside a zoo.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Is the Crash of 2016 Upon Us?

A few years ago, Thom Hartmann wrote a book called The Crash of 2016:  The Plot to Destroy America.  And recent events suggest that book is even more presicent than we originally thought:

  • Economic inequality remains at historically high levels, and history has shown that high levels of inequality are virtually always followed by a massive stock market crash and a deep recession or depression, as infamously happened in 1929 and 2008.
  • The stock market has been artificially high (a bubble) for a few years now and the Dow Jones dropped from a high of over 18,000 to below 16,000, most of which in the past month alone.  The drop has actually been faster that the same period in early 2008.
  • The Feral Reserve's quantitative easing (QE) ended in late 2014 and their zero-rate policy ended in December 2015, both of which have been artificially propping up the stock market. 
  • The stock bubble was also fueled by corporations buying back their own stock and/or cannibalizing their workforces, for the most part.  And that clearly can't go on forever.
  • We still have not yet fully recovered from the previous crisis and depression. 
  • Rich Dad famously predicted in 2010 that the stock market would crash in 2016 thanks to ERISA, which mandates that retirees start taking money out of IRAs (and thus out of the stock market) by age 70 1/2 at the latest.  And guess what age the first Baby Boomers turn this year?  You guessed it!
  • Industrial production dropped in the fourth quarter of 2015, which historically predicts at least a recession in the near future.
  • There has been concern that China's recent economic weakness will affect us as well.
  • Recently, a key trade indicator, the cost of shipping "dry goods" (Baltic Dry Index), has dropped to historically low levels, and history has shown that index to be a bellwether of the global economy.  This would actually predict a worse crash than 2008.
  • Oil prices have been plummeting since mid-2014, and this has been hurting oil companies' profits.  And apparently the banks have made some pretty bad bets on that.
  • And finally, the real kicker:  Thanks to the Wall Street casino remaining poorly regulated, the same derivatives bubble that caused the Crash of 2008 is now bigger than ever, and all it would take is one default in just the right place and it will burst, with severe consequences.
So given the above facts, there is good reason to predict a massive financial crisis and stock market crash in 2016, one that, as Thom Hartmann predicts, would make 2008 and even 1929 look like a walk in the park.  Now it is entirely possible that such a thing will not occur, or will be much milder than he predicts.  But the risk that he is correct seems to be growing every day now.

Oh, and by the way--there appears to be no "safe haven" for money this time.  Commodities are doing poorly, and as Ellen Brown has repeatedly noted for years now, the big banks supposedly have a plot to confiscate our deposits via "bail-ins".  Thus, FDIC would basically become a dead letter in practice, and the resulting bank runs would undoubtedly deepen any financial crisis.  Not to say that the Feral Reserve won't bail out the banks again, but there is still such a risk.  Caveat emptor, and caveat lector as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

How To Really Defeat ISIL For Good

The USA and coalition forces have been bombing Daesh/ISIL (which we prefer to call them so as not to inadvertently profane the name of the Goddess) for over a year now, 17 months to be exact.  And Russia has been bombing them for nearly three months now.   And yet they still seem to be spreading, even though they are clearly on the losing side in the long run.   After the first few weeks of bombing in August/September 2014, the fight basically became a stalemate which lasted until Russia started their airstrikes in Syria, tipping the balance against Daesh once more.

Now the hawks such as Donald Chump are, unsurprisingly, calling for an escalation of this war.   Clearly, we are already fighting fire with gasoline, and those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  In fact, it was our own meddling and warmongering that caused Daesh to become a problem in the first place!  But here is a better idea--let's NOT give Daesh the "holy war" they so desperately want.  In fact, Tom Englehardt (Tom Dispatch) and Peter van Buren have the best idea of all--quick withdrawal, after getting them where it really hurts by taking out their OIL.  Such targets--wellheads and oil trucks--are not at all hard to find, and are fairly easy to take out from the air.  And put diplomatic and economic pressure on Turkey and other so-called "allies" to stem the flow of Daesh oil as well.  Because oil is their primary source of funding, and removing that will cause them to quickly collapse of their own weight, and when they are seen as a failure then few would want to join them.  And once we take it out, then GTFO and let Daesh fall on their own sword.

The TSAP agrees with that idea, and we would also like to add to that.  Before withdrawing, we should give every *woman* over there an AK-47 and tell them to take over their country and mow down anyone who stands in their way. Let Allah sort it out. Problem solved. But of course, the mostly-male powers that be would not be too keen on that idea. After all, they wouldn't want women in THIS country getting any ideas, now would they?  (Of course, the TSAP believes that women should take over the world in order to save it, so that wouldn't really be a bad idea)

Honestly, it is certainly a better idea than arming questionable male "rebels" who end up turning traitor.  VIVE LA FEMME! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Where We Stand Today

Since our founding in 2009, the True Spirit of America Party (TSAP) has come a long way.  Many of our positions on various issues have evolved since then, in some cases rather dramatically.

