William Thien

What if Conservatives instituted Socialist/Communist control methodologies, you know like re-education camps, hard labor for political transgressions, that type of thing?

Of course since Conservatives believe in less government that would be unlikely since all of those socialist methodologies require massive government infrastructure and effort to instill ideology that is counter to free will, a primary tenet of conservatism. In a sense, conservatism is at a distinct disadvantage to socialist and communist forms of government, then, as conservatism is less forceful by definition, leaving you to your own means.

So why has conservatism seen such a revival in the last few years? Precisely that conservatism is the less forceful form of government. When conservatism is bastardized by a political party, then it will lose legitimacy.

I think we are seeing that happen now to a certain extent. Let’s make sure things stay on course. Because they are out there, playing games in traffic to and from work, looking for your internet activity, anything that can be used to demoralize you.

You are entitled to defend yourselves. They will approximate those you love, test you at your perimeter, appear to be like those you work with.  Subtle though they may be, if you are alert, you will recognize them. They will try to escalate, to ensnare.

Stay the course.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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Without the 2nd Amendment, many of the other amendments in The Bill of Rights are unenforceable, as the people have no other way to enforce their will if it becomes necessary. The same holds true for much of The U.S. Constitution.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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The news cycle is going so fast we haven’t heard about it for several weeks though I am all for a trade war with China. Yet, let’s not let the news cycle determine the best foreign and economic policy in this country.

Because I can’t tell you how many times I have purchased something made in China when something was needed, and Chinese made was the only product on the shelf and after only a few uses it was broken or unusable.

The list of poor quality Chinese made products I have had no other choice but to purchase is extensive. Clothing that lasted only a few washes and began to disintegrate, electronics that were so fragile and poorly constructed you couldn’t adjust them, and the list goes on and on.

Just last night I was moving a floor lamp from one room to another, a lamp I rarely use, and the base of the lamp broke out of the lamp and disintegrated all over the carpeting. After looking at the pieces it was evident the lamp was made to stay in one place for the entirely of its life and never be moved. What good is that? The thing wasn’t all that expensive, but when you add up all of the similar incidents of that type, the disintegrating clothing, the broken electronics, the cost is astronomical, not to mention the effort to re-purchase, and the cost of paying for something twice, multiple times, and the taxes, too!

The quality is often so poor it is almost as if it was intentional, planned obsolescence, sabotage, sabotage of a people, a country, a planet, and a way of life! How can I say that? Well, unlike in other countries, in China the government and the military are often involved in industrial production. The government can see directly and knows exactly what is being produced and is doing nothing about it. Now do you see where I am going with this observation?

To be sure, Chinese manufacturers have begun to improve upon quality control. And those American and other foreign concerns that have their production facilities located in China and supervise production have been able to control quality, but for the most part my experiences with “Made in China” have been frustrating, disappointing, and the sum total of money I’ve had to spend on Chinese made products is significant.

For a while, until consumers began to check the label more regularly, that was all that was available at many retailers, even high-end retailers, because the retail margins (profits) generated for the low cost, poor quality Chinese products were so high.

So, if only to protect the American consumer and not just the American producer, as nobody likes to go to war if it isn’t necessary, I am all for a trade war with China. Because at the very least, when it comes to quality control and cost to the consumer, there can be no question who fired the first shot.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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I was surprised when watching 60 Minutes this evening the story about the Gates Foundation providing scholarship money for students to attend Princeton. The explanation was there is a widening gap between the rich and poor in this country and one way to remedy that situation is to provide scholarships to poor students that are motivated to attend an Ivy League school. Of course that is true. On the surface, it is true.

The real problem with the situation is that Microsoft took most of its customer and tech support jobs overseas (ever speak to someone in India on the phone about your computer products?) at a time when the world was involved in one of the most significant economic transformations since the industrial age, as I penned in my book The Dream Chip in the nineties, which has been deemed as such by many since even though I was the first to make that observation publicly.

Microsoft and other tech giants offshored a majority of their workload, not only enlarging that economic gap between the rich and the poor here in The United States but exacerbating it manifold. The big tech giants fled to Asia in droves, east Asia, Central Asia, you name it, anywhere but The United States. They claimed there wasn’t enough skilled workers but the reality is, they didn’t want to pay a living wage. The move to Asia was entirely profit motivated, not out of necessity.

Tech giants like Microsoft and Apple not only were responsible for creating the “internet bubble,” the fact that they moved all of their jobs to remote locations outside of The US is likely what burst the bubble they created in the first place. I don’t know if anyone has pointed it out up until this point but the tech giants like Microsoft and Apple created the internet bubble and then they bust it, too! They made it worse!

Now, I was one of the largest proponents of the internet age. Gates himself appeared at the time of the burgeoning internet age to be a rather magnificent character to me. There was a lot of guru !@#$ happening, you could say. Anyone who could turn a computer on and send an email was a practically a guru to most people in those days. And those gurus adopted a rather arrogant posture towards the rest of us as they were creating large numbers of jobs that they then put overseas.

When the internet bubble burst, though, those jobs stayed in Central Asia and the far east. The big tech giants made out like bandits at the country’s expense, there can be no denying. And it is in fact business, so why not, right?

