24 February 2011

The Land of Stupid People

I think I've mentioned Phil, I fellow I worked with many years ago, during one of my tours of duty through Boston.  We worked in Lexington, a very nice suburb of Boston.  Phil's house was in Brockton, the only town he could afford at the time he bought.  It was quite some commute.  On really bad days in the office, Phil would say "time to go back to the Land of Stupid People".  Brockton was, and is, a whole city that's mostly inner city. 

The problem is:  the entire USofA (the Red and Purple parts, at least) has become Stupid People.  "Mother Jones" has an article detailing the depth of the stupidity.  The article's been excerpted here.  You owe it to yourself to read both the excerpt and the entire article.

As an ongoing theme of this endeavor, that Americans really are too stupid to make rational decisions, is blind stupidity.  Alas, the Right Wingnuts have found numerous memes to flummox the stupid.  Democrats need to work on finding a few.  I've offered, but they aren't interested.  Oh well.

18 February 2011

Bait and Switch

As most of those who would read this endeavor, I've been following the Right Wingnut nonsense in Wisconsin and elsewhere.  And, as usual, the Right Wingnuts are out to blame and punish the victims.

For those that might not know, public sector workers (other than the Feds, and that's another episode; I was directly involved in that one for about a decade) have themselves to blame for this situation.

Here's, in general, how it went.

1) the state/municipality cries poor mouth during negotiations, saying that the government/taxpayer can't afford to pay the teachers/cops/firefighters/etc. equivalent wages based on education/experience/skills.  They offer to offset this with slightly better benefits; health and retirement in particular.

2) the workers, through their unions, take the bait.  No one particularly wanted the jobs; cops and firefighters decades ago didn't always even have to be high school graduates.  There have been reports of college degreed individuals being denied police officer entry because they would be bored (I have a specific memory of such news stories, but no link at the moment; I expect one can find such).  Teachers were especially poorly treated.  My sixth grade teacher showed up at our door one summer day, selling Compton's Encyclopedia.

3) states and municipalities routinely underfund both the health insurance and retirement accounts; it's not in the interest of a politician to pay for something which doesn't put fannies in the voting booth next election.  There have been news reports about this for decades.  The bill mounts.  No one cares. 

4) the unions, like Obambi today, refuse to hold the Right Wingnuts feet to the fire over time (Democrats, too; don't get cocky).  The problem gets worse.

So, now the Right Wingnuts lie about the issue (Christie in New Jersey being particularly blatant), and seem to be getting away with it.  Once again, misery (the disappearing middle class) demand company.  They're actually buying the Reagan-esque meme that the poor folks have caused the Great Recession.  Stupid people.

16 February 2011

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

I started this endeavour because I found the mainstream media and mainstream pundits (with a few exceptions, more of them than media entities, at least) utterly ignoring, at best, or prevaricating, at worst, the reasons for the Great Recession.  Well.  Today I find a CNNMoney story (and CNN is hardly a flaming Liberal outlet, no matter what Rush has to say) laying out my arguments. 

It's a good (in the sense of comprehensive, not uplifting) read.  Spend some minutes with it.

13 February 2011

Will Write COBOL For Food

There are numerous drawings and staged (I hope) photos of bums/hobos/street people holding up signs saying, "will write COBOL for food".  They were rife after Y2K ran its course, and the dot com bubble deflated.  One of the results of pernicious tech outsourcing, to India in particular (I speak from direct experience in a Fortune 100 software vendor), is that "freshers" from India have largely taken over the maintenance of decades old COBOL applications.

I wonder what it's like, just having spent four years at an IIT campus learning the ins and outs of modern software building, to be facing all that American COBOL, doing nothing to build an infrastructure for your country?  Can't be comfortable.

Those who follow this endeavour are aware of my Malthusian view, and my view that avoiding its consequences gets to be a lousier bet as time goes by.  The reasons why Malthus was "wrong" for so long after he wrote have been chronicalled here and elsewhere many times.  But more data emerges that the days of reckoning (and I don't mean the Mayan calendar nonsense) approach. 

