Category Archives: Economy

Obamacare “not yet a flop”

In Citizen Tom’s blog, he’s been interacting with a person using the monikers “scout” and “novascout”; I pitched in a bit:

Scout wrote:<blockquote>The problem with defunding Obamacare is that the Republicans had nothing to replace it with.</blockquote>You say the most astounding things. Earlier, you asserted that the Speaker of the House “is not particularly in charge” and implied that this position was merely “a position of respect.” This is a rather badly misfired notion; even leftist Wikipedia (and thus likely to be palatable to you) demonstrates <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaker_of_the_United_States_House_of_Representatives”>the very substantial control and authority held by the Speaker</a> (not to mention being next in line for the President in the event of loss/disability of Obama and Biden). Continue reading

economy

The Failure of Mutually Assured Destruction

For decades, the Soviet Union and the United States held each other at bay in an uneasy stalemate. It was an active, “hot” war despite the “cold war” moniker, and each side lose thousands of troops. But it never broke into a nuclear conflagration, because each side realized the destruction that would come from it. And that once begun, it could not be undone. The Soviet and American leaders were, in a sense, much alike. Neither side would risk it, though both got very good at the brinkmanship involved.

This concept does not work at all if one side are suicide bombers. They plan to die; it’s merely a question of doing the most damage on the way out.

Continue reading

WWIIVetSign

Future Generations of WWII Veterans

The title seems absurd, doesn’t it?  Here is the reason for the closure of the World War II Memorial, as reported by Erin McPike of CNN:

“I know that this is an open-air memorial, but we have people on staff who are CPR trained, (and) we want to make sure that we have maintenance crew to take care of any problems. What we’re trying to do is protect this resource for future generations,” said Johnson.

There are several things wrong with this.

  • First, the facility is unguarded (normally) and is open 24-hours, and consists of monuments/markers that don’t need much in the way of “maintenance crew.”
  • Second, they had to bring in additional people — and take them off furlough — to put up barricades to close the place. That did not work, of course.
  • Third, this is not exactly a “taxpayer-funded government facility.”  It was built by private donations, with a trust fund set up to take care of future maintenance. That trust fund was still intact as of at least 2004.
  • Since the staff level is normally one (at most), a single volunteer could have been asked for to continue operations, and it would have been fine.

Continue reading

the-food-for-thought-award

Sunday Verse 2: Root of Evil

(Well, not exactly “Sunday” by the time I got this posted.)

As noted last Sunday, I’ve been given the “Food for Thought Award” (nominated by Citizen Tom)— and it has some obligations.  Among them are these writings, on seven Biblical verses that have been significant or inspirational to me.  This is the second.  There are nominations involved as well, and a few sprang immediately to mind.  My old friend the extraordinary SeraphimSigrist would be an ideal candidate, for one — his thoughtful writings reflect his beneficent doings in his travels far and wide spreading his faith and helping his fellow man. I always learn something interesting from him and enjoy his deep, compassionate mind.

Versions of 1 Timothy 6

This is the source of the much quoted, and it seems misquoted, verse about money and evil.  I tend to favor Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), which was a well-regarded attempt in the late 1800s to preserve as much of the intent of the original languages as possible.  But in the case of this particular line, the rendering has subtle differences which are significant: Continue reading

Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike

My Lady and I enjoyed it.  There was a certain discontinuity from the actors being different. Hank Reardon is very reminiscent of Ed Harris here, huskier of voice but in the range that Harris can do. Dagny’s pretty-boy brother is well-portrayed, as is Dagny herself.  And I think this Francisco d’Anconia is a significant improvement over the one from the first movie.  The suave man from the rich Chilean family is now suggestive of Antonio Banderas, and that’s entirely believable.

But his most famous speech — if you Google["money speech"] you’ll get all sorts of links to his name, was very abbreviated in the film.  This was a little disappointing; the speech is quite rightfully famous.

In both the both the film, Francisco d’Anconia, head of Chile’s d’Anconia Copper, is at a very exclusive party with wealthy and celebrity guests.  He hears one of the attendees naively asserting that “money is the root of all evil” and “money is made by the strong preying on the weak.” This annoys him, and he challenges the people at the party. This version is from the book, and it begins:

      “So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Aconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

      “When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor � your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

      “Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions � and you’ll learn that man’s mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

The rest of the speech is visible here, and an audio presentation (read by the excellent Edward Hermann from the audiobook) is on YouTube here with the second part here.

The YouTube presentation gives you both, actually, as the text is on-screen as well. That version is from the abridged Atlas Shrugged, and I recommend it highly.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

WSJ cover

Black Monday Revisted

Today, October 19th, is the anniversary of Black Monday, the day a quarter-century ago when the stock market fell 22% in a single day. For my Lady and I, quite active in the markets, it was an exciting time — we had been short from the previous Wednesday and did well indeed that day.  But there were grave concerns:

  • No trading system had ever seen conditions like this, therefore there was no way to predict further success. We bailed out.
  • At the rate things were going, we were facing a potential collapse of civilization. Estimates were that the banks would experience mobs by Wednesday, all credit cards would be disavowed by Friday, and by a week later even currency would no longer be accepted. Anyone in a uniform, from military to police, would be a target of mobs.
  • Tuesday, October 20, saw the FDIC announcing that it would not protect the banks or anyone’s private deposits. The markets were ordered closed.
  • But one person, the head of the Chicago Mercantile exchange, apparently defied this order and re-opened, believing that the panic would get worse without some outlet. His gamble worked — the CME dropped much further, but then hit a bottom and slowly, carefully, began to come back. By Wednesday, the crisis was believed to be over — and in only a few months, the loss was recovered.
  • But not completely — a number of financial companies, some quite large, were destroyed on October 19th.

WSJ cover

The Wall Street Journal today has an interesting look back at that time, focusing on the advertisements running in the WSJ on Black Monday.  How many of you remember when “The Gospel of John” referred to the CEO of Apple, selling a book by that name and soon to be labeled “one of the world’s worst CEOs”?  Or remember when the Cookie Monster was a salesman for IBM?

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Catastrophes, Then and Now

A comment from Digital_Knight: I take it you don’t put a lot of stock in predictions of crisis?

Well, it depends upon the data. I did not place reliance on the Y2K crisis predictions, as I too was in IT (as this post mentions).

I think that the global warming catastrophists are hugely overstating the effects of an increase in CO2, which in practice are not likely to be measurable within the noise limits of the system. In order to make it seem that the last few years have been the hottest on record, that record has had to be altered in a way that would be criminal under other circumstances. But it produces the answer that the customer (primarily governments and green interests) pay for, and will last a while longer yet.

There are many bad effects of global warming:
– the corruption of science, a la NASA, NOAA, the CRU, the IPCC and many other places formerly of high integrity;
– the cost to economies of new green taxes/carbon caps and the like, resulting in less economic energy and resources going to useful things;
– the swelling of government in size and in regulatory trappings to save us from this “crisis”;
– the acceptance of attempts at extortion and fraud between countries;
– and the defense of all of this by good people, who have been taken in and are then dug into their positions.

On top of this, the debt (which people confuse with deficit) seems to be an irreparable, and fragile, threat to the United States. We are one trigger-pull by China (which could be involuntary on their part) away from a tremendous uproar that would bring us to a near-standstill, and cost a great many lives through starvation and misery, quite independent of any war.

China is faltering, itself, and is taking extraordinary steps to keep “looking good” while hoping they can repair their internal problems. That could result in the involuntary trigger pull.

These things amount to a crisis, I think, but not in the same way as the catastrophists believe.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle