Sunday, July 15, 2018

So What About Tariffs?

   Listening to both Democrats and Republicans, it sounds very obvious that they believe that Americans do not need to pay taxes, and do not need tarriffs.  It seems to be the other party's fault that we have these unnecessary burdens.  The major parties seem to not believe that the budget deficit means anything at all.  Congresspeople are grinning from ear to ear as they have signed up for tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, despite that all of this "new money" is actually borrowed.  
      Economic voodoo worshipers talk hopefully about how the tax cut is going to spur the economy so much that economic growth is assured, so much so that it will pay for the tax cut.  "Deficits don't matter." 
    Well, they do matter. Did any of you people go to college? The last time we did this foolish experiment, we almost destroyed the global economy in 2008, and had to bail out the banks with hundreds of billions of dollars lost.  Are we going to do that again?  Apparently so.  And most of the money we have borrowed in order to give tax breaks to wealthy Americans will wind up in Swiss bank accounts when the next crash occurs. 

      Despite the obvious proof that economic idiocy has the upper hand right now, I believe there is a nagging doubt in some parts of the government whether this is really a good idea.  The  Congressional Budget Office predicts a deficit of over one trillion dollars per year by 2020.  The deficit was $587 Million, in 2016 and projected to $833 this year and over a trillion dollars by 2020.  At some point, the global economy will lose confidence in the value of T-bills, and the economy will implode as it did in 2008.  Sane economists (a minority to be sure) realize this is terrible.  
        To decrease the deficit, there are only two real options:  either cut spending or increase revenues, both of which are painful. Congress is politically unable to cut spending.  What do you expect from a group that spends 6 trillion dollars on chaos and death in the Middle East and refers to it as "our investment?"   Nobody cares about an economic collapse, as long as it can be successfully blamed on the other side.
     Increasing revenues can take only two forms:  higher taxes  or tarriffs.  If any politician proposes to raise either one, the other side will scream about the disadvantages and ignore the basic function of restoring some balance to the deficit.  

     Raise taxes on the poor?  Can't do that, say the liberals, the poor will suffer.
     Raise them on the rich?  Can't do that, say the conservatives, the rich are job creators.  
     How about raising the Federal Excise Tax on gasoline?  Can't do that, it will hurt the transportation sector.
     Well how about tariffs?  This likewise brings a chorus of boos from both sides.  Nobody is concerned about an economic collapse yet, only the immediate effects on industry.  I have a friend that wa rather high up in the aluminum industry before retiring, and he doubts whether the tariff will spur much investment in new smelters, though the existing one might work at full capacity 
     The point of a tariff is not to punish foreign industries, it's to raise money to pay for the very real goods and services that the Federal Government provides (plus the stupid things like Middle Eastern wars, that are nevertheless considered essential). Really it isn't going to affect the demand for steel and aluminum very much, because industry will not build new plants based on the expectation of government support for prices.  I don't think it is a trade war, it's mainly  a way to cut our deficit by 5%.  Yes it's painful, but not nearly as painful as an economic depression.  The 2008 financial crisis is the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression of 1929. It occurred despite Federal Reserve and Treasury Department efforts to prevent it.  In 2008,  housing prices fell 31.8 percent and unemployment rose to above 9 percent.  This is partly because the US chose to hand out tax credits to a growing economy, and went from a balanced budget in 2000-2001 to the bloated and escalating deficit that we have today.   In 2009 and 2010 the government navigated out of the economic crisis, partly the the help of "stimulus" spending.  This is in accordance with Keynesian theory, that in a recession the government needs to spend more to get the economy moving.  This may not be possible if the deficit crisis worsens to the point that foreign lenders are no longer willing to lend America money.  
    The effect of the tariffs is to decrease the US ability to buy and consume cheap imported goods.  It also means that US industry is incentivized to pick up the slack, which might result in additional employment. That is not disastrous.  If you have to pay for the government somehow, it's not the worst thing you could do. 
      Make no mistake, tariffs are not a tool for job creation or punishing foreign countries.  It's simply a way to pay for our government spending.  This is a time when we should be paying down the debt, rather than borrowing more money to give to wealthy Americans. 
         I think it was a sorry mistake to give tax cuts to rich people who don't need them. This is just a down payment on a future economic disaster.  Likewise it is a sorry mistake to continue pouring money down the Middle Eastern rathole, based on the mistaken belief that America is winning great friends by doing so.  

