What should be done with illegal immigrants?

That this question is even being asked reveals something about ourselves. How would you answer it if you were an illegal immigrant? Perhaps you've never heard of the Golden Rule. The rule may not be the best guide to moral behavior but asking yourself how you'd answer the question if you were an illegal immigrant forces you to put yourself in her/his place, for only when you put yourself in someone else's place can you know what she/he feels like. Knowing that is called empathy.

Illegal immigrants are, after all, people, human beings, just like you and me, and they should be treated as such.

Governments that have immigration problems cause the problems themselves. A nation that does not want illegal immigrants need only control its borders. If a government chooses not to control its borders, it creates an obligation to treat the people who cross them humanely. Of course, that's difficult to do by governments that don't even treat all of their own citizens humanely. But what governments do and what they should do are two different things.

In today's world, it is often difficult to determine why governments exist. The Constitution says that our government exists "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity"

Has our government done that? Well, it should, and anyone in a country, whether legal or not, should be treated just like everyone else. So yes, the bill of rights applies to illegal immigrants, too? The Constitution never distinguished between legal and illegal residents. It only mentions people.

Why do people study if not to benefit mankind? It has been said that, “The proper study of Mankind is Man.” Why? To improve mankind's condition, and mistreating people doesn't do that.

©2011 John Kozy
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Oh my, oh my! The economists have gotten it wrong again, and they're catching it. But they've always gotten it wrong. So what's different this time? Well, even journals committed to the orthodox economic viewpoint are asking questions.

In July, The Economist published two pieces (The other-worldly philosophers, What went wrong with economics) which posed penetrating questions but then became mealy mouthed about them. Subsequently, the magazine published a guest article by Robert Lucas, the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, that attempted to rebut the criticisms. This article was then followed by a group of responses posted in the Lucas Roundtable. Since then numerous pieces have appeared in various places, and Richard A. Posner, an attorney whose views are much respected in matters of public policy, posted a piece titled, Will Economists Escape a Whipping?, which brought howls from economists who resented criticism from someone outside the profession, which, of course, is a form of an ad hominem argument.

Readers of this seemingly ending thread of posts who expect to learn something new will be disconcertingly disappointed. The content consists of the same old banal, hackneyed, and trite claims and counter-claims that economists have been making for more than a century. But that doesn't mean that the thread doesn't yield a valid conclusion.

The first thing a judicious reader notices is how much disagreement exists among economists on almost every, perhaps every, matter. Then it becomes clear that much of this disagreement is acrimonious. Some of these people appear to hate each other. Now ask yourselves, how likely would it have been that man would have stepped on the moon if as much disagreement had existed among physicists?

After noticing the extent of this disagreement, one begins to wonder just what these economists know. Apparently very little, if anything. For some time now, while reading posts on Economist's View, I have taken to counted verbs and their associated parts of speech, and I counted them in the Luca Roundtable. The results are enlightening. "Believe/belief" occurs 27 times. "Think/thought," used as "believe/belief" occurs  33 times. "View" in expressions such as "my view" occurs 15 times, and "opinion" in expressions such as "my opinion" occurs five times.

On the other hand, "know/known/knowledge" occur only ten times in the following contexts, none of which is substantive:

It is . . . possible . . . to know

It is not . . . possible to know

because of a lack of knowledge

even after it was known where the economy was headed

I don't know

when it is commonly known among all investors

each individual investor does not know

If Mr Lucas now says that Ben Bernanke and company know

I don't know

, you know,

What can be inferred from this is that economics, contrary to the claims of economists, is a mere creedology. So economists need to tell us why we ought to pay any more attention to their creeds than we do the creeds of Islam or Astrology. What credence can we have in these creeds in the face of the economic system's regular failures? Why is their creed any better than any other?

©2011 John Kozy
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Is Perfect Research Possible

Some claim that there is no hope of doing perfect research. Well what foolery!

Diction is an important component of all good writing. The words a writer uses not only set the tone (archaic, slangy, colloquial, formal, idiomatic, legalistic, bureaucratic, etc.) of a composition, they set the level of precision of the writer's thinking. Since language is the medium of human thought, imprecise diction is often a sign of imprecise thinking and renders any claims made by the writer suspect.

When someone asks whether perfect research is possible, the person being asked is placed in a quandary. Research is delimited by tasks. Some are simple; others are not. If a seeker wants to know how to replace the heating element in an electric oven, just reading the directions printed in the user manual will usually yield the required information. The research is perfect; it is faultless. But if a diplomat wants to know how to eliminate the dangers of nuclear weapons, no amount of research is likely to provide an answer. Research can, at best, provide only different levels of achievement. Just as a writer can select different words or phrases for different contexts, a researcher can attain only different levels of success for different tasks.

Reading the advice given by those selling research papers is scary. Look at this paragraph:

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Would you trust this person's research? Not I! Note the bad grammar and syntax and that the paragraph comes from a site named cheathouse. Indeed!

