Monday, November 26, 2012

"Fiscal Cliff" Kabuki Theater

Thanksgiving is over and Congress is back to rehearsing Kabuki Theater. As a warm-up, the Washington Post ran this highly stylized overly dramatic article today: "‘Fiscal cliff’ could slow recovery, White House says". Essentially, the article is a "plant", to promote Obama's game of  "diversions, distractions, and distortions".
  1.  The "fiscal cliff" problem is actually a Frankenstein creation of the Obama administration. So here we have the Washington Post loudly broadcasting that something must be done or the economy tanks. The underlying purpose of the "fiscal cliff" article to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD). Well, if the Obama administration had done their job last year in preparing a budget, we would not be in this fix. The Post neglects to reflect on this failure. Furthermore, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post wrote:  "Obama’s fanciful claim that Congress ‘proposed’ the sequester" in response to Obama attempting to weasel out of acknowledging his complicity in promoting the "fiscal cliff".
  2. In reading the article you will note that the emphasis of this article is on the populist message of "tax breaks" to promote economic growth. On the surface that seems very positive, who doesn't want to keep more of their money; but if you think about it, it is highly misleading. What is not said can be just as important as what is said. If one reads between the lines, Obama is simply proposing continued deficit spending with continued increases in the National debt. Obama "buying" temporary prosperity by running up the Nations credit card debt. Sure Obama periodically tosses out the appropriate words "deficit reduction", "tackling the debt", and "examining every program" with a "balanced approach", but these words turn out to be just empty sound bytes without commitment. Each year, for the past four years the deficit has topped one trillion dollars and the debt is expected to grow from $16 trillion to $20 trillion over the next four years. Rhetoric does not match reality. The "silence" of this article concerning the issue of spending reductions demonstrates that Obama has no intention to reduce spending.
  3. The article never deals into the fact that taxes are necessary to fund government operations. The article simply speaks of taxes in terms of the economy. Obviously for the purpose of distracting the electorate from the fact that Obama has no plan to actually reduce deficit spending even though Obama at various time speaks eloquently of deficit reduction and tackling the debt. But here you can see that those oratorical prostrations are empty rhetoric, the conversation has been twisted into the populist message of cutting taxes. Furthermore, there is a future economic impact to think about. How is the ever growing debt to be paid back? That will stifle economic growth in the future. I guess the Post reporters can't think that far into the future. As they say, you pay now or you pay later.
  4. The Post also ran several articles attacking Grover Norquist's "no tax increase pledge". The "no tax increase" pledge has been waived about by the Democrats as documenting Republican "obstructionism". Guess what, the Democrats are just as "obstructionistic". The Post article writes: "Democrats, led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), say they are willing to go over the fiscal cliff if Republicans don’t play ball. "(emphasis added) So, it would seem according to the "left" that if the Democrats stand on principle, that is good; but if the Republicans to the same, it is bad. Hypocritical. What is needed is compromise, by both sides.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Obama's Stunning "Victory"

Obama won a stunning victory, no doubt about it. The Obama campaign team appeared better organized and used technology very effectively.  See the two Washington Post articles below.

So Obama provided superb leadership and innovation to brilliantly win a victory. If he could do that; why has he not been able (for four years) to provide the leadership and organization skills necessary to work with Congress? For four years now we have had an endless parade of  kicking-the-can non-decisions. The existence of the "fiscal cliff" exemplifies the inability of Obama to lead this country and make the necessary decisions. The answer is easy, Obama really has no interest in effectively running the country.

Obama's "Gifts"

O'Reilly talking points memo of November 19, 2012. The significance of Bill O'Reilly's Fox video memo is that he clearly articulates that Obama won the votes of those who would financially benefit through this reelection. Romney was consequently vilified by both the "left" and "right" for remarking that Obama's "gifts"cost Romney the election, which it did. It is unfortunate that words (in an election) can be manipulated and totally blown out or proportion to incite a mob mentality that destroys a candidate. No wonder candidates seek "vanilla" language that obscures what they truly mean.

The link to that Fox News video embed in the title: Liberals and conservatives ganging up on Mitt Romney (November 19, 2012).  Seems that embedding the Fox video is not working. Found a YouTube video which is embed  below. Not as good quality though.

Also see this Washington Post article: "Ever-increasing tax breaks for U.S. families eclipse benefits for special interests"
"The number of tax breaks has nearly doubled since the last major tax overhaul 25 years ago, with lawmakers adding new benefits for children, college tuition, retirement savings and investment. At the same time, some long-standing breaks have exploded in value, such as the deduction for mortgage interest and the tax-free treatment of health-insurance premiums paid by employers. All told, federal taxpayers last year received $1.08 trillion in credits, deductions and other perks while paying $1.09 trillion in income taxes, according to government estimates."
"These tax breaks weave an invisible web of government benefits that now costs nearly as much as the Pentagon and all other federal agencies combined. "

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Coming "Fiscal Cliff" II

Last week marked the kick-off for achieving a solution to the "fiscal cliff". In recognition, the Washington Post wrote this summary article: "Both sides appear upbeat on opening round of ‘fiscal cliff’ talks". Since these are "early" talks, it is too soon to say how things will progress. Hopefully compromise really is on the table.

In my prior post on this topic, I highlighted several concerns that still remain relevant. These concerns were updated in the list below. So when reading or listening to the news concerning the "fiscal cliff" readers are encouraged to consider the points below.
  1. Will any additional revenue collected through tax increases and/or the elimination of tax breaks be used for real reductions to deficit spending  OR will these additional revenues be used to justify increased spending thereby negating any reductions in deficit spending? 
  2. The article alludes to the fact that the participants recognize that deficit reduction will involve slowing the rate of program grow for certain programs and that some other programs may actually need to have their funding reduced.  Will the "grand bargain", if it is achieved, actually make definitive proposals and not kick-the-decision-can to a later date?
  3. Though not mentioned in this article, one misleading and fancifully concept that keeps popping up are future savings 10 years from now. Should any "grand bargain" be achieved, the supposed "savings" must be specified as occurring between now and 2016Supposed "savings" after 2016 are meaningless. They would be equivalent to once again kicking-the-fiscal-decision-can down the road. A new administration will take over in 2016 and they will have little interest in carrying forward the budget proposal of a prior administration. Look at what Blame Bush did to Clinton's budget.
  4. Obama, when campaigning, promised to make the "tough" decisions, to be "transparent", and to be "above partisan politics".  Time for Obama to stop-up-to-the-plate. 
Why the list above? Obama sells a populist message. So it is critical to carefully parse Obama's words for what was actually said and what was not said. As Romney noted Obama's populist message is one of "diversions, distractions, and distortions". The Economist, even-though they endorsed Obama, wrote the following: "Above all, Mr Obama has shown no readiness to tackle the main domestic issue confronting the next president: America cannot continue to tax like a small government but spend like a big one. Mr Obama came into office promising to end “our chronic avoidance of tough decisions” on reforming its finances—and then retreated fast, as he did on climate change and on immigration. Disgracefully, he ignored the suggestions of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson deficit commission that he himself set up. More tellingly, he has failed to lay out a credible plan for what he will do in the next four years. Virtually his entire campaign has been spent attacking Mr Romney, usually for his wealth and success in business."

