Costco: Capitalism or Socialism?

Costco:  Socialism American Style

Costco: Socialism American Style

202°  Despite the ongoing misuse of the word Socialism by Conservatives, the term does not have anything to do with President Obama, nor the government of the United States of America. Socialism is by definition:

“A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

The result of true socialism has been to limit choice and maximize the efficiency of large numbers for an exclusive population. While Costco is often considered to be a perfect example of capitalism, it actually a great model of socialism.

You don’t go to Costco for selection. Many items have only two choices and often the second choice is Costco’s brand, Kirkland. Costco uses the socialist model of limited selection, economy of scale, and an exclusive group to maximize savings and profit. Costco is adapted socialism for a capitalist market. 

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N Stands for Knowledge

Snow capped mountain above Reno, Nee-va-da

Snow-capped mountain above Reno, Neh-va-da

298°  Nevada sometimes wallows in ignorance. If you’re in Nevada and you’re bored, find a local and say,

“Neh-va-da is a nice place.”

Without hesitation 9,999 out of 10,000 locals will launch into a tirade about your pronunciation of the state’s name and lecture you on how to say, “Neh-vad-duh.” They will then explain how people sound stupid when they don’t “say it right.”

Nevada is a Spanish word for snowfall, or in this case, Sierra Nevada, meaning snow-capped mountains. The correct pronunciation is “Neh-va-da,” but when we took Northern Mexico away at gun point, we perverted the word and mispronounced it. Ironically, we changed the ending sound from ‘da’ to ‘duh,’ which somehow seems appropriate, considering the passion that locals have over the issue.

It wouldn’t be an issue if locals could accept that Neh-va-da as an alternate pronunciation, but this is not about language, this is about racism. When someone is so insistent that the Spanish pronunciation is wrong, and that the only correct pronunciation is the perverted white man’s version, then it becomes obvious this is about race.

Which is why it’s fun to say Neh-va-da and see how many times you can get a local to say, “duh.” 

Last night's Moon/Jupiter rendezvous

Last night’s Moon/Jupiter rendezvous

90°  Changing the subject, a view of the Moon and Jupiter hanging out together over Neh-va-da.

The Rape of Patriotism

Displaying the flag is only patriotism if you love and respect your government and all its citizens

Displaying the flag is only patriotism if you love and respect your government and ALL its citizens

117°  Patriotism is pride of country. It reflects humility, respect, and is ALWAYS used to unite ALL citizens. It is should be a positive, non-threatening expression of appreciation for what one’s country has given to its citizens in the form of a stable and prosperous society.

Unfortunately, history is filled with examples of people stirring up hate and racism and labeling it patriotism. Nazi Germany coined the phrase, “Deutschland Uber Alles!” (Germany over all!) It was meant to promote and celebrate racism to justify killing innocent humans who also loved their country.

In the United States, patriotism has been hijacked by people who claim love of country, yet express hate for their government as if one is separate from the other. They express hatred for people of other color, race, belief, and/or languages, which is blatant racism, but these people call themselves patriots to disguise their perversion and rape of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our flag. They want other citizens to believe that they are the only ‘real’ Americans and if you don’t believe in their cruel brand of treachery against our country, then you are not part of ‘their’ country.

Coca Cola aired an advertisement during the Super Bowl that reflected our country of many races, many beliefs, and many languages. It was a beautiful expression of America today. It brought the false ‘patriots’ out from under their rocks. They were outraged. Their reaction would have been funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

On the 10th Anniversary of Facebook we can celebrate one achievement. Social Media has allowed racists to expose themselves for who they really are:  sad, ignorant, unintelligent, egocentric, unchristian, nasty people who probably will never understand what respect, honor, and humility represent.

What Will UnWinter Be Like?

Cold night temperatures with no snow create a dilemma for the crew at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno, how to water the grass without risking the sprinkler system?

Cold night temperatures with no snow create a dilemma for the crew at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno. How to water the grass without risking the sprinkler system at night?

