Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2018 Nevada Ballot Questions

Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2018 Nevada Ballot Questions

The New Renaissance Hat
Gennady Stolyarov II
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The Nevada Transhumanist Party offers the following brief statements of position on the ballot questions currently before Nevada voters in the 2018 General Election.

Summary
Question 1: Support
Question 2: Support
Question 3: Support
Question 4: Support
Question 5: Oppose
Question 6: Oppose

 

Ballot Question 1 Marsy’s Law Crime Victims’ Rights Amendment Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall the Nevada Constitution be amended to: (1) remove existing provisions that require the Legislature to provide certain statutory rights for crime victims; and (2) adopt in their place certain expressly stated constitutional rights that crime victims may assert throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 1 as an expansion of the rights of crime victims to render those rights more symmetrical to the protections that those accused of criminal acts already receive. The Nevada Transhumanist Party strongly holds that due process is vital for both the accused and the victim of a crime. Section X of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform states, in part, that “each individual should be sentenced based solely on the consideration of the nature of that individual’s crime, its context, and its severity.” However, the nature, context, and severity of a crime can only be ascertained if victims are permitted to participate in the justice process, with full protections of their safety and right to be heard. One of the most important protections of Ballot Question 1 is “To have all monetary payments, money and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.” This shifts the focus of the justice system toward compensating the victim, instead of simply enriching the state. A restitution-oriented justice system is ideal where the damage from a crime can be repaired or compensated monetarily, as this approach actually endeavors to make the victims whole and thereby undo as many of the ill effects of the crime as possible. The more lives can be repaired in this way, the fewer obstacles to innocent individuals’ flourishing will exist, and the faster our society will progress in economic, moral, and technological dimensions.

 

Ballot Question 2 Sales-Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall the Sales and Use Tax Act of 1955 be amended to provide an exemption from the taxes imposed by this Act on the gross receipts from the sale and the storage, use or other consumption of feminine hygiene products?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 2 as a protection for the morphological freedom of individuals. The morphological freedom of female individuals is infringed by asymmetrical taxation of products that those individuals uniquely require. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party does not oppose sales taxes per se, exemptions from sales taxes for the necessities of life are reasonable if such taxes pose impediments to individual quality of life or even the ability to afford those necessities.

 

Ballot Question 3Energy Choice Initiative Support

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 3 to eliminate the coercive energy monopoly currently held by NV Energy and allow individuals to choose their utility and source of energy, much like they are able to choose which furniture or which cars to buy today. NV Energy has used its monopoly position to stifle and penalize the deployment of economical rooftop solar systems, which allow homeowners to autonomously generate their own electricity and even earn some money doing so. The suppression of such opportunities is a travesty of justice and needs to be reversed.

The NV Energy monopoly is not only harmful to technological progress, renewal energy, and affordable electricity costs; it is also a danger to the health and safety of homeowners. This is because of NV Energy’s arcane, deliberately circular call-center system, which gives consumers “the runaround” when consumers attempt to contact NV Energy to request emergency service related to failures in the electrical panels on their homes. NV Energy has connected the main circuit-breakers on many such panels to its “smart meters”, which require the intervention of an NV Energy technician to disable to that the circuit-breakers can be worked on and repaired or replaced. However, NV Energy does not offer consumers a dedicated emergency response to promptly allow access to those consumers’ own electrical systems in situations where hours and even minutes matter for preserving life and property.

The Nevada Transhumanist Party considers particularly reprehensible the “No on 3” campaign in Nevada – orchestrated and almost exclusively (99.99%) financed by NV Energy and its connected organizations – which has been disingenuous in its messaging and which has created many mistaken impressions on the part of the public. Question 3 would only deprive NV Energy of its monopoly powers; it would not mirror the California-style (pseudo)-“deregulation” of the late 1990s, nor would it thwart any renewable-energy projects. Quite the contrary, it has been NV Energy and only NV Energy that has stifled efforts by consumers and rooftop-solar installers to create genuine alternatives to NV Energy’s electrical grid and its intentionally cumbersome and restrictive policies.

Question 3, indeed, would require that the Nevada Legislature “ensure that protections are established that entitle customers to safe, reliable, and competitively priced electricity;” and “protect against service disconnections and unfair practices” – protections that are currently absent because of the NV Energy monopoly’s political connections, asymmetrical lobbying clout, and the regulatory capture of the Public Utilities Commission.

