Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No one is planning to steal Republican voters. The GOP is shooing them out the door.

The mass media is reporting that Ron Pauls ascendency in the polls and refusal to rule out a third party run threatens to steal republican voters.


The Republican party was given a *mandate*, the authority and expectation of change to limit the size and scope of the US government, to bring spending into line with *reducing* the federal deficit *now*.

The few members of the House and Senate that still adhere to that mandate are called out as "tea party" republicans, are are depicted by both Republican party leadership and the mass media as "not real Republicans" at all.

Those same people that saw what the Tea Party had to say, and saw that it makes sense in today's world and what we build for tomorrow, still want the truth, the discipline that upset things in 2010.

And the Republican party pulls out the next old white guy standing in line. Romney and Gingrich, even Perry still represent the monied interests running things since Dole, since McCain. The Bush's worked well for the Party, but Bush II was a disaster for America. And the Republican party, like any big for-profit multinational corporation, is in it for the money. There is precious little room in the Republican party, demonstrated by it's actions, for loyalty, for honesty, for ethics and adherence to convictions.

There is an argument to be made that the big threat right now is Obama, and everything that helps unseat this President is a necessary stratagem for the survival of America. But the result of delaying the building of a restored America makes that goal less attainable.

Too many people, Republicans among them, understand this.

We spout out about the "will of the people", when the Republican party continuously rubs America's face in the fact that the Republican party merely wants to exploit voters for it's own ends.

So, no. Past NM governor Gary Johnson isn't stealing Republican party voters -- he is offering the Republican party's throw-aways a chance to believe in someone. Ron Paul's chimera of a third party run isn't stealing Republican voters -- or donations. He has tapped into a knowledgeable pool of people that vote, and understand the implications of doing nothing as the Republican party seems invested in doing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I was raised Democrat

My parents were strong Democrats. Mom to this day thinks of herself that way. I was raised in a Democratic home, and thought that the Democrats were just better.

But I recall Gerald Ford as President of the US. He took the office at a troubled time in US history, as Richard Nixon resigned the office under the cloud of impeachment. President Ford was, to me, dependable. Nearly harmless, he didn't do much to inspire my loyalty or pride, or disappointment. That last is important.

Jimmy Carter failed miserably, in his campaign for President, to convince me that he had any credentials, or that he committed himself to anything I found worthwhile. Having served in the US Navy, I found Carter's inability to pronounce nuclear (new-clee-ar, not Carter's new-kyu-ler) correctly to be petty, but still it biased my antipathy against Carter.

The Democrats have failed to put forth a candidate since then to make me reconsider my Republican-by-default political leanings.

In 2008 I decried Hilary Clinton, B. Hussein Obama, Sen. McCain, pretty much universally. The most promising move of the campaign, I thought, was nominating Sarah Palin for VP candidate. I thought at the time this meant that the staid, old-white-guy, you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours good old boy clicque running the GOP were changing, were changing in their perception of reality and of the needs of the nation.

McCain, being McCain, should not have been elected. He shouldn't have been nominated. His war record not withstanding, his morals and ethics seemed entirely too . . fluid. And the Republican party has shown itself completely immune to ethics, morals, change, and any interest in serving Republicans.

I still think the stated values of the Republican party are superior -- sound economics, defense of freedoms, limited government. I do *not* believe the Republican National Committee has any intention of doing anything toward any of those stated values.

So, on, an opinion piece by Caddell and Shoen leap off in a new direction: Draft Hillary Clinton.

In 2008 I hated Hillary with a passion. I felt that remaining married to husband and past President Bill Clinton, she showed an historic lack of character. I felt that leaving Arkansas to run for the Senate from New York was mercenary, shallow, and an abuse of the people of New York. I never asked any Arkansas people if they missed having the Clintons when Bill and Hillary moved back East after their terms in Washington, D.C.

And, yet, the Republicans have shown themselves to be too heavily invested in the runaway economy to correct anything substantial. The leading Republican candidates, Gingrich, Perry, Romney, are all proof that the Republican Party intends to keep running the-next-good-old-boy in line.

And I found myself thinking, "I could vote for Hillary."

The nation will have to watch Hillary, if she is elected, closely. Her anti-gun position is as adamant as B. Hussein Obama and his Chicago thug pals. Hillary has the labor unions behind her, with all of their special interests that seem to support wrecking the profit motive and creation of work in America.

But she is still less scary than Obama or the GOP (where is the "Grand" part in "Grand Old Party", anymore?) candidates.

