Monday, May 11, 2015

Capitalism's Creative Juice, the Threat of Failure

Over the last few years I have added a new name to my list of favorite opinion writers, Kevin Williamson of National Review. An article he published today is, in my opinion, a must read. He is an unabashed supporter of Capitalism and seems to me to understand its workings with more clarity than most.

"One of the rarely appreciated aspects of the capitalist model of innovation is that the wealthy subsidize the development of products for everybody else: The mobile phone is a case study in that process, as is the electric car, as indeed were ordinary cars. The firm that developed the first automotive air-conditioning and power windows was a high-end marque that despite its landmark innovations is no longer with us: Packard. The Bonfire of the Vanities–era financiers who carried the first mobile phones paid for much of the research and development that made them ordinary products for non-gazillionaires. My own financial means at the moment do not, alas, afford the purchase of the new plug-in hybrid from Porsche — which is a million-dollar supercar — but the technologies developed for the 918 Spyder will make their way through the marketplace the same way that the automatic transmission (Oldsmobile, 1940), the supercharger (Mercedes, 1921), and the independent suspension (Mercedes, 1933) went from being expensive options on cars for the rich to being standard equipment on your Hyundai."

This, to me, is an excellent insight and might be valuable knowledge for the Occupied crowd to have as they talk to each other on their cell phones castigating the evil rich. But for the evil rich they would have no cell phones or much else for that matter. Anyone remember the Lhada? No? That is because it no longer exists. It was a car built in the USSR. My sister bought one back in the 70's. Predictably the worst car ever manufactured. There is a good reason for its failure and Williamson explains it below.

Williamson's piece is actually a response to a comment made by the US Government's Chief Technology Officer. She said,

“Why can’t the federal government have websites and digital services that are awesome?”

He proceeds to answer her question. In his penultimate paragraph he explains:

"Non-performing federal agencies do not go bankrupt, federal bureaucracies do not see their shares tank when they do poorly, and government entities do not have their assets acquired by more effective competitors. Political bureaucracies are creatures doing violence to the evolutionary equilibrium — dinosaurs running amok in modern technological civilization, and Jurassic Park taught us how that turns out."

Read more at:
Read the whole thing if you have the time and the interest.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Lies, Always

The gender wage gap has been getting a lot of press recently. Of course, as we all know if we give it a moment's thought, there is no such thing. Would any of you tolerate doing the same job, with the same skills, dedication and outcome for less money than the person sitting beside you doing the same job? No you wouldn't. Do you know anyone who would? It has been the law in this country since 1965 that wage discrimination by gender is unlawful.

The famous "Women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men" is true. It is also entirely meaningless. That statistic is arrived at by adding up all wages earned by women and dividing that number by the number of women in the work force, doing the same for men and comparing the results. Given the career choices that women and men make for various reasons the outcome is entirely predictable. Teachers and Librarians are deemed to be less valuable to our economies than Doctors and Lawyers. They just are. I doubt it surprises anyone that Doctors earn more than Teachers.

The Left is heavily invested in their "War on Women" trope and so they cannot let this go. And so they do what they always do...Lie.

This reminds me of a recent Michelle Obama story. When asked during an interview with People Magazine last winter whether  she had experienced racism personally she answered in the affirmative and related the story of having gone to Target "in disguise" and being asked by another customer to reach something on a shelf for her. Implicit in her telling is that the customer just assumed she was a lowly Target worker because Michelle is black. It was a terrible experience.

The following is copied from the linked story. This is how she told the story somewhat earlier during a Letterman appearance.

“That’s my Target run. I went to Target,” she said. “I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’  I kid you not.”
As the audience laughed, she went on, “And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. … She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.”

So, a short person (color of skin not noted) asked a tall person  to get something off a high shelf for her.  Just a normal human interaction. No racism, no nothing. Michelle just "felt so good".

Disgraceful liars, all of them all of the time. There is an element of very good news here. A 50 year old black woman cannot point to a single act of racism in her life. That is real progress. We should be congratulating each other on our accomplishment. So congratulations. You will not hear that from these black libs because many of them would be out of business if they confessed to their lies.

They Never Take Ingenuity into Account

There have always been Malthusians among us, even before there was a Malthus.

These are people who look at the present and extrapolate it to the future without considering that historically humans have shown that we learn as we go along. An essential part of being human is being creative and adaptive.