       If we are headed to a trillion dollar per year annual deficit, I don't see how to argue against an effort to try to stem the deluge with 50 billion dollars of new revenue. I would like to see something that gets phased in gradually rather than creating an abrupt change in the global economy.  But the tariffs do not go far enough in my opinion--too little too late--and moreover our lawmakers lack the wisdom to make even the most obvious of funding cuts. That is just not going to happen.  
  I think the critics should cool their jets about tariffs and instead focus on the trillion dollar deficit. 

 

The Master Plan of American politicians is to get re-elected before the economic deluge hits, and then try to blame it on the other party.  
 
   

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Hello, Pump air into the Thailand Cave and the Water May Recede

I don't know who to tell, but it seems to me that if you bring an air hose into the Thailand Cave, you've got a great chance to pressurize the cave, and by so doing you will force the water to recede. 

Because the people are short on oxygen, it implies that the supply of air is limited.  A person consumes about 100 cubic feet per day of air (or more precisely, the 20% oxygen in the air).  The fact that they are depleting the oxygen suggests that there may be limited  volume with poor ventilation.  If so, it also means you can fill it with air and the leak rate may be considerably smaller than what a decent pump can provide.  

You  may not be able to just pump water out of the cave, because that lowers the pressure and causes more water to flow in to take its place. 

The water level has risen to flood passages into the enclosed volume where the soccer team is trapped.

So, is it possible to connect sections of hose from the surface to where the team is?  Then you need a compressor to deliver maybe 20 cfm to the cave.  If the cave is pressurized with air, the water will recede.  If you pressurize with 4 psi, it will recede 10 feet. 8 psi will cause it to recede 20 feet.  How low do you need the water to be in order to walk out of the passages? 
If you could pump 20 cfm of air into the cave, the air would push out the water.


If the cave leaks too much and won't hold pressure, can you spray the walls with polyurethane foam to plug them up?  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Does the Constitution Really Grant the President the Power to Torture Illegal Immigrants?

    Maybe some of my friends who know more about American Law can straighten me out, but I have a great deal of difficulty believing that the Constitution gives the American President the authority to commit child abuse.
         How can the President impose such a tough sentence on children as to take them away from their parents without at least putting the children on trial?
     It would be one thing if it could be argued that there was no choice, and that the children must be separated in order to put the parents on trial for a misdemeanor attempt to enter the country illegally.   
       I tend to buy Alan Dershowicz's argument that the President can't be put in jail for breaking the law, and if he does break the law, he can issue a pardon for himself.  So good luck to those who think they can catch the President on a technical infraction--say, campaign finance or sending classified information in email or Tweet.  You're not going to put him in jail in 2025 when his term is up.  Or if you can do that, then every single President from now on is going straight to jail after their term is up. 
     But, what the Constitution does provide is a way for Congress to act when they see that the President is acting illegally.  They may remove him from office.  The Impeachment process, as best I understand it is not a legal trial that generates a conviction and jail sentence. But it does take him out of office.    
      So you could argue that the separation of parents and children is an administrative procedure to allow the parents to stand trial.   But it is also a legally administered punishment, and probably the worst thing you could do to a small child, to take a child away from the parents and give the child to someone else.  This is the cruelest form of child abuse I could ever imagine, and it is very hard for me to understand how it is not a punishment, particularly if it is demonstrably avoidable.  The President has used his power to increase the number and the severity of these punishments, it's an action he committed.  It didn't just happen.
      Ok, legal scholars, help me here.  Does the President have the legal right to torture anyone he wants, including babies and small children?  And he can take away children or parents without trial?  Or is it okay because they are not citizens?   Or maybe it's okay if it is considered an "administrative procedure" rather than punishment?  If this isn't cruel and unusual punishment, without trial, then what it is it?    
        Or has the President has wrongfully and flagrantly exceeded his legal authority  systematically seeking to break up the family units of illegal immigrants?  .  This is so horrific, is a minor apology and corrective Executive Order enough? I don't believe he can be sent to jail, but should Congress exercise their power to review the President's a actions and force him to GO?   Or if they do not, is it because they lack the Constitutional authority?  Or merely the heart?  
      