Hillary hasn't changed since the Clinton Administration, nor since 2008. I haven't changed my views that much since then. But the times, and the field of "hopefuls" has gotten really scary for me.

I could easily change my mind. All it would take would be a Republican candidate superior to Cain. Or a Democratic VP nominee with less appeal than VP Joe Biden. Any number of things could happen before next November, that might convince me to change my mind.

But, wow is that startling, to think that I might vote for Hillary Clinton for President in 2012, with no regrets. Amazing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is "Employed Applicants Only" unfair? reports that Kelly Wiedemer has been unemployed all too long. But she is still active.

Kelly is suing, the massive job listing site. Kelly is incensed that accepts ads stating "unemployed need not apply" or "current employment required", or any variation.

When looking at the vasty number of people that President Obama's socialist policies have made unemployed, and kept them that way, it might appear that getting those "discouraged" people (not employed, but been that way the government doesn't have to count them in the unemployment numbers) should get hired right away, that will solve one of the nation's problems.

I don't see this blatant affirmative action as helping anyone, except maybe Kelly W.

Affirmative action has always hurt, hindered, encumbered, disenfranchised, and held back those that are targeted.

Think of it this way. A company hires people to do a certain amount of production, that is, processing materials to construct something with more value than cost. Getting competent people skilled in the production that the company operates is one way. And employers screen applicants for employment. They want to know that the person has a history of responsible behavior, has whatever knowledge and skills are claimed on the application, and has a certain amount of character and discipline at work -- shows up when expected, every time, keeps personal problems in perspective and out of the work place (within reason), gets the task done without constant close supervision, and works well with others.

Many times an employer takes a chance on a prospect that looks trainable. The character and discipline seem solid and dependable, and experience in related tasks seems to indicate the applicant would make the transition fairly easily. The risk is that it will take days to months -- or longer -- to determine if this applicant actually fits the need, once trained and worked into the company production stream. This is a cost of doing business. The more failed attempts a company makes, the more reputation for "difficult" practices grows among applicants and the industries that live off job applicants -- head hunters, state job services, resume services, etc.

My concern about hiring someone that has been unemployed long term is exactly the same as hiring a homeless person. They have had to adapt to a foreign environment. Just like going to college changes a person, it makes them unsuitable for certain jobs. Trust me, there are many jobs in Ponca City, OK, that will *not* hire anyone that has been to college. Supervisors used to high school graduates don't want the challenges, questions, attitudes, and perspectives of those that have been to college.

Long term unemployment means that work references are out of date. The previous supervisor may be unavailable, the business may not exist any longer, and getting a reliable feel for the long-term unemployed applicant becomes a serious problem.

Next is that unemployment insurance requires one to live according to unemployment insurance rules. The supervision, expectations, team environment -- all are unlike any company production stream. And the long-term unemployed applicant has been training and meeting the expectations of the unemployment insurance lifestyle instead of working related work.

Long-term unemployed often develop changed perspectives and tasks at home; reverting to a typical "leave the home life at home" work ethic may well be difficult, for both the worker and family members. This has the potential to cost an employer a lot, depending on how many interruptions for home issues occur each day.

An employer owes it to the company owners or stock holders to screen applicants fairly, to employ the best applicants for each position, to do a responsible job of screening out costly mistakes.

I feel employers are being responsible when they advertise "employed applicants only". This is not a new policy, because the previous work history is always scrutinized for gaps in related employment. Gaps in employment often indicate potential problems for the employer.

Employers cannot afford to overlook people afflicted with despair and depression, long term. They cannot afford the health benefits to cover applicants with pre-existing problems.

Long-term unemployment is an injury to a person, not a genetic or social barrier. What is needed is not to handicap, permanently, those hired under affirmative action. What is needed is a rehabilitation mechanism. A doctor's affidavit that applicant X has been treated and examined, and is fit to go back to work.

And ultimately, the profit a company makes, the employee costs they minimize, results in the ability to hire and train employees. Increase costs without increased productivity (i.e., profit), and the company cannot afford to employ as many people -- less hiring, more employees laid off.

Reducing the number of employees, and reducing productivity has been the common effect of affirmative action. Such efforts at social engineering are ineffective or destructive to employer and employed.

How about that, Kelly Wiedener? How about working with employers to devise a re-employment certificate that employers can rely on (not just imposed by the state, or even well-meaning affirmative action activists) that covers the unemployed period, the reasons for the unemployment, what workplace discipline and skills are exhibited, long term, and a responsible supervisor that can be contacted, and trusted to give a responsible evaluation of the applicant?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The SF 100. Thanks, Tam.

