I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Altruism will devour us all

This week it was announced that there will be no cost of living increase for social security recipients since inflation is essentially flat. Immediately, Obama announced that he was proposing a $250 "stimulus" check for social security recipients.

It's easy to assign less than honorable motives to this action. 1. He could be motivated by fear, worried that pissing off the elderly will cost him at the polls. 2. He could be motivated by a desire to score political points: He can propose an increase weeks before an election. Democrats will no doubt support the proposal across the board. Republicans must either say they oppose it, in which case they will be accused of being cold-blooded grandma haters, or for it, in which case they will be exposed as hypocrites in their claims to care about balancing the budget.

My gut instinct, though, is that his motives are probably more noble. Men don't go through the extraordinary physical, mental, and emotional effort of becoming president unless they really believe that they can make the world a better place through their vision and leadership. They may engage in a lot of political gamesmanship and cut a lot of deals that enrich their friends and allies along the way, but at the end of the day, what underlies all these efforts is a genuine desire to do good.

I think Obama passed his health care plan motivated not because it was a giant power grab, but because he's met people screwed by the present system and wants to help them. I think George Bush invaded two countries not because he was thirsty for oil, but because he wanted to make the world a safer place.

Once you set upon the path of doing good, however, it's hard to stop. When people point out that your good actions may be causing harm, it's easy to brand them hard-hearted, or even evil. If you oppose Bush's wars because they were disproportionate responses to the threat, financially ruinous to the country, or too open-ended, you were labeled as a coddler of terrorists. If you oppose Obama's cap and trade proposals, you are branded as a tool of the oil industry and a cheerleader for poisoning the planet.

The world's problems are bottomless. The demand for government to fix the problems is equally bottomless. There will always be men willing to stand up and say, "I can fix this problem."

Unfortunately, while problems are limitless, resources aren't. Obama is going to give out his $250 stimulus checks with borrowed money. We will pay back this borrowed money with more borrowed money. Bush did the same thing with his wars, or his prescription drug benefits. Whoever is president next will follow the same pattern. Clinton is credited with balancing the budget, but he got lucky in that he failed to pass his health care bill. I suspect things would have worked out quite differently if he'd had the chance to do all the good he wanted to do--and not for the better.

The hard truth is that altruism unrestrained by economics or logic will eventually grow into a monster, devouring wealth and liberty in order to crap out comfort and security. The beast is already loose, chewing up our children's futures with massive debt, devouring the lives of innocent men, women and children with wars that can never come to an end. If we cannot kill the beast, we must at least muzzle it. The $250 stimulus seems like a good test. Do not vote for any candidate that supports it. If both the democrat and the republican in the race are for it, vote libertarian. Good-hearted men will be the ruin of us all. It's time to vote for people with the wisdom and courage to say no.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mid Term Meanderings

With the mid-term elections less than a month away, I'm starting to feel a building sense of doom. Our country is facing genuine problems and I worry that present political trends are only going to make these problems fester.

I won't play Nostradamus and predict whether Republicans are going to win the house or senate. I will ask, does it matter? If they do reclaim power, it will be by feeble margins compared to what the Democrats currently possess. If Democrats are barely able to function in the face of unanimous Republican opposition, why should the Republicans dream that once they have power, the Democrats are suddenly going to be trying to help them pass laws? We are now firmly in an era of kamakazi politics. Republican's are likely to make gains, and think that their strategy of just saying no to everything is a good one to continue if they are a few seats short of taking over either house. Democrats, if they lose control of either house, are going to say, "Hey! The Republican's made us look ineffective by never giving us a single vote. We'll show the same unity in opposition now that they are in power and they'll now get to become the unpopular scapegoat party!"

The timing couldn't be worse. Our national debt is set to devour our future. We've ignored it for twenty years, always trusting that somehow things would work out. It's like obesity; you put on twenty pounds in your twenties, and hey, it's no big deal, you were skinny anyway. Then, in your thirties, you add another ten pounds. But, while you understand you aren't in great shape, the extra weight isn't affecting you that bad. You still live your life more or less normally. And, look around: Everyone is putting on extra weight. Then, in your forties, you add more weight. Hmm. Maybe this is starting to be a problem. Your doctor's been telling you this for twenty years, but now is when you're starting to notice that you're having trouble breathing walking up a flight of stairs. You think, maybe it's time to do something about your weight. Maybe not get skinny again, but watch what you're eating more, maybe take a walk a few times each week. You'll be okay if you can just stay where you're at. It's not like you're so heavy that you need one of those wheeled carts to get around the grocery store. Then, in your fifties, you're riding around on the wheeled cart, still planning to excercise once your gout clears up. And, in your sixties, you're dead.

Our deficit has followed the same pattern. When we first started running it, no big deal. When we got worried about it in the 90's, we did a few years of excersize and got it back under countrol. Then, life got stressful again with the whole 9-11 thing and discipline went out the window and we were back at the deficit trough. Now, we've reached the point where we've gotten so fat and flabby, deficit-wise, that we have to get in shape immediately or we'll become so weak that we won't be able to save ourselves.

Do democrats have a plan to help us escape our debt trap? Nope. Their only plan is to complain that Tea Partier's didn't complain about the debt when Bush was in office. (Though, while I don't consider myself a tea partier, I certainly was talking about the debt during this time.) Do republican's have a plan to deal with the debt? A few here and there have actual plans, but only a few. For the most part, I've noticed in interviews lately that they are vaguely promising to cut spending... except for defense, or social security, or medicare. And, presumably, they won't stop paying interest on the national debt. So... they are admitting up front that they consider 98% of the budget untouchable. This is like promising to drink a diet coke while your heaping up the plates with meat loaf and mashed potatoes and chocolate pie at Bronco Billy's Big Boy Buffet Barn.

If you're obese, the prescription isn't arcane. Eat less, excercise more. Our debt has a similar simple fix: Cut spending and increase tax revenues. But, most obese people (including me) find that they lack the discipline to stick to the formula. Under what possible imaginary scenario are we suddenly going to elect politicians with the discipline to rescue us from our debt?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Masked interviews up at Mallozzi's Blog

Joseph Mallozzi has used his blog to spotlight the Masked anthology during September. He passed along a bunch of reader questions to the various authors and today has posted the collected answers in an interview that offers some great insights into both story telling and superheroes. My own contribution includes a confession of a potentially embarrassing recurring fantasy from my teen years. Also, Joe matched up each author's traits with an iconic superhero; I think he nailed me perfectly. You can read the whole post here.