Despite the evidence of the last 200 years of technological breakthrough after breakthrough the same people continue to predict man-made disaster from over population and over industrialization without a moments regard for our innovative history.

At the link you will find an excellent exposition of the complete failure of  the Malthusians predictions since 1970. All the predictions were reasonable if you choose to think of the human race as one that never learns anything.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Good Faith

Quoting from Black's Law Dictionary:

"The phrase 'good faith' is used in a variety of contexts, and its meaning varies somewhat with the context. Good faith performance ....excludes a variety of types of conduct characterized as involving "bad faith" because they violate community standards of decency, fairness or reasonableness..."

Good faith is a basic requirement for civil discourse. Without it there is no point in discussing anything. If your opponent in a debate is constantly lying about his position, or having changed his position fails to note that change and/or claims he has not changed positions at all it is impossible to reach any meaningful conclusion, other than that your opponent is acting in bad faith.

At the link
is an excellent example of how and why liberals operate in bad faith. Always.

In a three month period of time Matthews' opinion changes 180 degrees. The only apparent  reason for the change is that the actor being described has changed from a left wing publication to a right wing activist.

Matthews does not bother to tell us; 1) What his original opinion was; 2) Why he changed his mind; nor 3) Which of his two diametrically opposed positions is his real opinion.

This is standard procedure on the left. See my earlier post regarding the 2013 SOTUS.

One of my favorite examples of this tactic is courtesy of the NY Times. When republicans controlled the Senate in the mid-1990's NYT editorialized that the Senate filibuster rules were the cornerstone of American political freedom. 10 years later, with republicans now in the minority and making things difficult for the democrat majority the NYT editorialized that the filibuster was an anti-democratic construct that threatened the very cornerstones of American political freedom. No reference made to the earlier editorial on exactly the same subject  and no explanation for their change of heart. Bad faith actors all. ( is a story about a third incarnation of their thinking based on their 2005 position and their 2013 position)

It must be so when your only principle is the quest for power and your determination to make sure your opponents are kept from it.

Chris Matthews was a speech writer for Jimmy Carter during the latter's Presidency.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

SOTU 2013

Back in January 2013 I was surprised to hear from my daughter (a 21 year old college student at the time) that she and her boyfriend had decided to watch Obama's SOTU speech. She told me what a wonderful speaker he is and that he had some good ideas. I was shocked. Below is my deconstruction of several parts of the speech written for her benefit.

"Verbatim excerpts from 2013 State of the Union speech with my annotations in italics.

In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn't agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars' worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They'd devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That's why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as "the sequester," are a really bad idea. A really bad idea proposed by Obama, not that he would do other than pretend he had nothing to do with it.

After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. Yes we do. However this is in spite of, rather than because of Obama. We are producing less oil on Federal Lands which he controls access to. The increase has come exclusively from state and private land production. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs right to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone's energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen. Yes, they have fallen without any need for Kyoto or any other climate change nonsense regulation. Our emissions have fallen because the economy stinks and we have found and produced fantastic amounts of cheap natural gas causing the conversion of many factories from coal (dirty) to gas (much cleaner)  Keep in mind that most of the new gas is available because of fracking which Obama and his minions oppose! Does that stop this lying piece of crap from taking credit for it? Of course not.
But for the sake of our children (the use of the preceeding phrase should always cause you to become more vigilant. It actually means that we are going to propose limiting your freedom and you would never go for it unless we invoke “the children”) and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it's true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15 ( Maybe. There are a lot of questions about the baseline data and since the world leaders in this research refuse to release their raw data, in stark violation of non-proprietary scientific endeavors,  who knows. There is one thing we do know if we concede the assertion. 11 of the 12 took place between 1998 and 2007 which means that only one has occurred in the last 6 years.   Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense complete nonsense . We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades nonsense , and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it's too late.
As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we. Right. Researchers from Harvard University and Tsinghua University have found that the People's Republic could meet all of its electricity demands from wind power by 2030.[5]
Despite this, Wen Jiabao Premier of China stated in a March 5, 2012 report that China will end the "blind expansion" into wind and solar energy, instead developing nuclear power, hydropower, and shale gas.[6]  Why? Because solar and wind are unreliable and unpredictable. We don’t know when the sun will shine or when the wind will blow.

