Monday, October 31, 2011

No, Max.

And that's why a real discussion about the minimum wage laws needs grounding in definitions.

These aren't managers. These are better than the dead-enders who end up getting wages worth more than they.

"If you have attributes that employers value, whether you're a surgeon or basketball player, the rules of micro-economic, or macro-economic analysis probably don't affect you. If you are Kobe Bryant, you're lucky. There is only one of you."

My point here is, the demand for low-skill labour is restricted by minimum wage jobs. Because of the way economics is taught--and, today, barely taught--we look at the supply and demand curves for labour, and decide that miniscule rents for labour barely rise above the level of insult Where surgeons and Kobe are making millions, yet rarely, if ever, do we dis-aggregate the market for labour to take into account that there are people with few skills, people with many skills, and people with rare skills. Which are worth more?

People with few skills are, in my opinion, worth less than either people with more skills, or people with rare skills. Garth Brooks is a better entertainer than I. That is a rare skill. I believe that I may be a better businessman than Mr. Brooks. I think I may have more skills. But his rare skill is worth more to the market than my mundane skills.

I believe that the average OWS protester may have fewer skills than I. Maybe, only a single skill, that isn't in demand. Is it right that I earn more than this OWS occupier and less than Garth Brooks?

I have no problem with that.

Remember, the argument about minimum wages isn't about the range of abilities and skills provided by the labour market. The question posited is one of, given the lowest wages offered in the market, do efforts to provide for minimum levels of income meet the criterion set out by policy makers? That is, to provide workers with a minimum level of income that allows the worker to have sufficient income to provide for himself a "living wage." A wage that provides enough sufficiency, that a housing payment, a car payment, a clothing payment, medical care and child care, are all within his reach.

I suggest that efforts to mandate a “living wage” deposits a larger, increasing number of people into a caste that is unemployable, given the constraints of the “minimum wage” model, itself.

These are all, true, concerns of those living within poverty.

If you are truly living in poverty, you know that your chances of catching a break are very limited. You don’t have the personal hygiene. You are missing teeth. You don’t have the wardrobe. Your diet is poor, your complexion is sallow, and your affect is weak. You may only be able to barely read and write. You lack basic math skills. You have problems learning. You have emotional problems that limit your ability to listen to criticism without getting angry. People laugh at you. You aren’t attractive.

So, the catch is: these efforts to provide for a certain level of “human dignity” does little to lift the truly poor in our communities, and does more for the second to the bottom tiers, and third to the bottom tiers of our lower-income citizens. Minimum wages tend to lock-out, perpetually, the lowest of income earners.

"The thing that's lost in most discussions of the Labour Curve is the meaning of the curve, from point-to-point. The aggregate Supply Curve describes the number of persons willing to work at a buck, as well as those willing to work for two-bucks, then three-bucks, etc. The amount of aggregate wages paid is the sum of those wages."

In micro-economics, the curve describes something most of us tend to ignore. At a certain point in wages, no one is interested in providing himself as an employee. Labour is not induced to provision. The demand for labour can price itself so low, that there are no takers.

At the earliest point of entry to the market for labour, the first entrant may offer his labour for a modest rate. Let's take a buck an hour. It is at that point that the micro-economist begins looking at the entry into the market, those who are willing to provide labour. The Supply Curve for Labour isn't just a rhetorical, or an hypothetical. There are really people out there, willing to work for a buck, two bucks. This is an empirical.

Even though the number of people willing to enter the Labour Market at low rates is small, the curve (which does, typically in the texts, seems to be a straight line) views the additional increases in the number of willing workers as increasing as the wages increase. (The reason why the line is straight is that we're typically looking at static analysis. Once we employ dynamic analysis, the curves to actually curve. And as wage rates increase, the number of workers available for employ increase--at some point, very quickly.)

For an economist, the area of interest, when it comes to wages, is the area “under the curve.” Two things are happening. First, we find the first person who is willing to accept the lowest paid position. This is our Alpha. His wage rate, multiplied by the number of people willing to accept this wage rate determines the total value of income, at that level of wage.

Then, we go to Beta, the next level of income that induces another—or more—workers to enter the workforce. This expands the area under the curve, and the value of A(n) + B(n) equals the value of wages under the curve. As we move upward, this process is continually repeated. It is the aggregate of Workers(n) at the point of equilibrium that determines the total income for employees at or below the equilibrium level. It is my assertion, that the equilibrium level of employment, without a minimum wage, is both larger than that required by a minimum wage, but would make an employer more likely to hire someone with certain deficiencies, having been able to avoid paying second tier employees higher wages than they deserve. The amount of income produced by second tier workers (who don’t deserve higher wages) is smaller than the amount of benefit that would accrue to the lowest level of wage earners, and would increase the overall net income of whatever political boundaries one would impose; whether city, county, state or nation.

These are all, true, concerns of those living within poverty. But the catch is, these efforts do little to lift the truly poor in our communities, and do more for the second to the bottom tiers, and third to the bottom tiers of our lower-income citizens. Minimum wages tend to lock-out, perpetually, the lowest of income earners.

"The thing that's lost in most discussions of the Labour Curve, is the meaning of the curve, from point-to-point. The aggregate Supply Curve describes the number of persons willing to work at a buck, as well as those willing to work for two-bucks, then three-bucks, etc. The amount of aggregate wages paid is the sum of those wages."

In micro-economics, the curve describes something most of us tend to ignore. At a certain point in wages, no one is interested in providing himself as an employee. Labour is not induced to provision. The demand for labour can price itself so low, that there are no takers.

"What determines the shape of the Supply Curve for Labour? Is it simply the level of wages? Or, are there other determinants that affect the shape of the curve? Do you need to work for someone else? Do you have a choice?"

At the earliest point of entry to the market for labour, the first entrant may offer his labour for a modest rate. Let's take, a buck an hour. It is at that point that the micro-economist begins looking at the entry into the market, those who are willing to provide labour. The Supply Curve for Labour isn't just a rhetorical, or an hypothetical. There are really people out there, willing to work for a buck, two bucks. This is empirical.

Even though the number of people willing to enter the Labour Market at low rates is small, the curve (which does, typically in the texts, seem to be a straight line) views the additional increases in the number of willing workers as increasing as the wage increase. (The reason why the line is straight, is that we're typically looking at static analysis. Once we employ dynamic analysis, the curves to actually curve. And as wage rates increase, the number of workers available for employ increase--at some point, very quickly.)

What determines the shape of the curve? It depends upon choice. It is true that the higher the wage, the greater the willingness to enter the labour pool. My personal rule has always been, “if you’re willing to pay me more, and require me to do less, then, I’ll work for you” isn’t made up. That’s my rule. The pool of training and experience I carry—Human Capital—is larger than a lot of people. Clearly not as rare as Kobe. His Human Capital is something that only God can provide. I will never be as good a golfer as Tiger. (Ahem.)

But, in the market of all available skills, and all available experiences, devotion to work, and traits of character, I am not in the lowest percentiles.
May I suggest that I am, at least, average?

The discussion over the minimum-wage laws tend to be totally misguided, since they tend to impose values over the preferences of those at the lowest level of economic ability that they are, and will continue to be, mismatched to the abilities, of those on the lowest economic tiers.

The Supply of Labour Curve is an aggregation of values, determined by the individual, of the willingness of individuals to choose to offer their labour for a wage. At each level of increase, the Marginal Increase in Wage, the number of persons entering the market at that wage is added to the number of persons who were willing to enter the market at lower wages, which allows you to determine the total wages of workers. As the increment of Wage increases, so to do the number of persons willing to work at this, new, higher wage. Added together, this sum of increased marginal wages (multiplied by the number of workers at each point) creates a total income level for those who are willing to work at, or below, the Market Equilibrium wage level. What we see is, that without the minimum wage, total wages of those at the equilibrium level will be greater than the total of wages with an imposed Minimum Wage. Total income will increase. More people will be better off.

National Income will rise. Fewer people will live in poverty.

And more importantly, those with few job skills will be given the opportunity to gain Human Capital. Without a Federal Jobs Program, or Guaranteed Student Loans.

Who is better off without the Minimum Wage? We all are. But the minimum wage isn’t about making life better for anyone.