Yesterday's NY Times carries an article on the Indian situation.  Beyond the facts on display, one can perform certain thought experiments; connecting dots, so to speak.  That the Powers That Be in India would happily destroy most of its population to make a tiny minority absurdly comfortable is evil.  The question becomes:  how soon will India become Egypt?

To maintain law and order, which is to say, keeping the poor and starving from getting too rambunctious, a police state is required.  We see said police states in any country which is short of natural resources.  As I have said many times before, what passes for Democracy here in the USofA, was fueled by such an excess of resources that even with the top 1% taking 10% or 15% of national income left a decent existence for the remaining 99%.  With the 1% now up to 24% (or 25%, depending on the data source), we'll see what happens.  I'll note in passing that Egyptians had a simple situation:  Mubarak took the money, and Mubarak was the government. 

Here, the situation is different.  Here we have classic fascism, where the government simply enables corporations to take the wealth.  The stupid people, Tea Baggers as an example, see their enemy as the poor.  As if the poor were the ones sucking up national income.  Hardly, but stupid people are easily swayed by propaganda.  Goebbels was very good at it; Murdoch follows his game plan.  In passing, Steve Jobs has made a pact with Murdoch to provide "news" on iStuff.  The sooner Steve is gone, the better.

So, back to India; what's likely to happen?  I'd bet on complete collapse in the near term.  The telling data in the article is the graph of wheat production, comparing India to China.  Now, China is not a fledgling democracy, but they've managed to increase production of this staple.  India hasn't.  The situation isn't quite so simple, though.  In American history, corporate farming simply discarded farmers without recompense.  And the Green Revolution is about machines and synthetic fertilizer, despite what "Green" connotates today.  Pushing farm labor into cities is what American capitalists did in the 19th and 20th centuries, and what China is doing now.

As this endeavor says, "It's the Distribution, Stupid".

08 February 2011

Take Your Lies and Shove 'em [UPDATE]

I get tired of redoing the litany of why we got where we are, so I've written up a few sentences that get to the kernel.  Today, I've put a bit more flesh on the bone.  I hereby release all copyright to the public domain, and encourage all to use these words in email forums, mailing lists, or anywhere Right Wingnuts spout lies.  Peace.

It was the Right Wingnuts from Reagan to BushII that gave us a Great Recession.  And they ran at least 3/4 of the government for 22 of those 28 years.  The reason "gummint don't work" is that for those 22 years, the Right Wingnuts actively sabotaged Government.  It was they who repealed Glass-Steagall, and let the finance corporations rape the Middle Class.  Before Reagan, the 1% took 9% of national income, during BushII it was 24%.  Except during Clinton, median income fell over the 28 years.  Unless you're a 1%-er, there's nothing that the Right Wingnuts do for you.   Get your facts straight.  And they were the ones who made it easy to ship our jobs overseas.  Get that fact straight, too.  Have a nice day.

06 February 2011

The China Syndrome

There are some amongst us, humble self in the lead of course, who have been braying that the point of the Chinese plan is not just to be the finest example of 19th century capitalism, but to subsume the world to it.  Kind of like England in its glory years.  Payback's a bitch, opium wars and all that.

Now, all of a sudden, American Capitalists are waking up.  After all these years of "exploiting" lax controls in the Chinese labour market (well, if there are any controls at all), they've finally figured out that this was just the catnip to draw them in.  The Chinese were smart while Europeans were just figuring out how to draw stick figures in caves, for crying out loud.  China has a devasting population problem, which dwarfs ours.  India, too for that matter.  Both have to figure out a theory of distribution which can be imposed on capital.  The world markets haven't sufficed to absorb their output, so they need their workers' ability to buy.  One of the best ways to do that is to move from 19th century capitalism to tech based capitalism.  Requiring tech transfer is one way.  Boeing did that in spades with the 787 and numerous countries (and has nearly destroyed the company in the process; perhaps the Chinese were paying attention).  This isn't new.  Just better played, because it's a much bigger market, potentially.