That's why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. More lies.  . Whenever Obama talks about this stuff you must keep in mind that his stated goal is that energy prices of all kinds should rise dramatically. Here he is talking about electricity )
Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. ( As stated above, almost none of the new production comes from Federal Land and, overall production is down on Federal lands that “we, the public, own together”.
Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can't afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. enough said on this in our earlier communication.
Through tax credits, grants, and better loans, we have made college more affordable for millions of students and families over the last few years. But taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education. (Costs are soaring because of tax credits, loans and grants. It is the same phenomenon as we see in the medical care business. Government money skews the economics of the market. If there were fewer students able to “afford” college then the colleges would be forced to be more competitive. Easy government money means they do not have to be competitive so they hire more and more people to do less and less work. Ultimately, it is these poor saps taking out these loans who pay the price for “affordable” college”.
But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. Minimum wage is paid for entry level jobs. Your first job might be minimum wage but if you are a decent employee, an employee your employer considers valuable, your wages will increase steadily. You saw that dynamic in action yourself at City Tan. You did a good job and got raises because your employer didn’t want you looking elsewhere for a better paying job. As a high school student working part-time or a recent graduate working full-time at an entry level job you should not be married with two kids! So, if you spend year after year making minimum wage it is your fault, not the fault of the minimum wage and making that wage more “livable” will make the problem worse, not better. Also note the real agenda here, as with mandatory pre-school. Most union contracts define wage levels as a function of the minimum wage  so a raise in the minimum wage means an increase for almost all union members, a democrat constituency. I negotiated a union contract years ago and this is exactly how it works.
Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. Indeed. It will also raise prices on many things, including many that this guy now making $9/hr will have to buy since business owners do not take the money for the increase out of their pockets, they charge more for goods and services to make up for their increased costs.
When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied that right (to vote) simply because they can't wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals.
We should follow the example of a North Miami woman named Desiline Victor. When she arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours. And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say. Hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line in support of her. Because Desiline is 102 years old. And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read "I Voted." ( Wow, what a story. Ancient woman goes to vote on election day and stands in line for hours and hours. Terrible. Of course, that is not what happened. What happened was that some democrat booster wanted to make sure this woman voted and so took her to a polling station on the first day of early voting, not election day. There was no reason for her to be there at all. Early voting was intended to allow people who would not be in their district on election day to cast their ballots early. Dems have since used early voting to ensure as many of their voters as possible cast their votes without the excuses for failing to vote on election day coming into play. “had to work late; kids had a soccer game” etc. There are very few polling places open for early voting and even they would be adequate but for democrats taking advantage of the system. If they had an ounce of decency they would have arranged an absentee ballot for this 102 year old woman and she could have voted without ever leaving her home. By the way, what sort of people stand in line for hours ahead of a 102 year-old women? Would you not have given up your place to her? Do you know anyone who would not have done the same? Me either. 
In the linked article you will see that the longest wait times in the country on election day were actually in Florida. How long? 3 hours, no; 2 hours, no; 1 hour, no; 45 minutes, yes and that was the longest wait time in the entire country! The article does say that blacks and Hispanics had the longest wait times. Big surprise since a much greater proportion of them live in urban areas which are, by definition, more crowded.
So, that’s all for now. Please note that links to CNN, Reuters and AP are links to media wildly in favor of Obama so they do their best to minimize his transgressions but even they, as you have seen from reading the links, have to reluctantly concede that he is lying.


Human Nature 2, Civility and Gridlock

You will often hear politicians and pundits complaining about government gridlock.

Anytime you hear this be assured that the speaker either has no understanding of the nature of the history of the founding of our Constitutional Republic or is a Democrat trying to shut up any opposition to their grand plans. Unfortunately, usually both.

Our system of government is designed to be slow and cumbersome. Checks and balances are in place to prevent humans from being human. It is supposed to be very difficult to move legislation through the House and the Senate and get a President to sign it into law.
If it was easy the route from a Constitutional Republic to an Authoritarian State administered by the political elites would have been a quick one. We are seeing, in Obama's Executive actions, what the Founders were trying to prevent. Not being able to get Congress to go along with his wishes he has invoked "Gridlock" (the prescribed state of normal for a Constitutional Republic) in order to justify his actions.