Gates himself made the comment during the 60 Minutes article that one of the reasons they were providing the scholarships was because automation was taking away jobs from lesser skilled workers. Somewhat true but unrelated. Automation is taking away jobs from lesser skilled workers? Not in this case. Microsoft and Apple are taking jobs overseas and have been for decades. If offshoring is what Gates means by automation, well then things are only going to get worse in The US.

Now that I look back on it and it is still a problem today that may never be rectified, those jobs may never return to The US. I see that it was those large tech giants, The Microsofts and The Apples, that destroyed what could have been a massive and permanent industrial expansion right here in The US. That ever-widening economic gap referenced in the 60 Minutes piece as the primary motivation to offer the scholarships probably wouldn’t even be necessary. There would be no vast urban wastelands we see now that municipalities struggle to revitalize.

So, when I see 60 Minutes making The Gates Foundation out to be a bunch of guru hero superdudes, I have to laugh. Because in a way, they screwed up the entire country.

The Gates Foundation has done far more than provide a few scholarships for the economically challenged, to be sure. And they do many other great things.

But that shade of lipstick doesn’t quite suit the pig, thank you very much 60 Minutes.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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Watching ABC News “this week” this morning one of the political analysts asked a group of respondents if the “two-party system” in America was broken?

The problem with that question is that America doesn’t have a “two-party system.”

There are many other political parties. It is just that two of those parties, Republicans and Democrats, have been able to secure the dominant positions in American politics. There are many other parties. Just to mention a few of them there is The Libertarian Party, Green Party, various forms of socialist parties (Democrats could be considered socialists nowadays and Republicans could be considered so as well depending upon how you look at the tax code and social safety net). There are numerous other parties as well as independents. There are parties that are more conservative that The Republican Party such as The Tea Party.

American does not have a two-party system.

So, in answer to the political analyst’s question, “NO,” the two-party system is not broken because we don’t have such a system here in America.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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With the media constantly telling you what’s right and what’s wrong and what’s good for you and what’s not and with the Congress giving you a tax break for one thing and not the other, well, this really ain’t no free country anymore, is it?

Yeah, you can still do what you want but now more than ever the government or some corporation is making you do what they want you to do and making you pay if you don’t instead of you doing what you want or what is best for YOU. Because what is best for everyone else might not be what’s best for YOU, whether the government or some corporation wants you to do it or not.

It’s still a free country if you don’t mind letting some media corporation, agency, or shopping or social media web site follow your every move on the internet and sell that information or profit from it or photograph/video you if you merely step outside your door or stand in front of your window where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

No, this ain’t no free country anymore.

When you examine the costs to your liberties, the encroachment upon your privacy, the constant and previously illegal searches, that ain’t free. That’s expensive, extremely expensive! Free country? Don’t believe it!

So, when someone lashes out at one of those institutions, I can’t say I don’t agree with them to a certain extent. Americans are constantly probed and their privacy is bought and sold so frequently nowadays while they profit very little from their own activity yet are made completely vulnerable (look at all the data breaches), that even though such activity may not on the surface feel very invasive, it is invasive, in its entirety and over long periods of time it is even more invasive, and as a result it is difficult to disagree with someone defending their place from all of that, even if their response seems to be to the extreme.

Free country? I hate to disillusion you, ladies and gentlemen, but this ain’t no free country anymore. It just ain’t.

Note: Ain’t was used for emphasis. The correct usage is “Isn’t a,” not “ain’t no.” 

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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Having cause to change course throughout my days lately as a result of a change of venue I’ve found myself in more remote locations, traveling through smallish towns and the extremities of suburbs from time to time.

One of the things I’ve noticed during pauses at traffic lights is that even in some of the most obscure locations there are surveillance cameras posted rather discreetly at the top of the traffic lights or street lights at intersections. Places where you would think little criminal activity occurs are the focus of some of the most elaborate electronic surveillance I’ve seen in quite some time.

Following 9/11 one of the arguments provided by various groups in The U.S. was that what will follow that day’s tragedy is an elaboration of “the surveillance state.” Then President Bush as well as Congress and other elected officials looking to make up for the seeming lapse in security on that very day decided to make funds available to local municipalities and cities throughout the nation for the expansion of just that surveillance state that we are beginning to not so frequently recognize as we travel throughout our busy lives but that appears to be creeping up on the American public ever more frequently.

Such traffic cameras as I mention here in this observation probably are equipped with license plate readers, people of some capacity are probably surveying activity on many of those cameras (they are everywhere just about now) and all activity is probably stored indefinitely.

Now, let me say I am not so sure I am against the implementation of that part of the surveillance state that covers traffic activity so thoroughly. I can see a value for the cameras to local law enforcement which where I live is rather effective and professional.

What bothers me, and maybe I’ve missed it, what bothers me is that nobody, particularly the mainstream media, is regularly providing a description, an article, any sort of explanation of what goings on occur on the other side of those cameras. I haven’t seen one thorough news story on television about who or what is on the other side of those cameras, what their capabilities are, and where their signal is being broadcast. Their signals can’t all be going to the same location as those cameras are all over the place, now. Nobody is providing any significant level of media analysis regarding the activity occurring on the other side of those cameras and to what level it is occurring.

Having worked for a government agency myself and various units of the military that might be involved in analyzing such information, I can say it is likely that someone somewhere is putting the information received by those cameras to good use. But it is also just as likely that someone somewhere has nefarious intent

And I wonder about that intent. In fact, I don’t think one would be an American by definition if they didn’t wonder about it.

Copyright © William Thien 2018

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