Obama is a populist demagogue who chooses an easy target, such as the rich, and vilifies them so that he can get favorable tax legislation passed under the mantra that it is "only fair" to have the rich pay more in taxes. Not mentioned by Obama is that the fact that the "tax the rich" fiscal policy will have little impact on reducing deficit spending assuming that the tax revenue raised is actually applied to reducing deficit spending. The Wall Street Journal (August 15, 2011) wrote: "But one thing is certain: While raising taxes on millionaires might be emotionally and politically satisfying for some, it would only begin to fill the nation’s budget hole."

So far Obama's disingenuous "tax the rich" policy has had its intended effect of distracting the electorate. Many are jumping onto the tax the "evil" rich bandwagon since it is "fair". Michael ( April 21st, 2011) wrote: "Class warfare in the United States is heating up again.  As the overall economic pie shrinks, the poor are being taught to go after the rich and the rich are being taught that the poor are a threat.  Lately, the calls to “tax the rich” have grown louder than ever.  As thousands more American families fall into poverty every single day, and as U.S. government debt continues to soar, many are touting higher taxes on the wealthy as the solution to all of our problems."

Attacking the the rich, has generated much discussion, but this discussion unfortunately neglects the critical issue that taxing the rich would not resolve the issue of deficit spending, only hide it. At this point, I need to step-in and explicitly state that everyone has to pay more in taxes and that spending has to be reduced so that revenues and expenses are more in-line with getting a balanced budget.  I am NOT defending the rich, they need to pay more too. PolicyMic wrote: "The president’s strategy to focus so extensively on tax increases for the affluent to rectify the debt crisis is not a fair and balanced approach for his next four years. ... Every American should contribute something to reduce the deficit and/or to improve the country." We need Obama to be the leader  he was elected to be and to negotiate a true solution to deficit spending which will require tax increases for everyone and real reductions to programs.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Coming "Fiscal Cliff"

The US Presidential Election is now over. Obama unfortunately won re-election. Now, all the deferred fiscal decisions that have been kicked-down-the-road are coming back. Once again it is decision time. The Washington Post, to get ahead of the story has written several editorials, The first editorial: "Getting past partisan gridlock — finally?"  Followed by "The hunt for a grand bargain" and "Limiting tax deductions".  The Post is to be commend for bringing these issues back to the attention of the electorate.

The editorials, however, fail to delve deeply into potential solutions to the "Fiscal Cliff". Proposed solutions superficially recognize that it will involve both increased taxation and program reductions. Nevertheless, the public discussion seems to be limited to the populist slogan of taxing the rich. The three editorials cited above are shortsighted since they simply discuss revenue increase to be derived by taxing the rich and/or eliminating certain tax deductions. There is no reference to spending reductions.

Though the editorials above have not discussed spending reductions, other articles have referenced some Obama "offers".  For example, Obama suggested: "... offering to raise the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67 and to apply a less-generous measure of inflation to Social Security benefits.. It is unknown to me, at this time, if this gratuitous "offer" is genuine or if it was simply put forth as a public relations "stunt" that will eventually be retracted because of  suddenly realized "concerns" to protect retirees.

Getting back to the Washington Post editorials. I encourage the Washington Post to critically examine any deal to resolve the the "Fiscal Cliff". Do not give Obama another "free pass". In 2008 Obama promised to explore deficit spending and to control the exploding national debt. Obama even appointed a deficit reduction commission that he dissed. Obama budget proposals have died without action. Despite this failed leadership, the media gave Obama a "free pass". As of now, Obama has had four years as the CEO of this nation to prepare what Obama referred to as "rational balanced approach to deficit reduction". Time to clearly point the finger of responsibility towards Obama.

I urge the Washington Post to critically examine any "Grand Bargain" based on the topics outlined below.
  1. Will any additional revenue collected through tax increases and/or the elimination of tax breaks be used for real deficit reduction or will it be used to justify additional spending? 
  2. The President has "offered" (so he says) to make some reductions to address deficit spending. Even the Post noted Obama's lack of disclosures: "There’s a reason neither President Obama nor Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney leveled with voters during the campaign.". The election is now over. So when will Obama "level" with the electorate and disclose proposed reductions? 
  3. Obama fancifully refers to savings 10 years from now. That is nothing more than flim-flam.  A new administration will take over in 2016 and they will have little interest in carrying forward the budget proposal of a prior administration. Look at what Blame Bush did to Clinton's budget. The Post most critically examine what Obama, if he ever gets around to it, is proposing between now and 2016.
Obama when referring to the "Grand Bargain" often states how he will consider anything. Will he really? Obama has had four years to implement his supposed "rationale approach" to deficit spending. The Post vilified Romney for being vague. I hope that the Post will encourage Obama to put forth, on paper, a program identifying the taxes that need to be raised and the programs that may need to be reduced. Obama speaks vague lofty populist slogans, but has yet to commit a plan to paper for all to inspect. 

Obama has successfully distracted the conversation so that we are arguing over the fairness of taxing the rich instead of highlighting Obama lack of performance in resolving the deficit/debt issue.  Time to put an end to this game of misdirection and focus on achieving a solution to the deficit/debt problems. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reflections on the 2012 Presidential Election

Obama won. The Republicans are cowering in their bunkers wondering how this could possibly have happened. The easy answer: demographics. The Republicans no longer projected a relevant message to the electorate. The Democrats are gleefully rubbing the loss in through derogatory proclamations that the corrupt racist white boy network is dying off of old age. (Not exactly a gracious action by the wining side. It would also seem to poison future consensus building.)

But it is not that simple. Demographics explain a lot, but both the Republican and Democratic parties have evolved over time too. Unfortunately in a negative direction. In a Washington Post opinion article: "The GOP has lost its way. Here’s how it can return to its roots" Mr. Shirley offers an unintended clue that goes beyond the obvious demographics.

Mr. Shirley mistakenly writes: "Since the time of the New Deal, the Democratic Party has been organized around the philosophy of justice. And since Reagan remade the GOP beginning in early 1981, the party had been organized around the concept of freedom."

