Why off-topic posts may be on-topic

While a considerable number of the postings of late on both
alt.machines.cnc and rec.crafts.metalworking have been off-topic in
the narrow and immediate sense, in a larger frame of reference most
are directly on topic in that these consider the larger context in
which for-profit and home-shop metal working is embedded.
Many American social, cultural and political changes are not favorable
to metal working [or any other productive/creative activity]. These
range from security concerns [you might make guns, knives or infernal
devices] to economic concerns [do I buy that 1/4X20 tap or feed the
kids], zoning restrictions, and various cultural changes [such as
where do I put the lathe and casting furnace in the apartment that I
had to move to, because I could no longer afford a house].
While I do not agree with many of the opinions expressed, it is
never-the-less encouraging to see these many ominous trends (and their
likely consequences) are at least being considered and discussed. The
bad news is this is being done in a few highly restricted forums and
none of the major political parties/candidates or main-stream media
will touch any of these issues with a 10-foot [3.048 metre] pole.
It appears that many of the trends can be traced back to a small
number of (overlapping and converging) root causes, a few of which
(1) There is no longer (and probably never was) an America or United
States in a monolithic sense. What has changed is that the national
strategies, goals, objectives, policies, etc. are no longer dominated
or dictated by a single or a few elite socio-economic classes and/or
economic groups, with mainly provincial/parochial [translation:
national] viewpoints. Rather the elites have become « citizens of the
world, » far more comfortable with their counterparts in other
countries, who share their view of reality, than the average or
typical citizen of their own country. Additionally, the traditionally
disenfranchised domestic socio-economic and ethnic groups are no
longer content to keep their mouths shut and do as they are told.
(2) Communism and the USSR are no longer a viable threat to the world.
When the choice was the US or the USSR, nations could reasonably be
expected to choose the lesser of two evils and compromise their
national interests in support of US interests vis-a-vis USSR
interests. With the removal of any credible threat, nations are free
to advance their own best self interests, as they perceive them, even
against those of the United States. There is an insidious and
dangerous tendency to confuse actions of sovereign states such as
France in their perceived best self interest as being somehow
anti-American, when it is simply pro-France, and in the best interest
of the French.
(3) The lack of any plausible alternative or threat to their control
(see 2. above) has allowed the plutocrats and oligarchs to take
advantage of existing conditions to maximize profits by minimizing
expenses such as taxes and wages through the vehicle of the « Brave
New World Order ».
(4) The United States and most of the countries in Europe meet many of
the criteria for a « failing state ». A google search of « failed
nation » OR « failing nation » produced 5,810 hits. The basic
criteria of a nation include:
a. definite and controlled borders, whereby the nation controls who
and what enters and leaves;
b. control and identification of who are its citizens and residents;
c. a monopoly on armed force; and,
d. issuance and control of its currency (and by extension its economy)
in all forms.
(5) The appears to be deliberate and increasing misuse of business
decision techniques such cost:benefit and risk:reward analysis. For
example, I will most likely come to completely different conclusions
when comparing your risk and my reward, my risk and your reward, your
risk and your reward, and my risk and my reward, although the
numerator and denominator are exactly the same in all 4 cases. In too
many instances, business and political decisions are being taken on
the basis of « heads I win, tails you lose. »
(6) One of the most rapidly proliferating techniques to increase
apparent corporate profit is « cost externalization » whereby
legitimate/traditional business expenses such as wages (all or a
portion), pensions (deferred compensation), debts, medical costs,
taxes, environment costs, training, infrastructure, and financing are
shifted from the company onto their suppliers, customers, employees,
creditors, and the general public. This makes it unfeasible for the
consumer to determine the true/actual cost of a good/service,
rendering the operation of the « free market » impossible.
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If the posters put OT: before the message, I have no problem. Otherwise, exactly the same argument could be made for nearly all topics. For example, chinese politics is just as much on-topic, as is how to buy stuff on ebay, as is ...
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Ian Stirling

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