It is demoralizing to watch supposedly informed policy makers and their critics display their utter lack of understanding of our Constitutional Republic. The Founders were very clear that they were creating a system where getting anything done politically would be very difficult. Persuasion and compromise would be the only paths to legislation. That was the point. Every new law infringes our liberty. It was never their intention that we should have 51 legislatures filled with career politicians doing nothing but passing laws day and night.

Civility has never been part of American politics. Today whenever the admonition to be civil in politics is issued it is from the mouths of Democrats and actually means Republicans should shut up and go along with whatever it is Democrats want to do.

Politics were so "civil" around the time of the Founding that Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought a duel with pistols.  Hamilton died of his wound.

Things were so civil when Lincoln was elected President that political cartoons portrayed him as a monkey.

In 1856 things were so civil..."In 1856, a South Carolina Congressman, Preston Brooks, nearly killed Sumner on the Senate floor two days after Sumner delivered an intensely anti-slavery speech called "The Crime Against Kansas".[2] In the speech, Sumner characterized the attacker's cousin,[3][4] South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, as a pimp for slavery.[5]"

Brooks never suffered any real consequences for his attempted murder. 

 " Although an attempt to oust him from the House of Representatives failed, and he immediately resigned his seat, he received only token punishment ( a $300 fine. A fairly large sum at the time) and was re-elected by the people of South Carolina."

In fact, Southern newspapers  applauded his actions and suggested there should be much more of the same.

George W Bush was routinely vilified in and out of the press as a Nazi, warmonger, war criminal and everything else under the sun by every Democrat with a mouth.

"Politics ain't bean bag" has been a saying in active use since 1895.

Civility and Gridlock lamentations have only one goal, as I stated earlier: To bully us into going along. My advice? Don't.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Same Sex Marriage

I don't know many homosexual men or women. The two I have gotten to know over the years, Larry in Atlanta and Don in Houston, I have enjoyed knowing. Larry, unfortunately, died of Aids about 15 years ago. Don is, as far as I know, alive.

If the conventional wisdom is correct, there are probably other gay men I know, or have known, who are still in the closet.

I had the opportunity to meet another gay man recently, Max. Consistent with my experience, a very nice guy.

The subject of Same Sex Marriage came up during our conversation. He is in favor of it, or at least, if I recall correctly, the establishment of some regime that would legally recognize gay relationships so that they could benefit from the various laws in place to acknowledge the special relationship between man and wife. After all, shouldn't two people who love each other be able to marry? Well, no. We have all kinds of restrictions on who can marry who. Degrees of consanguinity, age, competence, etc.

I oppose Same Sex Marriage as well as the creation of other legal regimes designed to regularize homosexual relationships. The reason for my opposition is simple but flows  from the current definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. There is, as Max correctly pointed out, no good, objective reason for this definition.

He pointed out that while the supposed rationale for conferring special status on that relationship is to promote a stable environment in which to have and raise children, the fact is that barren women, sterile men and those beyond childbearing age are allowed to marry. The argument is accurate but irrelevant.

The definition may not have an objective underpinning but it does create an objective standard for marriage: a man and a woman. The definition says nothing of love or any other subjective standard for marriage. In fact, until quite recently in human history love played a very secondary role in spouse choosing. Parents or guardians did the choosing, not the betrothed. I am aware that historically the marriage vows include to "love, honor and obey". This injunction does not need to have love exist at the time of the ceremony. It rarely, if ever did in the long history of arranged marriages.

I was completely shocked recently to hear from a 30 something female physician from India, that her spouse was chosen for her by her parents and that was fine with her. Indeed she celebrated the fact that messy hormonal and emotional factors played no part in the selection of her husband.

If we are to change the definition to something like "two people who love each other" we have created an entirely subjective definition that cannot possibly withstand the assault of logic it will inevitably suffer.

If love is the only measure by which we define marriage or civil unions (or whatever you want to call the institution) there is no reasonable argument to limit the number of participants to two.

It will not be long before a judge makes this ruling. At that point anyone could marry any one or more people, conferring on themselves the various benefits of officially sanctioned marriages receive.

There is another reason to oppose officially sanctioned gay marriage, one that is much more difficult to discuss. The homosexual lifestyle, particularly for men, is dangerous and self-destructive. It is an aberration that should not be promoted as a desirable lifestyle. It is not. An apt analogy might be President Carter's admonition that we ought not to be so afraid of communism because, after all, it is just another economic system. No, it is not. It is a dangerous and destructive manifestation of totalitarianism.

