Wednesday, November 21, 2007

At Dover, looking at the situation on 29 May 1652

We wanted to watch the action unfold (and record what happened) on 28 and 29 May 1652. We initially zoomed out to a fairly great altitude so that we could see Dover, the Downs, and as far as Rye Bay. We knew that the Dutch had been forced across the Channel by bad weather and had lost anchors in the winds and had dragged other anchors. The two English squadrons had experienced the same weather, but on the west side of the Channel. On 28 May (the English, using the Old Style calendar, called it 18 May), the Dutch fleet of more than 40 ships entered the roads, unnerving the English commander, Nehemiah Bourne. He flew his flag on the 2nd Rate Andrew. Tromp sent the Lam and the Hoorn, commanded by Jan Thijssen and Pieter Allertszoon, to explain to Bourne that they were just taking refuge from the weather. The Dutch captains explained to Rear-Admiral Bourne that Tromp had stayed away so that he wouldn't be expected to strike his colours. The next day would see some action.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Feel good politics"

By the early 2000's, everyone was following the Clintonian lead and was fully engaged in "feel good politics". Both parties were fully engaged in this practice. So we didn't like people who ran red lights in their cars. OK. Let's show that we care about the problem and put in cameras and charge $200 fines if you don't pay right away. Another example was beating up on wireless phone users while driving. Some small municipalities put in place laws that you were not allowed to talk on your phone in an active school zone. Was talking on our phones in a school zone actually a problem? It didn't matter, because they felt like they would be perceived as being tough on school zone safety. You get the idea. You don't solve problems that exist. You show that you care by putting in place a severe penalty all out of proportion to the offense.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Failed experiments

When the Soviet Union went into liquidation, so to speak, the Socialists all said that they had just "done it wrong". Socialism could work. The Chinese experiment with both a "free market" (of sorts) and Socialism still had the failing that such systems encouraged corruption. When a system is disrupting the natural desires of people for wealth and control over their lives, there are people within such systems who have opportunities that are presented. Those opportunities usually mean corrupt practices that include bribery, taking money, and setting up deals that benefit themselves and their friends. They will also take shortcuts, as convenience, such as what happened with manufacturers in China, where they used lead paint and other unsafe materials.

The wrong incentives

The key to having a society in which we would want seems to be to have incentives that promote self-reliance and freedom, not knowing how to take handouts from the Government. The whole, failed Socialist experiment tried to teach people to want and accept money and services from the Government. The motivation was idealistic: to help the people who could not care for themselves and to have a better life for everyone. The problem was that without productive people producing and creating products, services, and wealth, there would be little to give away. The assumption was that the good things would be created by someone so that the Government could take some or most of them away. Through hard lessons from the looters, and continued denial that they were really happening, we finally tried a new system. Let people keep what they earned. Ask them to purchase the services needed to maintain a country and provide for common needs. The changes were tried in small pieces and then we would go back to the ways that didn't work. Finally, after we experienced the "terrorist" nuclear attack, we gradually came to our senses.

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