Nevada’s voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3 in 2016 (72.36% voted in favor). Now that NV Energy has launched a last-ditch campaign in reaction to the jeopardy in which its monopoly finds itself, voters should inform themselves and see through the misleading rhetoric of the “Coalition to Defeat Question 3” (i.e., NV Energy). The Nevada Transhumanist Party staunchly supports Question 3 as the pathway toward major technological progress and innovation in the realm of energy, harnessing the forces of market competition to provide cleaner, more affordable electricity for all Nevadans.

 

Ballot Question 4 Medical Equipment Sales Tax Exemption AmendmentSupport

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 10 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the exemption of durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility enhancing equipment prescribed for use by a licensed health care provider from any tax upon the sale, storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 4 to exempt durable medical equipment from sales and use tax. These taxes can often run into the thousands of dollars for sick and dying patients and could compromise the quality of their care. We support any measure that helps make medical equipment affordable and more widespread.

 

Ballot Question 5Automatic Voter Registration via DMVOppose

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Chapter 293 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to establish a system that will automatically register an eligible person to vote, or update that person’s existing Nevada voter registration information, at the time the person applies to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles for the issuance or renewal of any type of driver’s license or identification card, or makes a request to change the address on such a license or identification card, unless the person affirmatively declines in writing?” (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party opposes Ballot Question 5. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party supports efforts to render voter registration easy and seamless, the particular requirements of Ballot Question 5 would entail the DMV being mandated to insert disclosures that encourage voters to select a major political-party registration by including a statement “that the person will not be able to vote at a primary election for candidates for partisan offices of a major political party unless the person indicates a major political party affiliation”. Such wording – which would essentially compel a State agency to advertise for the major political parties – would further skew the political arena toward the major political parties and would entrench their dominance. Voter registration should furthermore always occur on an opt-in, rather than opt-out, basis; this is the only approach that consistently respects individual autonomy and choice to participate in the political system or to abstain from such participation. Opting in should be easy and made available through a variety of methods (including electronic, same-day registration), but the presumption of registration can create logistical difficulties for some individuals and conceivable situations where an automatic “updated” registration generates needless contradictions in a person’s registration status, which would actually render it more difficult for that person to subsequently cast a vote.

 

Ballot Question 6Renewable Energy Standards Initiative Oppose

Wording of Ballot Question: “Shall Article 4 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require, beginning in calendar year 2022, that all providers of electric utility services who sell electricity to retail customers for consumption in Nevada generate or acquire incrementally larger percentages of electricity from renewable energy resources so that by calendar year 2030 not less than 50 percent of the total amount of electricity sold by each provider to its retail customers in Nevada comes from renewable energy resources?“ (More information on BallotPedia.)

Position of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: The Nevada Transhumanist Party opposes Ballot Question 6. While the Nevada Transhumanist Party supports economical renewable energy and the acceleration of efforts to develop technologies to render as much of our energy supply renewable as possible, the ability to affordably generate 50 percent of the total electricity through renewable energy resources is ultimately a technological challenge, not a political one. If the technology is ready, and the market is robust and competitive enough to deploy it to consumers at more attractive prices than fossil-fuel energy, then a 50-percent or greater renewable proportion of electricity will be achieved by 2030 without the need for a mandate. If, however, the technology cannot yet render renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels, then the only effect of the mandate would be to push up costs and constrict supply of electricity to consumers. The surest way to bring about a future of greater renewable energy is to repeal the NV Energy monopoly which has been standing in its way. Through competition, both technological and marketing innovations will thrive and will deliver renewable energy solutions to consumers.  Ballot Question 3, rather than Ballot Question 6, is therefore a superior means toward that goal.

