Monday, December 31, 2007

Protecting America

Big Ralph

Here at the Underground Carpenter, security is handled by Big Ralph. He has an uncanny knack for sniffing out bad guys. He can instantly tell the difference between a familiar, welcome visitor and a stranger that bears watching. I trust his character assessments. When he bares his fangs at someone, they're trouble. When he nuzzles someone, it's an infallable sign of their goodness. In the 7 1/2 years he's been with us, we haven't had a single terrorist attack on our domicile and we are not constantly cowering in fear, under the table, wetting our pants.

It's time for a realistic assessment of the grave perils and dangers facing America. In 2001, 20 or so guys armed with boxcutters managed to fly airplanes into two heavily populated buildings. Our government accused Osama Bin Laden of masterminding the dirty deed. He is said to live in a cave. Almost 7 years later, trillions of dollars and military bases in 130 countries, the US military is unable to find his cave. While ostensibly searching, an out-of-control dictator with the approval of a dim, cowardly Congress, launches an attack on a helpless, third world pesthole called Iraq, killing a million innocent people. So is there any danger to the US, and is it from within or without? It's time to take Big Ralph to Washington DC and find out.

What the voters want

Ron Paul, Republican Candidate

H.L. Mencken once said, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." So what are the masses here in the USA yearning for? I don't know, and since no one will fess up to being one of the masses, there is no one to ask. Politicians try to guess what the masses want to hear, but their speeches are purposefully vague, just in case the tide shifts. "Change", "hope", "conversation with America", and that old standard, "nude erection" are trotted out by candidates that all want to "protect America". The closest any politician will come to expressing ideology is to promise free health care(with lots of choices!) or sturdy fences along the borders.
So along comes Ron Paul. He knows the Libertarian ticket is a dead end, so he runs as a Republican. I haven't heard him speak directly and even a newspaper story about him is second hand gossip, but he seems to be expressing a clear ideology which makes him a singular candidate.
Ron Paul says he wants limited government based on a literal reading of the Constitution, a gold standard for our money, abolish the IRS and bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. He also is opposed to having any foreign military bases. How could anyone object to these things? And yet Ron Paul will be walked over by candidates gushing about "hope". He doesn't stand a chance.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Coolest House in Arizona

For the last three weeks, the temperatures here have been dipping into the low thirties at night. But inside our house the temperature has stayed a rock-steady 68 degrees. No heat or power inside yet, we haven't finished building. We're hoping to move in by the end of February which will be two years since we started. Our home is earth-sheltered. The structure is a one-foot-thick concrete box wrapped in styrofoam. The dirt on the roof is three-feet thick. The south face is the only side exposed. Our house is long and skinny, with lots of windows on the front, so each room is brightly lit with sunshine.
I've been wanting to build this house since the early 90's when I first heard of Malcolm Wells, the Cape Cod architect who specializes in earth-sheltered buildings. Malcolm's main reason for going underground is that every square inch of this planet should be alive. Look at typical suburban housing today and you'll see an ocean of tile roofs, asphalt streets and water-greedy lawns. Typical homes have no cover for animals, rainwater has nowhere to soak in to prevent flooding, high energy costs to heat and cool, and no protection from tornadoes and hurricanes.
Are there any disadvantages to earth-sheltered homes? Higher cost and lack of imaginative builders are about the only things I can think of. If you'd like to check out our soon-to-be-finished home, you can see it here.

Silver Certificates

This is how our money used to look. It says, "This certifies that there is on deposit in the treasury of the United States of America one dollar in silver payable to the bearer on demand". Implicit in the wording is the notion that the paper note isn't the money, the silver is.

What is money?

Irwin Schiff seems crazy. For years he has harrassed the IRS. Irwin claims there is no law that says you have to pay income taxes on wages. For uttering such blasphemy, he has endured property seizures and jail sentences. A few years ago he opened a book store in Las Vegas. The IRS raided the store, confiscating or destroying most of the contents. Also, a court order forced him to cover the sign out front advertising his latest book.
One of the first books to open my eyes was Irwin Shiff's The Biggest Con. One small chapter was devoted to explaining the history and nature of money. He pointed out that the Constitution give Congress the power to "coin" money and to "regulate the value thereof". Irwin says that paper money is not money, it is a money substitute. Real money is gold or silver coins. A dollar is a quantity, like a quart or gallon, i.e. one ounce of gold equals twenty dollars.
I can remember "silver certificates", dollar bills with a note on the front saying it was redeemable in silver coin. Back in the 60's, you could actually take a dollar bill to any bank and exchange it for a silver dollar coin. I can also remember Nixon "closing the gold window", but I'll be damned if I can remember anything in the Constitution about a presidential window-closing power.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I have suffered mankind's inanities for some time. Now it is time for mankind to suffer mine. I have opinions. My opinions are formed from answering questions, the kind of questions I don't generally hear anyone asking. Let the questions begin.
What is the cause of war? You'll have to turn down your iPod to hear the mind quietly asking and answering in turn. Well, let's see, looking through history, war usually starts when some archduke is assassinated or a naval fleet is destroyed or an impoverished country is invaded. What's the common thread? Assholes, of course, but not all assholes start wars. A good thing, because if they did, we'd be up to our armpits in fargin' war. Some might argue that we already are. Point taken. But how do assholes start war? Well, first off there needs to be some saber-rattling. We're civilized, so a war must be "justified" before we fire a shot across the bow. And uniforms. There has to be snazzy uniforms, and the top asshole's uniform must be the snazziest. And weapons. How do you fight a war without weapons? Now we're seeing a pattern. The acoutrements of war, down to the simplest MRE's, cost money. How does the top asshole get enough money for war? He steals it, of course. But a single asshole can't rob an entire country. That takes henchmen. Here in the USA we call them politicians, and they are popularly elected by enthusiastic victims. OK, good so far. But what happens when a country runs out of tax money? Why, fire up the printing press and shoot the works. But a gimic is needed, a central bank with a vaguely official-sounding name. The Federal Reserve Bank. Works for me. But the damned questions keep coming. The Fed is a private bank owned by......who? I dunno. I don't even know where to find out, but I'd sure like to see their tax returns. It's the height of irony to notice that our seventh president, who strenuously objected to central banks, is now on the twenty dollar "Federal Reserve Note". Why doesn't the US government just print scrip themselves and cut out the middleman? Our now-ignored Constitution gives Congress the power to "coin" money, not print it. A subtle distinction, but in an earlier time I've heard people used to pay attention to words and their meanings. OK, now the US can wage war even though the country is mired in debt. So the Fed prints up a trillion bucks for some war. Quick quiz: In your economics class, what happens when more bucks chase the same or fewer goods? Bingo. Everything costs a lot more and your wages stay the same. Your standard of living goes down the shitter. Without the ability to inflate the national scrip, would our enthusiastically elected henchmen be able to fund a war? They'd have to pass the hat to the citizenry. How much would you pay to watch a really good war on TeeVee?