Republicans, since Reagan have NOT been organized around "freedom".  Over the years the Republicans, like the Democrats, have eroded civil liberties.  The major difference is that the Republicans promoted deregulation, supply side economics, and unwarranted tax cuts which culminated in the economic crash of 2008.

The Democrats are NO longer about justice (depending on various convoluted interpretations). The original intent back in the 1960s was to guarantee equal rights supported through the rule of law. A laudable goal. Now, the Democrats no longer stand for equal rights, but for extra rights to those designated as somehow oppressed. The rule-of-law (justice) has been bastardized to the point that it is now almost meaningless not to mention that the application of the law, when done, can be arbitrary and capricious. For example the Washington Post wrote an editorial supporting race based admissions at college. The boils down to using racism to end racism??? Very Orwellian.  Truly ludicrous if we are to have lawful equal rights.

Moving on, Obama won, because he was able to successfully formulate a coalition of those who feel that they are entitled to those extra civil rights, plus other government supplied benefits. The significance of Obama's election and reelection is that the electorate is moving the US towards being a welfare state where the Nanny State (government) will take care of you.

The Democrats may be gleeful that those evil racist white boys are dying off. And based on the changing demographics each election may be easier for them. But be careful of what you ask for. The Democrats need to reflect on the negative implications of creating a "lawless" welfare state. Like the Republican Party, the Democratic Party of today is a pathetic reflection of the past.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Failure of Stimulus, Lack of Consumer Demand

Both Obama and Romney have been promising, if elected, to create jobs. Neither of them should be making this type of promise for it will be doomed to failure. This is particularly disingenuous for Romney since the Republican Party claims to want government out of the private sector.

The video below is a CNBC interview with Henry Blodget (Businss Insider CEO) Mr.Blodget essentially repeats what I have been advocating, that stimulus efforts are failing because we are in an economic  "hangover period" and that the consumer is not buying.  I have previously expounded on this issue in several earlier posts.

As a quick summary Mr. Blodget; for the economy to grow you need three things. Entrepreneurs to create jobs, a good product, and customers. What is lacking, for economic growth, are the customers.

As an aside, what is "missing" (in the good sense) from Mr. Blodget's thesis is the use of tax policy to manipulate the economy.  Again, one of my themes has been that economic policy and tax policy need a "divorce".  The purpose of tax policy is to raise revenue to pay for government programs not to play games with the economy.  As such, the budget needs to be balanced, even if it means making difficult decisions. To borrow from Alexis de Tocqueville: "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Hidden Failure of Stimulus

The Washington Post ran an opinion piece "Five myths about Obama’s stimulus" by Michael Grunwald.  Since my response is a bit wordy, I will repeat the much shorter to the point response of Steve Hanna fist: "The stimulus was like trying to run your fireplace with newspaper. Burns for a few minutes then needs more newspaper. The only lasting thing from it is debt.Below is my response to that article.
"It's a bit more complicated than what Mr. Grunwald suggests. Concerning point 1, the stimulus and job creation. Well blame Bush created stimulus. That created jobs, the economy to initially exploded then crashed. Essentially, we have the drug addict analogy, so why would more stimulus work?

Yes, stimulus can be used for public works projects and I won't dispute that. But the What I will say, is that under blame Bush the US over-consumed. Let me repeat that, we over-consumed. People will only consume so-much. We are in a hangover period. Flooding the market with "free" money has not stimulated the economy because the consumer is NOT buying and the private sector has no need to produce more.

Next Mr. Grunwald ignores the whole issue of stimulus as deficit spending that ads to the National debt. In theory that has to be paid back. Paying it back will mean the need to direct future tax revenues to debt reduction. That will "slow" future economic growth. Essentially artificially stimulating growth now cannibalizes from future growth. Blame Bush essentially proved that.

Finally, there is even the very fundamental question of: "Can economic growth even be stimulated?". Unfortunately, this is an election year and any answer other than "yes" is immediately vilified. I don't have an answer, exactly. A lot depends on demographics - a young growing population tends to buy more than an old "established" population. One can look to Europe and Japan as being examples were the lack of economic growth is not because of "bad" economics (as Romney claims) but simple demographics. Neither Obama nor Romney should make any promises claiming the ability to promote economic growth. The demographics may be well against them. This is a "myth" that Mr. Grunwald failed to delve into."
 As an additional question; some point to the number of jobs created by the stimulus to document its success. But lets take a look at Solyndra, which is one of several failed companies. When it received it's government backed loans, it did create jobs. But it then declared bankruptcy. These jobs have now become "lost".  Have these jobs been subtracted from the supposed success of stimulating the economy? Or are these jobs still being carried forward to disingenuously support the concept that the stimulus program is working?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gun Control and Voter ID and Constitutional Rights

Recently the issues of gun control and the requirement for Voter identification (ID) have surfaced as hot topics. Gun control has re-surfaced as an issue due the unfortunate mass murders in Aurora Colorado. Voter identification has become an issue as both the Democrats and Republican continue to claw for votes in the upcoming presidential election. The Washington Post, as a newspaper, has covered these stories and posted editorials concerning these issues. Unfortunately, the Post (along with many others) seems to have politicized and misrepresented the voter identification issue to the public.

In a July 20, 2012 editorial concerning gun control the Post correctly states that: "Yes, the Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to own a gun, but it does not preclude reasonable regulation for public safety.". However, when it comes to government having reasonable regulations concerning voter identification, the Post, in a July 28, 2012 editorial, lamely asserts that these voter ID laws place an unfair impediment to voting; equivalent to a poll tax. This is hypocritical.  Whether it is voting or gun ownership, Government has a legitimate right to verify that those who are purchasing a gun or are voting are who they say they are.

As a good follow-up to the editorial commenter9871 (in part) wrote:
My question is, with NO voter ID requirement, how could the authorities possibly know whether the person who cast any specific vote was a qualified and legal voter? We use a secret ballot. Once the voter is admitted without any ID check, he/she proceeds to the ballot box and votes. Until/unless someone files a complaint that a specific person was not qualified, the prosecutor has nothing to investigate. But when it's a a dead-voter, or an unauthorized felon, a la the Chicago tradition, there is nobody who could possibly know that they person is not the deceased or is a felon -- unless the poll official who takes his requests just happens to know the person in question and knows their personal situation -- and is willing to report him/her.  ... Requiring ID and putting the ID info down next to the voter's registration information is the only way to know if a voter was not authorized"
An interesting response by tnvret that that raises the issue of the mental capacity of the voter:
"If patients with diagnosed severe Alzheimer's or dementia (who didn't know who they were on a good day - much less anything about a candidate) were denied the vote, then that would reek of literacy testing to Dems. Just shuffle in here; we'll help with the selections and get you to the polls. Dems just need bodies - live ones if the dead, criminal, or four legged varieties are not available."
 jkk1943 provided this response below:
"This article as well as the constant harassment by the DOJ to stop states from implementing voter photo ID laws does not pass the stink test for three reasons: 

1. The Supreme Court has upheld Indiana's photo voter ID law by a 6-3 majority. Arizona's voter photo ID law was also supported by the most liberal appeal court in the nation, the Ninth Circuit. 