       

Friday, June 8, 2018

Sports Protesters, You're Making Yourselves Look Foolish.

Dear Sports Protestors,
   This letter is written first of all because you are acting like a bunch of ignorant jocks. You are not accomplishing anything positive by foolish actions such as boycotting invitations to the White House, plus disrespecting the National Anthem or the American flag.  I don't care if you don't like President Trump. I don't much care for him either.  However, the actions you are contemplating are not about a single person, they are about the whole of the United States of America.  You will not win anything by taking on the entire United States of America.  
    Donald Trump did not create the National Anthem.  There was a National Anthem before he was born and it will continue well after he is gone.  Donald Trump is not the American flag.  He is not even the White House  He is only the current occupant, and there will be others when he leaves. This whole business of deciding whether we are Democrat or Republican before we honor (or not) the National Anthem based on who is in the Oval Office is repulsively ignorant.  
     I served the United States of America as an Air Force officer under a Democrat (Jimmy Carter) and two Republicans (Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush).  I did not ask my superior officer to state their political party before deciding to salute him or her.  I was taught to salute out of respect for the country I chose to serve, not as an endorsement of the officer's political beliefs or persuasion.  It is respect for a COUNTRY not an INDIVIDUAL.  They are not the same thing.
     You seem to have forgotten that the United States of America, it's Constitution and its flag transcend the people who are working for it at any particular moment. That's the whole point.  It's the NATIONAL anthem not the TRUMP anthem or the OBAMA anthem. The WHITE HOUSE belongs to the AMERICAN PEOPLE, not to the President.  Maybe if you had studied harder in school you would understand the underlying philosophy behind our government. 
        Look it's a free country.  If you want to burn our flag and cuss us out, that's fine and I support your right to do it and in fact I was ready to lay my life on the line to make sure you would be free from federal prosecution. That's what freedom means.  It means the Federal Government will not seek to apply legal punishment for your actions.  It does not mean that everyone has to like you, or continue to pay your salary, or that people won't call you ignorant.  In fact, I just did.
     Truth to tell, President Trump has faked you out like LeBron James fakes out a rookie guard.  You are not disrespecting the President by boycotting the White House, the National Anthem or the flag.  You are disrespecting US, all of America that owns these national institutions. Moreover, this particular President actually likes it if you help him to promote the idea that the flag and to the National Anthem are part of his brand identity.  Your unhappiness doesn't bother him one little bit.  Really, you accomplish the opposite of what you intend.  What you are doing is the best possible thing for the President's popularity.  You are making it the Trump Anthem, the Trump Flag and the Trump House.  Stop it.  
      Look, when Osama Bin Ladin blew up the World Trade Center, it was not a Republican building that he blew up.  It was OURS. The affiliation of the sitting President doesn't matter. Ever so much more so, it's the AMERICAN flag, not the REPUBLICAN flag or the DEMOCRATIC flag.  We don't salute it in a Democratic administration and burn it during a Republican one.  It's US, not just half of us, and certainly not one person.  So if you decide you want to protest one person or a group of peole by disrespecting the flag--by disrepecting the entire country--people will be upset with you even if they support the cause you seek to draw attention to.  It's not just your intentions, it's the way that you are choosing to advocate your cause.  Anyway I'm not sure I even know what your cause is, other than you like being on TV.   
    Years ago, Muhammad Ali used to regularly fight lousy fighters, which served to keep him in shape and to look good. They called those untalented fighters the "Bum of the Month" club.  Well, that's what the misfiring protester-athletes are.  You are the "Bum of the Month" making the President look good by beating your brains out.  You don't know what you're doing, and mainly you are making yourselves look foolish and you're giving more power to President Trump. 

