Austerity – What is it, Really?

Thousands of anti-austerity protesters are expected to march in London today - Reuters
Anti-austerity protesters in London (June 2015)
image courtesy (© 2015) Reuters, via EveningStandard, (story: June 20, 2015).
A word often heard in the media, particularly in regards to foreign countries and usually associated with massive and sometimes violent protests is “Austerity”.  The dictionary defines it as a “Severe and rigid economy” and most people associate it with lean times and tight fiscal policies by governments. Austerity is actually a politically-loaded term and keyword.  Whenever you hear the word associated with a nation (government) or other governmental entity, it should indicate to you that said government is a “socialist” (redistributionist) government (one that is in the business of stealing from it’s productive citizens and enterprises, and “redistributing” it to those less productive).  Such a government has legalized plunder!  You will almost never hear the term or see it protested in a free society, hence the reason you have not traditionally heard it in reference to the United States.  The (often violent) protests are by those on the receiving end of the legalized plunder and “redistribution”.  It begins with the emotional appeal by “progressives” for the government to create “entitlements” for certain “groups” of people (to achieve “social justice”), then either robs (taxes) people (directly) not in these groups, borrows fiat money from a (private) “central bank” (The “Federal Reserve” is NEITHER!) that is more than happy to create “money” out of thin air and “lend” it to said government (AT INTEREST), thus robbing the industrious “non-entitled” and “entitled” alike (indirectly) through currency “inflation”!  When taxes and / or inflation rise too rapidly, the “non-entitled” start to complain too much as “the economy” starts to stall under the (too rapidly) rising weight of debt, taxes and plunder.  The government will sometimes implement “austerity” measures in attempt to countermand these symptoms (but does nothing to fix the real disease).  What this often involves is a (usually temporary) reduction in the GROWTH of “entitlements” or restrictions on the eligibility to join the “entitled” groups.  This, of course leads naturally to the “entitled” groups and the wannabees now blocked screaming in protest like stuck pigs!  They do have a legitimate reason for their protests – their real physical LIVELIHOOD is truly threatened just as much as a farmer who’s lost his crop or a working class person who’s a sole breadwinner for his family and has suddenly lost his job!  They have indeed become DEPENDENT on the largesse from the plunder of their fellow citizens.  Usually, after a period of time, however, the government is once again able to come to some type of “compromize” with all it’s “stakeholders” (the “entitled”, the “taxpayers”, and the “central bankers” / IMF who are counting on the free interest on the ever-increasing “debt”) that appears to partially ease some of the “pain” for each group, the “austerity” is ended or reduced, and the economy “recovers”, rinse, spit, repeat.
I must emphasize that “Austerity” is only applicable to and enacted by SOCIALIST governments.  Again, this is why you hear of it in places like Europe, Latin America, and (despite state-control of media) Communist countries but NOT the U.S., though with ever-growing entitlement programs like Social(ist) (in)Security, and Obamacare (now wedged into and very entrenched), you may likely start hearing it more here too.  They haven’t used the word itself yet, but the howls by the Democrats AND “moderate” (liberal, RINO) “Republicans”, indicate the advancing spread of the disease of socialism here.  You can see the most vocal opponents in the states that foolishly expanded their “medicare” entitlements under Obamacare, whereas states that didn’t have nothing to fear as fewer of their citizens have become “dependent” on it.  The feds GIVE and (then) the feds TAKE AWAY!  It is much easier for a (once) free society’s government to create entitlements than it is to later have to remove them!  This is why a well-educated (morally, economically and politically) citizenry is absolutely NECESSARY to avoid these pitfalls and maintain a free society! Temptation resisted is evil and suffering avoided.
In a free society, the government maintains a stable and constant level of “austerity” (as viewed by socialists) as indeed it should.  A free society eschews the creation of “entitlements” based on envy and plunder and sticks to the actual duties of government:  the common defense, punishment of crimes, enforcement of contracts and the rule of law, a uniform system of weights, measures, and currency (backed by substance, ie. gold and silver), and equal protection of everyone under the laws from violence and plunder.  It is up to families, churches, charitable organizations, benevolent and prosperous citizens, and local governments to tend to the needs of their fellowmen who are unable to provide for themselves.  By not creating “entitlements” by “protected” groups of citizens by granting them a claim on the property and labor of others, dependency and societal volatility are avoided.  This, along with maintaining a stable currency based on real substance and value (ie. gold and silver) and the subsequent avoidance of debt allow for economic stability to be maintained with the highest level of prosperity for the highest percentage of people.  Simply put, if you don’t create “entitled” groups and dependence, you don’t ever have to “take anything away” (austerity) resulting in massive howls and violent protests!  Government can’t take away anything it doesn’t first steal and then give away!  This also reduces the need for government expansion, debt, constant lobbying of government, government interference in the economy, and the dividing of citizens into opposing groups promoting peace and harmony.