2. Requiring a photo ID is not an onerous requirement. The vast majority of people have them, most that don't are quite capable of getting them. Most states passing these laws provide free photo id's, some even provide transportation to the DMV to have the photo taken. Most allow provisional balloting for those not presenting the proper ID at the polling place. 

3. Contrary to the bilge spouted by liberals voter fraud is a problem. It is so widespread that Congress defunded Acorn because of widespread voter registration fraud in the 2008 election. Voter fraud if probably underreported especially in states that require little or no id to vote. We do after all have 12-20 million illegal aliens in our country. Due diligence requires that we protect the franchise by requiring the kind of ID required to board a plane, cash a check, enter a government building or by Sudafed over the counter at your local pharmacy. 

Whats really the issue here is two fold. One Eric Holder, Obama and the liberals want to stoke a sense of grievance in the minority community to ensure they come out to vote this November. More problematic is my sense that the Democrats really do not want a clean voting system. Google voter fraud and you will find that the majority of folks charged or convicted are Democrats. The Democratic Party in FL has fought our Governors plan to purge the voting roles of legal aliens and the deceased. He took the Feds to court and won. This is a losing issue for democrats. The vast majority of Americans favor these polices and that includes independents in swing states. There only payoff is a high turnout of minorities in the fall."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Science Fiction Magazine Database Update IV

Time for an update. Another progress report on developing an Open Source free database.  Click here to see earlier posts on this topic. Really not much has changed on the surface. You can't tell by the looks. I had a brief flurry of intense creativity following my upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04. Still haven't got used to the new Unity interface. Grumble.

I have now uploaded all the magazine data to MySQL, which is on the Ubuntu computer. MySQL constitutes the "Back-End", were the data now resides. MS Access is still being used, now as the "Front-End" (user interface). This allows me to continue to keep the magazine data up-to-date.

There were a few challenges in getting MS Access and MySQL to work together. Those issues have been apparently overcome. I have also developed an extremely primitive webpage. Eventually, this would allow users to access the data through their web browser thereby eliminating MS access as the user interface. Since I know very little concerning HTML and PHP, its going to be a while.

As I have expressed in the past, this is pretty much a personal learning exercise.  This data is already freely available on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB).  Makes my project somewhat redundant. The ISFDB is a great resource.  Cover art can also be viewed here.

Below is the introductory, screen which remains essentially unchanged from prior version.

Introductory Screen

Below is how a magazine would be displayed by issue.
Magazine Screen

Below is the primitive webpage. A lot of learning remains.
Primitive Webpage

Below is the author dump that you get when you click on the button "Connect to MySQL".  The good news is that my browser connects to the Ubuntu computer and can interact with it (also PHP and MYSQL)  to display the data below.
Sample Author Listin

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Looming "Fiscal Cliff" - Future Political Theater

Surprisingly, there is some room for rationality on the Washington Post's editorial board. The Post recently ran the following editorial  "Mr. Obama’s stand on taxes" recognizing that Obama's proposed tax policy would be inadequate. Bluntly, the Post writes: "We call this grossly inadequate because — as we’ve been saying since Mr. Obama irresponsibly promised during his first campaign that he would never raise taxes on the middle class — it’s impossible to tackle the federal debt by taxing only the wealthy. As the cost of retirement and health care for an aging population rises, the middle class is going to have to pay more, and federal benefits are going to have to be adjusted." The Post editorial concludes with: "The intelligent response would be to agree on long-term revenue increases and spending cuts while softening the short-term blow."

My response to that editorial was that the Post took a step in the right direction, but needed to go further. Missing from the Post editorial was the concept that he purpose of taxation is primarily to raise revenue to fund government operations. As such this country needs to define the level of services (military, entitlements, debt service, etc) that it will provide and tax accordingly.  The ultimate goal being a balanced Federal budget.

Furthermore, we need to divorce tax policy from economic policy. Neither Obama nor Romney should be promising to create jobs. They can't. This is especially true for Romney, who has asserted that he wants the government out of the private sector.

In casually watching the news, it seems that Howard Dean has been busy making appearances. Below are two video clips.

What is interesting to me, in the interview above, is that Howard Dean was quite candid in his assessment. Dean may have ended up viewing the state of the economy through rose-colored-glasses. Pat Toomey, on the other hand just tiredly regurgitated the Republican mantra of "No Tax Increase" and essentially avoided a substantive discussion. CNBC video with Howard Dean and  Pat Toomey.

This second interview above is better than the first. Doug Holz-Eakin made a much better case for the Republican side and even left room for tax increases.  I was disappointed with Larry Kudlow's concluding "No Tax Increase" remark. Basically, we are in the current financial mess due to blame Bush proposing tax cuts that backfired and also due to the lack of austerity.  CNBC Video of Howard Dean and Doug Holz-Eakin on the Larry Kudlow Show

Monday, July 2, 2012

Who's Best to Anticipate Future Problems and Solutions?

According to Mr. Andrews it is a gaggle of science fiction writers meeting as a group called SIGMA.  This theme appears in an article titled: "Sigma: Summing Up Speculation".  This article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Analog.  While I would agree with that premise, Mr. Andrews’ article is ultimately flawed. How so?

Technological progress is multidimensional. Mr. Andrews has only focused on the narrow application concerning the technology itself, not on how it would profoundly affect society. One disturbing example, the Patriot Act.  In that example, the focus is on pre-guessing a "technological" response to prevent/recover from a future terrorist act. What is missing, despite gratuitous references to Libertarians, the Arab Spring, and even the Gestapo, is that the Patriot Act (plus other legislation) is moving the US towards a police state. Out smarting the terrorists is vitally important, but a free thinking group, such as SIGMA should also be contemplating the effect of fighting terrorism or other "wars" on society itself.

Not only that, but Mr. Andrews, according to his article has consulted extensively with the Department of Homeland Security.  As such, I would have expected him to be very aware and sensitive to how security agencies need to operate in a free-society.  TechDirt writes; "We're still completely perplexed at how anyone in Congress could recognize that the NSA has refused to tell Congress how often it's violated the privacy of Americans without a warrant under the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) -- and then still vote to renew it."  Mr. Andrews appears oblivious to this issue.  Do we really need a police state?