Is it?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Determining Value

I have a soft spot in my heart for people who serve themselves. There is a woman in my employ, is attending courses at the local community college. Or, rather, remote learning at the local community college. It seems that lectures are over-rated, and so students take their lessons over the innertubes. Of course, this perversion of the Socratic Method tends to lead to testing for results, rather than teaching. In an effort to maximize the revenue of schools, look for a big increase in this form of "teaching" as schools begin to realize that they don't really need classrooms, just a series of recorded lectures and intertube delivered tests. You will be taught how to repeat the necessary responses at the appropriate time.

But parroting the words, rather than understanding the words, seems a waste of time.

For example, take a rather innocuous chart, referred to as Supply and Demand chart.

Found here.

As a snapshot, graphs like these are useful tools to help us understand things, like value of employment we should be able to attain for a market, all other things being equal. If we have employment at the intersection between the Demand for Labor, and the Supply of Labor, we have reached the moment when there is equilibrium in the market for Labor. Unfortunately, the statement that the equilibrium point is at the locus of w* for Wages and L* for labor doesn't mean anything. Nothing useful, or usable.

This doesn't stop people from talking about the Supply and Demand for labor. Or, using charts like this to defend or to attack someone's viewpoint on what normal or optimal wages should be. Or, the correct level of wages. Or, the morality of wages.

The graph suggests a couple of things, but really explains nothing. Why?

The function f(x) = Wages is too simple. If only wages were higher, more people would be willing to work. Therefore, the solution to low employment is...arrgh! The approach of the above graph presents only one possible determinant, Wages. But let's take a moment, and look at the values, or choices, that each point along the above curves represent.

Let's start with the Supply of Labor. Let's slide down to the left on the red line above.

What does that point on the curve tell us? The impulse is to say, "Well, at that wage rate, not many people would be employed." Again, the above supply curve equates the quantity of labor provided as simply the determinant of wages. There is a simple, singular, independent variable that determines employment. Wages. We're done here. Economic analysis is over.

Worse, the teaching is over.

The industrialization of education requires this type of thinking. Colleges put the facts before the students. Students are taught to testing, gaining the capacity to parrot the appropriate responses to test questions. Those with the greatest ability to respond appropriately are the educated. Taking the learning out of education reduces the risks that some students may fail. Burrowing into the subject requires us to learn more about the determinants of the labor supply. And it's best that we move along as quickly as possible, since a better understanding of what the supply curve for labor teaches and informs us can be disregarded. And, no longer regarded, discarded.

What determines the shape of the Supply Curve for Labour? Is it simply the level of wages? Or, are there other determinants that affect the shape of the curve? Do you need to work for someone else? Do you have a choice?

That is, work or starve. Either find suitable employment or fail to subsist. So, there is no choice. You must work for a wage, or die. But that isn't true, is it? There are alternatives to hiring out your labor to another. Gardening, fishing and hunting. Methods of avoiding hiring yourself out. Or better,thievery. Simply taking from others in order to provide for yourself. Do I need to work if I can steal? So, among the determinants of the supply of labour, should we not also suggest an ability to garden, hunt, fish and steal? What about the stay-at-home mom? At what wage rate might she consider giving up her time with her children, to pursue a wage? Clearly, wage rates alone are not the single determinant of persons willing to work for wages. If I am a thief, and feel badly about stealing for a living, and I'm willing to forgo thieving and instead agree to work for two dollars an hour, am I better off?

See, that's the whole thing about the Supply of Labor curve. From the lowest wages, on the lower left-hand side, to the highest wages, on the upper right-hand side, each individual is faced with making choices about his preferences; to garden, to hunt, or to steal. Is it worth two bucks an hour to give up stealing? Four bucks? And what do I gain by taking up wages and giving up theft?

I can subsist and I can take pride in my individual choice to be something more than a thief. By no longer relying upon harming others, I can develop self-esteem. I am a better man when I'm not stealing. Obviously, people like me better. I have more friends. I'm able to be trusted. Maybe, even valued. And as I work, I learn about my work, increasing the value of my Human Capital. And the guy down the street comes up one day and offers to double my wages, if I go to work for him.

The thing that's lost in most discussions of the Labour Curve, is the meaning of the curve, from point-to-point. The aggregate Supply Curve describes the number of persons willing to work at a buck, as well as those willing to work for two-bucks, then three-bucks, etc. The amount of aggregate wages paid is the sum of those wages. So, the total of wages paid is equal to the area under the curve, from the lowest wage, to the highest wage paid. Not everyone is being paid at the equilibrium or clearing wage rate. As employers move marginally offer higher wages, where the value of wage rates as a determinant of whether or not to supply labor exceeds all the combined values of the other determinants of whether or not to accept employment, at those values, the last incremental increase in employment will occur.

Of course, none of us really know where that moment is. Or when it occurs. In fact, markets have a funny habit of moving up and down, both in terms of supply and of demand, attempting to maximize the returns offered to both buyers and sellers of labour. And we have yet to offer another glaring hole in this static analysis of labour markets; the wages of the specialist.

If you go to the website where I grabbed the graph, (SWCollege) you'll find that there are a set of assumptions given, in order to, I suppose, avoid the terrible hash of determinants that are expressed as preferences by persons choosing to either enter or leave the labour market. They are:

" the labor market is perfectly competitive,
" the minimum wage covers all workers, and
"worker productivity is unaffected by the wage rate."


    It's no wonder discussions about the effects of the minimum wage get so confused.

    We began with this chart:

    Found here.

    This chart was constructed with the above "assumptions." Here's my cut and paste chart that show what will actually happen:

    The area below and to the left of L(new) will be those workers who will no longer be able to compete for employment. Additionally,

    those above the red line, and to the left of L(s), the area cross-hatched, are those that are being overpaid. The funny thing is, the area described to those who are being overpaid is smaller than the area of those who would be willing to accept lower wages.

    All of the models presume that the lowest paid employees will be beneficiaries of minimum wage standards, imposed by the state. Why would anyone, with a minimum wage imposed upon them, hire the least talented workers for jobs that would be filled with the best talented available for the same price? The number of employees being hired is the same for the first diagram, as for the last. The wages, or nominal income of workers, is the same. Those who would only choose to offer their labour at the highest rate (Wmin) are being hired. Those between L(new) and L* are being hired. The only change is that of those below the preference curve for seeking work, from Lnew to Ls are being overpaid. All of those workers to the left of Lnew are unable to find work.

    Let's briefly examine the assumptions of the Minimum Wage Model.

    "The labor market is perfectly competitive."

    What that means, is that buyers have the ability to choose which employee they hire, without impediment. If this is true, then what separates those willing to work for a dollar or two an hour, from those who desire at least minimum wage? We looked at a few of those determinants. A willingness to give up hunting and fishing and thievery. A willingness to let a child float into daycare, in order to pick up a few bucks, or, get a life. Whatever it is, an employer is going to be looking at the best candidates for the lowest possible bucks. No high school diploma? Ehhhh. No appreciable skills? Ehhhh. No math skills? Ehhhh. Earrings and tattoos? Ehhhh. Nice, normal people, with a modicum of skills, behaviours and abilities will be preferable to those without said qualities. That doesn't mean that those who fail to meet this bar don't deserve to find employment. It just means that the State has imposed barriers on employers that benefit those with greater Human Capital, than those without the benefits of Human Capital. Education, training, manners, sensibility.

    "The minimum wage covers all workers."

    That is, no one is free to decide for themselves what the minimums are. Choice, as in the determinants of how the preference curve for those willing to find employment, will be ignored. Whether or not you are willing to work for a lower wage is unimportant. The determinants of whether or not you "should" provide yourself for employment at wages lower than the minimum wage have been taken from you. You are no longer free to choose for yourself whether or not you should take a low-paying job. This has been done so that you have dignity, and protection from a job that offers less than a living-wage. The fact that you'll never get a job under this system is unimportant. The System will make sure that, under the banner of Social Justice, you receive just as much money as the rest of us.

    And finally, "Worker productivity is unaffected by the wage rate."

    Not only do they deprive both sellers and buyers of labour from the values of choice, they establish that the parameters of choice are unimportant. "Worker productivity is unaffected by the wage rate?" What planet do you live on? Worker productivity has never been affected by wage rate. Wage rate has always been determined by worker productivity.

