Showing posts with label America. Show all posts
Showing posts with label America. Show all posts

Thursday, December 26, 2013

First White on Black "Knock Out Game"

HOUSTON (AP) — A white Houston-area man was arrested Thursday on federal hate crimes charges for allegedly shooting video of himself sucker-punching a 79-year-old black man in a "knockout game"-style attack.

A hole cracker punching an old black person isn't any more or less acceptable than an 'urban youth' punching an elderly white person. I cannot condone random pointless violence, especially against the old, young and generally infirm. That being said people in a group reacting to violence against their group is a very natural reaction.  Reactions create counter reactions which can under some circumstances spiral into ethnic/ tribal violence beyond what anyone could envision. Without overreacting to this incident it could be a sign of bad things to come.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting, 'Statement' Voting and Not Voting

Today is election day. Even though the rise of by mail and early voting has pushed some of it earlier this is still a big day.

I encourage you to get out and vote. We live in a country where we get a voice and should use it. 

If you really do not want either President Obama or Mitt Romney to be our next president then vote for somebody else. There is a whole ballot full of all sorts of interesting folks. You've got the Liberterians, the American Constitution Party, the Greens, and all manner of socialists. We all know that at least in this cycle the President is going to be an R or a D. However it is worth noting that getting 5% of the vote will give a third party access to the same public funds and other advantages that help the R and D folks.

Personally I voted for a third party candidate. You can probably guess which one but I don't want to muddle the waters. This brings us to 'statement' voting. As noted above getting a 3rd party really into the game is a worthwhile goal and as such a vote for them is not wasted. However if one still wants to call 3rd party voting a statement thing I guess that is fine. It is also worth noting that a 3rd party candidate for dog catcher or county sheriff or state senate or even congress may be realistic.

Another consideration is how your state is going to vote. Some states are solid blue or red and as such the odds of a close election where you would be splitting the vote away from the major candidate you dislike less are remote. Depending on how much you like or dislike both major party candidates that might be a consideration.

As to not voting. First and foremost it isn't like you can really opt out of our laws, tax code and such. I didn't vote for him is not a get out of jail free card. The biggest question I would have for these folks is what they plan to accomplish. The answer is usually nothing cohesive and that the system can't be fixed. Historically groups abstaining or in the case of North Ireland electing people who refuse to take their seats have had serious PR and on the ground campaigns to affect something. I do not see this in the American 'I'm not voting because the two party system is evil crowd'.

I would really encourage folks who decide to abstain from voting for a presidential candidate to look at the smaller races. These are the local stuff that actually matters. The Sheriff or the city council who hire a police chief that might or might not SWAT your house. The animal control folks and planning boards that can mess with homesteaders to no end or leave them alone.

As to predictions for today. It has seemed to me that the winds are flowing in the direction of Mitt Romney but it is very close. Today will be an interesting day.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Night Ramblings and Tab Clearing

I always knew that liberal dudes were weaker and generally less masculine but now there is scientific proof.

Apparantly CNBN did a hit piece of the venerable Remington 870. Hat tip to The Firearms Blog for the find. Maybe they could have been even more unamerican by bashing apple pie and cold beer.
Now for my take. I will even set aside the fact that the so called experts who testify about how pretty much every firearm is unsafe FOR MONEY and are trying to sell some new safety thing they invented.

The thing is that shotgun safeties, to the best of my knowledge are not so much safeties as trigger stoppers. To the best of my knowledge there isn't a shotgun out there that has a safety which blocks the sort of accidental impact based discharge that happened to the unfortunate fellow mentioned in the story. Sort of like many open bolt machine guns if you give them a good whack they will probably go off.

There is a simple and time tested way to handle this mechanical weakness. KEEP THE CHAMBER EMPTY UNLESS YOU ARE ACTIVELY USING THE GUN! For a shotgun this means that when you are done using it take the round out of the cylinder and stick it back into the tube or buttstock carrier.
I own a Remington 870 Express. With both short and long barrels it is a really versatile weapon equally capable of defending ones home or all manner of hunting and sporting. I have trusted it with my life in the past as a primary home defense weapon and would not hesitate to do so again in the future. As to my thoughts on reliability and usefullness the Remington 870 I won't sell the one I have and at some point will get another one.