I would have thought that a gaggle of free-thinking Science Fiction authors (some of whom are Libertarians) would have been adverse to the application of technology to deprive citizens of their civil liberties in the name of "security". Below are some topical bullet points, that I would have expected SGMA to consider and make recommendations on.
  1. The concept of "sale" is being eliminated. Many manufactures of electronics claim that they retain ownership of the devices that you "buy".
  2. Manufactures are taking "control" of your electronic equipment. They can brick it at any time they wish. They also “sell” devices that must be in contact with “home” in order to work.
  3. Manufacturers are now abusing so-called "intellectual property" by using legal sledge hammers to stifle competition and innovation.
  4. The ability to reverse engineer stuff is being eliminated
  5. The Government is forcing some third parties, such as ISPs, to spy on their users (warrantless wiretapping).
  6. Due process is being eliminated. Through the DMCA and the delayed SOPA/PIPA, take-down notices can be issued without proof. We are moving from the concept of innocent until proven guilty, to where innocence has to be proved even if the accusations are false.
  7. Formerly legal activities are now being made illegal.
I would hope that the next time SIGMA meets that it will take a more holistic and Libertarian view. Outguessing the terrorists is a laudable goal, but it must NOT come at the expense of civil liberties or the freedom to pursue advances in the arts and sciences.

PS: Another version of this post appears on the Fantasy and Science Fiction forum website.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gay Marriage and Cyber-Security

Obama recently disclosed his support for gay marriage. The media dutifully loudly proclaimed that this action was "courageous" and "historic".  I n response, I posted the following "Obama "Courageous" Support of Gay Marriage". Since posting, I ran across this obscure article in the Post: "Pentagon to expand cybersecurity program for defense contractors". This article further supports the fact that Obama's coming-out-of-the-closet moment does not demonstrate a true commitment to civil liberties. Obama's "commitment" to civil liberties seems to be callously based on highly visible populist actions that will "buy" votes rather than true moral commitment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Rising Price of the Falling Dollar

Charles Kadlec of Forbes wrote "The Rising Price of the Falling Dollar". Nice to read that someone else has made the same economic observations that I have. Of course his article is better researched and more credible. But then I'm spewing out "casual observations". Unfortunately, I have been unable to convince the masses that inflation is an economic drag. In fact Bernanke views low inflation as an economic "positive" even though the price of a $0.05 candy bar of 1965 is close to a $1.00 now. To summarize the detrimental effects of inflation, Mr. Kadlec wrote: "Our common sense hides this source of higher prices because we view the dollar as fixed and prices as moving."  This attitude resulted in many home-owner viewing their homes as ATM machines spewing out free money.  Well that bubble burst and resulted in an economic crash in 2008.  Eventually the student loan bubble will burst. In conclusion, Mr. Kadlec even throws in the concept that the falling dollar is steadily eroding our liberties.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama "Courageous" Support of Gay Marriage

Yesterday, Obama finally came-out-of-the-closet in support of gay marriage. The media was dutifully,  flooded with numerous articles and opinion pieces on Obama's supposed courageous and historic action. Obama's announcement was not courageous or historic.  All that Obama was doing was getting on another populist bandwagon. Essentially Obama came out loudly with much fanfare supporting a "horse" in the process of winning a race. And I thought, leadership meant tackling real issues.

Obama's disclosure is weak concerning civil liberty Here we have a President who supposedly is in favor of civil liberties. If he were truly in favor of civil liberties, why does he continue to "reluctantly" support legislation, such as the Patriot Act, that continues to erode the civil liberties of all Americans, including the gay community. Coming-out-of-the-closet simply demonstrates that Obama has moral relativism since he does not truly believe in protecting civil liberties for all.

For Obama to demonstrate courageous and historic leadership, how about proposing a balanced budget or reforming the tax code?  These are real issues that have remained unsolved.  But I guess, for a self-serving politician, playing partisan politics and pandering to special interest trumps actually working in the National interest. Obama's actions were neither courageous nor historic. Simply another instance of "diversions, distractions, and distortions".

Monday, April 30, 2012

Student Loans and Economic Prosperity

The student debt crises has made the news and the editorial section of the Washington Post. Absent from the discussion so-far is the effect of student debt on the economy. Both Obama and Romney want to stimulate the economy to reduce unemployment. Yet, at the same time they are promoting the use of low interest government guaranteed loans to encourage people to attend college. Getting a higher degree is very desirable, but the students are graduating with a massive debt burden. What this means is that, instead of consuming they are working to pay-down debt. This is a drag on the economy.

Tom Toles of the Washington Post
Besides the economic drag of paying down debt, the sad economic reality is that low interest government guaranteed loans, actually increase tuition and make college less affordable.  The coming student loan boondoggle will be very similar to the housing bubble and fraudulent Green Energy programs (Solyndra) and will someday burst. Similar to the housing bubble, cheap easy to obtain loans are ripe for fraud. Obama just recently addressed the issues of diploma mills.  Disingenuously, Obama, by promoting cheap easy to obtain loans, is actually promoting the growth of diploma mills. Want to slow increases in tuition and minimize the fraud of diploma mills, end all government guaranteed loan programs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Romney’s: “A Better America Begins Tonight”

Romney gave an excellent speech tonight.  “A Better America Begins Tonight” One can only hope that Romney is not imitating Obama's rhetorical game of distraction and deception. This speech was unusually positive, Romney stated: "Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years and the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together". But in prior speeches Romney has called for a stronger military and a "surge" in the "war" to protect so-called "intellectual property". This has left me with the impression that Romney is just another "big" government politician claiming to be just the opposite.

In this speech Romney, like Sanatorium's speech prior to Sanatorium's withdrawal, seems to have usurped Ron Paul's message of liberty. Romney stated: "I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans."

Mr. Romney asks: "I want to hear what’s on your mind, hear about your concerns, and learn about your families. I want to know what you think we can do to make this country better…and what you expect from your next President."

Mr. Romney, I hope that your staff, when trolling the web finds this blog. Bluntly, restore liberty by repealing many of the laws that are taking away our liberties, such as the Patriot Act. Restore copyright and patent law to what was originally envisioned. As a business professional, I would hope that you realize that copyright and patent laws are now obstructing business, stifling innovation and discouraging entrepreneurship. You have made assertions that China is "stealing" US so-called "intellectual property", but China owns much of the US debt so they can simply buy that technology while US companies squabble in court over who owns what, instead of innovating.

Mr. Romney, if you mean what you imply in this message, unwind the laws that have reduced civil liberties in the name of "national security" and the protection of so-called "intellectual property." You say that America's future is driven by freedom. I hope that you are not mimicking Obama's razzle dazzle techniques of rhetorical manipulation.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obama's Failed Budget Proposal

Back in February, Obama released his proposed budget.  The Washington Post, as well as other media dutifully reported on this proposed budget. Like the 2012 budget, it has no chance of being adopted by Congress. The big ideas in it are DOA in the House." Fox News reported on March 28, 2012 that "House easily rejects Obama budget in tactical vote" by a vote of 414-0.

