JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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A thought for the day from 94 years ago

I stumbled across this the other day. Striking how appropriate it is in today’s political cycle. It’s known as the “Ten Cannots”.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

–William J.H. Boetcker, 1916
Noticed on the CCM site. (Thanks Andres).

Borrowed money is more common today than at the peak of the Great Depression. Then the ratio of total US debt to GDP was about 300%. Now it’s 370%.

Nineties years on, the fight is not so much between the wage earner and the wage payer, but between those who produce and those who are carried. A few years before Boetcker wrote his Cannnots, the US  government expenditures were only a tiny 2.5% of GNP. By 1990, they had risen to 22.5% of GNP. [Source: Cato]

And where are we with class hatreds today? The classes may be different…

Posting will be a little less frequent over the next few weeks. I’m scripting for a potential documentary, but it means time behind the scenes….There is such a story to be told. Thanks for your patience.

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40 comments to A thought for the day from 94 years ago

  • #
    Moray S-G

    I’ve seen this attributed to Abraham Lincoln, slightly different

    You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
    You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
    You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
    You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

    Any American readers care to comment


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    Adolf Balik

    The Lincoln version of the „cannot“ is agreeable. Boetcker’s version contradicts current economic theory, which is a panegyric for credits and loans in great deal. If you ran a company and had a low debt your shareholder would fire you for wasting their money. Also state debts can be useful especially in a crisis time. But the current crisis meets a bad situation. Most states are in huge debts although there were times of prosperity and now they don’t have money for recovery from crisis. In the recent Asian crisis the states who took big debts to overcome the depression got out of it soon and grew then fast on detriment of them who didn’t take such debts (e.g. Japan). In the current Europe Germany increased its debt fast in the beginning of the crisis. Nevertheless, the depression is long, previous debt was huge and they have difficulties to continue. There is a danger that EU states who can continue taking debts will grow faster when the recovery comes. But Germany wants to ban father encumbering of the states with low debt rates through EU directives not to grow on detriment of Germany in spite of the fact that is keeping a sustainable crisis.


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  • #
    Andy

    You’re welcome!!

    Andres


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  • #
    Ben Smith

    I am now retired after 40 years in the hi tech industries (electronics & aerospace.) We had a saying among our peers. It went something like this;
    Those who can, do.
    Those who can’t, teach.
    Those in government, watch.
    Following the Obama speech on the gulf oil crisis we can now add;
    Those in government, legislate.

    What a pathetic excuse for a chief executive; President Obama has no leadership skills for the real world. Without understanding a problem he can talk it to death; he can threaten and cajole but he has not a clue about issues he addresses whether it be healthcare, climate, energy, business or capitalism.


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  • #
    Mark D.

    The words are not from Lincoln although President Regan (and others) suggested they were.

    Boetcker apparently said this too:
    The “Seven National Crimes”:
    * I don’t think.
    * I don’t know.
    * I don’t care.
    * I am too busy.
    * I leave well enough alone.
    * I have no time to read and find out.
    * I am not interested.

    I think the average public is guilty of most.


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  • #
    Mark D.

    Ben Smith @ 4

    I’m afraid that those in government; Tax

    There is a statement going around in e-mails that says:

    “The Republic (USA) will survive Obama, however it is not so certain she’ll survive the people that voted him in to office.”

    Considering the number of baby boomers (and their parents) that actually “could and did” whom are retiring (and passing on), I am not optimistic about those left to run the show………


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  • #
    pat

    the explosion in the gulf happened on 22nd April. oh the irony:

    22 April: Motherjones: Kerry: Three Big Oil Companies Likely to Back Climate Bill
    When Sens. John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman release their climate bill on Monday, they expect to have the backing of three of the five major oil companies, Mother Jones has learned. In a conference call with a coalition of progressive business leaders on Thursday evening, Kerry said he believes those companies will “actively participate in supporting this bill.” …
    http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/04/kerry-says-climate-bill-has-industry-backing

    23 April: Washington Post Planet Panel: Post Carbon: Juliet Eilperin: EEI, three oil companies to back climate bill; top 10 highlights of Kerry proposal
    The nation’s largest electric utilities association and three of the country’s biggest oil companies will endorse the climate proposal Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) will introduce Monday, Kerry told supporters in a private phone call Thursday evening…
    While Kerry did not name the three oil companies, a source familiar with the negotiations said Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips would back the climate measure…
    http://views.washingtonpost.com/climate-change/post-carbon/2010/04/by_juliet_eilperin_the_nations.html

    in light of the above, it’s worth reading the following in full:

    9 June: Washington Examiner: Timothy P. Carney: Once a government pet, BP now a capitalist tool
    As BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig was sinking on April 22, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was on the phone with allies in his push for climate legislation, telling them he would soon roll out the Senate climate bill with the support of the utility industry and three oil companies — including BP, according to the Washington Post…
    While BP has resisted some government interventions, it has lobbied for tax hikes, greenhouse gas restraints, the stimulus bill, the Wall Street bailout, and subsidies for oil pipelines, solar panels, natural gas and biofuels.
    Now that BP’s oil rig has caused the biggest environmental disaster in American history, the Left is pulling the same bogus trick it did with Enron and AIG: Whenever a company earns universal ire, declare it the poster boy for the free market…
    Expect BP to be public enemy No. 1 in the climate debate.
    There’s a problem: BP was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a lobby dedicated to passing a cap-and-trade bill…
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Once-a-government-pet-BP-now-a-capitalist-tool-95942659.html


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  • #
    Scott

    Nice Jo

    I had them attributed to Lincon as well, but at the end of the day it doesnt matter who said them the message’s intent is true.

    Good luck with the documentary!!


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    Professor Daddabha Jataka

    While there have been a few references to BP and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill I thought I would add my few cents worth.

    While it seems that almost everyone, including Obama, are running around hysterically blaming BP and threatening all sorts of retribution, a calmer, more controlled examination is what is really needed, and, if BP are prepared to take it on the chin then I think they should get new publicity agents.

    While BP hold the major interest at 65%, 25% is American and 10% is Japanese. The actual ownership and operations of the rig and drilling is contracted to Halliburton, Nalco Holding Company, Transocean, Wild Well Control.

    Wikipedia seems to provide quite extensive and interesting information on most of these companies and I find more reliable than the hysterics drummed up by various media and other interested parties.

    I think it is fair to say that as we search in more difficult environments for our resources then the ability to control a problem or disaster will become a lot more difficult. The main question to be answered will be whether short cuts were taken and by whom.

    I have undertaken a number of projects (not of this magnitude)and been confronted by unexpected results. Sometimes a bit of extra thought would have anticipated the result but sometimes shit just happens and you have to learn from that.

    No doubt there will be a big drive for renewables and associated subsidies while governments look to establishing a Carbon economy as a further tax on consumers.

    Unfortunately the balanced, considered examination, which is what I think sites like this are asking for, will be drowned out by the shrill cries from the extremists and politicians seeking any sort of public support.


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  • #
    Ross

    An interesting bit of history here from Christopher Monkton re the Thatcher years which “covers” aspects of a number of recent threads.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/16/margaret-thatcher-the-world%e2%80%99s-first-climate-realist/#more-20670


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  • #
    Speedy

    Jo

    Thanks for your post. It reminds me of a favourite line from Richard Hillary (The Last Enemy): “You can’t hurt someone without hurting yourself.”

    Which is why the wise are the gentle.

    Cheers,

    Speedy.


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  • #

    Breaking News…figures show ABC News to have zero news output by 2035…
    Based on these figures a bleak future awaits. How will we adjust?

    http://abcnewswatch.blogspot.com/2010/06/abc-news-productivity-at-record-low-no.html


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  • #
    Baa Humbug

    MarcH: #14
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Hey Marc, great job on the butterflies paper, well done mate.


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  • #
    spangled drongo

    And that rusty whale poo, Marc. I mean! If a whale shat 50 tons of iron d’ya reckon it’d float around and absorb CO2?
    Sounds like cr*p to me too.


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  • #
    Speedy

    Drongo @ 16

    It’s not like your average cetacea goes around dumping engine blocks – it’s all as iron chemicals – the bits that are left over after whales have digested the squids, krill or whatever they had for dinner.

    But the whales aren’t adding or taking iron from the system – they’re just returning it (via the squid/krill etc) back to the ocean it came from.