 

Mr. Stolyarov is the Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party and Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.
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Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our free Membership Application Form here. It takes less than a minute!
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This post may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II). Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.
Fifth Enlightenment Salon – Discussions on Longevity, Gene Therapy, Overcoming Disabilities, Animal Lifespans, Education, and Privacy

Fifth Enlightenment Salon – Discussions on Longevity, Gene Therapy, Overcoming Disabilities, Animal Lifespans, Education, and Privacy

Gennady Stolyarov II
Bill Andrews
James Kohagen
Bobby Ridge
John Murrieta


On October 13, 2018, in the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment and its furtherance today, Gennady Stolyarov II, Bill Andrews, James Kohagen, Bobby Ridge, and John Murrieta met for the fifth interdisciplinary discussion – hosted by Mr. Stolyarov – on science, culture, education, advocacy, and policy. Subjects discussed included the following:

– The recent RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego
– Developments in the field of gene therapy
– Advances in epidural stimulation for treating and overcoming spinal-cord injuries
– Long-lived organisms and their similarities and dissimilarities to humans
– How animal experiments can become more humane
– How contemporary science still has far to go to accumulate even fairly basic information about certain organisms
– How the study of lifespans can be included in educational curricula starting at early childhood
– Whether privacy will remain in a more technologically interconnected future.

Join the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside by filling out an application form that takes less than a minute.

Find out about Death is Wrong – the illustrated children’s book on indefinite life extension.

Future Grind Episode 28: Ryan O’Shea Interviews Gennady Stolyarov II on the State of Transhumanist Politics

Future Grind Episode 28: Ryan O’Shea Interviews Gennady Stolyarov II on the State of Transhumanist Politics

Gennady Stolyarov II
Ryan O’Shea


Listen to Ryan O’Shea’s interview with U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II on the Future Grind podcast, where they discuss the state of Transhumanist politics. Mr. Stolyarov responds to some of the most detailed and well-researched questions that he has been presented with regarding contemporary political issues in the U.S. Transhumanist Party and transhumanist movement. The U.S. Transhumanist Party thanks Mr. O’Shea for enabling a thoughtful discussion that will be of interest to our listeners.

– Watch/listen on YouTube.

– Listen/download on the Future Grind website.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply online here in less than a minute.

Description by Ryan O’Shea: In this installment of the Future Grind podcast host Ryan O’Shea sits down with Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the US Transhumanist Party. Gennady took the reins of the Transhumanist Party when the organization’s founder, Zoltan Istvan, stepped down after his campaign for President in 2016. In addition to his work work with the Party, Gennady is a published author and composer, and he has contributed articles to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, the Brighter Brains Institute, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and many more. They discuss the current state of transhumanist politics, why Gennady believes that they are important in the first place, and how he feels that transhumanism can transcend socialism, libertarianism, and all other conventional ideologies.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 22, 2018

U.S. Transhumanist Party Meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 22, 2018


On September 22, 2018, representatives of the U.S. Transhumanist Party met in San Diego, California, during RAAD Fest 2018, in order to provide an overview of recent efforts and future prospects, discuss approaches to advocacy with several leading transhumanist public figures, and field audience questions regarding the transhumanist movement and its goals.

Watch the video of the meeting on YouTube here.

Participants at the meeting included the following individuals:
Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, U.S. Transhumanist Party
Arin Vahanian, Director of Marketing, U.S. Transhumanist Party
Newton Lee, Chairman, California Transhumanist Party, U.S. Transhumanist Party Education and Media Advisor
José Luis Cordeiro, U.S. Transhumanist Party Technology Advisor and Foreign Ambassador to Spain
Natasha Vita-More, Member of Los Angeles City Council (1992-1993), Elected on a Transhumanist Platform, Executive Director of Humanity Plus
Bill Andrews, U.S. Transhumanist Party Biotechnology Advisor
Charlie Kam, Director of Networking, California Transhumanist Party
Elizabeth (Liz) Parrish, U.S. Transhumanist Party Advocacy Advisor

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form here.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Apply here.

Andrés Grases Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era

Andrés Grases Interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era

Gennady Stolyarov II
Andrés Grases


Andrés Grases, the publisher of the Transhuman Plus website (http://transhumanplus.com/) interviews U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, CA, on September 23, 2018. During the course of this conversation, both the contemporary state of transhumanist politics and future directions are covered – along with the challenges to reforming the educational system, the need to create open access to academic works, the manner in which the transition toward the next era of technologies will occur, the meaning of transhumanism and its applications in the proximate future – including promising advances that we can expect to see during the next several years.

Watch the video here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Apply online here in less than a minute.

How Transhumanism Can Transcend Socialism, Libertarianism, and All Other Conventional Ideologies – Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the VSIM:18 Conference

How Transhumanism Can Transcend Socialism, Libertarianism, and All Other Conventional Ideologies – Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the VSIM:18 Conference

Gennady Stolyarov II


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, discusses the key strengths and weaknesses of libertarianism, socialism, conservatism, and left-liberalism, the common failings of these and all other conventional ideologies, and why transhumanism offers a principled, integrated, dynamic approach for a new era of history, which can overcome all of these failings.