The President DOES NOT CARE if professional athletes wish to boycott, take a knee during the National Anthem or some other action. This is a fight he can easily win, and the sports figures look foolish, and President Trump becomes more powerful. 

   

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sports Betting Legalized? Well, Non-Illegalized, actually.

from Jeff Darcy, cleveland.com.  Nailed it! 


         The Supreme Court ruled that sports betting is legal.  Or to be more precise, it is not up to the Federal government to prevent states from having it if they want. 
    There are different ways to look at it.  In general I'm personally against gambling, because I think it is proven that a certain percentage of people can get addicted to it. But the issue of whether or not you or I favor sports gambling is not the same issue as who should decide the policy.
    There are a lot of activities and products that you or I may not like but others might hold the opposite value. I'm not crazy about drugs, alcohol, motorcycles without helmets, cars without seatbelts, junk food, guns, and any number of unhealthy products and behaviors.  But in a free society if a majority or even sizeable minority really want to use these things, having been apprised of the downside, I don't think it should be the role of the Federal government to pass laws that are against the will of the people.  In the case of sports betting millions of Americans play fantasy sports or have an office pool on the Super Bowl and March madness.  So, are we going to put 100 million people in jail for these transgressions?  I don't think so. 
     Moreover, in many cases, the Constitution of the United States stipulates what things are going to be done by the President, what things are done by the Legislature and what things are left for individual states to form a policy for.  On any one issue, it is possible that, say, the US Senate and House might provide a bill that agrees with yours or my opinion.  But that doesn't mean that the Senate and House should be granted  the right to regulate it for all time.    
      Many forms of sports betting are currently legal in Nevada, because the Federal government passed special laws to that effect.   Well, okay, that's nice I suppose.  But now they have something they can hold over the Nevada legislators. Perhaps some future Senate Majority might demand,  "You either vote for my issue, or I'm taking away Federal permission for gambling in Nevada."   No doubt this threat has already been used in the past, to some degree or another.   Are we okay with that?  Or is that giving too much power to the Federal government?         One of the strengths of the American government  is that it has many checks and balances that prevent any one person from getting too powerful.  In recent years, however, the trend has been to give more power to the Federal Government, and especially to the President. The party in power seems to figure, "Who needs checks and balances?  Just give the power over to the Senate and House, or better yet, to the President."   
     If you're on the political left and think that giving more peer to Congress and the President is a great idea, Senator McConnell and President Trump are glad to have your support.   
       I would probably not want to have my state pass a flurry fo laws enabling expansion of the already problematic gambling industry in Ohio.  But overall it is probably better for each state to decide its own future.  I think there has to be some form of sports betting given the fact that so many Americans participate in it. 
       So, what are the odds of Pete Rose getting into the Hall of Fame?  

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Reverend Daryl versus Reverend Darryl in Dayton


I don't know if I can recall a recent election in which I liked both candidates.  But I don't like the candidates for Dayton City Commission, I LOVE the candidates for Dayton City Commission. I'm just glad that I am no longer a resident of Montgomery County because it would be very hard to vote against either of them.  In the fullness of time, hopefully both Darryl Fairchild and Daryl Ward will find their way to serve in the City commission.  

