The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Modern Crisis

There is a crisis in America. It is a crisis distributed within and without as it reaps its destructive blade throughout all the political, economic, social, and cultural pillars of civilization. In America, it equally affects us at home (in the very hearth) and abroad. This is not a building storm over taxes or immigrants, war or weapons of cataclysm. These are merely the symptoms of the larger disease which is spreading through the national body due to the ignorance and apathy of the virus. This disease, this plague, is sickening America to the core. This crisis is eating away the beliefs, values, purpose, and the very destiny of the United States of America.
The crisis is no less than America’s abandonment of the principles of liberty, freedom, justice and peace, indeed the very things America thinks itself to practice; the things America has taken for granted as her nature. This crisis is partly the result of forgetfulness. The country has forgotten how it started in the age of absolutism, why it existed for so long as it does, what it had become to other people looking into it, who American’s really are at their core self, and where the country wants to go from here. The crisis in America is one of unimaginative thinking and unprincipled action. The crisis has come from small-minded people thinking and acting too narrowly for far too long at the center of power. The crisis is perpetuated by a closed-minded self-centeredness on the part of the legitimate power in America–that power being the very same American citizens who surrendered the decisions and swore off positive action to take back their power.
The crisis created by the surrender of liberty, monopolization of freedom, perpetuating injustices, and institutionalizing privilege threatens to destroy the foundations of America civilization–the political system, the economic prosperity, the societal norms, and her cultural unity. If the American people can reclaim their god-given liberty, expand possibilities, practice equality before the bar of humanity, and foster service to the greater fellowship, then the American people can save itself and the entire world from a future of oppression, impoverishment, conflict, and elitism. All Americans citizens–natural and foreign born–must assert their testament of natural rights under any understanding of creation to an independent, prosperous, safe way of life. Future generations countrymen and women beg them to know what is wrong and to fix it. The future of the entire world is waiting for their leadership toward a permanent solution. The fate of every individual, family, and community in all the nations need American’s to accept responsibility, stand above the achievements of past laurels, and make the decisive contribution to solve ominous dangers shadowing the future.
America’s challenge, the challenge to its people, is to look inward for the courage to see themselves in the present pale light of fate; to envision a place not far distant where every man, woman, and child lives above the minimum sustenance; to travel to a better world free of fear; to overcome differences and cooperate in a spirit befitting the green and blue beauty of this creation. The insight, the vision, the journey, the struggle, are fused into the only path the people of the entire world have not followed, one of self-awareness, abundance, security people and attachment, the values of god’s earth and people.
The world is now at a time of war, conglomeration, tyranny (subtle even in America, but tyranny nonetheless), and division. What is needed to reverse this momentum toward a dark world is to restore the human spirit to faith in itself. This is not an ideology. No party has a platform large enough to hold a program that could do this. This solution cannot be bought. No treasury is large enough to pay for it. It cannot be forced onto others. People must chose it freely of their own will or it has no lasting binds. It will never be self-willed. The solution must arrive from a consensus, a conscience of all concerned.
Since the crisis is a lack of perspective, the solution is one of personal philosophy, of world-view. The way out of the dark cloud overhanging the world begins with a philosophy of the relative position of self, truth, skepticism, and faith. The solution requires discipline of mind, sharing of interests, evaluation of process, and shared trust. The crisis can only be solved, the future can only be saved when each individual decides and acts to accept the dictates of reason in their lives in the service of a larger community interest.
America and its people must be the leaders of this movement of a kind of libertarianism offered openly to all people. It is an internationalism beyond patriotism because only the best interests of the world truly helps the United States of America. The partisan has no more leave to lead now that partisanship for all time has shown incompetence, greed, destruction, and conflict. America must remain for itself a truly sovereign choice in all its affairs, a place of economic opportunity, the guarantor of the common safety for all within and without, the connection between people and their best natures.
Sovereign choice at all levels of civilization, beginning with the individual, extends through families, between nations, and among the communities that form them. economic opportunity for all people attains their needs and wants in the free-market of competitive enterprise and commerce. The common safety of all people from fears, threats, wars, conflicts, violence, and violation is the duty of everyone to protect. Connected communities of every diverse type, style, size and shade fosters toleration, respect, and harmony, in the interest of everyone. These things make up the foundation of this new world-view. These are the ideals people need to expect and demand for themselves, but also grant to all others in order to receive them. These ideals are the standards by which America should be judged on its internal and international actions. These are principles with which the world can surpass petty biases and genocidal feuds and free itself from want and intolerance.
In this libertarian internationalism, there is a way for people to imagine, to strive; to reason, and to act. This philosophy can spread, one person at a moment. It can be shared with a person’s family. It can be a new basis for foreign relations, and for domestic strength. Ask yourself: “Can I see this as a good thing? Is it worthy of myself to give some notice, some minute act contributing to the future described here?” If the answer is “yes” to both, you are one more person working on the solution. It all starts with you. Take it as far as it will go and effects will multiply. What have you got to lose by trying? Everything if you don’t! The future is ours if you do something.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Club Report-Nov. 19, 2006--T.V., L.I. and Website