This presentation was delivered virtually by Mr. Stolyarov on September 13, 2018, to the Vanguard Scientific Instruments in Management 2018 (VSIM:18) conference in Ravda, Bulgaria. Afterward, a discussion ensured, in which Professor Angel Marchev, Sr., the conference organizer and the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s Ambassador to Bulgaria, offered his views on the dangers of socialism and the promise of transhumanism, followed by a brief question-and-answer period.

Visit the website of the U.S. Transhumanist Party here.

Download and view the slides of Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation (with hyperlinks) here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form here.

Become a Foreign Ambassador for the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Apply here.

The Rational Argumentator’s Sixteenth Anniversary Manifesto

The Rational Argumentator’s Sixteenth Anniversary Manifesto

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 2, 2018
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On August 31, 2018, The Rational Argumentator completed its sixteenth year of publication. TRA is older than Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit; it has outlasted Yahoo! Geocities, Associated Content, Helium, and most smaller online publications in philosophy, politics, and current events. Furthermore, the age of TRA now exceeds half of my lifetime to date. During this time, while the Internet and the external world shifted dramatically many times over, The Rational Argumentator strived to remain a bulwark of consistency – accepting growth in terms of improvement of infrastructure and accumulation of content, but not the tumultuous sweeping away of the old to ostensibly make room for the new. We do not look favorably upon tumultuous upheaval; the future may look radically different from the past and present, but ideally should be built in continuity with both, and with preservation of any beneficial aspects that can possibly be preserved.

The Rational Argumentator has experienced unprecedented visitation during its sixteenth year, receiving 1,501,473 total page views as compared to 1,087,149 total page views during its fifteenth year and 1,430,226 during its twelfth year, which had the highest visitation totals until now. Cumulative lifetime TRA visitation has reached 12,481,258 views. Even as TRA’s publication rate has slowed to 61 features during its sixteenth year – due to various time commitments, such as the work of the United States Transhumanist Party (which published 147 features on its website during the same timeframe) – the content of this magazine has drawn increasing interest. Readers, viewers, and listeners are gravitating toward both old and new features, as TRA generally aims to publish works of timeless relevance. The vaster our archive of content, the greater variety of works and perspectives it spans, the more issues it engages with and reflects upon – the more robust and diverse our audience becomes; the more insulated we become against the vicissitudes of the times and the fickle fluctuations of public sentiment and social-media fads.

None of the above is intended to deny or minimize the challenges faced by those seeking to articulate rational, nuanced, and sophisticated ideas on the contemporary Internet. Highly concerning changes to the consumption and availability of information have occurred over the course of this decade, including the following trends.