What is of concern is that the media has apparently not delved into this "defeat" and has simply gone on to the new sound byte of lambasting Paul Ryan's proposed budget, which will be DOA when presented to the Senate. But this post is not about Ryan's proposed budget, it is about the fact that not one member of the House or Representatives bothered to vote for Obama's budget; even as a meaningless gratuitous gesture. Come-on now - not one vote?

My CasualObservation is that the "failed" budget proposal was never meant to be implemented, it was simply tossed-out to barely meet the constitutional requirement for a budget proposal. As such this implies that Obama does not take leadership seriously. Other highly visible examples of politics over the national interest include Solyndra, temporarily stopping the Keystone Pipeline and then claiming to "fast tract" another segment in Oklahoma as a grand empty gesture, and finally the whole divisive debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Better known as Obamacare.) Words are cheap, rhetoric can be lofty, but leadership demands performance. We, as a Nation, are being sold snake oil. There is no leadership. It is all about promoting corrupt partisan politics. "Bread and Circuses".

Monday, March 5, 2012

Eve of Destruction

Time to resurrect the 1967 protest song "Eve of Destruction"  by Barry McGuire. "The eastern world it is explodin', violence flarin', bullets loadin', you're old enough to kill but not for votin', you don't believe in war, what's that gun you're totin', and even the Jordan river has bodies floatin', but you tell me over and over and over again my friend, ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction." Once again the news coming out of the Middle East is not good.

McCain wants to initiate airstrikes in Syria. Obama initiated airstrikes in Libya, sent troops to Uganda, does not want to support Israel, and Afghanistan is not going that well. Romney wants the US be the strongest military nation in the world and initiate aggressive action against China. To fight this or that "war",  I foresee a continued diminution of our civil liberties which brings to mind the 1967 protest song For What It's Worth by the Buffalo Springfield. Lyrics here. "You step out of line, the man come and take you away."  Time to crank-up singing the old protest songs!

Update (3/6/2012): Since I posted, the Washington Post ran "AIPAC beats the drums of war" by Dan Milbank.  Others commenting on that article suggested two additional songs. "Monster" by Steppenwolf and "Masters of War" by Bob DylanSmokey provided me with the inspiration to post the two videos below.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Piracy is the Creation of the Content Industy II

The content industry tirelessly whines how piracy is costing them business, but they never seem reflect on their own deceptive business practices to essentially steal from the consumer.  On this issue Marcus Crab wrote: "... the biggest driver of piracy is a lack of legitimate offerings." in his post post: "How To Turn A Legitimate Buyer Into A Pirate In Five Easy Steps".

If companies that sell content wish to complain about piracy, then they need to demonstrate some honesty and integrity on their part.  First, no misleading ads. Second, the ability of the consumer to return content that does not meet their needs. Through their blatant disregard of the consumer, it is the content industry that is promoting piracy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Clebrating John Glenn's Space Launch

Regretfully, this is really a memorial service. Fifty years on, Glenn's flight remains a giant leap. We like to make many prostrations on how the US is the greatest Nation on earth. When you only have past accomplishments to celebrate instead of new accomplishments you are on a downhill slide.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Piracy is the Creation of the Content Industy

The content industry is creating piracy. How so? Well - the content industry has been actively changing the law to make formerly legal activities criminal in nature. It is time to re-orientate our thinking on this.  Just because there is a "law" does not mean that the "law" should be considered just.

Recently, I posted SOPA/PIPA Follow-Up, Fox News Wants Examples of Media Bias, Steven Titch on SOPA and PIPA for Non-Techies, and Eliminate Piracy Now! in which I raised demonstrated that the content industry has been lobbying to change the copyright law to their benefit and that they are not interested in "compromise".

Mike Masnick, at TechDirt, made a much more extensive analysis in "How Much Is Enough? We've Passed 15 'Anti-Piracy' Laws In The Last 30 Years". Mike notes that the content industry, despite the passage of 15 pieces of favorable legislation, continues to complain that more needs to be done to stop piracy.  Mike concludes with "All we've seen is expansion after expansion after expansion, always using questionable claims of rampant infringement that is supposedly destroying industries. Each time, the various industries would create a moral panic about why this law was absolutely needed. Forgive us for being a bit skeptical. We've seen this game pretty damn frequently."

In reviewing the comments left by readers, I noted that several readers made comments that require further exposure. Cicero raised the issue of property rights. One of the foundations of property rights is that they emerge out of scarcity. Seems to me, that if you have an infinite resource (digital content) then, logically, the (ersatz) property right (to digital content) vaporizes.

TtfnJohn raised the issue of technological advancements. Seems that the content industry believes that advances in technology give them additional rights. Why should it? I would advocate that the content creators are NOT entitled to any new "rights".

Lets look at the example of a paper book. You can take that book anywhere, you can read it anytime, and you can sell it. So why should the development of a new technology give the content creators the "right" to deprive the reader of the ability to read the book out-of-region, to limit your ability to view content at your leisure, or to prevent you from selling it, or to even "brick" your devices.  The content industry should not have a "right" to deprive, at their will, a person of their property rights.

Along the theme expressed above Mike Masnick coincidentally wrote: "MPAA: Ripping DVDs Shouldn't Be Allowed Because It Takes Away Our Ability To Charge You Multiple Times For The Same Content."

To conclude, it is the content industry that is creating the pirates that they claim are destroying their industry. The content industry can solve the piracy problem by compromising with a restoration of the copyright law as it was originally envisioned and recognizing the property rights of those who buy content to freely use it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Mike Masnick and Steve Forbes had interesting follow-up posts.  Mike Masnick posted a cartoon by Ruben Bolling which once again demonstrates how graphics can be much more descriptive than written narrative. Mr. Bolling even observes an interpretative twist that I have overlooked. That is how can the content industry claim "theft" if the content was created knowing that it would have fallen into the public domain had the law not changed???!!!

Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling

Mr. Forbes in "Don't Soft-Soap SOPA" makes certain critical observations. One, that the current public outrage has only "temporarily derailed" the continued the growing trend in eliminating civil liberties in the quest to protect a special interest group. Mr. Bolling, in the cartoon above, illustrates this in the background. Mr. Forbes goes on to say:"SOPA's and PIPA's unwritten agenda seemed to be to throttle the Web for its drastic - and very unwelcome - upending of the traditional way business is done in the entertainment world.  Hollywood has fought every technological advance tooth and nail since the early days of television."