    Their argument makes no sense except to put global warming in the papers. Or maybe to get a cushy little research grant for a while…

    Cheers,

    Speedy


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  • #
    Bob Malloy

    Professor Daddabha Jataka:
    June 17th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I think it is fair to say that as we search in more difficult environments for our resources then the ability to control a problem or disaster will become a lot more difficult. The main question to be answered will be whether short cuts were taken and by whom.

    If Australian media are to be believed, Human error caused damage to a safety device that prevents exactly the kind of accident that occured.

    from 60 minute, 9 Network Australia: http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1068159

    Critically, three weeks before the explosion, a crewman’s mistake damaged a crucial safety seal on a device known as the blowout preventer, designed to stop an explosion. The problem was discussed at a safety meeting onboard Deepwater Horizon. Mike Williams says the rig’s owner, Transocean, suggested a temporary shutdown. But BP, which owns the oil, demanded drilling continue.


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  • #
    Waylander

    A bit O/T but I thought this might be of interest , just found this this on the net , Yet another hole in Hansen`s “2010 , the warmest year ever” twaddle .

    Cold kills nearly 500 penguins

    http://www.pretorianews.co.za/?fSectionId=&fArticleId=nw20100615170818479C380447

    Earlier in this “Warmest Year Ever ” except in the northern hemisphere this time :

    Cold Kills Nearly 200 Manatees

    http://www.newsherald.com/news/sea-81508-cold-cows.html

    So much for the Environut`s wildlife friendly “Golden Age” cold climate that they want to return to . I note that neither of these incidents have appeared in a Fairfax Group Publication or on free-to-air T.V. in Australia . Funny , they put butterflies possibly hatching ten days earlier as a major problem , you`d think rare species ACTUALLY DYING in RECORD NUMBERS would get a mention , but no , not if it`s cold related .


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  • #
    Waylander

    Mark @ 20

    With connections to both Our previous posts , Minnesota Wind Turbines dying from cold !

    http://green.venturebeat.com/2010/02/08/minnesotas-frozen-turbines-raise-new-doubts-about-wind-power/

    The latest ( and silliest )talk on them is fitting them with electric heaters to stop them freezing , lol


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  • #
    Mark

    Waylander:

    What else intrigues me is the material these turbines are made of. I don’t think it grows on trees. Could it possible come from (gasp!) oil?


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  • #
    Ross

    Waylander & Mark –I’m all for looking at economic forms of alternative energy. In the long term we’ll all need it but as you guys a pointing out there are some stupid things going on in Europe. Here is another article on wind farms. Note the paragraph on the German experience about half way through the piece.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/7823681/Does-money-grow-in-wind-farms.html


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    Mark

    There’s no hope for the “faithful” at the ABC.

    Catalyst did a story tonight about the relationship between Antarctic snowfall and Australian outback drought. Using the ice core record for the last 30 years out of the previous 750, they’ve “proved” that AGW is responsible for drought in Oz.

    Why am I not surprised?


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  • #
    Tel

    If you ran a company and had a low debt your shareholder would fire you for wasting their money.

    Really? I would have thought the whole idea of selling shares was to raise money. Company debt is only beneficial as a short-term cashflow leveller and bank interest payments invariably get taken out before shareholder dividends.


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  • #
    janama

    The problem is the 7th one.

    you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

    we’ll argue about “could and should” forever.


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  • #
    Wayne, s. Job

    Truisms even from centuries past remain true. Human behaviour or the human conditiion seems to be set in concrete. Mistakes and swindles are a plague to every generation, history seems not to give lessons. Taxes and death are the only constants,that bind each generation to the next with certainty.

    Each generation tries to improve on the hard ship suffered by the last, oft brought undone by improved techniques of a new generation of shysters and would be Kings.

    Thus is the fate of each generation ignoring the words of wisdom and lessons of history, of those who preceded them in the land of the living.

    Thank you JO nice to see some words of wisdom.


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  • #
    Professor Daddabha Jataka

    Bob Malloy @ 18

    Thank you for that link. While BP obviously have some responsibility, Transocean, as the experts, owners and operators must bear the major responsibility if the disaster was caused by a problem in materials or procedures. It seems odd to me that BP would have the capacity to dictate the operations of the rig. We need to wait until all the information is gathered before apportioning blame.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transocean

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_drilling_rig_explosion


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  • #
    wes george

    I think the main problem with our friends on the “left” of the political spectrum is that they do not have a basic grasp of either economics or human nature.