Or again, consider this paragraph from another source:

Developing a virtuous research paper question is the most important aspect that is to be initiated in the preliminary or planning stage of the research paper, the research paper questions are to be derived even before the finalization of the ‘Topic’ of Research writing assignment because the topic will be chosen based on the final and chief question(s). Essaycapital.com provides its essay writers with specialized training that helps them comprehend with the research paper requirements in an enhanced manner. The research question is the most crucial part of a qualitative research paper as the whole paper is bound to revolve around the particular question or a set of inter-linked questions. The perfect research question should never be too broad, that is, the question should only focus on a sub detail of the major issue. At we will provide you with an example to show you how to create a good research question.

The style of this paragraph is bureaucratic. Would you buy a research paper from essaycapital? Not I!

And finally, consider this excerpt:

Research paper writing has a specific focus and should not be confused with essays or thesis writing. A research paper is not designed to offer new evidence or report on developing work but as a collation and presentation of existing work. The research is to uncover existing knowledge of a topic and synthesize a focused and coherent report on this subject. A research paper is not intended to prove a hypothetical point but to present an existing fact. There are three directions you can take in designing your research paper. A simple analytical approach discusses the major points of your subject, evaluates them each in turn and then concludes with an evaluation of the research to the reader. An expository research paper does not so much offer altering viewpoints on your topic as it seeks to inform and explain what the subject matter is. A much more involved research paper is the argumentative form. In this type of research paper you pick a point of view and present your research findings to prove your opening statements."

Unfortunately, how the author of this sagacious wisdom distinguishes between "essays or thesis writing" and "the argumentative form" is a mystery.

In summation, consider this passage from James Lester's Writing Research Papers:

Why write a research paper? The answer is twofold. First, you add new information to your personal storehouse of knowledge by collecting and investigating facts and opinions about a limited topic from various sources. Second, you add to the knowledge of others by effectively communicating the results of your research in the form of a wel1-reasoned answer to a scholarly problem or question. . . . Any adequate research assignment . . . ask[s] you to inform, interest, and, in some cases, persuade the reader. You must be able to judge critically the merit of the evidence which you have compiled . . . and then be able to express precisely demonstrable conclusions about it. Such a task requires concentration and, more importantly, demands an imaginative molding of your material. . . . [Y]ou might attempt to compile a paper by paraphrasing a few authorities and by inserting quotations abundantly. But such a compilation would prove seriously inadequate since it would merely be presenting commonplace facts and opinions . . . [Y]ou would have offered a recital of investigations without the personal expression and explanation that is the ultimate purpose of all research. . . . (Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers, 2nd Edition. Glenview, IL. Scott, Foresman and Company, 1976.)

So, is there hope of doing perfect research? Of course there is—sometimes! It all depends on the whether—whether the subject is limited and whether the researcher can write and is intelligent enough to adequately evaluate the evidence. Unfortunately, many sites on the Web are peddling research but are selling Polish sausage. Not a pretty picture.

©2010 John Kozy
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Advice for the Tea Party

Hens that lay cracked eggs can't fix them.

Adam Smith in Book V, Chapter II, Part II of the Wealth of Nations has an interesting discussion on taxation in which he traces money back to its original sources to show who really pays. He shows that the real payer and the nominal payer are often not the same. The interesting thing about these passages is that the method can be used in all sorts of ways that have nothing to do with taxation.

For instance, consider what you really pay for when you purchase something. You pay for the product, of course, but you also pay for a lot more. You are led to believe, for example, that there is something called "free" television, television whose programming is paid for by advertisers. But where do the advertisers get the money they spend on advertising? It comes from the people who buy their products. Consumers are the ones who really pay for this "free" television, not the companies doing the advertising. The viewers of "free" television who buy the products advertised are paying for the programming, and the programming is not free. What's worse, even if you don't want to watch the ads you've paid for, you have to.

But advertising is not the worst example. The buyers of products also pay for the political ads companies run in support of candidates. Those buyers may not want to support those candidates, and the candidates supported by companies may not even have the interests of consumers at heart.

Companies also "donate" funds to candidates and spend huge amounts lobbying elected officials for favorable legislation. These companies get the money they spend on these activities from the people who buy their products too. So consumers, even when they don't support these politicians, end up paying for their campaigns. And when companies spend money lobbying the Congress to keep it from enacting effective consumer protective and other worthwhile legislation, consumers are paying for the lobbying that is not in their interest. Many believe that corporate America has corrupted the electoral process by buying politicians in these ways. If that's true, corporate America is using your money to do the corrupting. People, you're paying for your own nooses.

Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they can't trust Washington and they have little faith that the massive federal bureaucracy can solve the nation's ills. "This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement. . . . 'The government's been lying to people for years. Politicians make promises to get elected, and when they get elected, they don't follow through. . . . It was a problem before Obama, but he's certainly not helping fix it.'"

Many say they want a smaller government. But why does anyone believe a smaller government will help? Suppose you knew someone who fancied her/himself to be an excellent pizza chef but made pizzas that were so bad, people gagged when trying to eat them. Would the pizzas be any better if the chef made them smaller?