     Worker wages = f(x) = Worker Productivity.

    How else to state this? A worker's wages don't depend on the productivity of the individual worker? Alice Through the Looking Glass? Of course worker productivity is unaffected by wage rate. Everyone to the left of the red Supply line in the above graph is getting paid more than they would demand. Every one at the last, marginal moment, is getting paid exactly what they would need to be paid. (If anyone is getting screwed, it's the last employee hired!)

    It's funny, but there was a study conducted of the effects on unemployment and the minimum wage, here in Oregon, a few years ago. It found that minimum wages didn't affect unemployment. I can totally see how that can happen, given the current state of accepted science. All I'm asking you to ask yourself is, given that only a limited number of people will be hired, due to a minimum wage law, do you think that it is fair to create a permanent class of unemployable, under the banner of legislating the determinants that would allow the individual to go to work at a lower rate? Is the Legislature actually creating a prophylactic against self-denigration, in the name of protecting the worker's dignity? And how can a Legislature make choices for the individual better than the individual? If our job was to increase the total income of the citizens of the state, wouldn't that be easier to do without the minimum wage? The area under the Supply curve of permanently unemployed is certainly larger than the area of the over-paid.

    And all this talk about the minimum wage really has nothing to do with employment. There are always key people whose wages have, and will exceed the minimums authorized by the state. So, looking at the graphs on the effects of legislation on employment really have nothing to do with who is, or isn't employed. If you have attributes that employers value, whether you're a surgeon or basketball player, the rules of micro-economic, or macro-economic analysis probably don't affect you. If you are Kobe Bryant, you're lucky. There is only one of you. But if you're 18 or 19 years old, with nothing more to show than a high school or college diploma, or worse, chances are you are entering the job market without the skills or attitude that entitle you to anything but a, to your opinion, drastically low wage. You may be able to subsist off your parents and friends for a while, but at a certain point your parents will either kick you out, or die. You do not have to accept the fact that you have no usable skills, and that given the alternative, even with minimum wage guarantees, you will probably never find suitable employment. I'm just not sure you understand what the alternatives are. Unless, and until, you recognize that your choices are being conditioned by a set of determinants that are currently holding you harmless as a result of government guarantees, will you be willing to come to your senses, and demand real change.

    If you are young and unemployed, your choice to remain unemployed may be the result of mandates from the State. It may seem to be your choice, because you "won't" take any job that is beneath your personal dignity. Well, Precious, chances are you don't know what subsistence is, yet. You will. But it may be after the money runs out; either Federal, State or Daddy's.

    Let's increase the bottom-line income of our state's residents. Isn't it time we quit worrying about mandating the conditions for personal dignity, and allow all our citizens to determine for themselves, what work they're willing to do, and what price?

    Saturday, October 29, 2011


    I'm glad I'm a musician.

    I'm glad I learned music. The language of music. The theory of music. I'm glad that I can go to a keyboard and play the notes written by Debussy, J.S. Bach and Rhapsody in Blue.

    Tonight's Music Appreciation Moment, is brought to you by Toots Thielemans.

    I dig the kiss.

    Compare the Belgian's love for Stevie with this:

    I'm supposed to forgive this, since this racism appeared on a Leftist network (MSNBC.) I guess if the only news you get is from big city newspapers and network news, you haven't heard of the racism of the Left. Occupy Wall Street, originating in British Columbia, has been filled with lurid slurs against Jews. The violence, the theft, the rapes, none of this has been reported.

    Remember when the big news about the Tea Party was someone spat upon a black Congressman? (No? Well, it was a big deal. Teapartiers are racists, yannow?)

    Why does the Obama Administration continue to harp on race, racism and the opposition he faces in the national dialogue as racist? What do you call it when arguments aren't made, but coloured? If I agree with you at the correct time, I'm not a racist. When I contradict you at the inopportune time, I am a racist.

    Here's another Thielemans riff, with Billy Joel:

    Black, white, yellow, brown, I am indifferent.

    If you think, if you rely upon yourself, if you take care of you family and your friends, your clients, you're going to find me willing to be your friend. So, I'll wrap up.

    The last cut, is, again, Billy Joel. But here's the tie-in. Toots Thielemans wasn't just a great harp player. Mr. Toots was also known as a great whistler. If you ever heard an "Old Spice" commercial, that was Mr. Toots whistle. He was one of the world's greatest whistlers, among whom I also number Bing Crosby, myself, and Billy Joe.

    If you haven't read Camus, I recommend it. L' Étranger was published in 1942. Camus was a contemporary of Sartre. I guess the reason why I preferred Sartre to Camus was the idea of reflection, rather than abnegation. The revolution in thought created by the inquiries of Sigmund Freud were taking hold, at a time when the criticisms of C.G. Jung were being planted. Freud introduced us to an idea that we weren't who we thought we were. Jung introduced us to an idea that at best, who we were, or attempted to be, was a representation of the metaphor of who, or what, we were, as we attempted to represent that existence. And, consequently, who we were, and who we thought we were, were totally different beings. Camus saw this as the "stranger," or "the other," creating a duality of thought, either denying who we are and accepting who we thought of as ourselves, or as reversed, living who we thought we were, but denying who we truly were.

    It leads to a confirmation bias, when examining Sartre. Sartre wasn't, in my opinion, attempting to state that there was either a denial in our existence, but rather, a lack of comprehending the scope of our existence. That there existed a duality? Sure. Perhaps. "Being and Nothingness" (1943) posited that our apprehension of who we are and what we do may be appositional to who we "really are, and what we're really doing." But the product of Sartre wasn't the nihilism of Camus, but an ontological inquiry into what we can perceive about ourselves, compared to the beliefs we've been taught to hold. Combine Jung with Camus, and you have L' Étrange. With Sartre, you have No Exit. 

    C.G. Jung (Siggy) is later adapted by Campbell. Duality continues, and is explained into rational and non-rational. Sign posts versus symbol. Or, as I like to divide it, funny or non-funny.

    The heuristics of Campbell are often misunderstood. While Sartre attempted an heuristic of study, through a certain acceptance of the ontological method, Campbell associated more closely with Camus, and the metaphysics of Kant and Heidegger. Drawing upon the principles of the Platonic School, it was easy to talk about the beginning and ending points, without describing the process that occurs at either end of the spectrum. This isn't entirely fatuous, since discussing pure reason and the perfect rely upon much of the insigh and reason of Plato, and his teacher, Socrates.

    Induction a priori, is legitimate. What is not legitimate, is extending those templates onto what we naturally observe in the world. We simply don't compare the results of induction to deduction, when deduction is possible. At a certain point, we need to examine what is truly a priori. What exists, in advance of experience. If that a priori condition has no foundation, it is not a condition. Numbers have values, as we define them. One is one. Two is two. One plus three is four. And it is, every time. An equilateral triangle as three sides of the same length. These are a priori statements, and true in every re-statement.

    The problem comes, when we attempt to construct the perfect, equilateral triangle. It isn't possible. We can come close, very, very close, but perfect triangles are impossible to build. So, there is a thing we can know, in our perception of things that are knowable, that aren't possible in existence. Duality continues.

    The existence of the rational and the non-rational is the fifty, or one-hundred, year old monkey on our backs. We like sports because, in most cases, there are definite outcomes. We ignore politics because we never seem to gain a clear outcome. The "Tea Party" won the elections last year, but it isn't clear whether or not those individual victories will actually have the impact on the national political process we were hoping they would have. Mitt Romney, we are being told, is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. A "moderate." Someone, we are told, who represents the middle of the Party.

    We know, a priori, that we cannot continue to spend more than we take in. That the promises made from prior politicians are simply used tissue paper, not worth the time flushing down the toilet. We're also being told, that unless we ignore the fact that we cannot spend more than we take in, that we will not win in the upcoming elections, and that we need someone like Romney to gain control of the White House. This is a new type of duality.

    We know one thing (about our debt, and increasing indebtedness) and we are told that we need to ignore this need to end, limit, or reduce our debt, in order for our desire to end, limit, reduce this debt, to succeed. This is like looking into a mirror and seeing a monkey. Which is great, if you're a monkey.

