Sunday, October 7, 2012

Post No. 178a: Why the Presidential Debate Last Week was a Waste of Our Time

Why a waste of time? Because the candidates debated all around the issues that matter. We will not be able to solve problems in this country until we stop doing two things: (a) politicizing discussions simply to appeal to the emotional component of voters; and (b) suggesting that our problems can be addressed by simply implementing Policy A or Policy B.

We previously generated this piece under the title, "If Tin Whistles are Made of Tin, What are Credit Default Swaps Made Of?" We believe that the neglected issues discussed previously (at the height of our financial crisis) in this piece continue to be applicable to our current situation. It's time for us to get busy folks.

© 2009 and 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

There’s a reason the Logistician likes the Laughingman. The Laughingman can reduce crap to its irreducible aroma.

We generally try to avoid taking sides in our discussions. It just doesn’t get us anywhere. No party or ideologue can legitimately lay claim to the concepts Common Sense and Personal Responsibility, both of which we try to weave into each original article posted.

Our goal is to get 95% of the heads nodding. Sometimes we get close. Others times, it’s a reach.

We recently sought topics from you, with the hope that we would all learn something new through the exchange, and take away something of value. Exasperated by all the barking about our economic situation, the Logistician posted the following comment on a number of blogs he frequents. His thoughts jived with the topic suggested by the Laughingman, and thus the title of this piece.

“We as a society, and as individuals, have to take responsibility for where we find ourselves today. By doing so, we might be able to turn this thing around.

“We have a tendency to forget the basic, big picture stuff, and then we complain when things deteriorate.

“Things on planet Earth are actually quite simple. (Gore Vidal once referred to us as the ‘United States of Amnesia.’ Perhaps we’re such a young nation, we haven’t fully learned to appreciate history.) Consider the following:

“1. Innovation and technology, leading to building and creating 'things,' determines EVERYTHING in a civilized society. (If you don't personally know a scientist or inventor in your neighborhood advancing society's interests, or some kid who WANTS TO DO SO, you have a long term problem.

“2. New technology, followed by the production of things using the technology, generates JOBS. The tax revenues derived from those technological enterprises determine what government ultimately can do. No innovation and no production of things - no tax revenues.

“3. The more hours that one works, the more one produces. (Up to a point, of course. We do not want people collapsing from exhaustion.) Exhaustion occurs way beyond 40, or even 60 hours a week for that matter. Take a break, and you run the risk of falling behind your competition.

“4. When a substantial segment of your society has to spend the vast majority of their time to cover the essentials, that segment isn’t particularly useful. It’s no different than the role played by mass agriculture in history. Food production has to be relegated to a few, so that the others can engage in the advancement of innovation and technology, and the trade and exchange of the products produced.

“5. The simplest way to reduce rising health care costs (and thus the health care component of our deficit)? Stop eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, smoking Camels, drinking Colt 45, and hit the treadmill. You'll see a dramatic improvement in health, and at a pretty low cost.

“6. Retirement (when workers still have talent and the ability to contribute) kills your society and generates other problems, especially when you shift tax revenue to people who sit on their asses for years. Capable people who work until the day they die are more productive members of society, physically and mentally. And, they feel that they have some value and stake in society.

“7. War is not a revenue generating enterprise. There are few positive ramifications. It’s a resource drain. It kills productive members of society (who could be inventing some stuff), and gets people pissed off at you.

“8. When you treat any segment of society unfairly, for whatever reason, they become less motivated, and less capable, to work in concert with you to pursue long-term societal interests. It makes more sense to have them voluntarily and emotionally 'buy into' your societal goals. They'll be more motivated .”

If one looks back in history, it’s clear that this is simply Common Sense.

A society which rationalizes its poor choices for too long a period of time is ultimately doomed. It might ride its success for a short period of time, but not for very long.

We, as a society, are ignoring all of the stuff that really matters. We're fooling ourselves while we engage in meaningless debates.

And wasting time.

It's like a boat sinking because of a leak, and the sailors are all arguing, while blowing tin whistles, about who’s responsible for the leak, and what mechanism to use to get the water out of the vessel.

If tin whistles are made of tin, what are credit default swap derivatives made of?

We’d like to know.