  • Originally, we believed that capitalism could perhaps be redeemed and used for the greater good.  Currently, the TSAP is essentially anti-capitalist since we now realize that capitalism cannot be redeemed, and its addiction to growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell, which eventually kills its host.  We must leave room for Nature, lest Nature not leave room for us.
  • Originally, the TSAP was staunchly pro-guns and in some ways to the right of the NRA.  But with the recent increase in mass shootings and what we have learned since then, we have since adopted a more nuanced and moderate position on the issue of gun control.
  • Originally, the TSAP attempted to find common ground with the nascent Tea Party movement and the broader Patriot movement in 2009-2010.  Since around 2011 or so, we have since ended such attempts upon realizing that they are, by and large, just another reich-wing racist and neo-fascist movement.  We now prefer the Occupy movement instead, by far.
  • Originally, our stance on immigration was relatively hard-line; it has since softened quite a bit.  We now believe in a more generous amnesty program, as not doing so would be far too cruel. And we also realize just how blinded by white privilege we once were.
  • Originally, the TSAP was pro-nuclear power all the way;  as of 2015 we now currently take the more neutral stance that the Union of Concerned Scientists takes, neither for nor against it.
  • Originally, the TSAP believed that with very few exceptions, every able-bodied adult should "work for a living".  We now feel that such an idea is archaic and outdated, and that Buckminster Fuller would be rolling in his grave.  There are more than enough resources in the world such that with today's technology we no longer NEED everyone to "work for a living" unless they really wanted to.  The real problem is that our abundance is being wasted and/or hoarded by the oligarchs, to the detriment of everyone else.
  • Originally, the TSAP was "egalitarian" on the issue of gender for the most part.  We also assumed that our party (including our leader Ajax the Great) would eventually save the world, lol.  But more recently, we now believe that it ain't gonna be us fellas who will save the world.  Only women would really be able to do so, and to do so they must take over.  Yesterday.  The futurists are unanimous about this:  the future belongs to women.  Thus, as of 2014 our party has been an observer of the Matriarchy movement, and as of 2016 we have basically joined the movement fully.  At the same time, we will continue to support our cause of progressive libertarianism to the fullest, as we believe that the two are perfectly compatible.  We would like to thank the distinguished Guru Rasa von Werder and William Bond for helping us see the light in that regard, as well as several others such as Pat Ravasio and Riane Eisler who have inspired us along the way.
Thus, our rather dynamic third party is continuing to evolve.  As John Mellencamp and India Arie would say, "If you're not part of the future, get out of the way!"

UPDATE:  The TSAP party leader, Ajax the Great, has recently created a new blog about the Matriarchy movement, called "The Chalice and the Flame".   Please check it out.  Opinions expressed therein are those of Ajax the Great and not necessarily the TSAP as a whole.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The TSAP is Feeling the BERN!

It's 2016, and Election Day will be right around the corner.  And the True Spirit of America Party will be unequivocally endorsing Bernie Sanders for President.  On essentially all of the issues, his platform is the one that closest to ours among all the candidates that have a chance this year. 

As much as we want a woman to be President yesterday, which is LONG overdue, the TSAP will not be endorsing Hillary since we believe that she is simply not progressive enough for us or for the nation.  Granted, she is FAR better than literally any Rethuglican candidate out there (puke!), and we would much rather have her instead of any of them, we still feel that Bernie is the better choice overall this time around.  And unfortunately Elizabeth Warren is not going to be running this year, nor is the woman who we feel would really be the ideal President, Marianne Williamson.  Bernie is the next best thing, and in fact Marianne herself is endorsing him as well.  So yes, we are FEELING THE BERN!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

State of the Planet Address 2016

On January 12, 2016, the President will give his annual State of the Union Address.  And every year since 2011, the TSAP has been giving our annual State of the Planet Address in mid-January.  Yes, we know it is a bit of a downer to say the least.  So sit down, take off your rose-colored glasses, and read on:

Our planet is in grave danger, and has been for quite some time now.  We face several serious long term problems:  climate change, deforestation/desertification, loss of biodiversity, overharvesting, energy crises, and of course pollution of many kinds.  Polar ice caps are melting.  Rainforests have been shrinking by 50 acres per minute.  Numerous species are going extinct every year.  Soil is eroding rapidly.  Food shortages have occurred in several countries in recent years.  Weather has been getting crazier each year thanks to climate change.  We have had numerous wildfires, floods followed by long periods of drought, and a "storm of the century" at least once a year for the past few years.   And it is only getting worse every year.

None of this is an accident of course.  These problems are man-made, and their solutions must also begin and end with humans.  We cannot afford to sit idly by any longer, lest we face hell and high water in the not-too-distant future.  Our unsustainable scorched-earth policy towards the planet has to end.  Yesterday.

While we do not invoke the precautionary principle for all issues, we unequivocally do for the issue of climate change and any other environmental issues of comparable magnitude.  In fact, for something as dire as climate change, as of 2015 we now support a strong "no regrets" approach.  With no apologies to hardcore libertarians or paleoconservatives, in fact. We are not fazed one bit by the naysayers' pseudoscience (*cough* Rush Limbaugh *cough*) as it does not really "debunk" the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming. The only serious debate is about how fast it will happen, and when the tipping point (or points) will occur. It is not a matter of if, but when. And the less precarious position is to assume it is a real and urgent problem. We need to reduce CO2 emissions to the point where the CO2 concentration is at or below 350 ppm, ASAP.  And it is currently at an unsustainably high level of 400+ ppm, and growing.

Solving the problem of climate change will also help to solve the other ecological crises we are facing, for they all ultimately have the same root causes, not least of which is our insatiable addiction to dirty energy.  However, there is a right way to solve it, and several wrong ways.  Technology is important, but it won't be decisive on its own (economics geeks may recall Jevons Paradox).  The real problem is the paradigm that our society has been following, and that system is based on wetiko, the parasite of the mind and cancer of the soul.  It often seems that the only difference between capitalism and cannibalism is the spelling.

The TSAP endorses the ideas embodied in Steve Stoft's new book Carbonomics, most notably a tax-and-dividend system that would tax carbon (i.e. fossil fuels) at the source, and give all Americans an equal share of the revenue generated from this tax.  (Note that our proposal to tax natural resources and pay out an Alaska-like citizen's dividend already includes this.)  Yes, prices for various things would undoubtedly rise due to this tax, all else being equal, but the dividend will allow Americans to pay for this increase. The average American would in fact break even, but those who (directly or indirectly) use less energy than average will effectively pay less tax, while the energy hogs will effectively be taxed more, as they should be. Thus it is certainly not a regressive tax, and may even be mildly progressive. This is both the simplest and most equitable way to reduce carbon emissions as well as other forms of pollution, not to mention waste of dwindling non-renewable resources. The real challenge is getting the feds to accept something that won't directly benefit them (in the short term).  Carbonomics also includes other good ideas, such as improving how fuel economy standards are done, and crafting a better verison of the Kyoto treaty.  

In addition to the ideas in Carbonomics, we also support several other measures to help us end our addiction to fossil fuels once and for all.  Our Great American Phase-Out plan would phase out all fossil fuels by 2030 at the latest, via alternative energy, efficiency, and conservation.  One good idea to further the development of alternative energy would be the use of feed-in tariffs for renewable power sources.

We support ending net deforestation completely, and putting carbon back in the ground through carbon sequestration. One method is known as biochar, a type of charcoal made from plants that remove carbon dioxide from the air, that is subsequently buried. This is also an ancient method of soil fertilization and conservation, originally called terra preta.  It also helps preserve biodiversity.  Another crucial method would be regenerative organic farming, which also turns the soil into an effective carbon sink as well.

We've said this before, and we'll say it again.  Our ultimate goal is 100% renewable energy by 2030, but we need to hedge our bets.  We can phase out fossil fuels, or we can phase out nuclear power, but we can't do both at the same time--and fossil fuels need to be phased out first, and quickly.  Nuclear is doing a pretty good job of phasing itself out as it is.  Our nation's irrational fear of all things "nuclear" needs to die NOW.  (And speaking of which, let's irradiate all ground meat as well--if only to scare people into eating less meat, lol)

But the biggest elephant in the room (make that the elephant in the Volkswagen) is overpopulation.  It does not make for pleasant dinner conversation, but it must be addressed or else all other causes become lost causes in the long run. We absolutely need to have fewer kids, or nature will reduce our population for us, and the latter will NOT be pleasant to say the least. The TSAP believes in voluntarily reducing the total fertility rate (TFR) to 1.5-1.9 children per woman to do so, along with reducing immigration dramatically, but let us be clear that we do NOT support draconian and/or coercive measures of population control (like China has used).  We believe that more liberty is the answer, not less.   In fact, the two most effective means of reducing the birthrate are poverty reduction and female empowerment.  Fortunately, America's TFR has recently dropped to below 1.9, though it remains to be seen if that is a secular trend or just a temporary blip due to the "recession" (i.e. depression).  But clearly we cannot keep growing and growing, that's for sure (in fact, we need to shrink). And our insatiable addiction to economic growth (despite being decoupled from well-being) is also every bit as harmful as overpopulation as well, if not more so.  Growth for the sake of growth, the ideology of the cancer cell,  is clearly one of the most asinine obsessions our nation (and world) has ever had.  We clearly need to transition to a steady-state economy, most likely following a period of what Naomi Klein calls "selective degrowth" as well.  And to do that, we need a radical paradigm shift to happen yesterday.  Put another way, we need to leave room for Nature, lest it not leave room for us.  We have been warned, decades ago in fact.  Unfortunately, such warnings have largely fallen of deaf ears until very recently.

Last but not least, the TSAP now believes that as long as men remain in charge, we are all merely rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  Let's face it, it ain't gonna be us fellas who will save the world, as the past 7000 years or so have shown.  We paved paradise and put up a parking lot, we created a desert and called it peace.  We devoured and suffocated our own empire, and our proverbial 15 minutes of fame is almost up.  Only when women finally take over and reclaim their rightful position as the new leaders of the free world--and they will--will there be any real permanent solution.

Bottom line: we need to take the environment much more seriously than we do now.  We ignore it at our own peril.

Oh, by the way, wanna hear a joke?  Peak Oil.  Not saying it won't happen, of course--it will eventually peak and decline at some point--but climate change kinda trumps it.  While conventional oil most likely has already peaked, there is more than enough total oil (including unconventional) to deep-fry the Earth--and most of which needs to stay in the ground if we wish to avoid catastrophic climate change.  Fossil fuels are, after all, what Buckminster Fuller referred to as our planet's "energy savings account", which we need to wean ourselves off of and save just in case of a planetary emergency--and he first said this in 1941!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Two Minutes To Midnight

World War III may not have begun in earnest just yet, but the risk of it occurring still looms large if the conflicts over in the Middle East region continue to accelerate.  The biggest elephant in the room is not Daesh (ISIL), Iraq, Syria, Iran or any country over in that region--it is the USA and Russia, and to a lesser extent Israel, who combined possess enough nukes to kill at least 8 billion people.  All it will take is one miscommunication and BOOM--it's game over for all of humanity.  And the two primary countries have not exactly been very friendly to each other lately.  Combine that with the threat of climate change, and the World Doomsday Clock, currently set to three minutes to midnight, might as well be set to two.  A certain Iron Maiden song comes to mind.

Meanwhile, rich war profiteers of the mercenary-industrial complex (MIC) are literally making a killing off of it all.  Like the song says, the golden goose is on the loose, and it's never out of season.  Major General Smedley Butler wrote an excellent book about it back in 1935, War Is A Racket, that should be required reading for everyone and would seem to apply a fortiori to our time.  The profiteers/racketeers and their sycophantic lackeys in government keep on pushing for more and more American military involvement in Iraq, Syria, and other countries, when it is clear that America's meddling essentially created Daesh in the first place.  In fact, not only did the 2003 invasion of Iraq pave the way for the current crisis by destabilizing Iraq, but the USA had also been arming various "rebel" groups in Syria in the hopes of toppling Assad.   And many of those "rebels" turned traitor and joined al-Qaeda and what would become Daesh as well.  It is exceedingly likely that the oligarchs did so deliberately in order to further their Machiavellian machinations.

The time to end all of this insanity and evil is yesterday.  The TSAP hereby proposes a law be passed that we call the War Pigs Act, named after both the ineffectual War Powers Resolution of 1973 and the Black Sabbath song War Pigs.  The first part of the new law would put some teeth in the War Powers Act by closing the loopholes and holding the President liable for any consequences of a war that is not authorized by Congress and is not during a state of emergency caused by an attack on the USA.  And absent a formal declaration of war by Congress, absolutely no war may last beyond 90 days (60 days followed by a 30 day withdrawal), save for a temporary authorization of force that expires 90 days after the authorization passes or 180 days after the war began, whichever occurs first.  After that, the must be a formal declaration of war, or the war must end.  Period.  The second part of the law would implement some of Maj. Gen. Butler's recommendations from his book, taking into account that we currently have an all-volunteer military.  Take the profit out of war, first of all.  And for any war lasting beyond six months (which by definition would now require a formal declaration of war), require an annual limited plebiscite of all citizens that would be eligible for military service.  Make it a non-secret ballot such that those who vote "yes" would be drafted if we run out of volunteers, followed by those who abstain from the vote if necessary.  Those who vote "no" would be exempt from any such draft.  A kind of "consensual conscription", if you will.  We would all have skin in the game.  Women would be included as well, but before they draft the very first woman, we should draft men in their 40s and 50s first.  The demographic group who starts the wars but rarely fights.  It's only fair, right fellas?

Watch as war becomes a thing of the past.  As Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler said, "TO HELL WITH WAR!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Another Day, Another Horrible Mass Shooting

Today there was yet another mass shooting, this time in California, killing at least 14 people.  It seems that mass shootings have become a daily occurrence in recent years--in the USA at least.  But the rest of the industrialized world doesn't really seem to have this kind of problem.  Why is that?  Well, there's always....

GUNS.

America is the land of 300 million guns, and combined with a culture that is crazier and more violent than most other "developed" countries, and much more extreme inequality, it is a very lethal combination indeed.  Of course, the biggest elephant in the room is the fact that at least 96% of mass shooters are MEN.  Thanks to the patriarchy and the sort of "toxic masculinity" that it creates, combined with the above factors, too many men end up resorting to violence.  Like the Iron Maiden song says, "a briefcase, a lunch, and a man on the edge".  With a gun. I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right?

The True Spirit of America Party would like to apologize for our heretofore rather lax stance on the gun issue.  Mea culpa indeed.  However, we do not believe that banning all guns for everyone, or adopting British or European-style gun laws, as the genie is already out of the bottle, and there is also that whole Constitution thingy as well.  Thus, the TSAP recommends that the following measures be taken:

  1. Bring back an improved 1994 assault-weapons ban yesterday, this time with more teeth.  Include all magazines with more than ten rounds in the ban as well.  (The TSAP used to oppose this until recently)
  2. Remove the 20-year ban on gun violence research, yesterday.  (We were unaware of this)
  3. End the gun-show loophole and implement universal background checks.  (The TSAP always supported this)
  4. Put a significant excise tax on all bullets/ammo, like Chris Rock recommended.  (The TSAP has always supported this)
  5. Treat ammo sales the same as gun sales.
  6. Pass a "one gun a month" law at the federal level. (The TSAP has supported this for some time now)
  7. Require reporting of lost or stolen guns. (The TSAP has been neutral on this in the past)
  8. Regulate firearms like other consumer products in terms of health and safety standards--currently such standards are nonexistent.  (The TSAP has been neutral on this in the past)
  9. Improve enforcement of existing gun laws, which tend not to be enforced very well these days, and improve state reporting of prohibited persons to NICS.  Also, prohibit anyone on the terrorism watch list from buying any guns, period.  (The TSAP has generally supported this all along)
  10. And last but not least, improve our woefully-inadequate mental healthcare system.  (The TSAP has always supported this)
Of course, to truly solve our gun violence problem would require a fundamental overhaul and transformation of our society, which the TSAP clearly supports.  We need to go from being what Riane Eisler calls a "dominator" society to more of a "partnership" society, as the latter kind is far less violent overall.  But in the meantime, the aforementioned recommendations would go a long way towards taking the dangerous edge off of the problem.

UPDATE I:  Since we posted this, we have since learned that one of the two now-deceased lone-wolf shooters involved was a woman (the other was her husband), and that this was an act of terrorism apparently inspired (but not conducted) by Daesh (ISIL).  But since 96-99% of mass shootings are committed by men, and most mass shootings in this country are done by white, non-Muslim wingnuts, weirdos, disgruntled employees, psychopaths, and other domestic terrorists, our general points about mass shootings still stand.  In fact, that shooting was one of two mass shootings on the very same day, and so far 2015 has literally seen more mass shootings than days.  Enough!

UPDATE II:  Since we posted the previous update, it seems that there are glaring inconsistencies between what eyewitnesses saw and what the mainstream media is reporting as fact.   Witnesses recall seeing three large, athletic white men dressed in tactical gear carrying assault rifles, NOT a Middle Eastern looking man his 90 pound wife like the official story claims.  False flag, anyone? Things that (should) make you go, hmmm.  Either way, enough is enough already!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How to Humanely Euthanize Capitalism for Good

With all of the latest articles about how climate change is likely worse than we thought, and how our fragile biosphere that we all depend on is in increasingly grave danger, it is becoming increasingly clear how unsustainable our current system really is.  We are bumping up against the limits to growth, and only a fool or an economist (same difference) could believe that infinite growth on a finite world is possible.  And make no mistake, capitalism cannot exist without growth, so capitalism must die--or the whole planet dies including us.  So which choice will we make?  The TSAP has already outlined several means of solving the world's vast and interconnected problems in our party platform as well as in our annual State of the Planet Address.  Most notably, we need to phase out the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible before we irreversibly burn up planet, and we need to end our addiction to growth for the sake of growth, the ideology of the cancer cell which eventually kills its host.  But the prospects are looking increasingly bleak that our recommendations will actually be put into practice given the current leadership in Washington who continue to blithely fiddle while the Earth burns.  So what can be done instead?

Enter this seemingly crazy idea.  While it may seem like a sop to the fossil fool industry at first glance, it will actually be giving them the rope for them to hang themselves with.  And not only will it kill Big Oil and Dirty Coal, but it will also humanely euthanize capitalism in general via the one thing that capitalism simply cannot survive--ABUNDANCE.  That's right, capitalism needs scarcity to function, and it has done a marvelous job of creating artificial scarcity for the past 500 years or so.  But uncontrolled abundance, whether of resources, energy, or capital, is basically a fatal overdose for the system of capitalism.  And thanks to the current exponential growth of renewable energy and related technologies, such abundance is very possible in the near future.  And it will be decentralized, so the system can't readily control or stop it once it gets going.  All of this dovetails rather nicely with Buckminster Fuller's vision of a pragmatic utopian future.

If we go that route, it actually would be possible to simultaneously implement the carbon tax-and-dividend idea in Steve Stoft's Carbonomics, provided that 100% of the revenue is refunded to We the People, and that the tax rate starts out low so as not to front-load it too quickly.  The timing is very important.  But any other type of carbon tax scheme would be out of the question, as would most other future restrictions on fossil fuels (especially oil) until the cost solar and wind energy drops below that of such fossil fuels.

Another idea that the TSAP had once laughed at can also be given a chance as well:  the Capital Homestead Act.  While it may seem like a pro-capitalist sop to Big Business on the surface, it will actually kill capitalism in the long run as well due to an overabundance of capital and the fact that the workers and owners would essentially become one and the same.  Combine it with the Universal Exchange Tax and a Universal Basic Income Guarantee, and the overall impact will be maximized and accelerated. 

Of course, capitalism is not the only problem.  The 7000 year old War on Women, often known by its euphemistic name "patriarchy", is every bit as much a cause of our world's problems, and the two are basically joined at the hip.  While patriarchy can exist without capitalism, capitalism cannot exist without patriarchy.  And both evil systems are killing this planet and need to end, yesterday.  Let's face it, it ain't gonna be us fellas who will save the world, that's for sure. Fortunately, women have been making huge strides (while men are becoming increasingly redundant), and if current trends continue it seems likely that women will become the new leaders of the free world in the not-too-distant future, as Buckminster Fuller himself once predicted. In fact, that is one of the few things that the futurists are virtually unanimous about.

At least we hope that will be the case.  But timing is everything, and we have a very narrow window of opportunity.  So what are we waiting for?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tell Congress: NO MORE WARS!


Six months after the current war against ISIS began, President Obama is currently trying to get Congress to pass a new Authorization for the Use of Miltary Force (AUMF) to continue this war up to three more years.

As far as what the Obama administration hopes to accomplish by fighting fire with gasoline, we really don't know.  But doing so is unlikely to really achieve anything good in the long run, and will likely just make things worse overall.  And indeed, it is already backfiring, as anyone who is paying attention can clearly see.  The original justification for "humanitarian" bombing, namely rescuing the Yazidis who were trapped on a mountain and were about to be exterminated, has since evaporated, and any other justification for further airstrikes is pure mission creep, plain and simple.  Pretty soon they will be calling for boots on the ground when the airstrikes inevitably fail to eradicate ISIS/ISIL/IS or whatever they happen to call themselves this week, and we all know where that leads.  Truly, the road to hell is paved with (ostensibly) good intentions.

Honestly, there really is only one solution in that part of the world, and we are only half-joking about this one.  Give every woman over there an AK-47 and tell them to take over their countries and mow down anyone who stands in their way.  Let Allah sort it out.  Problem solved.  But of course, none of the powers that be over here would be too keen on that.  After all, they wouldn't want women in THIS country getting any ideas, now would they?  Though replacing all of our current Big Wetiko "leaders" with women would really not be a bad idea at all, come to think of it.  Perhaps then the USA would not be so eager to continue on our omnicidal path of endless war and imperialism, which let's face it, is fundamentally a "guy thing".

Thus, we all need to ask Congress to NOT authorize any more of this stupid, futile, and unnecessary war.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The SeaTac Success Story

On January 1, 2014, the Seattle suburb of SeaTac, Washington became the first town in the nation to raise its minimum wage to $15/hour.  They did it in one step with barely any lead time, albeit with some exemptions such as businesses with fewer than 30 employees (and the courts soon ruled that airport employees are outside its jurisdiction and are therefore exempt as well).  And the Koch-roaches and their disgusting ilk (along with some local business owners as well) were playing Chicken Little and predictably claiming that it would "destroy jobs" and all that jazz.

But guess what?  The sky didn't fall after all.  In fact, raising the minimum wage to $15 turned out to be a major shot in the arm for the town's economy, who saw a major revitalization in the past year.  Local businesses were expanding, not laying off employees en masse like the naysayers predicted.  And the reason is simple economics:  when workers have more money, they have more to spend in the local economy, which creates more jobs and so on in a virtuous cycle.  A win-win-win situation for everyone but the plutocrats and their sycophantic lackeys.  So we can consider the naysayers to be debunked. 

The TSAP supports raising the federal minimum wage to at least $10/hour if not higher, and many state and local minimum wages to at least $12 if not $15.  Now that SeaTac was the guinea pig, soon followed by Seattle, we can now say that $15/hour is no longer terra incognita.  So even a federal minimum wage of $15 should still be considered as an option, which we would support as well.  Specifically, we want a general minimum wage of $15 for workers over 18 years of age.  Workers under 18 should be paid at least 80% of that amount, or $12/hour.  Ditto for workers of any age in the first 30 days on the job, as a "training wage".  There should be no tip credits either.  Small business with fewer than 10 employees would be exempt from the wage hike, and would be able to pay the same as now.  Businesses with 10-30 employees would have the new minimum wage phased in gradually over two or three years, while businesses with more than 30 employees would be have to pay $15/hour within six months (i.e. two fiscal quarters) of the new law's enactment.  Otherwise, there should be no exceptions, period.  And for the first few years of the new law, there should be special tax credits for employers who hire workers under age 25 and over 55, and even greater tax credits for hiring employees under 20 years of age.  That should alleviate any hyperbolic concerns about a higher minimum wage somehow pricing these "less valuable" workers out of the market--which has never really been conclusively proven anyway.

So what are we waiting for?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Nuclear "Renaissance" That Wasn't--And Probably Never Will Be

After recently giving our annual State of the Planet Address for 2015, we at the TSAP have begun to re-evaluate our energy policy for the future.  Since 2009, our party has been heavily pushing the idea of a "nuclear renaissance" as a complement to our renewable energy future.  Such an idea would entail a massive building of nuclear power plants nationwide (if not worldwide) utilizing the latest, state-of-the-art technology.  And doing so would theoretically allow us to phase-out fossil fuels more quickly than if we stuck only to renewable power sources in our future energy mix.  And who knows, perhaps even fusion power!

All of which sounds pretty good until you consider all of the rather sobering facts about nuclear power specifically and about energy in general.  The truth is, nuclear power is actually in decline, and has been for quite some time now.  Perhaps that is because policymakers are beginning to see the writing on the wall:  nuclear energy is simply getting more and more expensive over time, while at the same time renewables are getting cheaper and more efficient every year.  And while nuclear does not emit greenhouse gases directly, it actually does lead to significant emissions during the lifecycle as a whole (mining, milling, processing, transportation, construction, and decommissioning), and is not nearly as "green" as its proponents claim, even if it is somewhat better than fossil fuels.  Which is hardly a ringing endorsement for nuclear, since saying it's "not as bad as coal" is a rather pitifully low bar to clear.  And then of course there is that whole Fukushima thing, which by the way is still "hot" even many years later.  As for fusion, it always seems to be perpetually 25 years away, as they were saying 50 years ago.

But probably the most damning thing of all about a "nuclear renaissance" is that its huge demands would crowd out the resources (capital, labor, infrastructure, and yes, energy in the form of fossil fuels) that would otherwise be devoted to the making the renewable energy transition possible.  The time to build the huge number of nuke plants required was about 20-30 years ago, and that ship has clearly sailed.  Renewables are the way to go if we are to heed the warnings of climate scientists that say that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in the next 15 years--there is simply not enough time to build nukes.  Additionally, it should be clear that decentralized energy is the way of the future, as well as flexibility, and nuclear power is basically an energy dinosaur that inherently fails to deliver on both counts.  Thus, as of 2015 we have officially dropped the idea of a massive nuclear power expansion from our party platform.  That said, however, we at the TSAP still believe that nuclear power should not be phased out until after fossil fuels are, ideally by 2030 at the latest, and we are not against building a small number of new nuke plants between now and 2030.  Like the Union of Concerned Scientists, we are now neither pro-nuclear nor anti-nuclear, but we are pro-renewables and anti-fossil fuels overall.  (But we still think ground meat should be irradiated.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

State of the Planet Address 2015

On January 20, 2015, the President gave his annual State of the Union Address.  And every year since 2011, the TSAP has been giving our annual State of the Planet Address around January 20.  Yes, we know it is a bit of a downer to say the least.  So sit down, take off your rose-colored glasses, and read on:

Our planet is in grave danger, and has been for quite some time now.  We face several serious long term problems:  climate change, deforestation/desertification, loss of biodiversity, overharvesting, energy crises, and of course pollution of many kinds.  Polar ice caps are melting.  Rainforests have been shrinking by 50 acres per minute.  Numerous species are going extinct every year.  Soil is eroding rapidly.  Food shortages have occurred in several countries in recent years.  Weather has been getting crazier each year, most likely due to climate change.  We have had numerous wildfires, floods followed by long periods of drought, and a "storm of the century" at least once a year for the past few years.   And it is only getting worse every year.

None of this is an accident of course.  These problems are man-made, and their solutions must also begin and end with humans.  We cannot afford to sit idly by any longer, lest we face hell and high water in the not-too-distant future.  Our unsustainable scorched-earth policy towards the planet has to end.  Yesterday.

While we do not invoke the precautionary principle for all issues, we unequivocally do for the issue of climate change and any other environmental issues of comparable magnitude.  In fact, for something as dire as climate change, as of 2015 we now support a strong "no regrets" approach.  With no apologies to hardcore libertarians or paleoconservatives, in fact. We are not fazed one bit by the naysayers' pseudoscience (*cough* Rush Limbaugh *cough*) as it does not really "debunk" the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming. The only serious debate is about how fast it will happen, and when the tipping point (or points) will occur. It is not a matter of if, but when. And the less precarious position is to assume it is a real and urgent problem. We need to reduce CO2 emissions to the point where the CO2 concentration is at or below 350 ppm, ASAP.  And it is currently at an unsustainably high level of 400+ ppm, and growing.