Tam at View From The Porch continued a bloggish meme.
"(The list, for the two of you that didn't know, is the "100 Best SF/Fantasy Books" based on a poll of NPR listeners. The meme that's going about its to bold the ones you've read.) "

I think I read a couple of the others, but I don't recall the author or title that firmly.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King (Only the first two.)
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

Some I chose to skip, some I would have listed much, much, much lower on a list of maybe 4,000 or so. And no one listed Wen Spencer's "A Brothers Price" or Mike Shepherd's "Kris Longknife" books. Or McCaffrey's "A Ship Who Sang". Or Frezza's "McLendon's Syndrome". Or Weber's Honor Harrington books. Etc. And even if it was NPR listeners, where is Esther Friesner's "Carmen Miranda's Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three" (An anthology based on Leslie Fish's filk song by the same title.) Where are Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe books? Where is Elizabeth Moon's "Once a Hero" or her Vatta's War series?

Dammit, where is Stasheff's Starship Troupers series?

Anyway, this was my list.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Efficiency, resilience, and ethics.

John Michael Greer has an important post about systems in general, focusing on efficiency and how efficiency is achieved at the cost of resilience. Please read it; JMG and the commenters have many important things to say.

Myself, I diverge from the conclusion that JMG makes. I find that efficiency is the quality of a system that measures how much output is produced from a given amount of input, based on the primary inputs and outputs of a system. Resilience, to me, is how much change there is in the expected output from inputs that are not the designed input.

Take a rain gauge, and a one inch rain fall. A very efficient rain gauge will report that 1.000 inches of rain fell. A resilient rain gauge will report the same thing, regardless of the presence of dust, bugs, sunlight or clouds, or street work three blocks away.

Efficiency, then, and resilience can both be engineered into a system, with only modest compromises. A well engineered system, either through adjustments and corrections over extended use or by good design, might well have both good efficiency and good resilience.

What JMG, and others, look at, is skewed engineering. That is, emphasizing efficiency while ignoring, or actively degrading, resilience. Few people want a car that gets great fuel efficiency if it means the thing falls over when you turn a corner (one of the examples JMG uses). That is a focus on efficiency without attending resilience. Making a car that won't pollute California, on the other hand, resulted in too many vehicles that were massively inefficient in use of fuel, but very efficient at passing California screening standards (that should not have been a primary output of the design).

So, today I read about Seth Godin's comments on happy and unhappy versions of business ethics.

The happy theory of business ethics is this: do the right thing and you will also maximize your long-term profit.

After all, the thinking goes, doing the right thing builds your brand, burnishes your reputation, helps you attract better staff and gives back to the community, the very community that will in turn buy from you. Do all of that and of course you'll make more money. Problem solved.

The unhappy theory of business ethics is this: you have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit. Period. To do anything other than that is to cheat your investors. And in a competitive world, you don't have much wiggle room here.

If you would like to believe in business ethics, the unhappy theory is a huge problem.

I see a direct example of efficiency and resilience. In the "happy" theory, the focus is on resilience, on making changes and unexpected inputs to the system (the company) simple noise, and not impacting the ability to do business. In the "unhappy" theory, resilience is deliberately avoided as the sole engineering paradigm is focused on the "efficiency" of making a profit, and avoiding loss.

And I think that Seth and JMG both overlook the obvious.

That is, a resilient design, with good efficiency, is necessary. Spend to much effort on resilience, on effects on the system that don't pay off in supporting the designed output, and you waste resources and opportunities. Any system that fails to produce enough output will fail or be abandoned, so efficiency at some level is needed for survival of the system.

I look at a system differently. The health of the system might describe the ability to survive and perform in the presence of unexpected occurrences, and be described as resilience. Production would be the output of the system, and be described by the limits to how much can be produced, and by the efficiency of using inputs to produce a given output. Basal needs would describe inputs needed for the health and operation of the system that don't directly result in primary output production.

And I think that the definitions of efficiency and resilience are two different axes on a graph, and not opposite ends of a continuous spectrum. The better the design or engineering, the more each is maximized.

For Seth, the happy theory is useless to an organization that doesn't know how to do business. The unhappy theory makes an unwarranted assumption that ruthless operation is necessarily a successful business tactic; it can and often is a more rapid path to dissolution.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

About the myth of "buy American"

I got an email, from someone that believes the union line that we have to "buy American" when they really mean "buy Union" so that unions can do what they do with more money.