Mr. Forbes goes on to suggest some compromises and alternative approaches using private market solutions rather than government regulation. My quibble with Mr. Forbes' conclusions is that he does not mention rolling back copyright to a more reasonable time duration, to protect the private property rights of the content buyers, or to expand the concept of "fair-use".

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Maybe Europe is Nice After All

I have been taken aback by Romney's unrelentingly campaign rhetoric and unsupported vilification of "failed" European socialism.  I previously raised this concern in my post "Romney on the Economy". Finally, someone else has spoken-up.

Martin Klingst, in a Washington Post opinion piece titled "The GOP’s ‘Europe’ is a land of make-believe", writes "Lately it seems that not a day goes by without a Republican presidential candidate portraying Europe as a socialist nightmare. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum paint a picture of the Old World as unfree, strangulated by bureaucratic and inefficient welfare systems, and unable to reform and modernize. To these Republicans, Europe seems to be the antipode to everything America is meant to be.  ... My problem as a European living in the United States is that it is not Joe the Plumber who is bashing Europe but three longtime politicians who want to be president — people who should know better. ... framing Europe simply as inflexible and outdated, or backward and socialistic, is shortsightedand wrong. Romney, Gingrich and Santorum should know as well as anyone that the globe is no longer flat."

We need to seriously question statements by politicians running for office.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Romney's Fiscal Promise

In winning the Florida primary, Romney made made several promises.  Three of them are listed below.
  1. Taxes will NOT be raised
  2. The budget will be balanced
  3. The  US will have a BIG military.
Seems that all politicians have  a credibility gap between their lofty campaign rhetoric and the realities of managing the country after the election. But there is a solution.  Romney could prepare a draft budget, for public review, documenting on how he will accomplish these goals. He saved the 2002 Winter Olympics, maybe he can save the country. The electorate deserves to see how a candidate will actually propose to accomplish these goals. Let's see a candidate, for a change, fully disclose how they will achieve fiscal responsibility through a draft budget.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fox News Wants Examples of Media Bias

Well, I had a good example concerning SOPA/PIPA so I emailed them. Seems that Fox News turned off their email, so my email was kicked-back as undeliverable.  So I am posting a modified version below in the hope that a bored Fox News analyst may actually stumble across this post while surfing the net.
TO Fox News:  Concerning your 4:45 PM Segment on 1/22/2012. Could you please get someone on who actually knows something about copyright, property rights, and the constitution to appear on Fox News.
Recently, on Fox News, a three person panel of clueless so-called pundits had a superficial. discussion concerning why the politicians did not understand the implications or SOPA/PIPA.  The panel itself, however, did not evoke any comprehension concerning the nature of copyright.  The only redeeming comment, they at least did comprehend that these proposed laws went to far.

During that discussion the panel tossed out the obligatory, but incredibly dumb, question "How can we bring the two sides together". The content industry has progressively moved the fulcrum point to the "right" by lobbying Congress to pass laws that give the content industry special privileges and depriving the public of their civil liberties. I have yet to hear the content industry, in the spirit of compromise, to give-up some of their special privileges or to return copyright to its original duration and scope.

You can NOT negotiate with someone who consistently demands give me more, give me more, give me more. The FOX News panel seemingly failed to comprehend this oppressive trend and blindly swallowed the content industry propaganda.

The Fox News panel also made the gratuitous and obligatory statement  concerning "stealing". Once again the esteemed panel neglected to think this through. The activity of piracy is actually "infringement" it is NOT "stealing" .  When you commit theft, you are depriving the owner of their property.  Simplistically, piracy is the use of content in an unauthorized fashion. It is not theft.

U-tube animation illustrating the distinction.  Copying Is Not Theft

The content industry has been pushing the "theft" angle because it makes for good sound bytes, is simple, and evokes sympathetic emotions.  But there is an obvious counter-intuitive argument; it is the content industry that has actually been doing the "stealing" by changing the law.  By changing the law, the content industry is making formerly legal activities criminal. By changing the law, the content industry is eliminating the public domain.  By changing the law, the content industry is abolishing fair use.  The so-called pundits at Fox News are seemingly oblivious to this repugnant "land-grab" by the content industry. Time for Fox News to stop mindlessly regurgitating content industry propaganda and get a person who has real knowledge on their news panels to add some real fair and balanced analysis.
There is a simple solution to the piracy issue. Restore copyright to its original intent, piracy will be reduced. Formerly legal activities will once again become legal. Legality is what both sides seek. Now will the content industry agree to this compromise?

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Ghost of Voodoo Economics

 Republican still push supply side economics.  Yesterday, the Washington Post ran this article: "Supply-side economics at core of Gingrich plan".  Supply side economics is Voodoo economics. It encourages people to recklessness consume before they have earned the money to buy products/services. That is one factor that caused the great economic meltdown in 2008.

Blame Bush was at fault by reducing the tax rate and reducing regulations that stimulated reckless growth. But guess what, after time you pay for that unwarranted stimulated consumption. People will only buy so many refrigerators, houses, cars, etc.. After a wile they STOP buying for a variety of reasons. They run out of credit, they have no need for that tenth car, they can no longer afford overpriced houses. The economy then tail spins. In the meantime, taxes have been cut. The deficit balloons out of control. Supply side economics works till the music stops. Economic devastation then occurs.

The purpose of taxation (with a few exceptions) is to provide revenue for Government operations. Tax policy should not be used to manage the economy

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Debt Ceiling Travesty

Once again the debt ceiling was raised.  The Washington Post writes: "The latest hike in the debt ceiling will lift the federal borrowing limit from $15.2 trillion to $16.4 trillion, an increase that will see the country through the end of the year." The way this was accomplished was despicable and not what you would want to see from our elected ersatz leaders.  My quickie point, I have seen a short video clip were a congress person solemnly pontificates on how the debt ceiling has to be raised, since the money has already been spent! A totally idiotic comment. If you know that you are approaching the credit limit, stop spending (or raise revenues). A simple economic solution that Congress and the President do not seem to grasp.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paula Deen, Diabetes, and Restaurants

Paula Deen was recently identified as having Type II diabetes. Prior to this breaking news, she was basically an unknown to me. Evidently she owns and operates The Lady & Sons restaurant and has published five cookbooks and lives in Savannah Georgia. The exploding coverage over her cooking style caused me to think about restaurants and diabetics. Basically, diabetics are provided with minimal information by some restaurants concerning their menu options. At restaurants the menu, in many cases has calories and fats listed, but not carbohydrates. Time to add a carbohydrate column to the menu. (Some fast food places do have nutrition guides posted on the wall, which is very helpful.)  Of course most diabetics, after being diagnosed, should be well aware of what they are able to eat.