I am willing to concede that homosexuality is not a choice. I see no reason that they should live in the closet. On the other hand every Gay Pride parade is an endless celebration of disgusting exhibitionism to which no responsible person would expose his family.

Be gay, enjoy yourself, but get out of my face and leave my institutions alone. Create your own institutions.

You may have heard of the bakery in Colorado that refused to make a cake for a gay wedding. Did the offended gay person go to another baker for his cake? Of course not. The refusnik baker was hounded by government apparatchiks, fined, forced to attend sensitivity training and forced to bake the cake. He no longer offers wedding cakes in his bakery.

Is being Jewish or Black the same as being Gay? Should some baker who doesn't want to bake a cake for a Jew or a Black person be forced to do so? I am thinking that over.


Human Nature 1

Human nature is many things. Among the most important of its components:

a) The further from destitution we are removed the lazier we become. It was not long ago, perhaps 300 years, that the vast majority of humans were engaged in agriculture in some form or other. We had to make sure we had enough to eat. Now, far removed from any threat of starvation, at least in the West, we are a fat, lazy and entitled civilization.

b) The further we get from an embarrassing or troubling event the smaller its impact on our behavior. Our heart-felt apologies and pledges to never do "that" again lose their urgency and so the old event has an ever decreasing impact on our current behavior.

c) Honesty and integrity are highly valued characteristics. Like so many things of great value, diamonds, gold and beauty, for example, they are in short supply. Be honest, have integrity and you will be highly valued. I do not mean this in a monetized way, although that may come to pass.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Reporting as it is now known and ideological blinders

 At the link below is an article that appeared in the Boston Globe. It describes LSU's economic struggles in an era of shrinking State support.

What I consider noteworthy about the report is the editorializing of the piece's final sentence:

"State cuts to higher education have sent tuition soaring across the United States, adding to the more than $1.2 trillion in student-loan debt. "

It is manifestly not reduced government support that has caused tuition to "soar". Reduced government support has caused revenues to fall. "Soaring" tuition rates are the remedy of choice by administrators who refuse to cut costs and would rather burden their students with the costs of their own comfort.

It is a combination of an explosion in non-academic (read administrative) hiring:

" Between 1975 and 2005, total spending by American higher educational institutions, stated in constant dollars, tripled, to more than $325 billion per year. Over the same period, the faculty-to-student ratio has remained fairly constant, at approximately fifteen or sixteen students per instructor. One thing that has changed, dramatically, is the administrator-per-student ratio. In 1975, colleges employed one administrator for every eighty-four students and one professional staffer—admissions officers, information technology specialists, and the like—for every fifty students. By 2005, the administrator-to-student ratio had dropped to one administrator for every sixty-eight students while the ratio of professional staffers had dropped to one for every twenty-one students."

and the apparent refusal of college administrations to do what families and businesses do when revenue decreases. Decrease spending. Not for these empire builders, nor for their like-minded friends in the press.

It is no surprise that democrat activists with by-lines, also known as Reporters when Republicans are in office, push this line. It has two objectives, in no particular order of importance;
1) Blame Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governor of Louisiana and,
2) Continue laying the groundwork for forgiving student loans.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Obamacare, Pelosi, Garrett et al

Following the implosion of Obamacare has been at once great fun and very frustrating.

Great fun because it almost always is when liberal programs bump into reality. Ah yes, those brilliant technocrats. They know what is best and how to accomplish it.

It is always the same of course; Have meetings, give speeches, lie as needed to persuade your listeners that you are not doing what you are doing. And then the fun part, ducking the blowback. They are not doing quite as well at the last part as usual and it is great fun to watch them all squirm.

The frustrating part is the apparent cluelessness of many of the people interviewing the latest crop of miscreants.

There is the clip of Nancy Pelosi being grilled by Major Garrett about the "Big Lie". Her answers are incoherent, as usual. She prattles on about the goal of the ACA being to make sure everyone has the coverage they need.  Garrett fails to ask the obvious...Really? 60 year old couples need maternity and pediatric coverage? Goodness, how did we survive not having coverage we cannot ever, ever use?

Any structure built on a financial footing so deceitful that in order to charge customers what you really need to charge them to make your product work you have to include phantom benefits because you could not otherwise sell it is doomed.

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