We also approached our current problems from a different perspective in another piece entitled, "Pigs Get Fat; Hogs Get Slaughtered." Address the issues raised in these two pieces, and we will be on our way back to fiscal and societal stability.


  1. ‘Spector,

    I’ll be honest: I can’t really get into all of the motivational gestalt when I live in a nation (world?) wherein such an approach is often used to justify massive abrogation of personal liberties, wealth transfers and economic exploitation. I can think of nothing more de-motivational . . . and I prefer not to participate; blame it upon my status as a self-describe accidental capitalist if you wish.

    That said, I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis regarding the “empty-suit” presidential debates – we no longer deal in political substance, only in illusion. What does one expect? Simply watch either of the candidates’ advertisements and see how they dumb-down their message for the proletariat’s consumption – I refuse to vote for anyone who serially insults my intellect . . . and that’s just for starters.

    As you are soliciting topical suggestions, how about this:

    It seems that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is going door-to-door in my county (and everyone else’s, I suppose) flashing badges, asking imposing questions regarding the health of households’ occupants and generally scaring the hell out of people with their Big Brother act. The effort is benignly named the “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey” (NHANES); of course, they seem particularly interested in “the children”. Once one agrees to participate in the survey, he is then expected to present himself for an “examination” at the CDC “mobile center”.

    Never mind the article’s context regarding some possible “suspicious activity”; to me, it is indeed all suspicious activity. It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots between this latest breach of the spirit (if not the letter) of theFourth Amendment and the imminent imposition of the Obamacare mandate.

    I have Googled this story every way I know how, but I can find very little mention of it online or, more interestingly, any commentary expressing outrage at the invasion of personal space and information which it represents. Surely I can’t be the only one who is pissed-off about this intrusion / intimidation – even though it is technically “voluntary”. If nothing else impresses you about this heavy-handed approach, just imagine the cost to the U.S. taxpayer – all so that the government and their partners, the insurance industry, will know just how to “help” you manage your diet and how much to charge you for your mandatory care.

    The Independent Cuss

  2. This is certainly a timely statement about how we could make our economy, health, wealth and well begin better! Looks we didn't pay attention when you first posted it. Thanks for sharing it again.

  3. Thanks much Dan for providing us with your comment. We value your contributions to our forum.

    We took time to digest one particular sentence in your comment, "Looks [like] we didn't pay attention when you first posted it."

    Dr. Laura, when she was still a relationship counselor and before she became an expert on morality, used to say that adults need be only told things twice. He claimed that they may not have heard or understood the message the first time. Upon being told the second time (assuming their receptiveness to the message), one would assume that they would ask for further clarification or take affirmative steps to understand it better before moving on. He further noted that when the messenger found himself or herself communicating the message a third time, they should assume that the listener was not interested in the message.

    We don't claim to have the key to the economic revival treasure chest. Furthermore, we don’t claim to be professors, nor should we be telling others what we or they “need to do.” We are not know-it-alls. Upon looking back on our post, some could reasonably place us in the same category as the politicians and policy Machiavellis. We just want to raise issues and consider issues not frequently discussed. After all, we believe that, “There are more than 2 or 3 ways to view any issue. There are at least 27. ™”

    What is most interesting to us is that although we think that the issues we raised would theoretically be on the minds of the majority of our fellow citizens, apparently that is not the reality. Our fellow citizens, at least the vocal ones, seem to be more drawn to other issues which we hear on a daily basis through the media outlets. Our goal in raising the issues raises is to focus on our collective and individual personal responsibility for where we find ourselves today, and the need for us to recognize that in order to address our current problems.

    Thanks as always.

  4. Thanks much 'Cuss for weighing in. You are one of our loyal followers and we appreciate it.

    To paraphrase David Letterman, "You're nothing if not prescient." Many contend that the upcoming presidential election is about the extent that we want government in our lives. All week, we jotted down various news stories involving issues where the government is currently involved to some degree, and we asked ourselves whether we would be better off without any government involvement whatsoever. Check out our next original post.

    Thanks as always.