    I'm not a monkey. There is not a non-rational position on debt. You cannot wish it away. You cannot tell yourself that is someone else's debt. It is your debt. You may wish to shove it off onto someone else. But this is not an act of love. It is an act of theft. Just because you may not have to pay the bill, doesn't mean you aren't charging the item to the national account. This is not a form of duality.

    It is a form of theft.

    It's time to stop lying to ourselves and to others. Not having to pay for a thing today is not a form of duality.

    Billy Joel teaches:

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    October, 1917

    Too few are being taught. Idolisation is not teaching. Statements are important, but simple assertion isn't fact. If I were young today, chances are I would be caught up in the web of what passes for education. When I was young, one of the features of my bedroom was the built-in bookshelves of the family's books. Everything, from Asimov to Wagner was in those shelves. Including an edition of Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia.

    I had a grandmother who would send me books for Christmas. Not exciting, but because of her, I had books like Bruce Catton's "The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (1960)." I was a child of both, North and South. On one side of my grandmother's family, is an uncle who was buried on Island Number Ten. On the other, was a family who grew up in Missouri and Oklahoma, raised on Southern values of courtesy, grace and charm. Reading Catton was, for a young boy, a look at the fury of the years from 1861 to 1865. In 1965 I was lucky enough to visit the battlefield of Gettysburg. On that trip, I walked the Freedom Walk in Boston. I listened to a concert at Lincoln Center. I watched the dancers at Radio City Music Hall.

    Gettysburg was different. My father had been involved with Columbia Records. And the visit to the New York office of Columbia Records is a memory. But my dad and I had different beginning and ending points. (Someday, maybe, my son will post this part of the family 8mm film to utube. If he does, I'll provide you a link.) I really don't know why he took this trip. What drove him to New York. (I have my thoughts.) Thankfully, as a ten year-old, my consciousness didn't allow for a lot of externalities. On this trip, through North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ontario and Quebec, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma (where I had my first tornado) the lasting memories were divided by my time at the New York World's Fair, and my time at Gettysburg.

    Gettysburg. The final battle in the War Between the States.

    Compared to Gettysburg, every subsequent confrontation between the North and South were conditioned by Gettysburg. Sherman's "March to the Sea" would not have been possible without Gettysburg. History has a way of teaching, if you choose to read books. My books, when ten, were encyclopedias and Bruce Catton. As I grew older, again I turned to Bruce Catton and his trilogy on the Civil War. I read others, of course, and studied American History in college, with some magnificent professors. Constitutional Law. Philosophy. Several law courses on the First Amendment. Oh, Russian History, too.

    After my Freshman year, I decided that K-12 Education wouldn't be too much of a fit. Did you ever take Psych 201? I mean, fergawdsakes, what kind of duncity must one bridle before one asks, "are you sure?" Instead I took after more amenable pursuits. I didn't mind the incoherence of certain subjects. I read Sartre, Rousseau, Kant, Freud, Mann, Jung, Campbell (of course), Madison, Smith, Hume, Yeats, Hemingway and lots of other dopes. For a while I was an Honor's student. I couldn't stand being a part of the "elite."

    (h/t Ace.)

    The "elite" are populated by persons who hold intensely personal beliefs. Not generally accepted beliefs. Things like treat your neighbor decently. Keep you nose out of other people's business. No. The social restraints of minding your own business are not the hallmarks of a member of the Elite. Now, it may be posited, that I view myself as a member of a certain elite. I'm well educated, I read difficult books, I have my own business. I can do a lot of the math. I know what is a standard deviation.

    I also believe that you have as much political right to express your views as I have. No more, and no less. And, I believe that your right to express your views are as important as is my liberty to express mine. But what I'm seeing now, what we're experiencing now in our government, exceed pure political expression. Our government is now moving against us, in ways that are seemingly without limit.

    Let me borrow a few words from an alert I received through one of the trade associations I belong to;

    "New Workplace Posting Requirements"

    "The new rule, which takes effect on November 14, 2011, requires employers to post an 11-by-17-inch notice in all places where other personnel notices are typically posted. In addition, employers who customarily communicate with employees about personnel rules or policies on intranet or internet sites must also post the required notice on those sites. The rule sets forth the content of the required notice, including information about employees' rights to form, join, or assist a union; to bargain collectively; to join in other concerted activities; and to refrain from such activities. The notice must be posted in a foreign language where 20 percent or more of an employer's workforce is not proficient in English."

    In a footnote to the memorandum is this:

    "Generally, the NLRA covers most private sector employers that engage in interstate commerce above certain de minimis levels. The NLRB has set revenue-based jurisdictional limits that vary among categories of employers' industries. These limits include, for example, $100,000 for office buildings and shopping centers, $250,000 for law firms, and $1 million forcolleges, universities, and other private schools (the highest revenue limit listed in the jurisdictional standards). If no specific revenue-based jurisdictional standard is listed in the regulation, the NLRB generally applies a $50,000 threshold before asserting jurisdiction over an entity engaged in interstate commerce. In addition, there are several employer categories over which the NLRB asserts jurisdiction regardless of revenue levels, including, notably, enterprises in the District of Columbia, financial information organizations, accounting firms, professional sports, and stock brokerage firms."

    This over the posting of an 11-by-17-inch poster. And the size of the poster is important. One can't simple download the poster and post it on an 8 by 11-1/2 inch sheet of paper. That would be too easy.

    I spent too much time today, reviewing the Youtube postings of the Occupy Portland crowd. Are there anarchists? Yes. Are there Socialists? Yes. Are there Communists? Yes.

    There was a time when teaching our children meant giving them the tools to think critically for themselves. In our public schools, that time has long passed. Teachers teach to give themselves authority and paychecks. They envision themselves as part of the "elite" described above.

    Gettysburg. The last great battle of the South. When you walk the battlefield, you see the field where Pickett's Charge occurred. You see the Devil's Den. You stand in the Devil's Den. You see the impossibility of the moment.

    So, the impossibility of the moment.

    October, 1917.

    Forces from around the world flocked to partake in the moment that was the Russian Revolution. Earlier that year, Oregon had defeated Pennsylvania in the 3rd Rose Bowl. (14-0) Woodrow Wilson begins his second term. Within months, the United States decided it was in the national interest to send troops to occupy Arkangelsk. Inside Moscow, agitators of all sorts had descended. Emma Goldman. John Reed (from Portland.) The first Progressives had all the thematic and intellectual strength of that we currently perceive of the OWS movement. Everyone has an idea, and no one has any basis in any type of definable system of thought, whether ontological, metaphysical or epistemological, to make any coherent statement.

    You cannot debunk the Brownian motion of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Which was the place Moscow found itself, following the Revolution of 1917.

    We can kill the Tsar. And then, we can declare victory and begin to kill the useful idiots.

    What we cannot do, is ever return to the moment when the South declared independence from the nation. If we give up our Constitutional form of government, which seems to be the process that our President is taking us through, if the Courts decide that outcomes are more important than the words on a document, then the nation is theirs for the taking. Our nation is one of law, not of men.

    Today, the Administration is taking great strides in establishing a form of government that exceeds the boundaries of our Constitution. There are men and women, in the House, and in the Senate, who are attempting to retain for us our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and liberties. There are propagandists in the media who view themselves as members of an elite caste of citizen, for whom the rules of individual rights and responsibilities no longer applies. The Fourth Estate has become co-opted by the forces of entitlement and avarice. Oh, and a certain, dull stupidity. Why worry about a Fifth Column, when the Fourth Estate is willing to do the job, itself?

    The whole thing is too reminiscent of the writings of contemporary authors of the Russian Revolution. Yeah, I know that turn-of-the-century history isn't important. Because it was so long ago, and no longer relevant. But imagine, if you had a library, where you could find books of critics of the Russian Revolution, free to you, to peruse. But we're burning books. We're looking to close libraries. We're going to become a Kindle-World, where only the books offered on our Kindles will be the books we read.

    It's like burning the Library of Alexandria. (Which you've never heard of.)

    Do you know why the Communist Party of the United Socialist Soviet States of Russia was originally called the Bolshevik Party?

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Maybe There Is Hope, After All

    From President Obama's speech, October 25, 2011:

    “'The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’' Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel."

    I hope he's right.