Many restaurants menus also suggest certain "healthy food" choices in terms of low calories and low fat, but these choices are not necessarily diabetic friendly choices. Time for restaurants to consider adding low carbohydrate foods to the "healthy foods" list on the menu.

According to the Washington Post "More than 25 million Americans — more than 8 percent of the population — are believed to have diabetes." According to Wikipedia "Rates of diabetes have increased markedly over the last 50 years in parallel with obesity."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Steven Titch on SOPA and PIPA for Non-Techies

Following a link from The Technology Liberation Front I ran across the a post from Steve Titch "SOPA and PIPA for Non-Techies" on the Reason Foundation webpage.  His post very clearly articulated that our legal system is now focusing on passing laws that criminalize everyday activities. To paraphrase, lawmakers are criminalizing everyday activities rather than insist that law enforcement actually investigate a case against a suspected criminal.
SOPA and PIPA are the latest and most egregious example of an alarming political trend: instead of strengthening enforcement against actual crimes, lawmakers instead criminalize everyday activities that by nature lend indirect support. Rather than demanding police build a case against real money-launderers, Louisiana lawmakers made cash transactions illegal.  Instead of finding a drunk driver guilty, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the defendant could sue the bar owner who sold him the drinks. Congress couldn't muster the political will to pass a law against Internet poker, so it made it illegal for a licensed bank to transfer funds to a licensed gambling site.
Additionally many of these new laws also require that third parties act as an extension of law enforcement.  As an onerous example CNET posted an article:  "Federal rules on campus file sharing kick in today". In short, universities would be required to spy (wiretap) on student internet traffic for infringement. No due process or warrant. At the Republican Debate of January 19, 2012 Ron Paul spoke out in opposition to this type of legislation.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Obama and Captain Francesco Schettino

Recently Captain Francesco Schettino reckless ran his ship, the Costa Concordia, aground.  It sank. Coincidentally, the Washington Post published a pro-Obama opinion piece by  Ezra Klein"Has Obama done a good job? Well, compared to what?" Needless to say this blatantly apologetic article cherry picks the analysis to imply that Obama is somehow either the victim of circumstances or to suggest that if another person had been elected President that they would not have done any better. I guess the concepts of leadership and personal responsibility for ones actions must be unknown to Mr. Klein

Well - any analysis (if structured "correctly") can absolve the person under scrutiny of the responsibility for an accident and any damage that they may have resulted.  If Obama, as Mr. Klein suggests, should not be held accountable for piloting the Ship of State, one could make the assertion that Schettino should not be responsible for sinking his ship because of some pesky rocks that somehow got in the way of the ship or the apparent distraction of Domnica Cemortan.  Furthermore, despite his apparent absence from the ship, that he did an amazingly heroic job beyond the call of duty in minimizing the damage to his ship (Costa Concordia) and minimizing the loss of life. (sarcasm)  Like Schettino, Obama is not focused on piloting the US Ship of State and is recklessly proceeding forward without considering the consequences. The US Ship of State may soon run aground on the rocks of insolvency. (Post Revised 1/20/2012)

Washington Post Picture

Costa Concordia and the US Ship of State

The Christian Science Monitor has an excellent article "Costa Concordia captain: symbol of the era?" In that commentary Robert Marquand writes:"The Concordia captain's missteps and failure to take responsibility have spurred deeper discussion about a dearth of moral leaders.  ...  The crisis of leadership extends beyond Italy and has been written about extensively – and the Concordia is a good metaphor." The Captain and crew of the "US Ship of State" are sailing obliviously at full speed forward into the rocks of insolvency.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eliminate Piracy Now!

Reducing piracy is simple. Restore copyright law to what existed in 1790.  The expansion of piracy has not been caused by the consumer becoming evil, but by the content industry being able to purchase favorable legislation from Congress that criminalizes formally legal behavior.  In a sense "piracy" is the public relations creation of the content industry to make themselves out to be "victims".  Below is a graphic from Wikipedia demonstrating this trend. So if the content industry can create evil thieving "pirates" through the passage of self-serving legislation, the legislation can be modified to eliminate the evils of piracy too.  It goes both ways.

Our legal system is meant to provide a level playing to conduct business.  It was not meant to provide one group (content industry) special rights while at the same time diminishing the rights of another group (consumer).  The consumer, when they purchase content acquire a property right to use that content.  The public domain, also has a property right to content! Time to restore those rights.

Romney on the Econonomy

Romney, on the campaign trail, has been vilifying the economies of the various countries in Europe plus that of Japan. He suggests that socialist economies are failures and that you should vote for his economic policies to restore the US economy to its former glory because we don't want to be like those losers in Europe or Japan. This claim, to me, is another case of a politician disingenuously distorting reality to mislead people into voting for him.  Basically inappropriately mixing apples and oranges.

My casual observation is that the economies of Europe and Japan are "mature". By mature, I mean that they are aging and declining in population. Economic growth, in part, depends on growing population and a demand for additional goods/services.  Well, declining population means that you do not need to produce as much and older people tend to buy less. Based on the preceding, to say that these economies are a failure would be a significant misunderstanding of economic concepts.

As a follow-up thought, how much unmet demand exists in the US? The possibility exists that the US may itself be evolving into a "mature" economy that has limited need to grow at a rapid clip. Should that be the case, our economy will remain a "failure". The issue is not whether the economy is socialistic or capitalistic but one of demographics. If the demographics are not there Romney will be proven wrong.


Romney, on the campaign trail, has been claiming that he will bring jobs back to the United States to Make it competitive. How does he propose to have jobs move back to the US since US workers are paid more than their counterparts in the Third World?

Well there is one strategy.  Improved productivity. Machines, even under the operation of an expensive US worker, could be competitive.  Productivity has its own downside though, you need less workers. Since you don't need as many workers.  What to do?  You fire some of them which unfortunately raises the US unemployment rate. So once again Romney's economic proposal would seem to lack veracity.

But there is a redeeming approach, sell more products/services to the Third World. That may be a plausible approach to restoring the US economy.


Romney, on the campaign trail, has been claiming that he will create jobs.  I find this contention preposterous coming from Republicans.  As a corporate executive Romney clearly would have the ability to create jobs. As president of the United States, NO.

One of the platforms of the Republican party is getting government out of the private sector.  Within that context, the Republicans assert that they do not want a Nanny State nor do they want the government to define losers and winners in the economy.  Based on these fundamental Republican philosophical imperatives, Romney should not be suggesting that he would create jobs. He can''t. 

To get around this obvious hypocrisy the Republicans use empty motherhood platitudes such as "creating an environment that fosters economic growth". To implement that goal, the Republicans often speak of things such as less regulation and less taxes. Well blame Bush did exactly that. And that created our current financial malaise. So why would re-starting failed Voodoo Economics work?  It won't.