  • While social media have been beneficial in terms of rendering personal communication at a distance more viable, the fragmentation of social media and the movement away from the broader “open Internet” have seemingly accelerated. Instead of directly navigating and returning to websites of interest, most people now access content almost exclusively through social-media feeds. Even popular and appealing content may often become constrained within the walls of a particular social network or sub-group thereof, simply due to the “black-box” algorithms of that social network, which influence without explanation who sees what and when, and which may not be reflective of what those individuals would have preferred to see. The constantly changing nature of these algorithms renders it difficult for content creators to maintain steady connections with their audiences. If one adds to the mix the increasing and highly troubling tendency of social networks to actively police the content their members see, we may be returning to a situation where most people find their content inexplicably curated by “gatekeepers” who, in the name of objectivity and often with unconscious biases in play, often end up advancing ulterior agendas not in the users’ interests.
  • While the democratization of access to knowledge and information on the Internet has undoubtedly had numerous beneficial effects, we are also all faced with the problem of “information overload” and the need to prioritize essential bits information within an immense sea which we observe daily, hourly, and by the minute. The major drawback of this situation – in which everyone sees everything in a single feed, often curated by the aforementioned inexplicable algorithms – is the difficulty of even locating information that is more than a day old, as it typically becomes buried far down within the social-media feed. Potential counters exist to this tendency – namely, through the existence of old-fashioned, static websites which publish content that does not adjust and that is fixed to a particular URL, which could be bookmarked and visited time and again. But what proportion of the population has learned this technique of bookmarking and revisitation of older content – instead of simply focusing on the social-media feed of the moment? It is imperative to resist the short-termist tendencies that the design of contemporary social media seems to encourage, as indulging these tendencies has had deleterious impacts on attention spans in an entire epoch of human culture.
  • Undeniably, much interesting and creative content has proliferated on the Internet, with opportunities for both deliberate and serendipitous learning, discovery, and intellectual enrichment. Unfortunately, the emergence of such content has coincided with deleterious shifts in cultural norms away from the expectation of concerted, sequential focus (the only way that human minds can actually achieve at a high level) and toward incessant multi-tasking and the expectation of instantaneous response to any external stimulus, human or automated. The practice of dedicating a block of time to read an article, watch a video, or listen to an audio recording – once a commonplace behavior – has come to be a luxury for those who can wrest segments of time and space away from the whirlwind of external stimuli and impositions within which humans (irrespective of material resources or social position) are increasingly expected to spin. It is fine to engage with others and venture into digital common spaces occasionally or even frequently, but in order for such interactions to be productive, one has to have meaningful content to offer; the creation of such content necessarily requires time away from the commons and a reclamation of the concept of private, solitary focus to read, contemplate, apply, and create.
  • In an environment where the immediate, recent, and short-term-oriented content tends to attract the most attention, this amplifies the impulsive, range-of-the-moment, reactive emotional tendencies of individuals, rather than the thoughtful, long-term-oriented, constructive, rational tendencies. Accordingly, political and cultural discourse become reduced to bitter one-liners that exacerbate polarization, intentional misunderstanding of others, and toxicity of rhetoric. The social networks where this has been most salient have been those that limit the number of characters per post and prioritize quantity of posts over quality and the instantaneity of a response over its thoughtfulness. The infrastructures whose design presupposes that everyone’s expressions are of equal value have produced a reduction of discourse to the lowest common denominator, which is, indeed, quite low. Even major news outlets, where some quality selection is still practiced by the editors, have found that user comments often degenerate into a toxic morass. This is not intended to deny the value of user comments and interaction, in a properly civil and constructive context; nor is it intended to advocate any manner of censorship. Rather, this observation emphatically underscores the need for a return to long-form, static articles and longer written exchanges more generally as the desirable prevailing form of intellectual discourse. (More technologically intensive parallels to this long-form discourse would include long-form audio podcasts or video discussion panels where there is a single stream of conversation or narrative instead of a flurry of competing distractions.) Yes, this form of discourse takes more time and skill. Yes, this means that people have to form complex, coherent thoughts and express them in coherent, grammatically correct sentences. Yes, this means that fewer people will have the ability or inclination participate in that form of discourse. And yes, that may well be the point – because less of the toxicity will make its way completely through the structures which define long-form discourse – and because anyone who can competently learn the norms of long-form discourse, as they have existed throughout the centuries, will remain welcome to take part. Those who are not able or willing to participate can still benefit by spectating and, in the process, learning and developing their own skills.

The Internet was intended, by its early adopters and adherents of open Internet culture – including myself – to catalyze a new Age of Enlightenment through the free availability of information that would break down old prejudices and enable massively expanded awareness of reality and possibilities for improvement. Such a possibility remains, but humans thus far have fallen massively short of realizing it – because the will must be present to utilize constructively the abundance of available resources. Cultivating this will is no easy task; The Rational Argumentator has been pursuing it for sixteen years and will continue to do so. The effects are often subtle, indirect, long-term – more akin to the gradual drift of continents than the upward ascent of a rocket. And yet progress in technology, science, and medicine continues to occur. New art continues to be created; new treatises continue to be written. Some people do learn, and some people’s thinking does improve. There is no alternative except to continue to act in pursuit of a brighter future, and in the hope that others will pursue it as well – that, cumulatively, our efforts will be sufficient to avert the direst crises, make life incrementally safer, healthier, longer, and more comfortable, and, as a civilization, persist beyond the recent troubled times. The Rational Argumentator is a bulwark against the chaos – hopefully one among many – and hopefully many are at work constructing more bulwarks. Within the bulwarks, great creations may have room to develop and flourish – waiting for the right time, once the chaos subsides or is pacified by Reason, to emerge and beautify the world. In the meantime, enjoy all that can be found within our small bulwark, and visit it frequently to help it expand.