Beautiful Vintage ’70s-era Two-piece Nozzle Set by Nelson

Beautiful vintage 2-piece nozzle set by NelsonI purchased this beautiful two-piece nozzle set with S&H Greenstamps way back in the day (late 1970’s when I was a teen).  The one on the right is solid brass.  The other is only painted brass, but solid metal with a solid brass nozzle head.  Both are very well-made and lasted well over twenty years of frequent use before it began leaking.  When the brass one began leaking, I simply unscreawed it and replaced the single O-ring inside, which was a standard size included in a typical O-ring set I purchased for a couple of bucks at the big-box home improvement store.  I tried to fix the other one by attempting to unscrew the nozzle head.  Unfortunately it was NOT attached with threads but somehow pressed or glued on such that once it came off, it could not be securely reattached, but instead pops right off when water pressure is applied.  Despite this, I’ve never had another handled nozzle work as well nor last nearly as long as this little beauty!  I’ve actually never seen another one like it either.  It appears that the brass nozzle was made by Nelson based on the worn logo shown on the base, but the other one has no information written anywhere on it, so I assume it’s also Nelson.  I looked in Google images for vintage nozzles and found numerous photos of nozzles like the brass one, but nothing resembling the “golden gun”, which was always my favorate!  In the photos below, you can see the one plastic piece, along with the separated nozzle head in the “gun” nozzle along with the O-ring in the brass one.  I’m very OPEN to any comments / suggestions on how to properly reattach the nozzle head to the “gun” one and from anyone else who still has one of these sets!
Nozzle Parts 1 of 2 Nozzle Parts 2 of 2

Fauxdacious Version 3.83-Final Released

Fauxdacious Version 3.83-final Released for Linux and Windows: 

* FIXED filewriter plugin to “fail over” to “unknown” for the filename if the playing filename is too long or invalid (needed for youtube streams, etc.).  Also fixed a potential null-pointer reference.

* FIXED (rebuilt) FauxdaciousURLHelper.exe (Windows version binary) to add missing utf8_heavy module needed to fetch some IHeartRadio streams (Linux version not effected, which uses the Perl script).

* Added “close after song change.” checkbox for STDOUT output to “close” STDOUT when either song stops playing or record is toggled off in order to avoid errors in the created output stream.  Otherwise, output to STDOUT accumulates as a single long stream until recording stops.  This allows for combining multiple songs into a single output file, but can produces (somewhat harmless) errors at end of playback in such files.  The default is TRUE (checked) (properly close and prevent errors and only record the last song (overwrite).

* Added fixups for ugly but common stream title formats.

* Mandate SDL2 in Fauxdacious main, remove choice to use SDL1 in plugins.

* Merged all Fauxdacious commits through ace32cd; and plugin commits through: a666f70.

* Merged Audacious commits: 7886b7b; and plugin commits:  #9816dc6, 4f327c6, 10abf7d, 94d95fc, b13a35d.