    For instance, Rudd imagines he can increase tax revenues simply by raising taxes. Yet it has been shown (over and over and over again) that by raising taxes to burdensome levels (beyond about 25%) economic activity is dampened. Why work more if 40% of your profits are confiscated by the government? Moreover, whatever transactions that can be hidden or moved offshore will do so. Onerous taxation is corrosive to social fabric by reducing productive citizens to tax cheats or expatriates, while creating an underclass of non-producers beholden to statist wealth redistribution. In this way, the leftist neo-Marxist rhetoric of class warfare is a self-fulling prophecy.

    Low taxation over the long term is not only fundamental social justice, but ultimately increases tax revenues by creating conditions conducive to economic expansion.

    The Rudd government’s tiny kit of populist tropes is no substitute for a national tax reform policy based upon the science of macroeconomics.

    To poorly paraphrase Nicolas de Chamfort (I think?): “ The young man who is not a socialist has no heart. The old man who still is has no mind.”


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  • #
    Waylander

    Ross @23
    I`m all in favour of renewables that work unlike the Environuts whose criteria for support of any forms of renewable energy is that the form must be erratic at best , very low output , expensive and more importantly , not work at all when it`s most desperately needed .

    Type Hydro-electric or Tidal barrage into a search engine and see how many headlines start with “Green Groups are against the proposed new …..” Even attempting to find a new geothermal site gets a hit , with every location with viable access to “hot rocks” is seemingly located in an “Conservationally Significant Area”


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    Kevin

    To add a bit to the engineer’s contributions here, I always offer my customers three choices:

    Fast (i.e. quick results)
    Good (i.e. flawless results)
    Cheap (i.e. inexpensive results)

    They have to choose TWO of the THREE; we in the engineering field have not yet figured out how to provide ALL THREE AT THE SAME TIME.

    Cheers, Kevin.


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  • #
    JTK

    Portions of the message are provably false. Simply take the first one to its logical extreme. One person has all the money, the rest have none, destroy the person with all of the money and the rest will have access to it.

    You can complain about it, but you can’t change the fact that what I said is true.

    The message is bunk.


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  • #
    jake lajett

    the explosion was April 20.


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  • #
    Tel

    One person has all the money, the rest have none, destroy the person with all of the money and the rest will have access to it.

    One person has all the money and then what? He sits there and has money. How does this even slightly make sense?

    Since money is a agreement between people (words and numbers on paper if you have ever bothered to look) by destroying the person with “all the money” you also destroy the money itself, and no one has access to it. But long before that happened, people would be trading whatever other commodities they had anyhow because that’s what people do, so there is no need to hurt anybody.

    You can complain about it, but you can’t change the fact that what I said is true.

    Your message is bunk. You quite obviously don’t even understand the concept of money.

    Please, get some sort of education, or even try observation, learn something by accident if all else fails.


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  • #
    JTK

    Define ‘money’ however you want… it still amounts to absolute legal posession of all the world’s land and resources. Does your grandfather’s money disappear when he dies? Would the world’s resources disappear just because the ruler dies? You know that isn’t the way things happen, so why pretend otherwise? That is blatantly dishonest. I am certain you don’t actually believe it, you are just scrambling for a way to defend the indefensible. I can’t imagine someone believing what you said had actually thought it through. I think you are just defending an ideology rather than considering the truth or lack of truth in a quote. The fact that you need to play these word games shows how flawed your thinking is.

    My point is solid, while your response is obfuscation. If one person posesses all, you and everyone else would gang up on him to take it because of how horrible your lives would be if you did not. You are defending feudalism and absolute rule by the ultra-rich in order to justify a quote. Imagine your children starving, owning nothing, people dying all around you.. while one absolute ruler has everything he ever needs. If you were in that position you would kill the one guy who had everything because not to kill him would be to allow your child to die.

    Just be honest with yourself and everyone else. When a quote like the one presented here is so easily destroyed, learn from it.

    If you need to lie to defend your beliefs then you don’t have rational beliefs.


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  • #
    JTK

    PS, Tel… before you off thinking you are defending some libertarian ideal, think deeper.

    If he owns all of the world and all resources, then he owns you. He also owns the fruits of your labor.