  5. Hi pretty lady! I am your newest follower and was hoping that you might stop by my blog and return the favor!


  6. Thanks again Bulletholes in the Mailbox for reading yet another one of our posts. We appreciate it.

    You know what we just realized today? Candidate Romney has been arguing that President Obama has been soft on China in terms of monetary policy and trade. While we appreciate that President Nixon initiated discussions about trade with China, it seems to us that the private sector, using the free market capitalist systems, really drove us deep into the relationship with China. So why is pro-business and government interference candidate Romney suggesting that an arm of the government should get involved to sort out some problems?

  7. Just a few minutes ago, we heard a political candidate for a very significant office say the following" "Sure, we are struggling now, but we are the best state in the nation."

    This particular state is in the high 30s or mid-40s in connection with any positive national criteria. How can someone stand there and make such a ridiculous claim? We expect this out of used car salespeople; we shouldn't tolerate such BS from people who control and spend our tax dollars. It doesn't matter the party to which they belong.

    The more troubling issue is that some folks in that state actually believe that they are the best state in the nation.

  8. Did you notice that there was no mention of "climate change" or "global warming" during the debates? Have you been paying attention to the drought conditions affecting the nation's farmers? Are you aware that its significance is similar to the first year of the Dust Bowl?

  9. “While we appreciate that President Nixon initiated discussions about trade with China, it seems to us that the private sector, using the free market capitalist system, really drove us deep into the relationship with China. So why is pro-business and anti-government interference candidate Romney suggesting that an arm of the government should get involved to sort out some problems?”


    Firstly, let’s tell the truth: Nixon was the first in a long line of leaders who sold us out to China. It was once technically illegal to allow trade with an enemy foreign nation, and you will notice that it was largely during the Nixon administration that doing so began to emerge as common practice – literally putting us at the mercy of those who would bury us. It is only by dint of an obscure act of Congress that a loophole exists to allow trade with our enemies -- otherwise, we would not be trading with China or most (all?) of the Mideast nations. Whether this treasonous exception was crafted during or prior to the Nixon years I have no idea; obviously, a bit of research is in order.

    It may be because my Cold-Warrior father dedicated years of his life (and as it turned out, the final years) to combating an accurately-predicted Chinese takeover of the U.S. economy, but to me the concept of a “free market” does not somehow confer a license to permit or to commit corporate treason. And yes, it is an inconvenient truth that corporations can indeed commit treason.
    The Independent Cuss

  10. ‘Spector,

    Interesting connection you make there, since it was not “climate change” which in any way created the Dust Bowl. Rather, that particular disaster was caused when the practice of over-farming and ignorance of effective irrigation methods converged with the inevitability of a sustained drought.

    The Independent Cuss

  11. I don’t know that much about it, but I sense that Mr. Romney is probably a fair and principled man most of the time, but he is a lot like character in a book I read, who was the owner of an outfit called “The Twentieth Century Motor Company”. The owner was more interested in “getting money” than ‘making money”. Mr. Romney seems like that kind of fellow, who would do anything to get money.

  12. Hmmm, Independent Cuss. Are you suggesting that it was a joint effort on the part of government and the private sector? In your opinion, is there a difference in the manner in which we treat trade with Communist China, North Vietnam, and Cuba, and if so, why the differing positions?

  13. It was not our intention to suggest that "climate change" created the Dust Bowl. Your comments about over'farming and irrigation are correct. However, we were focusing on the similar drought conditions - the lack of rain.From what we have read, there is virtually the same lack of rain now as was the case during the first year of the Dust Bowl.

    The next question is what is causing the lack of rain at the current time. Some argue that it is global warming / climate change.

    It just so happens that earlier today, we ran across an article in Time magazine addressing the subject. Once we have an opportunity to review it in depth, we'll share it with you.

  14. “So why is pro-business and anti-government interference candidate Romney suggesting that an arm of the government should get involved to sort out some problems?”


    My opinion only, but Romney intends to “do something” about the serial sell-out of America to China the way that Bush intended to “do something” about illegal immigration.

    And no, that statement isn’t intended an endorsement for Obama; rather, it is an endorsement for a Third Party to provide us with a real choice of leadership.

    The Independent Cuss

  15. Bulletholes, we agree with your statement to the effect that Mr. Romney is probably a fair and principled man, deep down and to the core. His mistake in life, in our humble opinion, was entering politics. We would not have a problem if he became President, just as we would not have a problem if President Obama was re-elected. We believe that they are both good men trying their best to serve their nation.

