water master plan meeting #2

Today, representatives from Elbert County water providers, districts and planning agencies met for the second time to advance development of an Elbert County Water Master Plan.

What I hoped to observe:

  • A room full of engineers discussing mechanics of connecting their water systems into an integrated matrix of water and sewage pipelines spanning Elbert County and joined to various renewable non-groundwater sources from outside of Elbert County.

What I observed:

  • Too much thinking about Elbert County’s special quality of life, not a single word about renewable water sources, and no anticipation of commercial or industrial water usage except out by Limon.

What I hope to observe at future meetings:

  • An unconstrained approach to water infrastructure that does not presume a smart-no-growth perspective, a plan that does not foreclose industrial and commercial growth, and a plan that allows for conservation but does not buy into the green myth of conservation as a basis for growth.

How The West Won

by Rodney Stark
“Americans are in danger of being badly misled by a flood of absurd, politically correct fabrications, all of them popular on college campuses: That the Greeks copied their whole culture from black Egyptians. That European science originated in Islam. That Western affluence was stolen from non-Western societies. That Western modernity was really produced in China, and not so very long ago. The truth is that, although the West wisely adopted bits and pieces of technology from Asia, modernity is entirely the product of Western civilization.
I use the term modernity to identify that fundamental store of scientific knowledge and procedures, powerful technologies, artistic achievements, political freedoms, economic arrangements, moral sensibilities, and improved standards of living that characterize Western nations and are now revolutionizing life in the rest of the world. For there is another truth: to the extent that other cultures have failed to adopt at least major aspects of Western ways, they remain backward and impoverished.”
Introduction
I. Classical Beginnings (500 BCE-500)
1. Stagnant Empires and the Greek ‘Miracle’
2.  Jerusalem’s Rational God
3.  The Roman Interlude
II. Early Medieval Progress (500-1200)

4. Blessings of  ‘European’  Disunity
5. Northern Lights Over Christendom
6. Freedom and Capitalism
III. Medieval  Transformations  (1200-1500)
7.  Climate, Plague and Social Change
8.  Universities and Natural Philosophy
9.  Industry, Trade,  and Technology
10.  Discovering the World
IV. The Dawn of Modernity (1500-1750)
11.  New World Conquests and Colonies
12. The Rise and Fall of the Golden Empire
13. Luther’s Reformation: Myths and Realities
14. Exposing Muslim Illusions
15.  Science Comes of  Age
V. Modernity (1750- )

16.  The Industrial ‘Revolution’
17.  Why Britain? Liberty, Merit and the ‘Bourgeois’
18.  Globalization and Colonialism
Bibliography

Webster on religion

Webster’s defines religion as “a belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshiped as the creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe.” So, some god or gods created and rule the universe, and they must be obeyed and worshiped.

Scientists estimate that the observable universe contains at least a hundred billion galaxies. A galaxy can contain hundreds of billions of solar systems. A solar system can contain many planets and moons.

In short, we don’t know the limits of the universe, however man appears to have an unlimited capacity for adornment.

We have at least 75 major religions each with their own explanation about the god or gods who created and rule this universe. These religions tell us, forcefully in some cases, how those creators and rulers must be obeyed and worshiped.

And some terrible things are predicted to happen to those who don’t obey and worship, including murder and hell. Granted, most devout religious followers aren’t so severe in their punishments. But some estimate as many as tens of millions consider it okay to kill unbelievers.

We have a combinatorial explosion of religious beliefs competing for our devotion, and not a one of them can be objectively proven true for the physical universe as we know it.

This is the challenge faith must overcome and over 8 in 10 people around the world agree with faith.

Back when the known universe was the sun, moon, earth and a few planets, religious beliefs were no less difficult to prove, and the bar was set much lower.

the poverty of equal outcomes

What nation does not have a “policy or practice of aggressively expanding its influence over other countries?” What nation does not have policies to expand its export markets and sell its goods into the markets of other countries? What nation does not attempt to establish trade conditions with other countries in order to obtain the best trade terms possible? What nation does not seek to maximize the comparative advantage of its own economic strengths in trading with other nations?

All nations do these things. A nation that does not have policies to foster trade in favor of its own interests eventually ceases to exist. The same rule applies in business. Altruism resulting in financial loss eventually results in bankruptcy and the cessation of business operations.

The quotation marks in the first sentence above are from Webster’s definition of hegemony. Wherever I’ve seen it employed, hegemony is a dirty word used to imply wrongful conduct on the part of a nation. Hegemony connotes a dark, if not downright evil, intent to dominate and control innocent other parties in order to serve one’s own interests. Writers use hegemony as a pejorative against a nation, a people, and a culture.

The use of hegemony, however, says more about the writer than it does any subject.

First, it indicates the writer’s belief in the existence of a collective mentality, as opposed to individual minds. Attaching a moral quality to hegemony means that a collective choice between right and wrong alternatives can be isolated such that the collective mind can be held guilty of a moral wrong.

How can men make collective choices? Not easily. It requires application of a voting infrastructure to assemble individual choices about a specific moral question into a collective outcome. Even if a vote was taken and some machinery of government acted on that vote, there is no collective entity one can hold accountable apart from the individuals who participated in the collective outcome. But it would be unjust to hold individual participants in a vote responsible for a collective outcome over which they had virtually no causal control.