The problem is resources.  The USofA consumes about 25% of global resources to support our highly skewed income distribution; in other words, 25% of resources to make 1% of the USofA really comfortable.  At ~350,000,000 folks that's 3,500,000 folks who live well.  Eating up 25% of the globe's resources.  And the Indians and Chinese think their 2.5 billion (and growing like a nuclear explosion) can live as our 3.5 million???????????  Ain't gonna happen.

Also in the last days' news was this assessment of food costs.  Malthus was right, just a bit ahead of his time. 

Don't jump to the conclusion that American capitalists are looking out for the American worker in all this, or even the American consumer.  They're goal is to sell to that, supposed, "middle class" in China just as if they were exporting from the USofA to China.  The Chinese aren't that stupid.  "You wannie sellie hereie, you gettie tickie hereie."

Welcome to the major leagues.

03 February 2011

Homage Edvard Munch

The Tunisia, Egypt, et cetera thingee has rekindled the Internet as empowering the people meme.  I've long disagreed with that meme.  Guess it's my education and experience that thwarts the lemming instinct.  Cringely has a post about this.  I keyed a particularly trenchant reply, presented for your amusement.

I've argued for some time, and then I found the writings of Nick Carr which sent my dream of a juicy book deal up the pipe, that the Internet (in the form of blogs as this, and such) has quite the opposite effect, on the whole. What Internet does is disperse discontent into little, teeny, tiny silos. Millions of angry voices screaming into /dev/null. That's what the Internet does.

OK.  For those not computer geeks, some explanation.  On unix (and similar, aka linux), everything in the machine is treated as a file, and looks like a file to any program.  Early on, the developers of unix noticed that a universal garbage can would be handy.  So, they defined a file in the /dev directory (the slash in MicroSoft is backwards; that's another long story) called null which simply ignores any thing sent there.

01 February 2011

It Can't Happen Here (well.........)

Just a short note.

A, perhaps The, common thread among the reports from Tunisia, Egypt, and (perhaps, don't know yet) Jordan is the driving force behind these riots/protests/revolts.  It is unemployment.  Particularly of university educated young males.  The worst kind of bait and switch:  spend all that time (although not so much money; as I recall, education for those that get it is largely state funded) to be Somebody, only to be kicked to the curb.  Remember all those old movies with the street peddler with his donkey cart, and the carrot dangling from a stick in front of the donkey?  To get the beast to move down the street?  You don't??  Well, yes that's the way it goes. 

It will happen here, too; although whether the American Younger Generation has the gonads of their ancestors from the 60's is questionable.  That generation was protesting a stupid war, and the current generation doesn't seem to mind stupid wars.  The main difference being, I assert, that in the 60's the draft required all to risk getting shot, while today it's a Christian Soldiers Army going off to battle Islam because That Is The Right Thing To Do.  No, recruiters have to skirt (love the irony in that connotation) the religious motivation, be subtle about it.  That the Christian Right has taken over the top ranks of the American Military is so well documented, I rest on the assertion.

Will we see the class revolt here?  I suspect so.  The ranks of the 99-ers continues to swell.  All those university educated kids continue to be without work, all the while a few, a la Zuckerburg rake in billions for building nothing more than Flesh Lites of the psyche.  Between them and the banksters and brokers who add nothing substantive to the economy, eventually even the slow folks will figure out that it ain't the damn unions that have done this.  They ain't enough union folks to have done this.  Twenty eight years from Reagan to the end of BushII, and median income hasn't budged upward (except during Clinton, and BushII took that little bit back).

Will it be worse than Kent State?  I suspect so, too.  Remember, those Christian Soldiers are fatter, dumber, and far more racist than their counterparts in the 60's.  They'll enjoy plinking off those elite college kids.