    H/T Jonah Goldberg

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    We Need A President Who Can Run This Country Like A Businessman


    We need a President who will run government like a government.

    I'm tired of having government supplant the creativity of the individual. Solyndra? Yeah, that was a good policy move.

    Oregon is all about policy. We've lost touch with the creativity of the entrepreneur, and now we rely upon centrally planned innovation. I keep waiting for the drum circles in Salem.

    I know that Ms. Bachman isn't in vogue right now, but I prefer her to Romney. I know that Huntsman is getting smothered by bad poll numbers, but I prefer Huntsman to Romney. In the top tier, I favour Cain and Perry, because they aren't talking about coming into government to create a new, corporate CEO of America. We don't need an American CEO. We need a President. Someone who manages the Executive Branch of our three branched government. I don't need the Senate to act as a supervisor of the "direction our country is headed." I don't need a House of Representatives directing the "course of our country."


    Because we have no idea what the course of our country is, where our country is headed, or what important decisions we, as individuals, will find ourselves needing to make. Setting up a committee isn't a better answer, but it is a convenient, comfortable response. Bottom line, you and I both know that what happens in the future is a mystery, but how we're trained to deal with the unexpected may earn us an additional day on this sweet planet.

    Can I vote for Romney?


    Because, at the root level, he is no different from Obama.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    A Thought Before the Conference

    When did the split occur? When did it become ideologically indefensible for a man to take his own life, and the lives of his family, into his own hands? When did some external arbiter obtain a greater sway over his life, and said adjuncts? What again, is the purpose of our government?

    I have, and have had, relatives from Connecticut to Missouri, a great-uncle who died on Island Number Ten. Family in Oklahoma, Kansas, Idaho, Minnesota and Oregon. None of those relatives came to this country for guaranteed access to health care, the food bank, or this new form of social justice.

    I don't think that this was the outcome that Herbert Spencer would have predicted.

    The Battle For Survival is twin-faced; one side offers reliance upon self, the other relies upon the other. This is the tranch offered by Sartre. In a neo-realist world, there is either the intended société ordinaire, or something else. What occurred, from franchists to atheists, was a stone upon which the language of a new metaphysics could be mounted. The lever is being applied now; what is held as "normal" is currently not working. The utility of our political process is being devalued, from Tea Party Patriots, to Wall Street Idiots. When you listen to the Wall Street guys, one of the inflections one should perceive, is a total denial, if not repudiation, of the status quo.

    There is a real difference between the English School and the European School. (Who advised us to avoid "foreign entanglements" exactly?)

    The confusion is our fault.

    America, and Americanism, is the result of a successful revolution against a tyrant, and, the successful advocacy of values. There hadn't been, before the United States, a single country in the world that put the liberty of the individual as the highest goal of a society's incorporation. Even post-World War Two countries, set up after our domination and control of their political structures, have slipped away from our native dynamic.

    Gaining acceptance of others has become a by-word of modern life.

    One hundred and sixty years later, modern American intellectuals have come to embrace the spoiled intellectualism of Europe. This explains most of what passes for thought in the current intellectual mileu. The French Revolution wasn't about upholding the values of the American Revolution. It was significantly different. The harbinger of liberté, égalité, fraternité was not the writing of folks like Hume, Descartes and Smith. One of the "names" Leftists call conservatives is "reactionary." The French Revolution was a reaction of the, what was then, a modern bourgeoisie. What today, perhaps, we would call Wall Street.

    I bring this up as an antidote to the question of, "who is complaining about what?"

    Aka, the OWS. Does the Occupy Wall Street movement represent the values of Hume, Descartes and Smith? I'd offer, no.

    The Left offers us a menu of lost causes. Why would we attempt to adopt that menu for America?

    As I said, short. The intertube conference is going on now.

    Town Hall Meeting on the Intertubes Tonight

    Economy and Job Creation Town Hall
    Join Rep. Kevin Cameron
    Ray Burstedt, President SEDCOR
    Jason Brandt, CEO Salem Chamber
    Diane McLaran, Executive Director, Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry
    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 6:30pm
    Pringle Creek Community, Painters Hall
    3911 Village Center Dr. SE Salem

    You can also watch and participate from your computer.  This town hall will be live streamed via   There may be a brief advertisment when you first go on the ustream channel, but then you should be fully able to engage.  This is our first time trying this technology.  Our hope is that it will alllow people to listen and participate in the Town Hall that may not be able to actually attend in person. 

    Be there. 

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Speaker Gingrich's Mistake

    Drawing down troops in Europe is not a Peace Dividend.

    Those of us old enough to remember, having two armored divisions forward based in Europe does have an impact on the world's balance of power.

    Removing the remaining brigades will not enhance our national security, nor reduce the costs of maintaining the peace. Maintaining the peace means having a reliable force or enough substance, with the logistics and transportation necessary to provide a quick response.

    Speaker Gingrich either does not understand the role our forces around the world play, or is again victim of his own intellectualism. By the way, I don't believe in Man Made Global Warming, either.

    Herman Cain's Mistake

    Should we ever negotiate with terrorists?

    My answer is, no.


    Whether I am a member of our military services, or simply an American abroad, if I am kidnapped, held hostage, or threatened, I do not believe that our government should ever negotiate with the attempted kidnapper, hostage-taker or thug.

    Signalling that hostage negotiations are possible is an abnegation of our historical stance and policy of never negotiating with our enemies. I was reminded of Fabrizio Quattrocchi, in his final moments. "Vi faccio vedere come muore un italiano."

    Me too, bub.


    What is our current foreign policy on kidnapping, hostage-taking and/or thuggery? As an American, can you rely upon you country to track down these rhetorical miscreants? I don't think so.

    We've lost more than common sense in three years. We've lost common decency.

    Americans will never back down to threats; whatever and any type of threat. That's not what Americans do.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    What Do You Want?

    When I teach, I attempt to teach simple things.

    Give a look at the word, "want."

    I like Saul Bellow. I like "Henderson, the Rain King."

    It isn't hard to figure out why. Saul Bellow is a great writer, and "Henderson, Rain King" is a great book. At the time when I was studying the book, I had the great fortune of being in a writer's group that included a Nigerian prince. Or, Prince. A real Prince. (You know, they do exist.)

    Henderson had a sense. And this sense was not among the listed senses, of taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight. Henderson had a sense that something was missing. He kept repeating, "I want."

    What are the synonyms of want?

    This word game is important, I think, because we tend to define our feelings in terms of what we either have, or lack. Words have greater meaning than we first suppose; words are chosen in order to define and to choose perfect or imperfect; present, future or past tenses. Speech is one of those curatives; when we speak, we commit to a thought. There are innumerable times when I've found myself speaking words that made no sense. Speaking, or writing, is a good thing.

    To find oneself with an ineffable sense, what to do?

    Taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight and ineffable. WTF?

    Fortunately, Rene was there already. Thinking. "I think, therefore, I am." Is existence a sense? The little grey cells, do they observe, or impute? Let us think for a moment; what is the difference, gift, selectivity, perversity, blasphemy, heterodoxy of independent thought, or worse, outcomes that differ from other, accepted thoughts? Do we, as a race (Man) accept and defend diversity of opinion, or do we closer (more closely) adopt herd instincts? Is thought a herd instinct? Am I better off accepting the opinions of the herd, or better off discarding the views of popular opinion and instead, chart my own course?

    You and I know, that for years the idea of a Sixth Sense has purported to be something akin to an Extra Sensory Perception. That always struck me as funny, since nothing about us is able to sense anything above and beyond our primary senses. Freud thought it this, and Jung thought it that. Sartre had a name for it, Kant called it Intellect. The point is, there is something there, there, that we choose to label as something else. Conscience, guilt, self-awareness, reason, internalization, doubt, no doubt there are other words that would work as synonyms. As we push forward, we are all trying to find ourselves within a formula, or focus, of whatever word we choose, to help us find a lens for viewing the people, friends, family, lovers, those we hate, who we know and don't know. We attempt to find a way of our dealing with certainty and uncertainty. We attempt to create bias and prejudices that can protect us, just as medicine men of years past assured us of their wisdom and protection, if only we adopted them as our medicine men. The Sixth Sense is, basically, outsourced to those who claim, and to those to whom we defer, as having a certain elegance in dealing with the holes in our perception and our understanding of what is going on around us. These holes, these wants, what we lack, what we want.

    Sartre, for me, did express best the hidden sense. I don't share the nihilist impulse of a Sartre. But Sartre was fundamentally right in his expression of the Other. Just as Freud and Jung were stumbling around trying to find rational solutions to human psychology, Sartre, on the other hand, simply dismissed the errant metaphysics of a Kant, and simply created his own. To understand Sartre isn't an abdication of Western Thought. Sartre was, after all, a product of the West, just like you and me. Freud and Jung attempted to work within a framework of the senses and the intellect. How the brain functions. Sartre attempted, as I'm attempting here, to find where the Other was indicated, and how the Other works on our fundamental approaches to self-actualization. And, I will repeat again, metaphysics isn't a form of intellectual inquiry that will, or would have, gained us much of a needed perspective on human thought and action. Metaphysics apologizes for error. Epistemology explains error. Empiricism explores that which is knowable. The problem for Sartre lies in empiricism. We can, a priori, describe hypotheticals that question relationships between people, clouds, tire traction and hummingbirds to wheat. A priori knowledge is that which we can know before experiencing. A lot of what we know a priori has been discussed in the works and criticisms of Plato. This is epistemology. Empiricism is a posteriori. Sartre was involved in a discussion of that which we could observe. An empiricism that was forced by priors. Sartre's defect was, he attempted to discover relationships in advance of observations, and ended up becoming a metaphysicist. And of how understanding that simple explanation of the five senses didn't take us to an understanding of what we observe and how we act. The easy answers of Freud and Jung were generally accepted as explanations of an epistemology that didn't take into account the role intellect plays in determining what we derive as understanding. And Sartre, more importantly, attempted to define intellect as devoid of the religious. To Sartre, God was as much the Other as was Oneself. It was as alien to Sartre was his reason. (My contempt for Sartre.)

    Who are you? ("Alice in Wonderland.")

    Who are you?

    Are you the product of your parents, your teachers, your community? Are you the product of any semblance of inquiry? Are you well-read, or do you watch someone called Snookie on television? When you ask others for those things that you want, are you asking for X-Boxes, or clean sheets, or food? Are you asking for books?

    What do you want?

    Do you want to know about yourself? Do you want to know what your expectations for yourself are? Let me ask, what do you expect of yourself? Are you able to take care of yourself? And, if you don't know how to take care of yourself, what are you doing to ingratiate yourself with someone who does know how to take care of himself? Are you getting closer to someone with merit, success, competence, or are you distancing yourself from these fellows?

    Want, lack, need. What do you want? What do you lack? What do you need? You cannot simply rely upon your senses for the answer. And this is doubly true if you have a family. It's good enough to attempt to survive on your own sense of survivability. But added the weight of family, children, the Road Warrior intellect is unfavourable.

    Miss. Without. Too rare. Absent. Determined insufficient.

    What do you lack?

    Do you lack a framework for decision? Then, pick one. Will you be an empiricist, a metaphysician, or an ontologist? Knowing you can be wrong on any and all questions, what system of thought will give you the chance of greatest benefit?

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

    A year from now, the battle to re-capture America will be in its waning days. We have 13 months before the future of our country is either moved toward a new Socialist Dawn, or we attempt to pull-back, and halt the progress toward a political system that rewards those without merit, while punishing those of merit. Or, I should say, promise a political system that rewards those without merit. Because no system that rewards the undeserving has ever succeeded.

    What we're facing, though, is a group of people with mass. The group is so disparate, that I don't think they know the mass they have, but folks smarter than I, believe. The counter-point to this mass is you and me. There are a lot of you, but just one of me. The mass has weight, that unless and until you attempt to confront this weight, you not have an appreciation of the sheer weight and velocity of the forces set against us. In our naivete, we've believed that rules of fair play, intellectual deduction, calm and reasoned debate, that we, Americans, could avoid the devolution of other countries, who have allowed themselves the downward spirals of populist parties who assure their followers that simple obedience will gain them wealth and happiness that they've never before experienced. And, "salting the mine," they've taken money from the affluent under the guise of helping those who cannot help themselves.

    I don't believe that welfare wasn't established to help the lazy, or the under-motivated.

    Welfare was established in the Great Depression, with pictures of waifs nursing children with empty teats.

    Welfare was created to help the least of us, in times when the best of us weren't able to do enough. Incremental contributions would be enough to help the bottom five percent. The truly needy. The infirm, halt, lame and mentally incapable.

    Hollywood made pictures displaying the disparity of the poor and the wealthy. The rich would depend upon magic poor-people. Sure, the rich had the cash, but until, and unless, they gained the humanity of accepting the advice of smarter than they, but poor, folks, these affluent families would face the horror of profligate sons and daughters, air-headed wives, and hired help that despised them behind their backs. The moral? Unless,and until, you gave up riches, your were destined to a certain, unerring, unhappiness. The merely affluent, the middle- and lower-classes were but a step away from poverty.

    Which was and is true.

    The weight of wealth is not that it isn't better to jet around the world in a G-5, the weight of wealth is, given the choice to sit on ones wealth, or risk ones wealth, what is the best path to follow? Sit on it, or risk it? Risk it, and you can end up with nothing. Giving up riches is nothing. You, as I, were born with nothing. We hadn't learned a thing, nor earned a thing. There are advantages to finding yourself coddled in the lap of wealth, but that coddling doesn't reduce the risks of eventually becoming responsible for your situation. Knowing the rich, they aren't different than you or I, they simply have more money.

    Like Mel Brooks said, "It's good to be the King."

    No argument. I wasn't born rich. I grew up among the rich. I've worked for the rich. From the outside, being rich has certain advantages. Having rich friends has certain advantages. Gaining the trust of the rich has certain advantages. Working for the rich is better than working for the poor. But having nothing is a lot more liberating than having a lot. (Janice.) Intelligence, education, intuition, an ability to ken, trust in your own senses, these aren't hard-wired. If your pop was successful, it's easy to suggest that your likelihood of success is greater than if your dad was a failure. But it isn't necessarily true. If it isn't necessarily true, it at least, isn't sufficiently true. I have several families that I know of who have found themselves, in the past ten years, in the previously unknown condition of having to scrape a live together for themselves.

    Rags to riches. The inverse is also true. The weight of poverty is a motivator, too, if allowed.

    Which brings one to the issue of moral hazard.

    Whether one has great wealth, or no wealth, the issue of moral hazard is raised whenever one makes a decision that affects the risks faced, versus potential rewards, due to ones judgements. The choices made that affect the ability one has to find the most meager of existences. Imagine you inherit, or win, a million dollars.

    My thought is, take that million immediately to Vegas, and bet Red. If you hit, you can pay the taxes. If you lose, you don't have a tax liability.

    You either double or you don't. Are you worse off?

    If you didn't have anything, you are no worse off. But, let's suggest that there are enough bad gamblers out there, that they have a constituency in Congress. And actually, let me refine this risk a little more; imagine that there's a constituency out there that services the gamblers. The casinos of capital are held in our major banks. private and investment banks, and on the stock exchanges. 

    Moral hazard. What to do when shorts don't cover you? Or, you take the wrong position on an investment, and find yourself stuck, with either shorts or longs, when both disintegrate? In 1929, for some, the answer was the nearest window transom. And, I'm sure, that during the latest malady in the markets, others have found quiet in the nearest equivalent to the window transom. Perhaps, it's drugs. Maybe it's a OWS. We all have our own El Guapo.

    Moral hazard. A life without moral hazard must seem like Heaven to a certain sector of the human populace. I can't help but recall some of Mr. Clemen's hazarded guesses about this type of Heaven: "It is easy to see that the inventor of the heaven did not originate the idea, but copied it from the show-ceremonies of some sorry little sovereign State up in the back settlements of the Orient somewhere;" "Singing hymns and waving palm branches through all eternity is pretty when you hear about it in the pulpit, but it's as poor a way to put in valuable time as a body could contrive;" "Let us swear while we may, for in Heaven it will not be allowed;" and, "There is no humor in heaven."

    The religious have always offered us ways to avoid the moral hazard of life. Innocence has always been a form of affirmative defense against crimes of sloth, carelessness, indifference and ignorance. Here, in America, we have as close to as is possible, a society where we can simply pick the fruit off the three.