I was at the store the other day picking up a couple things on my way home from work. The folks in front of me bought some stuff using WIC. Nothing really new about that. Overseas food costs are pretty high so they calculate eligibility differently and a lot more folks get it. I bought my few items and walked out to the parking lot. The folks who bought the stuff with WIC in front of me got into a car that was maybe a year old. Nothing crazy, I think it was a Ford Focus or something like that. I got into my 10 year old SUV with some minor cosmetic damage and drove home. Honestly it sort of made me angry. Why should I be subsidizing them? If they don't make very much money maybe they should be doing things like not buying new cars so they can afford food for their kids. I got to thinking. Given the state of our nation I don't really look down on folks who figure out how to work the system a bit in their favor. A few years back I did look down on them for being moochers. These days I sort of look at it that if you can get a little bit back it isn't a bad thing.
Ironically this year we qualify for welfare Earned Income Credit. A nuance of combat deployments is that since our pay is not taxed. Thus as far as my taxes are concerned it does not count. Since I deployed in February and was gone for a year our taxable income was pretty tiny for last year. Thus we get welfare Earned Income Credit. I wouldn't have thought of it but a pretty sharp contractor (ironically also a contrarian investor and survivalist) said I should look into it. This is something I had some real internal conflict about. It is pretty crazy that we qualify because my income fell into a different column on the stupid little piece of paper that is the W2. I make a decent living and we aren't in any sort of need. However me deciding to be a good guy and turning away free money is not going to fix the national deficit. We are putting the money into our house fund. I kind of look at it as a partial refund of all that money I put into SS and medicare
The man who committed 10 felonies in 9 hours was pretty impressive. Some folks are just bad and if this sort of thing happens when everything is normal toss in a power outage or a hurricane or a riot and well, it ain't pretty.

Well it is just about a done deal that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican presidential candidate. I am almost entirely ambivalent about this. Got to purchase some more mags between now and November.
Heineken is pretty good and Jimmy Fallon probably has the best late night TV show these days.

That is all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

That’s the trouble with you Americans, you expect nothing bad to ever happen when the rest of the world expects everything bad to happen, and they are not disappointed.
Svetlana on the Soprano’s

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American prospects by Dimitry Orlov

This book discusses the Soviet collapse (loosely moving between the end of the USSR and their economic hyperinflationary collapse a few years later, more on this in a bit). It compares and contrasts what could be called the Soviet model with current and possible future events in America. In doing so the book looks at where we may be going. I read it on my kindle but am sure you can get it in a physical format if you so desire. Anyway let us get onto the usual format.

The Good: It was a quick, easy read. The author did a bang up job of speaking on complicated issues in clear language without jargon or scienceinese (the language scientists speak and none of the rest of us understand).  Somebody smart once said that if you can’t explain an idea to an average man on the street then you do not really understand it. By that standard Dimitry Orlov really understands the themes and ideas that make up the subject matter for this book. For a nonfiction book it reads rather casually, part because of the clear simple language used and part because it is interwoven with stories of his experiences and anecdotal tales. In the closing comments he said (more of less) that he tried to keep it light and enjoyable and I would say he did a great job. The information on the Soviet economy and collapse was outstanding. Also the way it was written hit the man on the street angle as well as the bigger picture of what was happening. This balancing act was probably hard and he did a great job of it. I learned a lot about how the Soviet economy worked, failed to work and fell apart in this book.

The Bad: It is abundantly clear to me that the author looks at the Soviet union through some rose colored glasses. I don’t know a ton about the USSR/ Russia’s history but he seemed to have an awful positive memory. Furthermore I found him willing to sweep America with a broadly critical brush that is probably not deserved. The words “if you liked it so much then why didn’t you stay there” came to mind and maybe out of my mouth a few times. If he would have been glowing or rough to both sides it would have made a lot more sense. This almost discredited an otherwise quality book for me.
The author could not seem to make up his mind between talking about the fall of the USSR and the Russian economic collapse a few years later. Of course both events were linked but the way he talked about them flipping back and forth randomly was confusing and in my mind not particularly logical. I’m not sure if he was trying to pad the book a bit, in any case it was distracting.

The Ugly: At points I found the book to be full of contradictions. He can’t seem to decide if there is going to be an economic collapse and hyperinflation or if things are going to go all Mad Max and stick with one idea. Much of his claim rests on peak oil theory which is, while not as discredited as global warming, certainly a subject that could be debated. This goes back to the point before that the events he is claiming will or are happening do not seem to logically lead to the conclusion he goes to. Maybe my reading missed something.
More so than any comparable book (Kustner, FerFAL, etc) I found this to be depressingly low on concrete ideas to prepare for the scenario the author lays out. He mentions how you might want to buy some compact tangibles such as soap and razor blades and that having a home with a bit of land to grow a garden that is paid off is a good idea. Aside from a few vagaries the book is awful long on problem and short on solution.  I’ve been told never to bring somebody a problem without an idea for a solution, apparently Dimitry Orlov hasn’t heard that one.

Now for some discussion in no particular order:
-One compelling and disturbing point was brought up. A significant reason the Russian economic collapse was so calm was that everyone’s residence was owned by the state so nobody got evicted. Sure they shared an apartment with a 12 member 3 generation family but at least they had a roof and walls that was not tied to any need for income. In America pretty much everyone’s residence is tied to a need for continued income, if just to pay the property taxes. That kept their homeless population to a real minimum which contributed a lot to stability. I do not know a lot of people in America who would still be in their home after a year or two if their savings/ investments were wiped away and their job lost. I am not sure what would happen if America had that sort of structurally high unemployment. However if our current situation is any indicator it would favor banksters and large residential property owners (who are typically quite well off) not average down on his luck Joe 6 pack. Massive homelessness would be a huge tragedy for a lot of people and cause significant instability. When people think (maybe accurately) that they have nothing to lose they are very dangerous.
- I think it is not possible to make a lot of comparison’s in an ‘apples to apples’ way because so much was going on in the USSR and Russia during that period. All of the events happening make direct cause and effect impossible in some cases, at least IMO. I would say a lot of the chaos and the rise of a massive criminal underworld was the result of communism or the wild west collapse of communism. Unless there are significant tariff’s, price controls or truly punitive taxes put into place I do not see the kind of massive underworld that appeared in Russia happening. There is no need to buy $25 soap from a sketchy dude in an alley when you can get it from the neighborhood store.  The existence of a relatively free market and its inherent ability to adapt readily negates some points the author made.
- Also for a lot of reasons I do not see the kind of massive corruption that took place in Russia happening, it just is not part of our culture, well except maybe Dem’s in Illinois. I do believe we could fall a rung down the proverbial corruption ladder but not to where Russia was/ is.
-As for the idea of a lot of laws and regulations being almost removed by the default of non enforcement I am not so sure. Unfortunately I think the answer is that laws will stay on the books and either every once in awhile somebody will get hammered for running an unlicensed business, dodging taxes, etc. This is not a huge deal as the odds of it being you are low. Another possibility is that laws will just be enforced selectively based upon various personal and political motives. Given the way the pendulum has swung recently that would be bad for most people who read this blog, especially the ones who are publicly outspoken. That the New Black Panthers can openly and brazenly intimidate white voters with weapons and face no consequences but an active conservative type will get hammered for a parking ticket or the like could be seen as a glimpse into the future.
In closing I do think this book is worth reading even though it does have some rough spots. The info and background on the Russian collapse was very interesting and though provoking. Heck I would go as far as to say it is worth paying retail price for if you can’t borrow a copy.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

4th of July

Well it is the 4th of July. A pretty quiet day here. Obviously we need to maintain security, provide some basic services as well as maintain C2, however on the whole it is as light of a day as possible.No beer or fireworks but there was a pretty good spread of food which I vigerously ate my way through. I've got to hand it to our cooks. They really cook the heck out of what they are given. Having eaten in facilities that are outstanding and others which are horrible I can attest to their knowhow and care of preparation being the difference between something that will (or in extreme cases won't) fill your stomach and fuel you for a few hours and an enjoyable meal that raises your spirits. Those guys work insane hours in probably the least sexy job in the military and deserve more credit than they get. Anyway today leaves me somewhat reflective about a lot of things. I am not going to wax about history or philosophy. Birthday's are a great time for an azmith check. Our country isn't in a substantially different place than a year ago. However we were not in a great place, by any measure, a year ago. The drama in the Eurozone has at a minimum shown a possible direction we could be headed in. We probably have a lot more electronic money floating around than a year ago, but some time back those numbers started sounding like made up ones little kids would use to taunt eachother on the playground so I stopped paying attention. We are getting out of Iraq which is a good thing. I truly hope the best for that nation but the next chapter is going to have to be written by it's own citizens. We are also, at least in theory starting to phase out of Afghanistan. Probably for the best. By this point, a decade into this war, if we have not achieved a desired endstate it is time to take a good hard look at how much more blood and money we are willing to put into meeting our goals. The general concensus is not very much. The hard truth is that the Afghan government is going to have to stand on it's own feet pretty soon. We seem to be involved in Libya and I am not at all sure what to say about that one. Is there a way we can keep a good record of ordinance that is about to go past it's lifespan and just measure that up with a list of countries what have pissed us off? Some logisticial could just allocate the 500 scuds which go bad in a few months toward whomever is currently pissing us off. It would be cheaper than using newer ordinance.

I am concerned about the problems on our border with Mexico. Also the rise of no knock warrants against average people going wrong bothers me a lot. There has got to be some way cops can retain that tool they genuinely need but use enough discretion that normal, fundamentally decent, folks aren't getting killed all the time. If this keeps up a lot of folks may start to reevaluate their stance on cops. Cops might find themselves aweful alone in a big scary world if this keeps up for much longer.

I do not think all is lost. America is a big, strong country with a lot of productive power. Sort of like an exceptionally big/ strong man in a fight, even when we are getting the worst of it a solid punch landed can totally change a fight. A governing body that decided to fuel growth and took some (I'm not talking fixing every entitlement problem over night) reasonable steps to get spending under control could change things in a hurry. That would let us stop borrowing like crazy and be on a more even trading field with China. Businesses having the confidence to spend their on hand cash and people being willing to expand their businesses or start new ventures would radically change the employment situation. These problems could be solidly in our rear view mirror in a few years. I know that outlook is a bit rosy but I want to break us all out of the doom and gloom group think. Anyway I hope you have a good Independence Day

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Random Thoughts on Dogma, Politics and War

Like all of you I have heard the phrase "people deserve the government they accept". Though I have deployed before for reasons that are not clear to me (probably age and maturity) I got to thinking about that phrase here. It is incredibly simplistic and fails to consider geography (a La Guns Germs and Steel) and its political and social implications. Simply put for reasons beyond anybodies control some places are just screwed. It is very simplistic and egotistical to think we as individuals have some direct role in our government being better than it is in some other places.

A lot of views people in the circles we are in talk about mesh closely with traditional Afghan tribal (really Pashtun) social codes. Here you can see the sum of this supposedly ideal individual behavior and how well it actually plays out. Not that it is the only factor but it is a big one.

Well I am going to get a bite to eat and then some sleep. Be happy you don't live in a country that actually sucks. If you are American be really happy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jim's Quote of the Day

I know some of you, for whatever reason do not read Survivalblog so now and again I try to hilight things from there which pop out at me. Jims Quote of the Day is one of them so read it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Quote of the Day, an Interesting Post and a Good Blog

"Don't screw with the US. George Washington crossed over the Delaware river at night to attack the enemy while they slept on Christmas. We will do what it takes. We are unreasonable like that. Reasonable people compromise and give concessions to their enemy. Unreasonable people win. Be unreasonable."
-American Mercenary

I follow a lot of blogs to varying degrees. One of them is American Mercenary. I particularly enjoyed this recent post about information security and cyber warfare. If you are looking to expand your reading check out his stuff.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

America's Debt Crisis

It is nice to start things off with a quote. This one sums the situation up pretty succinctly.

"Right now, it doesn’t look like anybody up there can add, whether they’ve got an R or a D."

-Dave Ramsey

I am seriously concerned about America's debt. There are all kinds of worst case scenarios that are maybe's but THIS IS HAPPENING. I know we are past the point of a painless fix. At some point we will get to a place where there isn't a fix.

You can read a draft of the proposed report here. I appreciate that it is a slide show type presetation versus a dry and wordy mess. It doesn't take too long to look through. There were all kinds of ideas; some of which were pretty blah and others were more interesting. Huffington Post highlighted  some of them.

Roll discretionary spending back to FY2010 levels for FY2012, requires 1% cut in discretionary budget authority every year from FY2013 though 2015;

•Fully offset the cost of the "Doc Fix" by asking doctors and other health providers, lawyers, and individuals to take responsibility for slowing health care cost growth;

•Reduce farm subsidies by3 billion per year by reducing direct payments and other subsidies;

•Achieve 100 billion in Illustrative Defense Cuts;

•Index retirement age for Social security to increases in longevity. "This option is projected to increase the age by one month every two years after it reaches 67 under current law, meaning the normal retirement age would reach 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075." There will be a "hardship exemption" for those unable to work beyond 62;

•Give retirees the choice of collecting half their benefits early and the other half at a later age to minimize impact of actuarial reduction and support phased retirement options;

•Reduce corporate tax rate to 26% and permanently extend the research credit;

•Gradually increase gas tax to fund transportation spending.

There were definitely some good parts to this whole thing. First and probably most significantly we are actually talking about our deficit problem in a broad and public venue. Next I really enjoyed that this effort was at least fairly bipartisan. Both sides of Congress and the parties they represent and really ever national level elected official except Ron Paul is to blame. You could even argue that Ron Paul shares some blame for not doing a good enough job of convincing his co workers to get on board with sound monetary/ economic policies. More significantly the suggestions which stemmed from this Commission seem to me pretty bipartisan. It suggests cuts in just about everything and is sure to have an idea or two which makes just about everybody annoyed.

Americans have a serious issue of wanting services and social type support networks but not wanting to pay for them. We want first class infrastructure and the benefits of a psuedo welfare state but want to pay the taxes of a your on your own Carribean tax haven. Americans as a group need to come to terms with the simple fact that we are going to get the government, services and benefits that we pay for.

The real issue isn't so much coming up with ideas but making those ideas palitable to enough people and actually getting them implimented. Politicians hate the idea of losing the earmarks which let them bring bacon to their home districts and keep the businesses which fund their campaigns happy. Just about every group of citizens has some pet tax credit or another which to them is untouchable such as "earned" income credit, mortgage interest deduction, capital gains, etc.

I am not an economist or an accountant or a financial genius. However like most other people I have had to balance budgets and deal with bills and all that. Like anyone else I have had times when I didn't pay attention or made mistakes and lived beyond my means. I think the first and most significant step is realizing you have a problem, if just a temporary one. Next you look at what kind of income you have coming in. You put your expenses and obligations onto a list in terms of priority. WHAT DO YOU REALLY NEED? A place to live, utilties, fuel and food are quite important. After that you pay whatever bills you have. Additional money can be used to try and pay off debt and have a little bit of fun.

What does this have to do with anything? The same train of thought could be made in terms of our national budget. We need to cut out fancy stuff like foreign aid, farm subsidies and meddling in health care and focus on basic services, reasonable defense and just plain getting our house in order. The situation is that we need to get our own house in order and that might mean we can't do all kinds of things we like doing.