Solving the problem of climate change will also help to solve the other ecological crises we are facing, for they all ultimately have the same root causes, not least of which is our insatiable addiction to dirty energy.  However, there is a right way to solve it, and several wrong ways.  Technology is important, but it won't be decisive on its own (economics geeks may recall Jevons Paradox).  The real problem is the paradigm that our society has been following, and that system is based on wetiko, the parasite of the mind and cancer of the soul.  It often seems that the only difference between capitalism and cannibalism is the spelling.

The TSAP endorses the ideas embodied in Steve Stoft's new book Carbonomics, most notably a tax-and-dividend system that would tax carbon (i.e. fossil fuels) at the source, and give all Americans an equal share of the revenue generated from this tax.  (Note that our proposal to tax natural resources and pay out an Alaska-like citizen's dividend already includes this.)  Yes, prices for various things would undoubtedly rise due to this tax, all else being equal, but the dividend will allow Americans to pay for this increase. The average American would in fact break even, but those who (directly or indirectly) use less energy than average will effectively pay less tax, while the energy hogs will effectively be taxed more, as they should be. Thus it is certainly not a regressive tax, and may even be mildly progressive. This is both the simplest and most equitable way to reduce carbon emissions as well as other forms of pollution, not to mention waste of dwindling non-renewable resources. The real challenge is getting the feds to accept something that won't directly benefit them (in the short term).  Carbonomics also includes other good ideas, such as improving how fuel economy standards are done, and crafting a better verison of the Kyoto treaty.  

In addition to the ideas in Carbonomics, we also support several other measures to help us end our addiction to fossil fuels once and for all.  Our Great American Phase-Out plan would phase out all fossil fuels by 2030 at the latest, via alternative energy, efficiency, and conservation.  One good idea to further the development of alternative energy would be the use of feed-in tariffs for renewable power sources.

We support ending net deforestation completely, and putting carbon back in the ground through carbon sequestration. One method is known as biochar, a type of charcoal made from plants that remove carbon dioxide from the air, that is subsequently buried. This is also an ancient method of soil fertilization and conservation, originally called terra preta.  It also helps preserve biodiversity.  Another crucial method would be regenerative organic farming, which also turns the soil into an effective carbon sink as well.

We've said this before, and we'll say it again.  Our ultimate goal is 100% renewable energy by 2030, but we need to hedge our bets.  We can phase out fossil fuels, or we can phase out nuclear power, but we can't do both at the same time--and fossil fuels need to be phased out first, and quickly.  Our nation's irrational fear of all things "nuclear" needs to die NOW.  (And speaking of which, let's irradiate all ground meat as well--if only to scare people into eating less meat, lol)

But the biggest elephant in the room (make that the elephant in the Volkswagen) is overpopulation.  It does not make for pleasant dinner conversation, but it must be addressed or else all other causes become lost causes in the long run. We absolutely need to have fewer kids, or nature will reduce our population for us, and the latter will NOT be pleasant to say the least. The TSAP believes in voluntarily reducing the total fertility rate (TFR) to 1.5-1.9 children per woman to do so, along with reducing immigration dramatically, but let us be clear that we do NOT support draconian and/or coercive measures of population control (like China has used).  We believe more liberty is the answer, not less.   In fact, the two most effective means of reducing the birthrate are poverty reduction and female empowerment.  Fortunately, America's TFR has recently dropped to below 1.9, though it remains to be seen if that is a secular trend or just a temporary blip due to the "recession" (i.e. depression).  But clearly we cannot keep growing and growing, that's for sure (in fact, we need to shrink). And our insatiable addiction to economic growth (despite being decoupled from well-being) is also every bit as harmful as overpopulation as well, if not more so.  Growth for the sake of growth, the ideology of the cancer cell,  is clearly one of the most asinine obsessions our nation (and world) has ever had.  We clearly need to transition to a steady-state economy, most likely following a period of degrowth as well.  And to do that, we need a radical paradigm shift to happen yesterday.  Put another way, we need to leave room for Nature, lest it not leave room for us.  We have been warned, decades ago in fact.  Unfortunately, such warnings have largely fallen of deaf ears until very recently.

Bottom line: we need to take the environment much more seriously than we do now.  We ignore it at our own peril.

Oh, by the way, wanna hear a joke?  Peak Oil.  Not saying it won't happen, of course--it will eventually peak and decline at some point--but climate change kinda trumps it.  While conventional oil most likely has already peaked, there is more than enough total oil (including unconventional) to deep-fry the Earth--and most of which needs to stay in the ground if we wish to avoid catastrophic climate change.  Fossil fuels are, after all, what Buckminster Fuller referred to as our planet's "energy savings account", which we need to wean ourselves off of and save just in case of a planetary emergency--and he first said this in 1941!