> 618
> We don't need government intervention to save ourselves as a country.
> We need a movement. A unified movement for the people, by the people.
> As members of the greatest nation, we owe it to ourselves and the rest of
> the world to protect and strengthen our economy. With the greatest "buying
> power" of any nation, all that is needed for a national resurrection is
> for us to give the power back to ourselves. Support Made In the U.S.A.
> Support yourself. Support US, so that we may continue supporting others.
> Before your next purchase go to to search for an
> American manufacturer of that product.

Ultimately, American economic affluence has been built on debt, and only indirectly on spending.

The problem today at the national level is that fewer families have nearly as much money to spend, and major assets like homes have significantly less value to use as collateral. The result is that fewer people have the means or confidence to service as much debt as previously.

Revolving credit accounts (credit cards) are being paid off more than in recent times, so that the total consumer debt is shrinking. Too many people cannot pay, and their accounts are being closed and taken as losses. That means that credit brokers and speculators have a shrinking mass of debt to manage, to package and sell, and to trade amongst themselves.

You are familiar, I hope, with the mortgage problems people are having. Many families believed the hype that they could pay three and four times the cost of their house and consider it an investment, a lump of value to be used into the future. With the current reduced ability to service mortgages, and the way houses have lost face value, fewer homes are being sold as "investments". Which contributes in a big way to the collapse of the value of mortgages outstanding, and even more to the illusory "assets" of the credit default swap and mortgage derivative industries.

The national debt, on the other hand, isn't collapsing or shrinking. The US is more like the family who cannot find jobs that pay as well as before, that sees the values of assets and incomes dropping because of things outside their control. Unfortunately, President Obama seems intent on following the family destined to foreclosure, instead of the choices many families made to reduce their debt to something they could manage on their reduced income, or eliminate entirely.

How families and individuals choose to spend their (fewer) dollars won't matter much, because it won't restore the debt levels that fueled the bubble in the American economy.

Industry won't be nearly as able to respond to increased local demand, today, because the direct and indirect costs have skyrocketed. Government regulations are more onerous. Limits on access to energy, including oil and electricity, are becoming more apparent and limiting growth, and the prices aren't going to be coming down as demand increases and market supplies continue to decline. And too many of the workers of yesterday have fallen from the workplace, and the younger workers that should have been learning industry are mowing yards and hanging out.

Traditional transition jobs, with low pay and providing discipline and training to the young, are going instead to older and more experienced workers displaced from higher skilled jobs by the collapse of credit, increased cost of meeting government regulations, and increases in minimum wage. The lowered family incomes and growing masses of untrained never-employed young and minority people that should have been workers amount to a problem that may take decades -- and much more than choosing to buy American -- to fix.

The mass of unemployed and under-employed people are a drag and a drain on the American economy. While they are potentially a resource, today they consume collected tax revenue and community resources that deplete the assets that others might have used to provide jobs. They are not increasing in skills and future value to the market place; they instead represent a growing body of difficult to hire, difficult and expensive to train, and unreliable workers. The virtues of Americans in previous decades was much less about our liberty and craft, but much because of our dedication to community and nation, our employ-ability and ever increasing body of skill and knowledge.

The body of unsuitable non-workers is building. We are amassing a regulatory quagmire. Their is an increasing squeeze of declining energy available and increasing energy costs. In short, the ability of industry in America to respond to increased demand is limited.

Besides, when you hold out for the Made In America label, think of the number of jobs, in America, you threaten - that distribute, transport, and sell those products.

Choosing what to buy based on where products are made is a mere puff of breath, when applied to the problems of the torrent of economic and personal liberties abuse coming from Washington, DC and the Obama Administration, and this and previous Congresses.

If you want to fix the American economy, I suggest that you start with supporting those Senators and Congresspeople opposed to the current regulatory and tax and debt agendas. I suggest that the most effective steps to make buying American and restoring the American economy is to fix the problems facing the American workplace.

I think that the most hopeful future will hold a lot less affluence, a lot less ability to leverage debt into a sellable commodity, but with more people working for sensible wages (and not whatever government or unions can impose).

"We don't need government intervention" to solve these problems? I disagree. Government intervention is, I believe, the biggest part of America's economic woes and the biggest reason so many young and minority people are unemployable at present, and that so many American families are making do with less than in previous years, with little hope for a quick recovery. Government intervention has to be addressed first, to make anything else worth the effort.