Gennady Stolyarov II,
Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator

This essay may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, G. Stolyarov II. Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.

Victory Against the Formican Hordes – Poem by G. Stolyarov II

Victory Against the Formican Hordes – Poem by G. Stolyarov II

G. Stolyarov II


Deep in the crevices where there is scantly light,
Formican hordes amassed, antitheses of right:
The tyrant queen, attendant sycophantic knaves,
Vast quantities of servants – or compliant slaves –
Not even one savant among them to protest
Antagonistic ploys to rouse their dormant nest.
In wanton disregard of property and tact alike
At my abode they militantly sought to strike,
Past every antechamber to the kitchen went,
Detected every speck pursuant to its scent,
In swarms outrageous antics perpetrated,
Blatantly coveted the food refrigerated!

Defiantly I stood against them, justice-bound,
In Reason my advantage could be found.
Against the vast, infestant foe I called to fight
Abundant bait abetted by the Mighty Mite.
Combatant infantry, by gel intoxicated,
Conveyed the poison, as anticipated,
To queen and to the infant larvae of their brood,
With rampant appetites devouring fatal food.
Through errant treachery these looters had invaded,
Thusly, through treachery, their remnant faded.
And yet not one foe would its evil ways recant,
Therefore, no mercy asked – no mercy could I grant.
Mark Antony himself, transplanted from the grave,
Would have scant means these miscreants to save.
Only oblivion did the doomed assailants find.
Rejoice triumphantly, victorious mankind!
As at Lepanto and Antietam, so now here
The valiant defense of right did persevere,
And while Constantinople’s walls once failed,
My adamantine bastion has prevailed!

Observant reader, heed the moral of this tale:
Gargantuan numbers may incessantly assail
What we hold dear with brute, malignant force,
But if ascendant Reason charts a constant course,
No giant, teeming mass man’s fortunes can derail.

“Shattered” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

“Shattered” – Art by Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier

Laura Katrin Weston


Commentary by Gennady Stolyarov II: “Shattered” is a print by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston, a.k.a. Katrin Brunier, the original exemplar which I received in November 2017 due to my donation to the successful MouseAge crowdfunding campaign by Lifespan.io. Along with the three other artworks that I acquired from Dr. Weston – “Teeming”, “Graceful”, and “Squeak” – this print is featured as part of my Longevity Wall.

This work depicts how the forces of ruin can lead once-ornate and beautiful things to become eroded and deteriorated. This process, unfortunately, afflicts human organisms and minds as well, causing much of value to be lost or at least faded with time. Even with age, there remain in everything and everyone traces of the former splendor that can yet potentially be reclaimed – if humanity reconsiders its priorities and decisively commits to the war on ruin, including the quest to overcome aging and death.

Artist’s Description: “Time ravages even the greatest of minds, shattering them into a chaotic cloud of misfired potential. Once simple tasks become impossible, we become unable to live without aid, to live for ourselves any longer.

“I don’t know about you… But I don’t want that future. We have the power to change that. All we need is more support.”

You can find more work by Dr. Laura Katrin Weston at the Katrin Brunier Gallery, an Ethical Investment-Grade Art Gallery for the Neo-Renaissance Era (see its Instagram page). Proceeds from art sales at the Katrin Brunier Gallery will go to support causes such as medical research and conservation.

Why California Cities Are Becoming Unlivable – Article by Andrew Berryhill

Why California Cities Are Becoming Unlivable – Article by Andrew Berryhill

Andrew Berryhill
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California has the highest poverty rate in the U.S. and is rated dead last in quality of life.

In July, the mayor of San Francisco frankly stated that poverty in the city is so bad, that “there is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen.” And it’s not just her – the local NBC investigative unit found a “dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces throughout downtown San Francisco.”

While such conditions are thankfully not widespread, California still has the highest rate of poverty of any state when factoring in living costs and is rated dead last for quality of life. It’s no wonder that from 2007 to 2016, California lost a million residents on net to domestic migration.

This plight may appear counterintuitive since California’s economy is booming. If the state were an independent country, its economy would rank as the 5th largest in the world. However, a high GDP does not necessarily entail socioeconomic wellbeing.

So, what’s the main problem ailing California and creating such a high cost of living?