Personally I have some thoughts on how to deal with our debt. In no particular order:
  • It is absolutely imperative that we get entitlements under control. I say again, it is absolutely imperative that we get entitlements under control. While a few hundred million for this project or a billion for a bailout catch headlines but Social Security, Medicare and Medicade are going to bankrupt us. At the same time we need to honor our promise to individuals already recieving these benefits and those who will start to collect them soon. However those under a certain age (somewhere around 52-55) have time to adjust their plans. Then some smart people could sit down with an actuary table and figure out how to fund benefits for those who were close to collecting. We have to bend the bell curve or it is going to destroy us.
  • We need to have a serious discussion about if we can afford to continue our overseas adventures; particularly Iraq and Afghanistan. Without even talking about if these wars are good or meaningful we need to talk about how to pay for them. The idea that we can fight wars and not actually pay for them just doesn't mesh with reality.  Our overseas footprint in general should also be up for serious articulate discussion. Having some strategic bases as well as prepositioned logistics makes sense. I would be willing to would wager that we could dramatically decrease our overseas presence at little or no cost to our real military capabilities.  Europe and Asia can afford to pay for their own defense and if they should choose not to well that might play out badly for them. I am stationed in Germany and I hate to tell you but the Russians aren't storming through the Fulda Gap any time soon. North Korea doesn't have the fuel and rations to invade anybody and why should we care if they invade South Korea anyway?
  • We need to motivate businesses, particularly the kind of manufacturing that provides decent paying jobs in medium to large numbers to stay in or move to America and make things which people want to buy. This will go a long way toward fixing our import/export problem. This whole idea of an information or finance or service economy isn't working well. Of course all those things occur in any economy but we have just got to start making stuff that people in other nations want to buy. At least if we ever want to fix our trade situation.
  • We need to admit that we cannot afford to continue foreign aid on anywhere near the current scale. Buying a few million pounds of rice so hundreds of thousands of people in some crappy African country do not starve to death is to me acceptable and in the big scheme of things isn't a drop in the bucket. However we do not need to be giving money to nations like Russia, India, Egypt and Indonesia. We just can't afford it.
  • Farm subsidies in the USA are just rediculous. If I were in charge I would cancel them all immediately. At a minimum we need to stop paying massive agri businesses a whole bunch of money that was meant for small family farms. Also the idea of paying people essentially not to produce food on a given piece of land is rediculous. I mean heaven forbid we piss off Iowa because they have the first primaries and all but this is just completely and totally stupid.
 Maybe we can fix this and maybe we won't. I sort of suspect we will fix it but it is just a question of how painfull it will be. I would say that my outlook is slightly optomistic but I am of course hedging my bets with precious metals, ammo and assorted other stuff.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shades of Atlas Shrugged: Third World America

Third World America this article is disturbingly true. On another note Shades of Atlas Shrugged is going to be the series title for this sort of article.

I am not sure what the answer is. I do however think we need to create incentive's to promote desirable behaviors. [For example if we as a nation wanted to promote individual saving we could, say, not tax interest, dividends or capital gains on individuals with an income below $100,000 and a net worth below $750,000.] We aren't doing this. We aren't doing close to this. We are often in fact doing just the opposite. We have taken for granted that things are good and will stay that way. That no matter how much individuals or businesses get hammered they will stay in the same place and keep on doing the same thing. We've gotten cocky and lazy and it is coming back to bite us. Big time.

For example we need to attract manufacturing. America is never going to make sweat pants or t shirts cheaper than some random Asian nation where wages are a dime an hour. However I don't see why we shouldn't make computers, tv's, cars and all kinds of other stuff. Particularly the kind of relatively high tech manufacturing which employs more skilled individuals and pays them decent wages.

[If there is any positive way forward for America's low skilled blue collar workers it is if they can get the skills and we as a nation can attract this sort of higher skilled manufacturing jobs. The golden age for American manufacturing type workers from WWII to around the early 90's which has been dying a lingering death for awhile, set expectations which could not be maintained. Large numbers of people simply can't walk out of high school into a secure job that makes a comfortable wage with good benefits and retirement anymore.

I saw this play out on a smaller scale with the timber industry dying in the PNW. Some individuals were able to find a way forward in another job. Others managed to retrain and be successful. However when it was all said and done a lot of folks went from earning a comfortable middle class living to a couple bucks an hour above minimum wage or chronic unemployment. The restaurants and stores which these people patronized went under. Some towns died and a lot of others are sad shells of their former selves. The bottom line was that the jobs that went away were gone. The other industries were able to absorb some people, given that they received training, but a town that lost 100 timber jobs didn't suddenly have 50 new jobs as carpenters and another 50 for auto mechanics. Without some sort of X factor, such as a boom of high tech American manufacturing this will be the case on a larger scale.]

The biggest reason we have issues attracting or keeping these kinds of manufacturers is a grossly unfriendly business environment. Art Laffer said "Taxes don't redistribute wealth, they redistribute people (or I suppose businesses)" and the same could be said for regulations and all sorts of other little committees and agencies that make it hell to actually produce something. There are all sorts of ways America, or a state could do this. Simply streamlining the process for getting permits and clearances to build would be a good start. For a company that isn't going to dump tons of poison into the water system it should be a snap to open a factory. No taxes for 5 or 10 years would be a good one. Matching funds on select capital development would be another. Cheap or free energy would help too. Creating a work force which suits certain high tech manufacturing needs could work; especially if combined with a business friendly atmosphere and some tax breaks.