I think much of the growth of American affluence has been directly related to the expenditure of cheap energy -- mostly fossil fuels. Fuels are no longer as cheap, and President Obama is hell-bent on making all energy, including oil and natural gas, more expensive. Those individuals, industries, and governments expecting the historical models of generating lots of money to work in the future are doomed to be disappointed, without the no-longer-available cheap energy those expectations are based upon.

Brad K.
Ponca City, OK

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Getting the economy backwards

President Obama got it backwards, at his press conference. You don't use tax revenue (collections) to create jobs. Collecting revenue destroys jobs, it always has. The more you collect (the higher the tax rate), the more jobs you destroy.

You destroy jobs when you increase the cost of hiring someone, that should have been obvious decades ago, but I guess the news hasn't gotten to Harvard Law School. I bet B. Hussein Obama could have gotten a straight answer from the Business School at Harvard, but the Harvard Business School doesn't talk about socialism as much. Business schools tend more toward making capitalism work well.

For the government to get more revenue, they need to get more people working. See, businesses don't pay taxes, they collect them. Any tax the IRS takes from any business increases the cost of doing business, which means that the business charges its customers more, or has to fire an employee or three, so that it can show the owner a profit. Or the business moves out of town (out of the country), or closes.

This also happens when you make regulations that cost the business, such as the EPA's grand "let's shut down the energy plants by making them too expensive to build and operate" scheme. Burning coal and oil don't put as much CO2 in the air as the swamps (protected wetlands, many of them) put out methane, as methane is much more green-housey than CO2. Well, and then there is the whole Brazilian effort to tear down the rain forest to grow "sustainable" ethanol, and then China is busy stripping the rain forests of Asia for lumber and charcoal to heat homes and cook meals. Tearing down old-growth forests, now, seems to this farm boy a pretty sure way to change the "climate".

After the profligate oil and coal burning, not to mention gunpowder use of the 1940s (WWII), how did it turn out that the 1950s were reputed to be the mildest decade on record, if putting out CO2 is supposed to de-stabilise the atmosphere?

Take a million bucks. Spend it on entitlements, to, say, a thousand people. How many jobs did you create, outside the bureaucracy of administering the plan (requiring more tax spending to pay for careers, facilities, benefits, and pensions)? Now take another million bucks, not collected as taxes, from, say a big company. How many jobs are not threatened? Maybe four, maybe fifty, depending on salaries and benefits.

The US Government cannot spend money that creates a job, that doesn't dismantle the ability of American employers to maintain or create more jobs somewhere else, not when they tax employers.

Either President Obama lies when he says he wants to use the government to create jobs, or he is just plain ignorant. I am sure at least one person has been able to describe what increasing taxes means to jobs growth or jobs lost. So is it lies, or is it refusal to hear the truth?

President Obama yesterday held a so-called press conference, All questions were pre-approved, the reporters asking were allowed, by name, to participate in a pre-determined order. It sounded more like a rehearsed press release/propaganda presentation/re-election speech.

And B. Hussein Obama trotted out the waste of the corporate jet again. Like his disparagement of the ATM machine, the corporate jet doesn't represent too much profit -- it represents the jobs of the folk that built and maintain that plane, that operate it daily. And it represents, all too often, a cost savings to the company. I mean, corporations exist to pay profits to the owners, and spending too much on anything from CEO salaries to jets, etc., can be expected to get the company in trouble with investors.

When government increases the costs of corporations and other businesses by collecting taxes, by increasing regulations and the minimum wage, they increase the amount of money that that business has to take in, that comes from the economy. Which leaves the customers of that business, and all other businesses, with less money to pay taxes and live comfortably.

And that means raising tax rates, especially for those in business or wealthy, make taxes harder to pay for the working people and middle class and poor.

I could wish that the American President didn't sound like a college protestor from the 1960s, with the Marxist change of "destroy the military industrial complex". Because this President is doing what the anti Vietnam War protestors advocated. And that Marx prescribed, to prepare a resisting culture for Communist rule. Or even a Chicago gang boss would want to make himself rich.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I think we are all correct - America is racist.

I watched an interesting take on PJTV, about how the liberal left and Democratic party have taken to refer to all dissent as 'racist'.

Tony Katz (The Conversation), discusses the political label, "racers" - those that call all dissent 'racism'.

I think the problem is that there are two conflicting definitions in play for the concept of racism.

I think there is a racially-oriented agenda within the African-American community, that the liberal left is promoting. Agenda issues include affirmative action, avenging historical prejudices, biases, and harm.

