The More Things Change, The More they Remain the Same

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws;
giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Armageddon Forecasting

An engineering firm is producing live updated fallout distribution maps. You can see the prevailing wind patterns above potential Pakistani and Indian targets, and where the wind will carry the fallout over 72 hours. Whenever the bombs fall, you can check the live update and see where most of the radioactivity will go. But some of it will end up in your body, even if you live in Antarctica.

Fake Economics

Ever since that day, I’ve been reading a continual stream of fake economics statistics like this NYPost story that claims New York City will lose $83 Billion due to the 9/11 disaster. This is a blatant lie. Let me explain a few basic economic facts.

Imagine we own a corner lemonade stand. Our booth is a table and some glassware we bought for $1 at a garage sale. We sell $2 of lemonade a day, and it costs us $1 in materials, so our profit is $1 per day. If the neighbor kid comes over and smashes our stand to bits, our total economic loss is $1. If he comes over and steals our sugar and lemons for that day, our loss is $1. But under no stretch of the imagination is it legitimate to say that since you are out of business, you’ve just lost $365 for the next year’s lost lemonade sales. Nobody ever guaranteed you an income.

Bob Hope: Robber Baron

Media outlets are gushing about Bob Hope’s 99th birthday, they describe him as the goofy comedian we know from his media image, but I know who he really is: a greedy land speculator who raped and pillaged Los Angeles. It is not widely known that Bob Hope is one of the largest single land owners in Los Angeles County and several surrounding counties. Bob Hope has a long history of using his Hollywood profits for land speculation and profiteering, and it made him wealthy beyond your wildest dreams of avarice. And therein hangs a tale, a complex chain of events that destroyed Los Angeles’ urban architecture.

California has long been a leader in the world environmental movement. Environmental regulations cover everything from urban planning to gasoline sales. One of the seemingly innocent laws enacted in the mid 1980s mandated a change in the gasoline pump nozzle. In order to cut down on spilled fuel, restrictor nozzles with backflow preventers were required on every gas pump in California. This new nozzle was only able to pump gas about 75% as fast as the old style of nozzle. The gas sales environment changed overnight, smaller stations with 4 or 6 pumps could not pump gas fast enough to remain profitable. Larger gas stations with 8 to 12 pumps were still profitable, and some gas chains decided to retrofit old stations with more pumps in the same space. However, one of the largest chains, Standard Oil, decided to sell the vast majority of their stations in Los Angeles. Standard stations were everywhere, in many ways they are a symbol of California. For example, Ed Ruscha’s Standard prints are an icon of California art.

MochaStandard

Robert Venturi wrote an influential essay about urban planning called Learning from Las Vegas. Venturi wanted to examine the urban landscape from the viewpoint of the car. He asserted that Los Angeles had a unique form of urban architecture of widely separated locations spanned by surface roads, with a few tall buildings as landmarks to navigate by. He described driving in Los Angeles as analogous to airplane races in the Nevada desert, where old surplus WWII fighter aircraft would race along the ground, making required turns at tall pylons that marked the path. Los Angeles was full of these architectural “pylons” and navigating LA in a car was largely a point-to-point driving experience, like the air races. And along the route were scattered minor landmarks, the gleaming Standard Oil stations to give rest and refueling to the traveller.

But no more. The new nozzles made the stations unprofitable, and Standard sold them in one huge block, one of the largest auctions of urban properties in modern LA history. And Bob Hope bought them. His company, La Mancha Development, immediately set to developing these properties, which were mostly corner gas stations, many in residential neighborhoods.

I remember when the gas stations closed. I lived in Studio City, and stations at both ends of my street were closed. Large signs for La Mancha Development announced that construction would begin soon. All across LA these signs appeared, followed by buildings that were the start of a new wave of architecture that would totally change the LA urban environment: Mini Malls.

In the space of a few short months, gas stations disappeared and mini malls appeared all across LA. Everywhere you went, wherever there used to be a gas station, now there was a mini mall with a convenience store, maybe a tanning salon and a donut store, and a few miscellaneous businesses. The traffic the malls attracted was intense, the old gas stations never had this level of traffic. Mini malls became the places to stop on cross-town drives, displacing traffic patterns into commercial zones adjacent to quiet neighborhoods. Once the mini mall became an established feature of Los Angeles architecture, the city would never be the same.

I won’t even go into the further horrors committed by Bob Hope and his company La Mancha Development. Turning LA into a city full of mini malls is horrible enough. But I could easily go on and on, like for example his notorious fight with the LA Nature Conservancy. So I’ll just conclude with the reminder that Bob Hope is just another greedy money-grubbing Hollywood scumbag.

Terror Fear

A couple of days ago I heard something on TV and it’s been bothering me ever since. A stock market reporter said, “Stocks dropped today on terror fears.” What a strange phrase. Apparently stock buyers were in fear of terror. Or perhaps they were in terror of fear.

A Visit from the Commander-in-Thief

George W. Bush is visiting our area today. In a few hours he will be here. But nobody knows quite when. Or if they do know, they’re not telling. Security is tight. But not because of the War on Terrorism. It’s to keep the protesters away. If nobody knows where he’s going to be, there’s no way to show up and yell right to his face. Ever since Bush stole the election, the Secret Service is keeping protesters far away where the President can never see them, in violation of their rights to Free Speech. But the protests continue, they will not stop until His Imperial Majesty George II hears the angry voices of The People.
The People have a right to petition their Goverment for redress, even by means of mass protest. If they do not, that government is not for the people nor of the people, and the people must overturn it. We won’t forget what you did, George W. Bush, when we vote next election.

MIT Economics Lectures Online

I am particularly impressed by an online Lecture at the MIT Economics Department. Lester Thurow is lecturing on Globalization and the Economic Downturn.¬†Thurow is a much more compelling speaker than your usual economics pundit, he’s lecturing to MIT Economics students with an attitude of “if you don’t know this stuff, people will eat your lunch, and there are people running things right now that don’t know this stuff and someone is eating our lunch.” Thurow makes some interesting analyses about previous “bubble” cycles, like Tulip Mania or the Gold Rush, and compares it to the dot-com bubble and the state of telecommunications business today. He condemns certain businesses that are marginally profitable during periods of high growth but are massively unprofitable in times of low growth. This is something I used to lecture my bosses about endlessly. They’d proclaim a 20% increase in sales, but when pressed, would admit it only netted a 5% increase in profit. Then sales would dip 5% one month and they’d go deep into the red.
Thurow also has a few harsh comments about the Japanese economic problem. He asserts that the Japanese economy is rotten to the core because it has one legal principle that the USA does not, 2nd-generation mortgages, parents can assume debts that their children must repay. Thurow denounces these loans as indentured servitude, and would be outlawed in the USA as slavery. He asserts Japanese families are burdened with huge debts on homes and real estate, loans taken out when real estate prices were at their peak, and now are devalued to half of the loan’s worth. Thurow suggests the only way to solve the economic problems is for the Japanese government to give tax credits to the banks if they’d write down the value of home mortgages and real estate loans by 40%.