When the Strategy Gazette was released two weeks ago yesterday, focused shifted here at The Cepia Club into manic-mode. The last Clublog posting was done one weeks ago tomorow. The focused then shifted from the blog to other things. Now, here’s our report.

Issue #7 of Freed-zine America, was produced and published last week. It is on the “FairTax” proposal, which I favor as a fair, just and equitable means of Federal tax reform. The front page of the ‘zine has a great quote from Alexander Hamilton on the benefits of consumption taxes.

On Nov. 9th, I was interviewed on the PowerNews program in Hudson, WI, talking about world offensive disarmament and pitching my ideas on “libertarian internationalism.” The cable television appearance prompted me to think more about what I mean by L.I. I have since reduced it to four “21st Century Wilsonian” principles: sovereignty, from the individual up; economic opportunity; common security (not defensive disarmament: NO! NEVER!), and connectivity, to other people, within communities, between peoples and nations, etc. I will be writing more about these four principles of libertarian internationalism. I have already begun to compile old drafts on this topic to make one “mother of all political papers.”

Over the past ten days I have been doing the updating of the website, . It is no longer under procrastination. Many pages are done and linked to things. Some pages are under construction and the text is being revised and reviewed by the Club Brain Trust. The SCVL page and the site map will be the last pages uploaded. The home page now has at the bottom the Club’s “Four Commitments.” Check them out.

As some may have noticed, the TV web page is now open for limited business. Right now all we have are downloads, including a 290 MB file containing Freedom Affairs Episode 1. As soon as I can get a programmer to show me how, I will be installing a media player on the TV web page and it will stream video. I am very excited. This has been in the Club 21 business plan since June and we are ahead of schedule. I hope to have the video stream going by Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 23rd. I am now moving onto doing video projects that have been resting on the closet shelf. I am still experimenting with video converters, capture devices and editors, finishing, uploading, etc. Broadcasting is sure to be a great enterprise for the Club.

Now, that we have p.r./media relations experience, contacts, and resources, and especially now that the publishing enterprise is taking off well, it was time to work on broadcasting. Throughout we have focused on our CepiaNet building while keeping up to speed on the other projects.

Finally, Club Friend Jen M. is helping me with marketing the website. We know we will benefit from her knowledge and experience in helping attract both commerce and users of the Club public resources.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The FairTax Proposal

Here is an updated version of a letter to the editor I wrote last Feb.:

There is a proposal for Federal tax reform that, while it has some problems, is nevertheless a worthwhile idea. Known simply as the FairTax, the idea is a good one and should be considered. Many individuals running in last week’s election for U.S. House and Senate supported the FairTax. Their opponents, in the instances I saw, used great efforts to ridicule the idea and distort the truth about both the proposal and those candidates who supported it. The FairTax, unsurprisingly, faces intense opposition from career politicians and their special interest supporters. I am not an economist, but the mechanics of how the FairTax works are rather sound.
The FairTax is the reform proposal of the non-profit organization Americans For Fair Taxation. You can see many of the details of the plan on the website . Rep. John Linder of Georgia is the lead sponsor of the bill in the U.S. House. Radio host Neil Bork is the national “spokesperson.”
If implemented as devised, the FairTax would repeal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. NO MORE INCOME TAXES! Furthermore, besides personal income taxes, all Federal business, capital gains, and payroll taxes (FICA, etc.) would be eliminated. Taxes destroy personal property. Nothing destroys wealth or halts economic growth like our current system of Federal taxes. Two features of the present system make the Federal revenue code unjust, unfair and unequal. First, the tax laws favor those with political influence who can remove themselves legally from paying their share of taxes. Secondly, the system allows everyone to cheat on their taxes, burdening either the honest citizens or future taxpayers.
The FairTax is very simple. Once all present taxes are eliminated, the competition of the market will free the cost of goods and services from the“hidden taxes” in the retail price which are estimated as 22% of the retail price (not including any official state and local taxes on the actual sale prices). A delusion needs to be dispelled here: Businesses don’t pay taxes; PEOPLE PAY THE TAXES. Under the FairTax, things are taxed only once and used goods are removed from the tax rolls. Only on new retail items, a 23 % sales tax would be added to the price free of the 22% of un-assessed “hidden” taxes, not added to total pre-FairTax. There should be virtually no change in the final prices to, and no new added taxes for, the things we buy now. Remember, the current Federal tax system adds cost for customers to retail prices. The 22% of “hidden” taxes added to items for income and payroll tax compliance by businesses would be eliminated. It is believed that the laws of the market would drive competitive prices of products and services down to level where no “hidden” taxes are included. This market force adjustment may take one or two years to work itself into the pricing systems. Once established, it would be a bedrock of our economy.
The FairTax plan provides for a “pre-bate” payment given to all households at the beginning of the year for an estimated amount of taxes families will pay on “necessary” items like food and clothing. Every household gets an equal share based the formula of the size of the household. This aspect of the FairTax is, in practice, a political scheme to get support from otherwise skeptical people. This may be one of the “problems” I alluded to at the beginning.
The taxes derived from the FairTax are collected and forwarded by the sellers. The IRS could be eliminated as we know it. No new retail good or service would be exempt from the FairTax. Exempting any classes of goods and services would be the same sort of special interest favoritism which makes the current system so unjust, unfair, and unequal. Again, any retail item taxed once (though not apparently counting excise-taxed items like gasoline, liquor, and tobacco) is never taxed again by the Federal government. The beauty of this whole idea is that people can decide how much tax they volunteer to pay based on their own spending/buying decisions. Buy a new item, pay the tax. Buy fewer taxable things, pay less tax. Everyone, from corporate CEOs to foreign tourist (anyone not currently NOT paying their share of Federal taxes), pays taxes. will give much more info than I can give. The idea will not mean any less in the current level of Federal revenue. The FairTax is so-called “revenue neutral” in this regard. As a nation free from spending several hundreds of billions of dollars on tax compliance and avoidance, that several hundred billion dollars would be put to a productive use. The system would create investment at home and bring it in from abroad as companies would seek to do business in such a pro-growth economic environment.
Again, there are better explanations than I gave here. Seek out information. Weigh the pros and the cons. There are benefits to the FairTax idea. There are problems, but those are fewer and more manageable than the current system of the fraud- and corruption-friendly tax system we have now. Take a look. It may be the best idea we have had on tax reform since Alexander Hamilton.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Essay on Grand Strategy

This is long, but it may interest some people.

United States Grand Strategy in the War Against the Terrorists
November 6, 2006
by Tim Krenz

The 2006 mid-term campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate focused on the war in Iraq, becoming a national referendum on Republican Party foreign policy. Whatever the elections will have decided, the new Congress will be part of a needed public debate on U.S. grand strategy in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the larger war against the terrorists. It is necessary for a reevaluation of the entire approach to U.S. foreign policy in the Indian Ocean Area, from east and North Africa, the Middle East, and Central and Southeast Asia.