This, any conflict with that political agenda actually is racist.

The version of racism I learned was an over-riding bias or prejudice one holds, that acts against others solely on the basis of their apparent or real race.

At Racism:

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

PJTV discusses personal opinions of individuals, and whether, as a group, non-liberals share a common antipathy toward black or African-American people. Which appears to not be the case.

Hatred of white people, on the other hand, seems to be a shared and common hatred and prejudice among a sizable and vocal part of the black and liberal communities. So the conservative right is content to point at the racism of the left as being the cause of the miscommunication.

At the same time, the agenda of the left is discounted by the right, earning a blanket condemnation for racism of those same conservatives.

The part that bothers me most is that some rude and disrespectful leaders on many sides use the distrust and enmity to further their own personal financial and political ambition. It seems that calmness and communication will resolve the enmity.

Time wounds all heels. (Isaac Asimov)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sharon's Grim Picture

Sharon Astyk writes at Casaubon's Book about unrest in Libya and other oil producing nations. And the picture is grim.

As Sharon states in a comment,

Saudi Arabia announced it was phasing out wheat production a few years ago, so this is largely expected, and Saudi Arabia has been a major new landowner in the global land grab for grain-growing land. But yes, it is a factor because Saudi Arabia absolutely needs to be able to buy grain on the world markets - as does China and several other major nations with deep pockets. So what happens when the entire Canadian Wheat harvest, say, is needed on the marketplace?

My answer to Sharon:

You paint a grim picture, Sharon. If China and other major nations are bidding up the price of wheat and other grains - what does that mean for the poor and those in less affluent countries?

As for where we would be now, having started to take things seriously in 1998? I would like to think we wouldn't be shipping milled steel at junk prices - i.e., old model cars and farm equipment, some of which is repairable - to China, instead of letting China spend the energy we will have to, to mine and process steel and iron to replace the implements and material we are now throwing away. We might all be living within walking distance of work, or at least see the average commute distance - via public or private transport - diminish significantly each year. We might see communities and cities denigrate the entertainment and shopping centers in favor of neighborhood, around the corner stores and services. We might be seeing more green (planted garden/grassland habitat) roofs and insulation-clad siding projects to make current structures more energy efficient.

We might see Washington, D.C. have to report not just the dollars they spend, but the energy loading for each program dollar (fuel, support for administration, material procurement and maintenance, support for each government employee, etc.). Heavens, we might have and actual, court-enforced, national energy budget, that even the President and Congress would have to honor. That might make an interesting Constitutional amendment, actually: Require the budget to 'balance' energy consumption without consuming any foreign energy or any hydrocarbon fossil fuel or other non-renewable mineral source.

Unfortunately, people are willing to drive longer distances to commute to work in this tough economic climate. Employers are even less interested in keeping employees energy usage under control. Stores can hardly afford to worry about the fuel their customers consume in getting to the store. And the government wastes energy in profligate amounts on projects with little actual use (that is, high speed rail, intended to address a wrongly perceived issue from a couple of decades back). Oh, and the nation and world want to buy their way back to living the way we did back before we ran into food, money, and energy constraints.


I look at how long ago the space shuttle program was supposed to be a brief transition to an efficient transport to space. I look at how long now they have been 'retiring' the space shuttle, and how the Hubble telescope was in use years after it was supposed to have been replaced. And I really have to wonder if any project that takes longer than the 12 months between swearing in a Congress and the next campaign season could have made a difference.

Kennedy's adventure to put a man on the moon, that happened in what? seven years? That built on technology already in development, and McNamara's predecessor to today's big government 'Federal Acquisition Regulations' hadn't really kicked in yet. Today the government cannot do anything without first creating a new bureaucracy (to assure that all hindrances and regulations are observed, with added costs rolled into the expected program over-runs). What won WWII was the ability of contractors to talk to the military, and come back with a plane or ship, and say, "What do you think?" "We'll take a thousand!".

I have lived much of my life being told that the US Dept of Education has outlived its purpose - yet it is still a bulwark of union teachers and Democratic social engineering.

I don't think starting in 1998 government would have accomplished much, nor allowed industry to accomplish much, either. My fear is that with the weak economy threatening national security, and the rising tide of violence (with food prices and oil prices), that we may not be able to depend on the government to keep hostile forces out of our back yards.

Because I don't believe for one minute that the unrest in the oil producing nations is an accident, or that they are each spontaneous. Nothing I have read in history, or that I have read of our world today, imputes stupidity to all those people. There is no reason for anyone to believe that changing the government will change food and energy prices - so, where did the organization come from to raise all the protests? And is there any reason to think they aren't aimed at weakening the US for future hostile actions?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Federal Budget, and Peak Oil.

