Thursday, December 22, 2011

Re: Ron Paul

The central paradox surrounding the Republican party is that they profess to hate the Federal government as an encroachment on their freedom, yet that hatred suddenly evaporates when the portion of the Federal government in question is the one that actually has control of all the weaponry.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Another Swampland Post:

Oddly enough I just used the phrase 'the politics of bedwetting' on the Ron Paul thread. I should have saved it for here. Anytime a commenter here (of any persuasion) makes a confident statement about the impending victory of their side in an upcoming election I am reminded of the tendency of people to think that their familiar world extends much wider than it actually does. They know how their neighbors vote and assume that that viewpoint is widespread. The downside to this style of thinking though is that the outer edge of this 'sphere of familiarity' represents a much sharper border in people's minds than it is in real life. No matter how frightening or foreign or dangerous a place seems, it's home to the people who live there and people are WAY more alike than they are different. (It may not seem that way until you remember that the next closest point of comparison are apes) We often marvel at how small the internet makes the world seem, but it's still no substitute for actual travel.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Posted on a Swampland thread re: Teacher's Salaries.

I knew it would be only a matter of moments before we got crowds of people demonstrating the inadequacy of public school teachers by displaying their own ignorance proudly. The truth is that a bad teacher can't keep a motivated student down and a good teacher can only marginally help someone who's uninterested in learning. How we succeed as a nation has a lot more to do with whether we hold education as a value in the first place. The fact that an entire movement is being built up around shouting down experts, decrying elitism (except among skilled gamblers), targeting bright people as worthy of scorn and flat out denying the utility of science says 10 times more about how we are going to fare as a nation than whether schoolteachers manage to pull down 60K or settle for 40. This Heritage foundation (lying with graphs since 1973) study is just a symptom of a much bigger problem.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Every time I make a phone call to a large company and am greeted by a robot, I am reminded of the fundamental conflict that is at the heart of our current employment crisis. There is a tipping point past which the drive for 'efficiency' is self defeating. There isn't a company on the planet who's primary purpose is "creating jobs" Creating jobs is an unfortunate byproduct, like friction. Unfortunatly creating jobs is also how one creates Consumers aka Buyers. Until we are willing to look at 'creating jobs' as a value in of itself and decide that we're willing to do what's necessary to make it happen, our 'jobless recovery' has all the makings of a new status quo.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Now that that's over.....

Now that this is over and we can "pivot" to jobs, it's time to realize that bringing back jobs is going to require significantly more effort than anyone is currently suggesting. Ever since the Clinton years (yes Clinton) there has been a concerted effort to move manufacturing jobs to places like China, Mexico, India and Brazil. As I've been documenting for a while these places are Dreams of low wages, lousy work conditions and no regulation. (Something to bear in mind whenever anyone complains that it's stifling regulation that chases companies away. They're half right, but imitating our competitors is a lousy idea.)

In the meantime, the steady erosion of manufacturing jobs was effectively masked by Home-equity-driven Consumer spending and Housing bubble-driven construction jobs. (The abrupt end of the Credit Card gravy train is part of the reason people are so confused about the Federal debt. They keep comparing it to consumer debt.)

So there are two things we have to come to grips with.
1: We are never going to compete with the Chinese by 'deregulating'. There's nothing desirable about the result.
2: Home construction jobs aren't coming back and they weren't a good way to drive the economy in the first place. We need to write them off.

Whats the solution. D@mned if I know, but I do know that the current arguments we're having don't even BEGIN to address the actual problem.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why I am now a Liberal

See this is where your mistaken about me. I'm fully aware that the impulse to regulate can lead to ridiculous extremes. I know that Union rules can lead to ridiculous inefficiencies and be harmful to well intentioned companies. I know that investment decisions are always made with the regulatory environment in mind and that potential areas of growth can languish as a result. If Conservative arguments didn't at least sometimes have merit, then it wouldn't have been possible to end up in our current mess where people think that if a little is good, a lot must really rock.