    That isn’t liberty.

    Think deeper, don’t just go to the knee-jerk ideological response. Consider the implications of these kinds of absolutist claims.


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    Tel

    So you have changed your story from money, to “absolute possession of the world’s resources”. I don’t play word games, I’m happy with the well accepted modern definition of “money” to mean cash, cheque, bank accounts, credit cards that sort of thing.

    By all means ramble off onto a different track about the Feudal System now, but this has nothing to do with the “Ten Cannots” at the top of page, and is unrelated to your original foolish effort when you said, “One person has all the money”.

    If he owns all of the world and all resources, then he owns you. He also owns the fruits of your labor.

    That isn’t liberty.

    Maybe you should think deeper, if this straw-man feudal king of yours owns all the peasants then they can’t turn against him. Or contrary wise, if they do turn against him then he never actually owned them did he?

    But enough of the hand waving and theorising, if you want to talk about the Feudal System then open a history book. It was a well documented, very stable, moderately productive system of government. It ended because cheap efficient firearms became available so elite cavalry units were no longer effective, thus forcing kings to grant votes to their citizens. However, the Feudal System never prevented trade, and all kings would encourage the coining of money to encourage trade (as well as making taxation easier). Trade is a universal human activity and involved the exchange of goods, how about you go back to thinking about your straw man argument?


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    JTK

    Like it or not, if you agree with the first ‘cannon’ then you are defending absolute rule and feudalism. You may think it only defends libertarianism but it applies just as much to tyrannical rule.

    I understand that you feel I am attacking your ideology, but I am actually attacking the false premise. If your ideology cannot handle the facts treated in an even handed manner then that ought to be a sign. Please, don’t say ridiculously stupid things like “if this straw-man feudal king of yours owns all the peasants then they can’t turn against him.” That is one of the most nonsensical things I have ever heard. Legal ownership means physical rebellion is absolutely impossible? Give your head a shake. Seriously. Put down the meth pipe and think about those words of yours. Slave rebellions happened countless times in history. Are you saying slaves never rebelled? In all of history? You would have to be completely uneducated and have zero knowledge of history to actually believe those words. History proves you wrong, no amount of word games on the internet will change that. Accept it.

    Word games bore me, Tel. Your semantics are not impressive in the slightest.

    Deal with the point I raised or not, but don’t make those obvious and childish games your defense. Just be honest and accept that your philosophy does not live or die based on that quote, and that quote defends absolute tyranny just as well as it does libertarianism.

    People like you (liars and ideologues) are why libertarianism has a bad reputation.


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    JTK

    PS. Your attempt to change the topic to trade has been noted, and ignored.

    Speak honestly or don’t bother speaking at all. You make the rest of us look retarded.


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    Tel

    Seems like you have reached the rudeness and name-calling stage, leading me to conclude that you have run out of ideas and further discussion is pointless.

    If you don’t like word games then go learn to use words properly so that people will be able to understand whatever it is you are on about. When you talk about “money” as you did in #32 above, then you are not talking about a feudal king. Money implies mercantile activity (i.e. trade). Feudal kings ruled by force of military power and by maintaining control over land and people. They did not purchase land, they took it by the sword. Slaves were bonded to a master, whereas serfs were bonded to the land, you probably don’t care but there is a difference.

    Officially only one slave rebellion led to the successful founding of a new country which is Haiti, and the Duvalier regime brought out all the spiteful racism left behind by that revolution — the place has been a struggling backwater ever since. You want to regard peasants and serfs as slaves so you can probably consider the French Revolution to be a second case where a successful uprising has founded a new nation and after they killed their king and everyone even remotely connected to royalty all they got in return was Emperor Napoleon and a succession of ruinous wars — France was the center of culture, art, and science one upon a time, but I doubt it ever will be again. The Russians had a revolution and gave themselves Stalin, who said, “When you kill one man it is murder, when you kill a million it is just statistics.” Stalin had the scorecard to prove it with personal responsibility for approx 43,000,000 of his own people dead.

    Speaking of ideology, it might be worth researching what Communism has achieved — http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM

    Here I go trying to offer you an education; I’ll stop now because it is obviously a waste of everyone’s time. I can only hope that you mature enough to be somewhat embarrassed by your ignorance, then make an effort to do better next time.


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