I sent the following message to my US House representative.
Every thousand dollars of budget represents a finite and measurable amount of oil, coal, electricity, and other forms of energy.

The US budget to date has depended on unfettered access to cheap energy - oil, coal, hydroelectric, and to some extent, natural gas.

Other forms, from nuclear to wind and solar power, are forms of energy - but not cheap. Not cheap to build the structures, not cheap to operate. Most forms seem to burn tax dollars to produce energy.

The world faces a change, as the ability to produce expected amounts of oil in a day was passed back in 2005, by some estimates. As demand in the developing world continues to increase, nothing America does to conserve will have an impact - worldwide demand for oil will continue to outpace the ability to produce oil on any given day. Federal expenditures represent energy usage. Fuel used in the course of doing business, energy used to produce vehicles, structures, material and supplies - and to maintain, dispose of, and account for each.

Energy is consumed in the private lives of every government employee - diverting energy from the economy, as well as talents not being used to produce goods and services to maintain the America we have come to know.

A sound, sustainable energy plan has to begin with accepting the energy burden of government employment and government expenditures. The security of the nation demands that we move to a lower-energy economy, and form of government, now - while we still have access to the energy needed to build the structures and infrastructure needed for the future.

The security of the nation has always depended on a strong US economy. While not moribund, today's US economy hasn't yet begun to face a future of restricted access to cheap energy. We risk losing the ability to stand strong in the face of foreign competition.

The federal budget, as monstrous as it has grown, is but the tip of the iceberg. I see no way around the debt deflation facing the nation as the artificial wealth represented in the housing bubble and especially the banking and security shenanigans continue to collapse. Throwing tax dollars (energy and talents diverted from productive use in the economy) at the collapse won't help the nation.

Funding big government is a luxury of the past, that perhaps we never could afford. Today over-spending is a risk of our nation and our way of life.

Compare "Big Government" to an alcoholic, and the federal budget is the bottle. Get the picture?

Tax dollars = energy expended. Government employees have been pulled from the available work force just as if they had moved to a foreign country.

We cannot afford the brain drain or energy expense of big government.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Will the Egypt riots spread to Cairo, Illinois?

Sharon writes at Casaubon's Book "It all comes back to food" about the riots in Egypt.

I think Dmitri (Club Orlov) called it, when he described the uprising in Egypt as people who had lost faith that their government could do something for them.

That hasn't happened in the US, yet, on any kind of grand scale.

But it could.

I recall the feeling back in 1992, when paperback book prices jumped a dollar. I forget, that might have been when they went to 5.99 or 6.99. I remember the anger of the moment, though all I did was make a pointed and blunt, moderately courteous comment to the B. Dalton store clerk.

I picked up a 2 lb package of Wal-Mart popcorn today. $1.44 isn't bad, and it works decently in my air popper. But I recall a few years back, that package was $0.77. Bread has gone from ninety-some cents to $1.20. Etc. And these are all mild price increases.

Forget worrying about clobbering farm ground with non-productive urban sprawl. Worry that we have designed our cities and workplaces to require the expenditure of cheap energy to get from shelter to work to shopping to recreation to school. You are right, probably the first impact of loss of cheap energy will be food supplies and other essentials - they don't make toilet paper here in Oklahoma, as far as I know, nor enough coffee or peanut butter for the whole state.

But dealing with local food security is probably minor, compared to the hidebound thinking of city planners, housing developers, and business planners. If energy prices rise significantly again, the first steps will be to conserve, share rides, etc. But there are limits to what can be done. Very few businesses participate in planning how much housing nearby is available for their work force, nor whether there is grocery shopping and entertainment nearby.

I don't like government programs for the same reason I don't like dictators. Any mistakes are too horrid to be believed. The cumbersomeness, inefficiency, and extended time it takes for Democracy to accomplish anything means there is a good chance that the best things never happen - but many of the worst things likewise end before starting. If every community addresses a given problem, such as food security, so many things might be tried that surely some approaches will help. When a community notices a mistake, they can be fairly agile in correcting the problem. Correcting a problem in a program at the national level, well, we mostly just have to live with the errors.

And, yes, Obama's stated policy of 'streamlining' regulation and rule making scares me, as it disconnects from much of the apparatus for stopping bad ideas from harming the nation. Recent actions by the EPA, FCC, and other agencies show this stated policy is and has been in force under President Obama.