But I'm also aware that certain industries are harmful to the Commons in ways that aren't reflected in their balance sheets unless the harm is codified as taxes and regulations. I also know that companies would gladly pay less that a dollar an hour for labor if they could find a way to get away with it.

I'm old enough to have watched the baseline of 'reasonable' in this country drift so far to the right that Gov Jim Thompson of Illinois and for that matter Richard Nixon's politics would be instantly written off a "socialist" today. (You may recall that Nixon was the one who created the EPA in the first place. The problems it was set up to address are very real and many of them have been mitigated as a result.

The problem with today's Right Wing is just like that of a substance addict. Their personal dissatisfaction just translates into needing MORE of whatever it is they think will help and negative consequences are washed away in a flood of denial.

As I've been saying all along. If the National Association of Manufacturers AND the Chamber of Commerce and NRO think you've gone off the rails, it's time to step back and reevaluate where you stand

Friday, July 15, 2011

Re. The Debt Limit......

Let me type slowly and clearly. The Republican Party does not and never has cared about debt or deficits. They only care about taxes. The current round of negotiations proves that this has not changed. In the meantime the tax cuts that have been in place for the last ten years have accomplished nothing EXCEPT exacerbate the deficit. If they were the key to job creation, then no one would be complaining about current unemployment.

The problem with employment is unrelated to the current discussion. The housing equity bubble allowed both new home construction and consumer spending to continue well past their natural due date as the actual basis of our wealth, was carefully and deliberately relocated to China, India, Mexico and Brazil.

One other thing remains certain. No matter how you feel about the ability of tax revenues to create jobs, the idea that suddenly cutting off those revenues will do anything but make unemployment worse is sheer fantasy or (more likely) craven dishonesty. The Republicans know that their current threats are designed to make the economy worse.

The opportunity is here, to intelligently address these problems but the primary impediment to the whole process is centered rather firmly in the Tea Party wing of the Republican caucus. You would think that when the same organization that sunk millions of dollars into advertising designed to sink Obamacare, goes on record as opposing your negotiating strategy, that it would be time to reconsider, but ignorance and nihilism seem to be calling the shots and the moment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thursday, July 07, 2011

E-Verify Employment Check........

No one can deny that proper enforcement of employment restrictions can and will be remarkably more effective at stemming illegal immigration than the system of random harassment that we currently have in place. But I'm am also very wary of "technological" solutions to the problems. In an age of 10+ percent unemployment I still have to jump through 14 hoops if I ever want to talk to a human being on the telephone at any large company. It's time we understood that "efficiency" and "full employment" are in direct conflict with each other and stopped worshiping efficiency at all costs.
My slogan for years has been "Never Trust A Robot". Nothing I see coming down the pike has changed that outlook.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why "Church of Reagan" doctrine is wrong........

What activities that make money add value and which one's extract value instead? Contrary to the dichotomy Conservatives dish up about how the only the private sector adds value and the government extracts it, the real difference requires more detail to flesh out. Building roads (a government activity) clearly adds value, and reselling naked CDS's (private sector) clearly fails to add value. Yet one is a highly revered innovation and the other is a parasitic confiscation of private revenue,

You decide......

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stolen From a Swampland Comment

Paul Ryan's plan to "revitalize" Medicare is conceptually similar to the Allies plans to "revitalize" Dresden.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On the Changeover at DOD and CIA

I'm wondering how well Obama will do motivating the DFH contingent to help with his reelection, since it was clear from the moment he arrived in DC, that he would do absolutely nothing to dislodge the actual power structure that remains in place no matter who is in the White House. Empire is Big Business.

I look forward to watching Ron Paul run for President. Expect hours of entertainment as the Republicans suddenly have to decide whether they're anti-Obama Doves or double-down Hawks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

For Easter Weekend......

