Sunday, February 14, 2016

Contemplating our naval...history

When sea power demonstrated a nation's might, the frigate was a super weapon. It was designed to be so formidable, an opponent would look at it and just say, "frig it."

Famous American frigates include the USS Constitution, still afloat and docked in Boston, and the USS Constellation, in Baltimore. However, the Con series of frigates included a number of other vessels:

USS Constipation: built up and built up but never launched.

USS Conversation: used to transport diplomats around the world.

USS Conniption: had a series of short-tempered captains. White parts of the paint scheme kept turning red and purple. Destroyed by spontaneous explosion in 1837.

USS Conscription: plagued by large crews, half of whom did not want to be there and did a half-assed job.

USS Connection: always seemed to get really nice assignments. Ended up on a beach in the Caribbean.

USS Contraction: LOA 180', shortened to 150'. Spent a lot of time in berths.

USS Conflation: built from parts of two other vessels. Close sister ship to the USS Contraption.

USS Contraception: never commissioned because no seamen could get aboard.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Tyrants and Patriots

The only way for the tyrants versus patriots model of a free society to work is if you have a bloody revolution every ten years to wrest power from the last crop of revolutionaries who have made their pile and blocked upward mobility. Too often and no one has a chance to make it. Not often enough and peace becomes a habit. Tyranny establishes its propaganda machine to make the status quo seem patriotic.

A country constantly swept by armed revolt can never be great, but greatness is itself an enemy of freedom through equality. If we had focused on our own freedom and happiness,  we would never have become imperialists. We might have temporarily united in the face of actual invasion, but only long enough to clear the field for our own intramural contests.

Sitting as we do, upon a vast swath of arable land and tempting exploitable resources,  we had no choice but to eschew a course of frequent cleansing in showers of blood. We had to become a robust nation paying lip service to pure liberty while dealing in all the intrigue and oppression that naturally go with the running of a mature country.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The cost of government

Why do people who chronically complain about the money consumed by government have so little to say about the billions of dollars spent to put politicians into office?

Election debt is analogous to student loan debt. Of course the office holder will look for a quick way to discharge that financial obligation. And office holders have to incur this debt every election cycle.

Term limits won't cure this. It's attached to the elections themselves, because of the way we've let them become absurdly expensive sales campaigns. Whoever is running will need to drum up the cash.

Outside spending is hard to limit, because the government should not be allowed to tell some rich idiot not to spend money on ads supporting a specific candidate or point of view. The only way to control political advertising would be to ban it. While that would be unbelievably wonderful esthetically, it presents an ominous restriction on freedom of expression. Certainly an ad-free election process would force candidates to deal in more substance, or at least better illusions of it. It's worth discussing.