If Orlov's premise is correct, that only belief that our government can provide assistance is keeping Americans from taking to the streets in protest, then the disregard of Obama and others in government for what is harmful and contrary to the will of the people is particularly scary; President Obama could be in the middle of the process of throwing away all the stability of 200 plus years under the US Constitution.

Ending the unsustainable extended jobless benefits without putting people back to work (you know, drop business taxes, eliminate burdensome business regulations that don't work, and disband intrusive government interventions), that would be a step in eroding confidence that the government could help us. Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid payments could embitter our elders, and those that have come to depend on government handouts; again, increasing the odds of disaffection for the government.

I expect we will see protests in the street, from those sympathetic to the Egyptian people, and probably also from those that identify with the class differences and lack of government service to those that need it - the poor. I don't think government payments are the best help, or even useful. But the government can assure that the poor have access to jobs, shelter, and that businesses of the poor are able to compete with businesses run from more affluent neighborhoods.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Arizona Shootings, Jan 8, 2011

First off - the shooting in Tuscon, Arizona, was criminal, and unjustified.

Several aspects of that shooting come to mind. At this time, I haven't seen any motive or agenda, and all I know about the shooter is that a second actor is being sought.

1) 12 people were downed by the reputed lone gunman. While Fox News (the report I saw) harped on and on about what that might mean about beefing up security for other Congresspeople and Senators - I can't get away from one glaring fact.

12 people were hurt because only 1 person had a gun. And the one with the gun was not the one defending his family and neighbors.

15 years ago Arizona had an open carry policy - I once did a double take, standing in line at my bank, behind a gentleman with a six-shooter on his belt. Surprisingly to some, but not to me, no one was shot that day. I don't know what Tuscon does, that may be anywhere from open carry to a Disarmed Victim Zone. The crowd at Congresswoman Gifford's event yesterday certainly failed to protect themselves and their neighbors.

2) Lawless behavior. Shooting someone is a lawless act, unless protecting oneself or family or others from imminent danger. The shooting in Tucson was certainly lawless.

The outgoing 111th Congress under Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid, in collaboration with President B. Hussein Obama, set a lot of 'precedents', they bent a lot of rules, and if they didn't violate laws and the US Constitution, they certainly appeared to. That is, the past Congress could be said to have been 'lawless', in a manner similar to the shooting in Arizona. Certainly, ObamaCare bids fair to directly cause the death of thousands or more, through denial of services and "death counseling" to those already troubled and depressed. I imagine that the case will be made that when Congress acted lawlessly, to the satisfaction of one citizen of Tucson, AZ, that constituted tyranny - perhaps the main reason the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution assures each and every citizen the right to possess and own the means to confront tyrants. Acting against a tyrant - such as the good Congresswoman as a representative of the apparently lawless 111th Congress is against the law. There is no question about that, the 2nd Amendment doesn't provide any basis for taking the law into one's own hands. The 2nd Amendment merely assures that when any citizen is convinced of the need to act, that citizen has the means to act, even though doing so is legally murder and carries the penalties associated with murder. The intent is to avoid tyranny - lawless behavior - in government.

Was this shooting related to the Congresswoman's record, her association with the 111th Congress or the incoming 112th Congress, or her identification with the Democratic party? I don't know, and whatever is released or claimed, the truth may never be known. For all I know, this shooting was an infantile bid for attention by someone that should have known better.

3) This last point bothers me a lot. President B. Hussein Obama is on record as claiming to "not let a crisis go unexploited" or words to that effect. This shooting of a 'moderate Democrat' could turn out to be a wedge the Administration under Obama uses to disrupt the grand plans of the incoming Tea Party and Republican lead House of representatives. Could President Obama have instigated the shooting, coming as he does from Chicago, the home of Mayor Daley and Al Capone? Could the Democratic leadership have been sending an unsubtle message to so-called 'moderate' Democrats - about straying from the party line?

Granted, Arizona has several issues from state solvency and federal (unfunded or underfunded) mandates, to illegal immigration and state sovereignty. Could this shooting have been related to one of these issues, or illegal drugs? Yes, certainly. And I pray that President Obama hasn't begun shooting Congresspeople that might not agree with him.

What I am convinced of, is that we need less lawlessness, and especially the appearance of less lawlessness, in this next congress. And I pray that the Congresswoman from the 8th district of Arizona is a major player in this new congress. All the best to her, and the families of those injured or killed in Tucson yesterday.