282°  We still have Winter in Reno. It’s strange, but it’s still cold at night and in the mornings. The below freezing temperatures have allowed frost to form on the ground, which makes the grass damp in the mornings.

Average Global Temperatures 1953 - 2013 (Sequence is upper left, upper right, then one down to the left, etc.)

Average Global Temperatures 1953 – 2013 (Graphic taken from NASA video)

That may change in the next decade or so. NASA has tracked our global average temperatures since the 1950’s and the data shows a consistent trend of global warming. Every fact indicates that the trend of the last 60 years will continue and possibly accelerate. That may result in Winter becoming UnWinter.

Like ice melting ice in a beer cooler we still have blasts of cold air coming down from the Arctic via the Polar Jet Stream. That river of air is being reinforced by water vapor from the melting permanent ice rushing to meet warm air coming up from the equator. Once the ice melts, the Polar Jet will no longer have the engine that drives it South.

No Polar Jet Stream, no cold air. No cold air, no Winter. UnWinter. Short days, long nights, cool temperatures but no frost and no snow. It’s hard to fathom the issues that will come with UnWinter, but they will likely be unpleasant and expensive.

Sparks: Nevada’s City of Failure

This sculpture, tucked away near and abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center shows what happens when you have two cities competing for business, boxes with nothing in them

This sculpture, tucked away near and abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center shows what happens when you have two cities competing for business:  boxes with nothing in them

348°  One of the ongoing tragedies in Nevada is the resource-sucking duplication of two cities in one valley. Reno was founded in 1868. About 30 years later the railroad put in a switching yard a few miles east of Reno and rabble living there declared it and surrounding few houses a city. It was originally named after the President of the railroad, but it was quickly renamed after the current Governor of Nevada, John Sparks, who was very cozy with the railroad.

The attitude of the City of Sparks has probably always been one of jealousy of Reno. Sparks main feature has always been the railroad yard, which is as close as the city comes to having a downtown. The desperation to best Reno has led Sparks to be on a never-ending campaign to steal commerce from the original city.

One example of the damage Sparks has done to the community is the desperate attempts to create a premier shopping center at the far east side of Sparks. To entice businesses they offered taxes incentives. Lowe’s took advantage of this by closing down one of their large home improvement centers in Reno and relocated in the Sparks. Now the community has no additional jobs, but the business provides less in tax revenue for the citizens.

The result has been to have three competing governments (City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County) serving one community, each with duplicate services. No one is benefiting from the mud wrestling-like competition. The premier shopping mall in Sparks is noticeably lacking in customers, even during the holidays.

The Reno/Sparks/Washoe fiasco is typical of Nevada. It is why we are the best of all the worst indicators. High in violent crime, high in unemployment, low in education. Barring a miracle, failure is Nevada’s only option.

It’s Never Just Black and White

Black cat has many shades

Black cat has many shades

350°  People like definition. It is either ‘X’ or ‘Y,’ but it can’t be ‘x-ish’ or ‘y-ish.’ The problem is that our world, our universe doesn’t usually give us absolutes. Next time you’re at a body of water try to find out where the water ends and where the land begins. We live in a blurry existence where upon closer examination there is no ‘edge’ nor is there a beginning or end.

Our senses are severely limited and our brain tries to fill in the blanks for what our senses can’t detect. Much more is going on around us than our eyes can see, our ears can hear, and our nose can smell. Filling in the blanks for what we can’t see, hear, smell, taste, and feel is dangerous.

It’s why scientists use theory and hypothesis to explain our universe. They want us to know that it is their best explanation based on the data we know and can prove. It doesn’t mean it is perfect, or correct, but it does take us out of the dark ages where everything is explained by mythology, which is just one person making stuff up.

Those that take the position that scientists are wrong because they use theories, not fact, almost always use mythology to explain our universe. Those people like black and white because it is easy. It puts people under the belief that they can rely on their emotions and prejudices rather than on truth and fact. 