Instead of trying to hammer businesses for every dime we need to help them grow and employ more people and buy more machinery or other stuff. If every little bureaucratic despot and city councils could realize factories bring jobs; jobs which they desperately need we would be in such a better place.

As for infrastructure I think this is being blown out of proportion. Not significance but priority and who needs to be involved in addressing it. The answer is not big over reaching stimulus but government at all levels adjusting their priorities. Look at it this way. Most sane people would fix a hole in the kitchen floor before going out for a night on the town. If the family car breaks next week they don't need a stimulus from somebody; we need to shift our budget around and figure out how to fix it. If that doesn't work we can raid our hard earned savings. Governments from town to state have forgotten this. They need to make the important stuff work even if it means letting go of some of the flashy unessential stuff.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Would Lose A Trade War?

Chinese think tank warns US it will emerge as loser in trade war. 

I think this quote has some merit "They are utterly wrong," said Gabriel Stein from Lombard Street Research. "The lesson of the 1930s is that surplus countries with structurally weak domestic demand come off worst in a trade war."

China needs to sell the goods it produces lest their production will by necessity shrink rapidly to meet just domestic demand. If they have even a small dip in sales it leads to tons of lost jobs, closed factories and social unrest. While they are diversifying their markets it isn't happening anywhere as fast as they would like. Their free economy (well free except for real big players) and totalitarian state approach works so long as the economy is booming and people are happy with that. Iran has been trying the same thing and when the economy slowed they got problems. 

At the same time right now we are dependent on the Chinese buying debt to pay for this meth binge of debt fueled spending we are on (drunken sailor's is a poor analogy because late in the night or early in the morning they pass out/ fall asleep and it ends, unlike this epic economic fail we are experiencing which is more akin to a meth/ crack head who stays up for days on end).

If we got our spending under control then we could tell China to suck it. That would really be great. However we don't seem to want to live within our means. 

Interesting times for sure. 


Thursday, August 19, 2010

End of Combat Operations in Iraq?

The last "combat" brigade left Iraq today. I wouldn't say this means our efforts in Iraq are over but it is sure a significant milestone. As for what will happen now, time will tell. I do think it is very important that we practice expectation management. If we expect Iraq to be a nice calm place with totally functional, completely democratic and honest institutions and great infrastructure like say Israel (the only example I could think of in the middle east) we will be disappointed. However if we expect sporadic bombings and localized violence, semi corrupt elections along party lines and haphazard infrastructure we might be on the mark.  I say that for a couple reasons.

It is important to remember that early American history didn't go so smoothly. There were small localized uprisings, the government went broke and stayed there more or less and our first government failed entirely. We had some real problems with pirates robbing our ships. Around 20 years after our nation was established the British stomped us pretty badly and burned down our capitol. (Would it be ridiculous and war hawkish to suggest we burn down Buckingham Palace to get even? Better late than never right?) A couple generations later we fought a massive civil war. For some reason we Americans have a short memory and an even shorter attention span. We would like to make Iraq into a wonderful place over the course of a few short years. If we manage our expectations and take a longer view the situation can be seen more realistically.

What does this mean? Well hopefully we as a nation can finally borrow a little bit less money to keep things going. Also we will have fewer brave young Americans at risk which is always a good thing. Getting out of Iraq will allow us to increase dwell time for soldiers. This will almost certainly help with some of the problems (prescription drugs and suicide are notable) we are currently facing. More focused training time at home station will allow for the retrofitting and replacement of equipment as well as training which are good things. Also this will let our nation focus almost exclusively on Afghanistan which is something that has needed to happen for a long time. I don't know what will happen there but it would be a darn shame if we let a lack of adequate amounts of men, weapons and equipment be the deciding factor.

These are sure interesting times we live in.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

quote of the day

"Your country needs you Logan"-Striker
"I am Canadian"- Logan

I enjoy those easy going beer loving folks up north.  If they had better gun laws I would seriously consider moving up there. Yeah they have socialized medical care but we are headed that way at a dead sprint anyway. To their credit the Canadians managed to avoid the whole sovereign debt issue because their banks stayed out of the derivative and bail out madness.
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