Moreover, the types of grievances labelled under hegemony are never the product of a distributed decision process such as a vote. Nor are the grievances named with much specificity. Expressions of hegemony are presumed to exist when U.S. firms interact with foreign markets, because the U.S. is capitalist and oriented to the free market, and is therefore a presumptive enemy of the people represented by socialist political systems in much of the rest of the world.

Hegemony is a theoretical presumption, not a conclusion drawn from observed causation. Any theory, however, must be capable of disproof. Hegemony can no more be proved than it can be disproved, so it doesn’t even rise to the level of a theory.

As such, hegemony is an empty vessel for writers to load with any meaning or implication that suits their broader purposes. And the purposes with hegemony always involve a negative connotation. Conversely, the alleged victims of hegemony are always portrayed in the right.

In computer programming, words that function like hegemony are called variables. They get instantiated at run time by whatever they’re connected to in the surrounding code. You have to read the code to figure out the limits. The code one finds around hegemony generally involves a writers prejudice against capitalism, and against the U.S.

But when you look into the actual economic transactions with the U.S. that cross international boundaries, you find firms represented by individuals making voluntary buys and sells in what all parties perceive to be in their own best interests. They are not the outcomes of democratic processes. Each individual buyer or seller satisfies some element of the comparative advantage they represent to realize a profit on their side of the transaction. The price point they agree upon is somewhere in the middle of their two interests.

The fact that comparative advantage is unique to each place, and different from other places, sets a pre-condition for trade, and consequentially for profit by both buyers and sellers. Two parties with identical capacities have no need to trade.

Disequilibrium of comparative advantage enables trade, trade enables profit, profit enables capital formation, capital formation enables investment, investment enables the concentration of technology, technology improves efficiency, efficiency lowers unit costs, etc.

A world where everything is equal, where no comparative advantage exists, or where no one is allowed to act on their comparative advantage, is a place where nothing will change, and nothing will get better.

An equality of condition is a utopian ideal we should all hope to never achieve. Profitable trade is the natural response to economic dis-equilibrium. Socialists wouldn’t have to negatively frame international trade relationships as hegemony if socialism worked.

Roundup time at New Plains’ Prairie Times

Responding to Viewpoints, in the order presented in the print edition of the New Plains’ Prairie Times:

  • In a Rodney King “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” moment, Jerrry Bishop laments our divisions, and wishes they’d all just go away. Of course he’d never go so far as to allow that Leftist societal ratchet to slip back a notch or two.
  • Ric Morgan wants to bring federal and state grant money into the county, and seeks donations from water districts and agencies around the state, as well as some Elbert County revenue, to study water levels. He sees this as a political question. It would be better if it were a question the private sector wanted to take up, which apparently, currently, it is not.
  • In the first of two political smears disguised as news, Susan Shick thinks commissioners spend too much on vehicles of all sorts, and she’d really like to see a reallocation of funds toward securing the water study grant.
  • John Dorman uses his 1st Am. right in a letter to the editor to assert his Republican nature, dump on the local Republican elite, and frame his pro-planning, no-growth, no-oil&gas activism in the county as proof of his Republican values. Hehe. Yeah. That’s a good one John.
  • In another letter, Paul Crisan hopes we haven’t lost the ability to work for the common good. But don’t forget Paul sat on the Elbert County Planning Commission for years dictating just what that common good would be. That’s the trouble with the common good, there’s always a dictator telling us what’s in it.
  • Turning the page, Susan Shick lets no one forget for a moment the visceral hatred she harbors against Commissioner Schlegel. And oh yeah he won’t fund what has now become her pet water grant project. “He denies them funding.” There is no greater sin to a Democrat.
  • Moving on, it’s all Leftist politics all the time as Jill Duvall focusses her rhetoric on Robert Rowland, using various Alynsky techniques designed to demean and disgrace. Two pages of that stuff, yeah that’s fun to read.
  • Which brings us to the crescendo, the top card duo of Thomasson and his wonderboy Bailey each weighing in. Thomasson’s bitch is high art because after reading his complaint, you have no idea about what he wants. His abstract discontent, presumably, allows him to jump in any direction as circumstances develop. Why commit? Keep your options open Robert.
  • And then Bailey, donning Roberto the Amazin’ Psycho‘s turban, darkly warns that “dubious plans are afoot.” No doubt, and the above ringleaders are in the kitchen, with the wrench.

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a lesson from Singapore for Elbert County

“We had to make a living, to persuade investors to put their money into manufacturing plants and other businesses in Singapore. We had to learn to survive, without the British military umbrella and without a hinterland.”

So begins the narrative thread in [Lee Kuan Yew's, From Third World to First: Singapore and the Asian Economic Boom], which approximates the lessons of Machiavelli’s The Prince. As Lee writes, “A soft people will vote for those who prom­ised a soft way out,” and because there was no soft way out, Lee de­termined to forge a hard island race of overseas Chinese with Malay and Indian minorities. Only a hard people could build the “throbbing and humming” industrial, commercial, and communications center he envisioned. He would make a fair society, not a “welfare” soci­ety.

Robert D. Kaplan, Asia’s Cauldron

With 12% of the land mass of Elbert County, a population of millions, virtually no natural resources per capita, on an island with a requirement to import everything, in the space of a few decades Singapore rose to become the premier example of human achievement in the world.

With its comparative natural gifts, Elbert County could make a much more commensurate contribution to the world than it has. The noisy minority seems to think Elbert County’s destiny is to be a place where people come to watch grass grow. Isn’t it time for Elbert County to grow up and become something more useful?