    Politics, namely the political system, transforms people both while campaigning, and while in office. In particular, there are some unfortunate, negative realities associated with trying to get elected. Mr. Romney is a moderate Republican who had to wear various masks and costumes, and take on uncomfortable roles to appease the varying subsets of the Republican Party, particularly the most extreme elements of his party. Our suspicion is that having to do so is tearing him up inside.

    That being said, should he be elected, there is no question in our minds that he will not take some of the extreme positions he expressed during the campaign season, and that he will move to center. Everything will be just fine on the leadership front. What needs to change for America to turn its act around is for we American citizens to get our individual acts together and take more personal responsibility for improving the economic situation, and improving our health so that healthcare costs fall.

    We, as a nation, need to stop abdicating responsibility for our collective failings as individuals and placing the blame on our so-called leaders. Finally, as we have said on many occasions, we need more scientists, engineers, inventors, and innovation. That's what drives industry and the economy.

  16. We agree, and you're probably right 'Cuss. But wouldn't such a move be contrary to the GOP's "free trade," "non-government involvement" philosophy? How is he going to reconcile that with his base? We're not suggesting that it should not be done, but will he buck the wishes of his Party?

  17. ‘Spector and Bulletholes,

    I disagree. I honestly believe that anyone who enters the partisan election mud-sling at this level is by definition corrupt.

    Take, for example, that the news just reported that Paul Ryan will be visiting South Carolina, a “swing state”, and conducting a $1,000-per-plate dinner. It will then cost you an additional $5,000 to have your photo taken with him(!!!)

    This is ludicrous. I was already sufficiently pissed-off that the presidential candidates visit only the swing states while they are whoring to get elected, then promptly forget about us for the next four years; but putting a high price on your dinner company and your photograph—please tell me what the difference between the world’s oldest profession and THIS would be! And yes, I realize that they all “do it” – same as common street hookers. Only this crowd does it because they are addicted to wealth and power, not drugs.

    If these are some of the “unfortunate, negative realities associated with trying to get elected”, what makes you think that they will magically shift from prostitute to paragon once they get into office? I KNOW that they won’t, and I don’t trust “a one of ‘em”. Obviously, the entire system begs for revision.

    This is why the Republi-Crat establishment so fears the emergence of a strong Third Party: they know that such a party might just re-write the rules of engagement and derail their two-four-six-year money train. Be honest with yourself: do you really imagine that the massive amount of money grabbed during each campaign ultimately somehow trickles-down to We, the Little People? Of course not—it goes to further entrench the party structure and to their already-wealthy accomplices. Quite a little racket they have going . . .

    Whew – now that I’ve vented, I feel better.

    The Independent Cuss

  18. 'Spector,

    Allow me to clarify: Oromney (interchangeable with Robama) will say whatever it takes to get elected by We, the Fatted Calves. Of course he will lie to the people while prostituting himself into office – then betray us to the wishes of his Party and his fat-cat buddies once safely ensconced for four years.

    Isn’t that how the system is supposed to work? I would suppose so, since rarely have I seen it work differently.

    The Independent Cuss

  19. 'Cuss, two quick comments before addressing the substance of your comment:

    (a) We paid particular attention to the phrase, "at this level," in your sentence, "I honestly believe that anyone who enters the partisan election mud-sling at this level is by definition corrupt;" and

    (b) When we read, "Whew - now that I've vented, I feel better...," we fell out laughing, because believe it or not, WE felt better that you had gotten it out of your system!

    Back at you later.

    BTW, did we send you a link to the Smithsonian article about the Vice-Presidential Museum and the interesting cast of characters who have held that office? That may help explain the characters who run for president....

  20. You have succinctly expressed the "unfortunate, negative realities associated with trying to get elected." It is built into the system to some extent, but also reflects the incredibly complex multi-cultural nature of the populace. There are some advantages (and some detriment) associated with a homogenous society.

    We think that it is not as pronounced at the local and county level, but starts to reveal itself at the state level. In your prior comment to another post, you stated, "I honestly believe that anyone who enters the partisan election mud-sling at this level is by definition corrupt." We said that your use of the phrase, "... at this level," was noteworthy.


"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense Should be a Way of Life"™