America's appetite for military hardware and (to a lesser extent) military intervention seems to track a similar pattern as an individual addicted to drugs or alcohol. The more one consumes, the less effective it is at solving the problem it attempts to address but the only choice that seems open is to simply consume more. We need at some point to break the cycle.


It's now clear that anyone who thought that a vote for Obama could accomplish that was seriously mistaken.


Salon Letters


(link provided as evidence that I harbored no such expectations....)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fermilab Makes Major Find: Shuts Down in September


Fermilab Makes Major Find: Shuts Down Sept.

Reminded me of this:

Robert R. Wilson

In 1969, Wilson was called to justify the multimillion-dollar machine to the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Bucking the trend of the day, Wilson emphasized it had nothing at all to do with national security, rather:

It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sad but True

I happen to think that the mental machinery that drives schoolyard antics and the one that drives Statecraft happens to be identical. Thats why watching Statecraft play out so often resembles a slow-moving train-wreck. You can see clear as day what is happening but remain powerless to stop it.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Business of Business

I've always held that the fundamental problem with the US economy is that all the manufacturers who moved their operations overseas and the Big Box retailers who drove small businesses out of business by offering cheap products produced overseas utterly failed to realize that the same people they were avoiding paying labor costs to were their customer base! Easy Consumer credit only managed to mask the problem long enough for everyone to fail to see the direct cause and effect.

That's why the pathetic attempts to blame public sector Unions are so lame. We're all in this together and the failure to recognize this simple fact is leading to quite avoidable tragedy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Until then

As soon as we've amassed 150 thousand troops in Tunisia, let me know. Then we can begin comparing Libya to Iraq. Until then............

Friday, March 25, 2011

Deficit? What Deficit?

I happened to see 10 minutes of CNN today (Bank line). They spent all sorts of time speculating on what effect turning over operations to NATO would have on the odds of the USA getting stuck in a long term conflict. Not one word was spent on odds of the USA getting stuck with the bill.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reposted where I can find it

Interestingly Meltdown provided us with a perfect example of how Fox news cherrypicks research results to come to precisely the opposite conclusion as the study's authors.


Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified. Nonetheless, absolute levels of support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans are quite low, especially when compared with Muslims around the world.


The study found that among the nation's younger Muslims, 26 percent say homicide bombings can at least rarely be justified "in order to defend Islam from its enemies."

So a subset of a subset of the sample answered the question wrong.


Overall, 8% of Muslim Americans say
suicide bombings against civilian targets tactics
are often (1%) or sometimes (7%) justified in the
defense of Islam.

Troubling? Indeed.

A reason to attack Islam as a religion and spend hours in public forums explaining how evil it's practitioners are? Not so much.......

Monday, February 28, 2011


One of the things I've noticed as I've grown older is that events happened in the distant past, counterintuitively seem more recent and pertinent. When i was in high school, it seemed that anything happened before the Kennedy assasination was in a different world. Now I can not only see clearly the ways we're still "fighting the civil war" but, in the current populations of the western Hemishpere, see the results of migration patterns that were laid out in the fifteen hundreds.

This perspective is helpful because it helps remind us that things we now all agree are "unthinkable" like slavery and naziism are really NOT all that far removed from our current era. We're still nowhere near as civilized as we give oursleves credit for.

Friday, February 18, 2011


It pays to remember that we are just now witnessing the second shoe dropping on the long-term 'starve the beast' strategy. All the whining you hear about "there's no money", "We're broke" and "the spending is unsustainable" are a direct result of the decade long mantra of 'cutting taxes will grow the economy" and "It doesn't make sense to punish our most productive sector". The fact that cutting taxes didn't grow the economy and that corporations have been particularly stingy in the "job creation" even though profits are at pre-recession levels reminds us that if we let the Republicans get their way, we'll be right back to the stagnation that marked the Bush years (only with a higher baseline of unemployment.)

Blaming public sector workers for what's wrong with our economy is a particularly brazen crock but apparently there's no shortage of people willing to play along.