Housing Costs

How bad are housing costs? The median price of a home in California is over $600,000 (compared with $300,000 nationally) and a recent study found that:

“Across California, more than 4 in 10 households had unaffordable housing costs, exceeding 30 percent of household income, in 2015. More than 1 in 5 households statewide faced severe housing cost burdens, spending more than half of their income toward housing expenses.”

Housing costs are so high that in San Francisco and San Mateo counties the government considers a household of four making $105,350 as “low income”.

And it’s not just low and middle-income families that are suffering – even many “elite” technology workers can barely make ends meet. Lucrative six-figure salaries don’t go far when you live in the most expensive housing markets in America while also paying some of the highest taxes.

You can save money by living in the suburbs, but multi-hour commutes in soul-crushing traffic may await. Is such an arrangement worth it? Many have said “no” and moved to other states. While their new jobs elsewhere might pay less, other benefits more than make up for it.

But why is the housing situation in California so terrible?

It’s easy to simply say “supply and demand” – so many people have moved to cities that housing construction can’t keep up, causing real estate prices and rents to skyrocket.

However, this invites an important question: why can’t residential developers build fast enough?

Regulations

Regulations play an especially large role in the San Francisco Bay Area, which shockingly includes 15 of the 30 cities with the highest rents in the country. One article explains these struggles well:

For new housing developments in San Francisco, there’s a preliminary review, which takes six months.

Then there are also chances for your neighbors to appeal your permit on either an entitlement or environmental basis. The city also requires extensive public notice of proposed projects even if they already meet neighborhood plans, which have taken several years of deliberation to produce. Neighbors can appeal your project for something as insignificant as the shade of paint. . .

If those fail, neighborhood groups can also file a CEQA or environmental lawsuit under California state law, challenging the environment impact of the project. . .

Then if that fails, opponents can put a development directly on a citywide ballot with enough signatures. . . That’s what happened with the controversial 8 Washington luxury condo project last November even though it had already gone through eight years of deliberation.

These barriers add unpredictable costs and years of delays for every developer, which are ultimately passed onto buyers and renters. It also means that developers have problems attracting capital financing in weaker economic years because of the political uncertainty around getting a project passed.”

Why aren’t politicians working to fix this? Self-preservation. Here’s the unfortunate reality:

“The reason the San Francisco city government won’t fix things that seem obvious . . . is because it fears a backlash from the hundreds of neighborhood associations that blanket the city and can reliably turn people out to the polls.”

Community Sentiment

This cultural opposition to development is not a modern phenomenon:

“San Francisco’s orientation towards growth control has 50 years of history behind it and more than 80 percent of the city’s housing stock is either owner-occupied or rent controlled. The city’s height limits, its rent control and its formidable permitting process are all products of tenant, environmental and preservationist movements that have arisen and fallen over decades.”

Development proposals have been shot down for reasons ranging from burrowing owl protection to complaints that the size of new residential buildings will block sunshine and thereby “devalue human life”.

The power of this “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) movement has been considerable, but counter-movements are growing. When one homeowner recently complained in a Berkeley city council meeting that a proposed residential building would block sunshine for her zucchini garden, one young woman angrily responded: “You’re talking about zucchinis? Really? Because I’m struggling to pay rent.” Young workers facing unaffordable rents are increasingly fed up with petty opposition to more affordable housing.

However, Californian cities still seem more preoccupied with banning strawscocktail swordsscootersdelivery robots, and workplace cafeterias.Even when politicians try to help, they frequently ignore the root causes of the issue. For example, California Representative Kamala Harris recently proposed a bill called the “Rent Relief Act” that would provide a tax credit for people spending over 30 percent of their income on rent.

Harris’ proposal only addresses symptoms of an underlying disease and would almost certainly be counterproductive. It doesn’t encourage more housing construction, which is the only real solution.

Until sweeping housing reform to enable residential development is passed at the state and local levels, Californians will keep fleeing to Texas, Nevada, and Arizona. I don’t blame them.

Andrew Berryhill is an Alcuin Fellow at Intellectual Takeout and a rising senior at Hillsdale College majoring in economics. Andrew has interned on Capitol Hill and was a research fellow for Hillsdale’s economics department. In his spare time, he enjoys practicing the violin and playing golf.

This post (“Why California Cities Are Becoming Unlivable“) was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Andrew Berryhill.