    What occurs when you legislate an outcome that favours both the diminished, and the advantaged? When you remove moral hazard from the middle-class? What society is it, that creates a solution where nobody is responsible for their individual actions? It isn't my fault that we've created a political system that rewards everyone, no matter their failings. It is as if we're awarding "participation ribbons" to banks, to Wall Street funds, to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for simply being there. Good ideas. Didn't work out.

    Solyndra. Wind mills for electrical generation. Green technology. Green buildings. Electric vehicles.None of which works, or works efficiently. It's not our fault. If we don't keep sending billions of bucks to stupid technologies, how are we going to create new technologies?

    There will be no "revolution." We can allow our government to take billions of dollars from us to give to our connected friends and neighbors, but no new technologies will be developed. The new technologies will come from places we never knew existed. That is the nature of innovation. It cannot be planned. It will be discovered, in ways we never anticipated. The revolution will not be televised. It can be smothered, though, like a child under a heavy pillow.

    And then, we will, begin again.

    And it will not be televised.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Columbus Day

    Click a biggun.

    Imagine Christopher Columbus. Who would you compare him to? Steve Jobs? Galileo? Rousseau, Descartes, Hume, Locke, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Plato, Smith, Burke, Fermat, Aristotle, da Vinci, Marconi, Alexander Graham Bell, Salk, Curie, De Soto, William Penn, Archimedes, Leibnitz, Marcus Aurelius?

    Who decides what constitutes legitimate authority?

    The question comes up, since guys like Natan Scharansky asked it of the former Soviet Union. What is true?

    For you and I, the answer is simple; I decide what is true. I have beliefs, based upon a rational belief system, and I have knowledge, based upon my God given senses. My senses don't lie, my mind is the forge where my beliefs are forged. And, in myself, I remain skeptical of that which I observe, unwilling to become a victim of my own prejudices. One of the first questions asked, in my Theory of Knowledge course, was, is it raining outside? I look to my window, I see droplets. Is it true, that it is raining outside? Not necessarily. What if, a man was standing on the roof with a water hose, spraying water over the side of the building? Was that rain?


    My experience tells me it is raining outside. The truth is, there's a man on the roof spraying water. How do we know what is true? It isn't necessarily a "cappuccino moment."

    Claims are one thing. Settled science is another. There exist a number of unproven postulates that are being taught. I have no beef with this. There is a certain utility with theorems that allow us to understand, even though, we do so with a certain codicil. Things can change.

    We can choose to believe anything we wish to believe.The point is, what we choose to believe doesn't grant our belief the status of knowledge. Just as we looked out the window and "saw rain," we granted our perceptions a role that our minds wouldn't allow, when looked at critically. Here's another example of our seeing things that aren't true.

    I've attempted to share, with friends, family and my employees, the value of expectations. Different people have different expectations. Why not? We are all different, aren't we? That is the plausible reason for people to adopt something we know of as, today, diversity, isn't it?

    Let's go back to Columbus.

    Click a biggun.

    Chris Columbo decided that he had some kinda brilliant idea. Every person of reasonable intellect had decided that the World was Flat. It was, the Scientific Consensus of the day. It was the view of the intelligentsia, of scholars, or the body politic. It was the accepted truth.

    One could make hay with this example, if one were willing to draw attention to the current discourse involving something called CO².

    But I have no stake in the game of whether or not a naturally occurring gas is killing us, or the planet. My interest is in Chris Columbo, and his mad dash to the West.

    It was mad. It ran counter to every consensus belief of "science" at the time. But, he had an understanding of how things worked, even if no one had ever tested that understanding before. (Remember Richard Feynman's advice.) But Columbus had one great idea, greater than the idea of his navigation; finding a venture capitalist.

    The success of Columbus' adventure rang not from the bells tolled of community service, it rang from the risk a woman was willing to take, in order to find new sources of riches. The riches of the East were proven. Finding a path to the East that would require less time? Priceless. (We're going to, someday, give up credit card commercial analogies.)

    The proven routes to the East required years of passage. The costs of trade were immense. And yet, given the time and cost of the investments of trade, that trade still occurred. Why? Because the benefits of trade were captured in the costs of the items being traded. Load up sixteen tons of silk, and your investment in cheap Chinese goods will be multiplied as the result of the demand for those products. Who benefits from these trades? The guys who are able to sell, in bulk, a product they can manufacture cheaply, to a market is willing to pay dear for the benefit of receiving those products. Columbus was not a man given to wild ideas about social justice. He was a guy who came to Isabella with a prospectus that offered a way to decrease the costs of trade to the benefit of the investor. He is, in a way, our first Entrepreneur. And Queen Isabella was the First Capitalist.

    Imagine the trade routes that were discovered after his sailings.

    Click a biggun.

    What would have occurred, if, rather than an entrepreneur and a capitalist getting together to finance Chris' first voyage, it had been a team of government innovators?

    It's obvious, that we would need to have this voyage as a part of an innovation plan. Legislation would be necessary to allow for the voyage. For the thousands of sailors and ships' owners that were crossing from  Seville to the East, Chris' plan would destroy them. An entire price/cost structure would have to be re-defined. We would need to protect the wages earned by seafaring men in the face of increased productivity, and decreased demand for seamen. The unions, which had been propping up increasingly unpopular administrations, would be advocating for limits on Columbus, in order to protect the workers on Columbus's ships, as well as to protect all workers from exploitation. Health effects of exploration would become a consideration, since we have no metric with which to judge the harm the voyage would impact the undiscovered oceans Columbus was declaring he would exploit, or on the workers who would find themselves in strange new oceans, with untold hazards that couldn't be demonstrated as having no negative impact on the workers themselves, or upon the environment that they were imposing upon. The potential impact on the sardine fishery would have to be investigated. What if the circumnavigation of the World resulted in a decreased sardine fishery? We need to know these things, in advance of our approving the activity. Or, any activity.

    Furthermore, in order to protect the planet from the effects of human beings living on the planet, we are going to institute rules of voyage, in order to direct the investments put up by the entrepreneur Columbus, and his capital partner, Isabella.

    In order to have the innovation necessary to approve this venture, we are going to direct all activities in finding this Green Technology Route to India, in the following ways.

    First, since we all know that using traditional trade routes, that the direction of India is to the East, all movements by Columbus must be to the West. Secondly, since asking someone to do something he doesn't feel he wants to do is a form of imposition upon the diversity rights of that person, we need to make sure that any participant of the fleet described by Columbus is unionised, and has the right to call a work stoppage whenever a majority of labour feels necessary. Thirdly, since Columbus is an entrepreneur, it is unjust that he conduct his business as he feels is right and necessary. At any time that Columbus tries or attempts to exert his views upon others, he shall be found to have violated the rights of those persons, and shall be fined, and or prosecuted, for attempt to intimidate, or intimidation,

    After great deliberation, it is determined, that after leaving Seville, the wheels of the Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria will be roped, in order to effect the innovative plans of the Progressives that have anointed this Green Investment. Likewise, since Progressives have staked out guarantees of human rights, living wages and diversity, sails will also be set in such as fashion as to forbid changes in their set. Now, these three vessels, set upon their paths by the rigours of Progressivism, will proceed to their destinations. And they will be successful, since, by Legislative Authority, we have determined the best course for our investments to take. The workers will determine the outcome of the venture, since, under the Labour Theory of Value, nothing has value without the contribution of the Worker.

    The Eventual and Inevitable Rape of the West, as described by modern Progressives, imputes these values. "If only Columbus hadn't invaded the pre-Columbian World!" (Followed by feinting.)

    If Progressives had ruled the World in the 15th Century, we'd still all be living in Europe. I have no idea what would have progressed in the Western Hemisphere, it would be all conjecture. If only we had held onto Settled Science five hundred years ago. Under the Progressive rules promulgated above, Columbus would have never found the New World. After a few years, a few decades, exploration of the West would have discontinued. Except for those renegades in the North. (You decadent Finns and Norwegians!) Anyway, let it be said, that Progressives did rule the European continent in the 15th century. Progressive is just another way of saying, "let me tell you what to do."