Some time following the elections taking place tomorrow, a bipartisan commission examining the war in Iraq will present their findings and conclusions. They are expected to devise a new strategy in Iraq in order to secure victory for the United States and the Iraqi people. The commission leader, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, has repeatedly said that the commission has “not ruled anything in” nor “ruled anything out” in its deliberations and recommendations. The commission’s ideas on the topic have remained largely secret, to be revealed after the partisan elections. In weighing what they will say, there are some things that the American people should consider in listening to the commission’s report.

Iraq is indeed part of the wider conflict in the Middle East. There is a direct relationship between Iraq to the war on the terrorists taking place world-wide. But the conflict has far larger dimensions, from energy security concerning Persian Gulf oil, to the Israeli-Arab problem, to the Palestinian question. Even deeper, the war in Iraq involves the millennial crisis taking place in Muslim civilization, a problem that will rend all Muslim countries into a conflict between faith to its past and confronting its destiny.

U.S. political strategy in this area of the world (both the diplomacy and the military side of politics) has failed to secure vital national interests since the end of the Cold War. The problems for U.S. foreign policy seem to grow hourly: A Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan; open sectarian civil war in Iraq; Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology. Currently, America’s favoritism for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and U.S. support for oppressive dictators in the region have alienated Muslims all over the world.

In short, the U.S. has not given its best ideals to the problems facing the countries in the greater-Indian Ocean Area. The best America has to offer, things like information, education, globalized prosperity, democracy and self-government, and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, have been largely overshadowed by 61 years of economic exploitation, political pressure, militarism; and recently, support for Israel’s use of excessive force in Lebanon, the war in Iraq, arrogance, and support for president’s and royal families who torture, jail and murder their people. There has and even been racism, the obvious impression given during the Dubai Ports controversy in early 2006.

Long-term, Muslim civilization is teetering. With the challenges that the poor, under-connected, and oppressed Muslims have to confront now and very shortly, it is no wonder that more and more people in these countries turn to the wrong solution offered by the radical, murderous, and equally oppressive terrorists. The Muslim countries see looming, if not already at their front door, demographics (the number of people), economic reality, and cultural sterility combining for a perfect storm. The large number of young people, growing larger all the time, and the backward economic foundations mean that these countries will remain poor. They will fight over ever scarcer wealth and resources, and they will beonly more likely to fall further behind the standard of living of the West and Far East.

While terrorist themselves come from well-educated, well-off families, the reason they probably join is why the middle classes rise in revolutions throughout history: They see the injustice happening around them and want to have the power to change it. This is a law of rebellion against any established order. It is common in history. This sort of revolution from the middle, where all revolutions start, is currently seeking to control the politics of the Muslim countries. It is in the form of terrorist who offer the people something new, not necessarily better, but certainly different. The masses in the Muslim world are tired of dealing with the ancien regime. These masses could eventually become the fodder of mass revolutionary armies. It is this short-term crisis which the U.S. must confront now.

The crisis in the Muslim countries will bring that civilization to the turning point in the not too distant future. One choice of Muslim peoples is to find those who would find a better, more peaceful way to lead their societies to sovereign independence, peace, prosperity, and enlightenment. The alternative is the leadership and ideology of militant Islam. History is on the side of the peaceful and enlightened. The first Muslim country to confront these problems was Turkey following World War I. Kemal Mustafa Ataturk was a visionary. His reform is still a successful modern Muslim country 80 years later. The challenge for the alternative to the terrorists is to act like Ataturk did: with bold vision, political willpower, and hard work. This millennial “mid-point” for Muslim civilization is similar to the Reformation, Counter-Reformation and the religious wars over Christianity in 16th and 17th Century Europe. The questions are: Will the war of the terrorist lead to the Islamic equivalent of the Thirty Years War? Will the conflicts within Islam and between Islam and the rest of the world result in some sort of stability and peace within Islam? And peace and amity with other civilizations?

For the U.S., which HAS limited material and human resources, along with flighty political will, economics determines strategy. How we use our wealth, people, and other assets in a military campaign should be largely based on our advantages and the opponent weaknesses. But the higher, political-level of “grand strategy,” needs to be formulated which will align our emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual power in ways that will lead to long-term victory in the war on the terrorists, and success in Iraq by default. Tinkering with tactics in Iraq will not change the situation there. Operationally shifting units from province to province in Iraq and Afghanistan is not the answer to winning this “Long War.”

What is this proper and realistic grand strategy, the political strategy in other words, that people should consider in listening to any solution to the problems of the current war?

First, the U.S. cannot afford to take any side but its own in the world, especially in the Middle East. Our interests are not served by Israel bombing Lebanon or Gaza long after political reality takes leave. Neither are U.S. interests served by Hamas or Hezbollah taking hostages. On all things in the Middle East, the U.S. needs to present itself and address the issues from the viewpoint of the most powerful player in world politics willing to use its power and leverage for fair, just, and equitable settlements between peoples and nations in conflict. Such an attitude toward the United States would undermine any opposition.

Second, U.S. political policy concerning leadership in Muslim countries should be to endorse the people’s chosen (not necessarily elected) governments.. There cannot be any outside interference or coercion on the part of the U.S. or anyone else in any nation’s selected form of government, as long as that government has the consent of the majority and minority rights are ensured. While radicals, or even terrorist, may win some power or elections, the reality of governing changes everything. Furthermore, if radicals are brought to power by the ballot box by eager, impressionable first-time voters, the responsibility of voting and holding leaders accountable will in the end moderate even support for even the most radical positions. History guarantees this result of peaceful, free nations.

Third, the U.S. must lead the entire world in an economic transformation of the Muslim countries. Prosperity, or even maintaining the basic “comforts” of life like plentiful food, safe water, and basic health, are keys to connecting this region with the rest of the world. Globalized economic opportunity in diverse free-markets solidifies personal satisfaction and removes causes for societal grievances. In addition, there must be in the long-term alternatives to the fossil economic systems. The future of the world and the future workers of Muslim countries require this important step. Development of economic alternatives to oil and the oil economy are a must for economic growth so that everyone can share in the prosperity. Oil has mostly benefitted the royal families who are dictators over their people. It is time for democratizing energy.

Fourth, for a “pure”military grand strategy, U.S. military policy in the Indian Ocean Area should be based on a “maritime” strategy, not the long-term, exhaustive and expensive ground occupation of the region. The U.S. should use its superior sea, land and air mobility and expeditionary power; its superiority in space, cyberspace, and the laboratory; and its incredible leadership and training. The strategy would be for quick, decisive action, not for a “slobberknocker” of ground combat that chews up people and machinery. Information, targeting, maneuver, and firepower delivered from long-distances, penetrating to the core of our enemies, that destroy and disrupt their centers of gravity, should be our method of defeating any enemy in the 21st Century. Land wars in Asia cannot become the norm. Already, U.S. military transformation is getting toward this. Iraq is tripping the military’s steps in this direction

As part of this military strategy, re-groupment to the Kurdish north and Shi’a south of Iraq may be necessary to begin stabilizing these areas. The areas in the middle of Iraq should be cut off: isolated, contained, and patrolled. The U.S. should secure the north and south of Iraq, ensure the clearing and holding of these areas, and then move incrementally into central and western Iraq. This sort of methodical and patient pacification and stabilization would take a shorter number of years with the limited manpower the U.S. can continue to commit to Iraq. It would take far shorter than the current strategy, which is failing more every day. The eventual peace of Iraq is not guaranteed. Eventual U.S. disengagement from Iraq is necessary. Is there a better idea?

And fifth, as part of the “maritime” strategy for the U.S. in the Middle East, the United States should lead the nations in the Indian Ocean Area, along with the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, in a large security and cooperation organization for the region. Instead of the only military decision-maker in the region, the U.S. should offer itself only as a balancer of power among all nations with interest in the region. The organization should prevent and fight aggression. It should also work for economic development in the Indian Ocean nations. Most of all, allies, locally and from around the world, are necessary for the U.S. Help is better than unilateral action in this part of the world.

In the strategy for solving the Iraq war, a broader grand strategy approach is needed. To solve Iraq we must address the far larger, epochal issues at stake. A grand strategy is required before anything else is done. Victory will only come when the United States adopts a more realistic, less partisan view of what are the problems, and only if it adopts a more logical framework to solving them.