Darryl Fairchild was my classmate at United Theological Seminary in Dayton (now Trotwood) in the mid-1980s.  I met so many wonderful people there and diligent scholars, including John Allen, Matt Thomas, Jeff Barkley, Margaret Mallory, just to name a few.  Darryl was one of the most thoughtful and studious young people at the Seminary.  Many of us were working professionals studying at night.   Darryl, if memory serves, was in his early 20s when he came to United.  While he was there, he had an accident which left him partially paralyzed.   Did that stop him?  No, he went on to graduate from Seminary and is now the Children's Pastor at Children's Medical Center in Dayton.  In addition, he organized the Greater Dayton Interfaith forum, and is a respected community leader and  political 

There couldn't be anyone with better character than Reverend Darryl Fairchild.  

Vanessa and Daryl Ward.  Daryl is an Attorney, Minister, Professor, Dean and one of the greatest people I have ever met.  
Now what can I say about Reverend Daryl Ward?  Reverend Ward was the Dean at United Theological Seminary when Darryl Fairchild and I were students there.  Wow!   What a small world.  What you need to know about Reverend Ward is that he was an attorney, a graduate of Georgetown University law school, but then gave up a life as a successful lawyer to attend to Seminary and enter the ministry via Colgate Rochester Divinity School. At United, he was enormously effective at increasing enrollment and initiated a mind blowing African American Studies program.   I don't know how to describe it, other than to say that was one of the greatest privileges of my life to be part of that program. 

But here's where it gets crazy.  While at the Seminary, he started a part-time ministry at Omega Baptist Church, meeting initially at Roth Middle School.  The church grew at a phenomenal rate, and moved to a Jewish Synagogue in West Dayton.  The day they moved in to the new building, they were able to pay off the mortgage, if you can believe that.  They are now 4000 strong.  The best thing I can say about Reverend Ward is that he really does what other people talk about, and for that reason I regard him as one of the greatest people I have ever met.   Namely, he has always been about building the community via education and jobs training.  Really he is not very good at complaining, but he is good at inspiring young people to apply themselves in school and achieve high goals and in the process, obtain the jobs they want to have. He's really about getting people from different backgrounds to work together and build a community. My guess is that he would be the type of community leader that would gain the confidence of the business leaders, rather than chase them away.   Among many other duties, 
Reverend Ward is on the Board of Directors of the University of Dayton.

I should also mention that another of my classmates was Vanessa Ward, who happened to be the wife of the Dean.  She is also an absolutely wonderful person, also very accomplished. 

Who to vote for?  That's a tough call, but since I don't live in Montgomery County I'm going to stay officially neutral, however I hope that ultimately both of the two Reverends will find their way to serve together. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Avengers Infinity Wars: Exciting, but Plot Sucks.

The Avengers are running away from terrible scriptwriters, but were unsucessful.  


Spoiler Alert!   Avengers Infinity Wars is not a movie, it is a trailer for the sequel, much like Star Wars 2 (Empire Strikes Back) left the bad guys pretty much in control, awaiting something great to happen in Star Wars 3.  

This movie also assumes that a complex plot is a good plot.  Doc Strange establishes that there are millions of parallel universes, plus the possibility of time travel, so whatever complicated terrible thing happens in Avengers 4, it can be undone in Avengers 5.  So I don't give a rat who they kill off in Avengers 4, and neither should you.

The action scenes are great however.  I watched this one in 3D and it is very exciting, even if I don't always know who is fighting or what side they are on.  Even here we have problems that bothered me however:

1.  When attacked by a horde of super powered aliens, it doesn't make sense to counter them by having Black Widow and Captain America wading in practicing kung fu. A machine gun is a better idea, although here it's surprising that ordinary bullets can work against these creatures. Conversely, a squadron of A-10s would definitely rid the earth of these pesky aliens. 

2.  Since the 3 Musketeers, good guys love to make wisecracks and exhibit a subtle sense of humor during battle.   However, you can't have the superheros make jokes while civilians are dying in the background. 

Honestly, my advice is to not see this movie.  Just wait for Avengers 5, and at that time read an online summary of Avengers 4 (which you will have to do anyway, given the plot is extremely complicated and difficult to follow).