Fauxdacious Version 3.83-beta3 Released

Fauxdacious Version 3.83-beta3 Released for Linux and Windows: 

* ADDED DVD-player plugin now included in the Windows version!  NOTE: For some reason, the livdvdnav library does not return the DVD Title string on Windows, so DVD cover art won’t work and all DVD titles are shown as “Unknown Title”.  TODO:  Try to figure out why.

* Addressed “smudgy” menu issue on some menus (Still not perfect on all menus, but much better).

WARNING:  Playing DVDs that contain CSS encryption DRM requires a special decrypting software library that is ILLEGAL in many jurisdictions.  This plugin software does NOT contain such decrypting software, but can make use of it in jurisdictions where such use is not prohibited.  It is the sole responsibility and liability of the user to ensure that such decrypting software is legal to use in their jurisdiction before installing and using such software with this plugin or any other software and / or hardware capable of playing DVD discs.  NOTE:  To play (legally purchased) encrypted DVDs in you region, (if it is legal to use libdvdcss in your jurisdiction), you will need to obtain a copy of libdvdcss-2.dll and manually place it in the bin/ directory where you installed Fauxdacious (where fauxdacious.exe and libdvdread-4.dll exist).

To play any DVDs, you will also need to edit your audacious config file (usually C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\audacious\config and add the following lines (or adjust as you see fit):

device=D: #(Or the drive letter of your DVD drive) libdvdread quirk: Add "\" if NOT using libdvdcss!
video_windowtitle=Fauxdacious DVD #(Or whatever you want displayed in the titlebar)

* FIXED bug that occasionally hangs Fauxdacious on startup when loading up with a wild-card list of files (usually .wav files), ie:  fauxdacious ~/Music/*.wav (Fauxdacious commit #8e3ba79).  This was due to a mutex deadlock in our song-specific equalizer-preset feature code.

* I gave up and made SDL v2 a REQUIREMENT now for Fauxdacious itself (The new DVD plugin already requires SDL2).  This is due to the fact that the nasty old issue of gtk-window vs SDL segfault kerfuffle resurfaced again (see plugin commit #5c09006 for a brief history of this issue), so now we will properly initialize SDL in main() since SDL seems to want to pretend like it has the “main()” function and must be initialized very early (now in main()) in order to play nicely with gtk windows created later (Fauxdacious commit #cec5946).  TODO:  Add this to the configure script!

* ADDED cover-art via the user_tag_file option for both DVDs and Audio CDs.  User must manually obtain cover art images and store the image files, rename them to the same name matching the respective CD or DVD title (shown in the playlist) and place them either in the [dvd|CDDA].cover_art_path (config file option) or the default: ~/.config/audacious[_instancename]/ directory (if not specified) – (plugin commits #5b0f6d7 and #cce218a).  The manual requirement is currently due to my inability to find free urls for reliably locating cover art programatically by searching with the information at Fauxdacious’s disposal (the CD/DVD “Title” string and disk IDs).  If I or someone else can find and provide URLS for such libraries and scrape logic (ok if separate ones for Audio-CDs and/or DVDs), I’ll be happy to test and include in a future release!

* MERGED (mostly) our stdin streaming feature with that of Audacious.  Our implementation of this feature predates Audacious’s and required specifying the file extension (as “stdin://-.mp3” for mp3) but theirs does not (“-“).  Since they now support stdin piping, including seekability via buffering during probing, I’ve now REMOVED my (now ancient) “hacks” to the sndfile, vorbis, and gio plugins previously needed to support stdin streaming without seeking, and remerged their latest versions of these plugins (less maintenance for me – yay)!  I’m leaving it in ffaudio for now though as it handles so many different formats (commit #8524685, and plugin commits # 7b0be4f, 9d4cfa3, 240e090 and 2ba6b75).