It’s time we started listening to people with better vision. People who can see all the colors and all the shades. People with humility and grace. People like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Taxes and a Citizen’s Responsibilities

A massive structure to hold thousands of people above the ground for a few hours on a few days each year...AKA: the college football statium

A massive structure to hold thousands of people above the ground for a few hours on a few days each year…AKA: the college football stadium

290°  I find certain political discussions sad. Among those discussions are one’s that start with, “Why should we waste money on…” or “We can’t afford to….” or “Why should I have to pay for…” In every case is the idea that unless person directly benefits from something, it is a waste of money and/or they have no obligation to help pay for it.

Over the last seventy years, trillions of tax dollars have been spent for roads, sewers, water systems, schools, and monuments. Today, some people take our country’s infrastructure for granted and they believe maintenance and replacement of existing systems and buildings is too expensive. 

If I were to try to convince someone to help pay for a large structure to hold thousands of people up in the air to have a better view of an event that only happens a few times a year, most people would question why they should contribute to the effort. Yet, tell them it is for a football stadium for their favorite local college team and many of those same people would not hesitate to write a check.

The difference is that people will financially support their local college team, but they have to be convinced to contribute their fair share for the infrastructure that makes our affluent American society possible. Taxes are not optional. They are part of the cost of living in the United States of America. Taxes are not evil, they are an investment in America’s future.

The Sick Pleasure of Toying

Having power over another is the root of evil

Having power over another is the root of evil

10°  As I was leaving my house I noticed our cat had caught a mouse. He was doing that cat thing of ‘toying’ with the mouse. Not trying to kill it, but experimenting with it. What happens if I tap it on its head? What happens if I pick it up with my mouth? What happens if I move it over here? I waited for him to kill it so I could dispose of it, but he was enjoying his position of power over the mouse in distress.

Humans share this trait with cats. When a person has power over another there is an opportunity to ‘toy’ with the those who have little or no power.

America was founded on the idea that everyone was created equal. This prevents the powerful from the temptation to toy with the weak. Many want that to change. It was recently reported in Time that Congress now consists of a majority of millionaires. Watch closely and you can tell which ones like toying with the less powerful.

America was not founded to let the powerful put the poor and powerless in further distress.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Business’ Historic War on Decency and Children

Business doesn't care about the welfare of children or society in general. They care about making more money.

Business doesn’t care about the welfare of children or society in general. They care about making more money.

94°  Today my son asked me if children were slaves before ‘civilization.’ It was an innocent question, not initiated by me making him do something he didn’t want to do…at least this time.

I explained to him about child labor in the days before government established laws to protect children and how business, when left unchecked, will use children and others who are at a disadvantage to the rich and powerful, to lower their labor costs in pursuit of profit. He suggested that people who treat children this way should be subject to the Death Penalty. I’m not sure I disagree with him.

Paul Ryan says that we lost the War on Poverty. No doubt he feels that business should be allowed to return to an absolute profit motive where business can use children as slave workers. Business is often at war with decency. Business doesn’t care and that has been proven over and over and over again. Business does not operate by logic or intelligence because of greed.

Boeing recently strong-armed its employees into agreeing to a unfavorable contract under threat of losing their jobs. If business operated under a model of logic and/or intelligence the managers of Boeing would have never threatened their employees. Anyone who is not motivated by pure greed can see the outcome of this story.

As any bully would respond to fear in others, Boeing managers now feel more empowered to treat employees with disrespect. Boeing employees feel betrayed. Their great employees and the smart employees will look for alternative work options, and they will find them. The remainder of Boeing employees will have minimal loyalty to the company and their product will show it over the next ten years. Boeing’s lust for more money has created the cancer that will slowly kill the company.

Conservatives are worshipers of the business gods. These gods are the destroyers of decency. They would see us return to the labor practices of the 1800’s and make children work in factories. For investors it would be a win-win. Cheap labor and no tax revenues needed for public schools. The perfect business-solves-everything scenario.

We, the American people, are not going to let that happen. The choice is clear. Do you love profit and greed, or do you love decency and our children? There is no compromise between them.