    The miracle of Western Civilization isn't in the constraints imposed by modern, secular governments. The miracle of Western Civilization lies in those who weren't content to follow the established science, and were, instead, motivated by personal observations that disproved the theories and beliefs that had been established previously. The entire Enlightenment and the following period of empiricism was due to a break in what had been considered accepted science.

    Had Columbus been constrained as we are, in energy exploration, science and technology, we would have never discovered the New World.

    Click a biggun.

    Look at the map.

    Before Columbus' trip, we had no idea about the forces he would face, as he attempted his oceanic voyage. Left to himself, he was able to make changes in the trajectory of his voyage, just as modern entrepreneurs should be allowed to make changes and shifts in their voyage in discovering new sources of energy.  Had union rules existed on the three ships, they would have turned about. No man who sailed aboard these ships had any question as to who who make decisions affecting their lives; whether they would live or die. Minimum wages didn't exist. Yet, not only did Columbus exploit his men, he exploited himself. Few know of how Columbus died.

    And the World benefited from Columbus.

    Just as they benefited from men and women like Rousseau, Descartes, Hume, Locke, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Plato, Smith, Burke, Fermat, Aristotle, da Vinci, Marconi, Alexander Graham Bell, Salk, Curie, De Soto, William Penn, Archimedes, Leibnitz, Marcus Aurelius.

    Why is Columbus Day such an important day for Americans? It's not the Italian thing. It's about a man, facing uncertainty, doing what in his heart was important. And it leads to riches. 

    If we can kill the importance of Columbus Day for Americans, we can kill the American dream.

    One man, facing an ocean of obstacles, succeeding.

    No room for collectivism.

    Happy Columbus Day!

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Herman Cain On Affirmative Action

    "Some of my opponents in the race for the U.S. Senate seem to like to ask me if I am in favor of affirmative action. I'm sick and tired of people trying to divide us on race. So let me make my answer as plain as day, so that even a congressman can understand it. If by affirmative action you mean quotas - then no. But if you mean, do I favor giving all people equal opportunity? You bet. I don't understand how my opponents could not agree with the idea of removing all barriers for people to have equal opportunity.

    "When my father left a dirt farm at age 18 to pursue his American dream, he knew it would not be easy. He worked three jobs as a barber, chauffeur and janitor. My father struggled but never wavered in his three basic beliefs: his belief in God, his belief in himself and his belief that if he wanted to achieve something in this country, he could. He taught me that you get what you earn. I took that lesson to heart. After 20 years of hard work, I became a vice-president of the same company where dad worked as a janitor."

    The rest here.

    Remembering A Simpler Time

    Age has its advantages. You can call us grumpy, but the truth is, there was greater civility twenty, thirty, forty years ago.

    If you need statistical proof, you can look at this article, by Wm. Briggs.

    Or you can simply watch this, with a hat-tip to Sippican.

    Is It Time To Send Herman Cain A Check?

    Your opinion?

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Minimum Wage

    As I've written before, I recently hired two young men to work for me.

    I was asked today, why I didn't give them more hours.

    The reason is, they work for my convenience.

    1. The quality of being suitable to one's comfort, purposes, or needs: the convenience of living near shops, schools, and libraries.
    2. Personal comfort or advantage: services that promote the customer's convenience.
    3. Something that increases comfort or saves work: household conveniences such as a washing machine, an electric can opener, and disposable diapers. See synonyms at amenity.
    4. A suitable or agreeable time: Fill out the form at your earliest convenience.
    5. Chiefly British. A lavatory
    I need them for a brainless task, for a few hours a day. Simply "being" is an adequate job skill. During those hours, they are being taught usable work skills, and the question was asked, "Since I'm learning how to be more effective, why can't I work more hours?"

    Good question. The answer is, because, you're not worth enough to me now, for me to give you more hours. I know that I'm "destroying" your entire day with my request for three hours. I know that I could spend more time with you, teaching you more, making you more valuable, more quickly.

    The problem is, the state has decided that my improving your work skills is less important than that I treat you with respect; pay you an inflated, state mandated minimum wage, that neither conveniences me, nor you. If you missed it, I'm posting this because at least one member of your state's legislature wrote about it earlier:

    "A cursory look a the state's excessive minimum wage, top tax rate and regulatory creep all reveal these factors to be significant forces affecting Oregon's economic future. (Ted Feriolli, The Oregonian, "Countering economic pessimism: Oregon has the resources to rebuild prosperity" September 27, 2011.)

    I don't run a nursery here. I've dedicated some time, each day, in the attempt to teach two men enough to make them employable. I would offer them more time, and increase their value more quickly, but the state has decided to put a limit on the time I can afford to have them in my employ. And remember, they are willing to work for free. But changes in federal law regarding interns means that they can't intern here, without constant supervision. Which is again, not convenient for me.

    I don't know if you've looked at the "demands" of the "occupiers" of Wall Street. I have two young men who want to spend more time with me learning. Changes in the law, both federally and in this state, makes my time with them, if I don't pay them for that time, illegal.

    This was the change we'd been hoping for, isn't it?

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Too Good Not To Share

    Meghan Fleming, 26 years of age, was walking out of the Petsmart store at 2925 Lancaster Dr NE about 4:00 yesterday afternoon when she was approached by a male asking for money. She and (sic) him a five dollar bill and proceeded to her vehicle where her nephew 19 year old Timothy Fleming and her twin two year olds were waiting. Fleming apparently changed her mind about the donation, drove up to him in her car, pulled back the slide on what appeared to be a semi-automatic pistol and demanded her money back. Timothy Fleming demanded the money as well and threatened to take the man's bicycle. The victim, 23 year old Nicholas Gutierrez-Didlot, handed the five dollar bill back.

    The victim walked into the store saying he had just been robbed and provided a description. The store was familiar with Meghan and provided police dispatch with her name. Police records showed that Meghan lived in the 4000 block of Beck Av SE. Officers responded to Petsmart, as well as to the Beck Av. address.

    Approximately 20 minutes later, Meghan drove up to her residence where she was taken into custody without incident. The pistol turned out to be a BB gun. Her two twins were turned over to her relatives for care. Timothy Fleming was not in the vehicle when it arrived on Beck. He surrendered at the Turner Police Department at about 6:00 this morning.

    Both have been lodged in the Marion County Correctional Facility charged with robbery. "Meghan certainly could have asked for her money back, but that was not the case. She crossed the line when she pointed what looked like a firearm at him and demanded he hand over the money," said Lt. Steve Birr.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Organizing A Protest Here, Boss

    I’m going to organize an anti-hippie protest tomorrow. We will all go to work and contribute to society. Who’s with me?!


    Academically Adrift

    "Missing from the conversation is the quality of what’s being taught." (Kathleen Parker.)

    ●Gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills are either “exceedingly small or nonexistent for a larger proportion of students.”

    ●Thirty-six percent of students experience no significant improvement in learning (as measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment) over four years of higher education.

    'That group adds that "Academically Adrift" confirms their own findings, and that when combined with our 47 million high school dropouts and the fact that 40% of entering college students cannot read, write, or compute at a college-ready level makes our overall education outputs even dimmer - despite world-leading per-pupil expenditure levels." (From comments.)

    "Students in education, communications, and business had the lowest measurable gains." (Richard Arum Letter, .pdf.)

    Hey, it's not just me.

    CNN Makes Scheduling Mistake

    Erin Burnett begins her new show on CNN tomorrow. They had a chance to put together a show that would make definite in-roads on the viewership numbers of FOX's "The O-Reilly Factor." Instead, they put her into a slot that competes against her old network's show, "The Kudlow Report."

    I am a fan of Ms. Burnett. I was disappointed when I heard she had left CNBC, a network that where I find myself spending a lot of time.

    I'm tired of Mr. O'Reilly's bloviating. His absolute disregard for markets, especially the markets for energy, has been addressed by many, including FOX's own, Neal Cavuto. Under a banner of populism, or "looking out for the people," O'Reilly expresses fears of Big Oil that are mimicked in  nature only by rabid dogs when faced with a bowl of water. Attempts to introduce elasticity in the determination of price falls on deaf ears.

    I'm very happy to see that Ms. Burnett will be returning to cable news. But, Kudlow will be number one in the time slot. For a lot of us.