With Fauxdacious, one can still include the extension (the old Fauxdacious way) and save the overhead of probing all the plugins, however, the extension is still REQUIRED for non-“Input” plugins such as cue-sheets (“-.cue”) and playlist files (“-.pls”, etc.), as these do not “probe” to determine what’s being piped in!  Believe me, I spent a day trying to get the Fauxdacious core to “probe” playlists and cue-sheets piped in via stdin, but the underlying Audacious architecture simply doesn’t permit it as written.

Also removed the added Fauxdacious requirement of specifying “stdin://-” (instead of just “-“), though the old way is still acceptable.  NOTE:  This did result in one minor regression:  when piping a simple line-separated list of items to play (ie. “ls *.mp3 | fauxdacious -“), one must now specify either “-.txt”, “” or “-.m3u” (doesn’t matter which) instead of just “-” as I’ve removed the old code in main() that specifically handled this and now use the standard m3u playlist plugin for this.

* Instance numbers (single digits) can now be combined with single-letter command-line options, ie. “fauxdacious -Dc2”, and instance# 0 is now a synanymn for the default instance (name: audacious) (commit #712b923).

* Merge in all Fauxdacious commits through 712b923 and plugin commits through b4882eb.

* Merge in Audacious commits:  20ecbff, 9303781, baabb80, 79dcc0f, e859ae3, 11b4856 (plugin commit a7ba191 has long been part of Fauxdacious).

Donald J. Trump: The Beginning of a New and Exciting Era

Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States#biblicalsatire:  “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly:  and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.  And from the time that the Obamanation that maketh desolate be set up, there shall be two thousand nine hundred and twenty-two days.  Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the two thousand nine hundred and ninety six days!” – taken from Daniel 12:10-12.  We have waited and have now come to the 2996th day!!!!!

It’s a great and blessed day indeed today!  It’s “Morning in America” again!  I’m psyched!  It’s been eight looooong years watching my great country silenced (through “political correctness”), mocked, sanctimoniously lectured, apologized for, weakened (economically, socially, and militarily), debased and ruled by people who seem opposed to nearly everything it was founded upon.  I never thought this election would turn out the way it has.  This goes back further than just the last eight years, but all the way back to President Bush I.  Not since President Ronald Reagan, have I and so many had such hope for the future!  I admit that I didn’t have much faith in Donald Trump as the GOP nominee based on his past stated positions and his bravado combined with his lack of experience in dealing with politics and the media, but everything I’m hearing out of him right now I’m loving.  I’m also sort of liking his bravado and the fact that we finally have someone in leadership with a backbone willing to call it as he sees it and call pigs with lipstick “pigs with lipstick!”  The only thing so far that I see differently from what he has proposed is the threat to impose high tariffs and cutting deals / favors with individual companies (crony capitolism).  I’m convinced that if he is simply able to rid the law books of most of the massive taxes, regulations, and paperwork that has been imposed on American businesses in the last thirty years, he’ll be ninety percent of the way toward making America prosperous again.  Tariffs should be imposed as a last resort against individual countries that subsidize their exports as loss-leaders undercutting market values.  They should NOT be used to “protect (union) workers” and bloated, inefficient local companies, thus driving up the cost of goods and services to all Americans!  Some accuse me of being a blind Trump supporter, but that is not true.  I’m simply hopefully and cautiously optimistic!  There are some things that concern me about this election.  The main thing is a fear that the globalists have simply ALLOWED this to happen, allowing “conservatives” to finally have a brief day in the sun in order to pull off a final economic collapse and then being able to pin the blame on the conservative, patriot and liberty movements.  The article “Trump is exactly where the elites want him” by “Personal Liberty” explains the plausibility of this possibility in detail, and is an excellent read.  One thing I noticed shortly before the election was how the media seemed to sort of indirectly turn on Hillary and discussing her “emails” and thinking “WHY are they suddenly running with this?  Do they want to damage her at the last minute?!”  But for the moment, I’m going to suppress the jaded realist in me and just enjoy the moment and walk with a bit of a spring in my step for it appears we have the best opportunity for real “hope and change” since 1981!  God bless, stay strong and, by all means, stay vigilant!

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