When the big government you disapprove of starts cutting programs, it may not cut the ones you want cut. If government can't be trusted now, why would you trust it to make the right cuts? What you might end up with could be worse than what you have. The point is that bad government can't be fixed by making it smaller. The only real fix is making government good, by making it a government of the people, by the people, and FOR the people.

So here's some advice for the Tea Party: One, stop complaining about the taxes you pay and start complaining—no, raise hell!—about the taxes the rich don't pay. Two, stop complaining about high prices and start complaining about corporate America's spending the money gotten by those prices to influence government. Three, stop complaining about politicians who lie and can't be trusted and start voting them out of office—Republican, Democratic, whatever. Start a campaign to oust all incumbents whether you like the one who represents you or not. The Congress won't pay any attention until the people demonstrate who the Congress really works for, and there's no way to do that without sweeping the whole house clean. When politicians attend your rallies and tell you how much they agree with you, remember that politicians lie to get elected. Show your representatives that the money that's yours that corporations spend to influence congressmen and get them elected won't do them any good. And finally, stop bringing up old, trite, and tiresome claims that have been heard for a least a century. They didn't work then and they won't work now. Try something new like, "Vote the rascals out—every last one!" That will get their attention. Nothing will change until WE the people change the way government works.

©2010 John Kozy
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What Intelligence?

Have you ever though about the meaning of the word, "insurgent"? Calling the people in Afghanistan who are attacking U.S. and NATO troops insurgents has become common. "Insurge" means to rush or surge in, but the Taliban didn't rush into Afghanistan; they are natives who have always lived there. It was American and NATO troops who surged into Afghanistan; in Iraq, Americans even called one such going in "a surge."

And what about "intelligence" as in intelligence agency? Properly speaking, intelligence is a attribute of human beings. As such, organizations cannot be intelligent. Intelligence is distinguished from intellect by being applied to concrete or individual exhibitions of the powers ascribed to the intellect. People are animals endowed with intellect, not intelligence; intelligence refers to the extent to which a person is able to use his intellect. An organization cannot use its intellect, because it has none.

America has a vast "intelligence" conglomerate of organizations. The NSA, CIA, FBI, various branches of the military have "intelligence" groups, and other agencies, too, are involved in so called intelligence. This conglomerate is likely the largest the world has ever known, and its costs are huge, the total cost of which is a deeply held secret. It has vast technical apparatuses used to watch people, see what they do, hear what they say, read what they write. And yet, all of the money spent, all of the people employed, all of the apparatuses used are insufficient. These agencies have shown, over and over again, that they rarely learn what they seek.

The information gathered is derived from many sources. Much is speculative, some is contradictory. It often amounts to little more than hunches. Some is correct, much is not.

In Afghanistan, NATO and US forces grossly underestimated the Taliban's capacity to mount a vicious counteroffensive. No one predicted the use of suicide bombings. In Somalia, the U.S. backed warlords that had ruled Mogadishu for two decades were suddenly overthrown by a bunch of lightly armed mullahs called the Islamic Courts Union. Few in the State Department seemed to have heard of this grassroots movement before it took over the country. The United States also failed to predict that Uzbekistan would close down the American base that had been there since 2001, downgrade relations with Washington and tilt decisively toward China and Russia. After the Palestinian elections, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stammered that the victory of Hamas came as a complete surprise to her. The mother of all intelligence failures, of course, was the CIA's inaccurate prediction that Saddam Hussein's regime would be found to have weapons of mass destruction. One of the main charges against the CIA and FBI post-9/11 is that they failed to join up the dots beforehand. The killings at Ft. Hood resulted from an intelligence failure. The FBI had information about Hasan's extremism, but didn't investigate enough. Intelligence agencies apparently cannot make connections between bits of information to make a coherent whole. But who can blame them. Bits of information scattered here and there can be likened to needles in multiple haystacks. Too much information is as impossible to deal with as none.

So what’s wrong with this picture:

  1. The United States of America, in all likelihood, has the largest and most expensive intelligence gathering service the world has ever known. We can assume it operates everywhere, even Timbuktu.
  2. The United States of America tortures prisoners to acquire intelligence.

If the huge intelligence gathering service works effectively, why is the torture necessary? And if torture is necessary, doesn't it mean that the huge intelligence gathering service doesn't work? One or the other has to be unnecessary. Which one?

People who believe, as our leaders seem to, that both are necessary are involved in contradictory thinking which distorts every rational thought process. Is it any wonder that American policies are ineffective? Only insane people think this way! Intelligence gathering does not produce intelligence. As the results mentioned above show, only ignorance is produced. Given all the means 21st century snoops have for gathering information, why do they have to resort to medieval methods? The only possible answer is that the practices employed by the agencies don't work. But history has shown that torture doesn't either. The Grand Masters of the Inquisition immolated many who were completely innocent.

When a nation as powerful as the United States goes to war on the basis of bad information, where does that leave the world? “We have squandered thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, we have projected force without intelligence—and that is folly. . . . That is how nations fall and that is how nations lose power.”

©2010 John Kozy
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