Icons Receeding

As many of you know, I’ve worked all my life in the electrical/electronic industries, especially where they intersect. But my hobbies are also mostly in that area, especially radio communication. But much of that field is one of those that has been outsourced. One doesn’t really think of full-on engineers being amongst those who lose their jobs to immigrants, and in fact, they do, although somewhat rarely. What mostly happens is that their wages are suppressed unreasonably. The professional organization of those engineers is the Institute of if electrical and electronic engineers or IEEE. They say this,

IEEE USA says H-1B visas are a tool used to avoid paying U.S. wages. “For every visa used by Google to hire a talented non-American for $126,000, ten Americans are replaced by outsourcing companies paying their H-1B workers $65,000,” says the current IEEE USA president, writing with the past president and president-elect. The outsourcing companies, Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro, and Tata Consultancy in 2014 “used 21,695 visas, or more than 25 percent of all private-sector H-1B visas used that year. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Uber, for comparison, used only 1,763 visas, or 2 percent,” they say.

There is a bit more at Slashdot, and some further links. This matters both because of the people, and the impact they have on the future, and because it is indicative of the damage that immigration can cause.


Speaking of the end of an era, International Crystal Manufacturing (ICM), a company that any of us who dealt with radio since 1950 has probably dealt with, have announced that they will go out of business around the end of May. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL, the association of American amateur radio operators) has the story. Sad, but I know from my experience that we have other (perhaps) better, and certainly cheaper ways of doing the things we used to do with crystals. Kind of the ‘buggy whip syndrome’, I’m afraid.


Our friend, the Unit, the other day in comments called this to our attention. It’s quite a story.

It was originally called “mistake out”, the invention of Bette Nesmith Graham, a Dallas secretary and a single mother raising a son* on her own. Graham used her own kitchen blender to mix up her first batch of liquid paper or white out, a substance used to cover up mistakes made on paper.

Background – Bette Nesmith Graham

Bette Nesmith Graham never intended to be an inventor; she wanted to be an artist. However, shortly after World War II ended, she found herself divorced with a small child to support. She learned shorthand and typing and found employment as an executive secretary. An efficient employee who took pride in her work, Graham sought a better way to correct typing errors. She remembered that artists painted over their mistakes on canvas, so why couldn’t typists paint over their mistakes?

Invention of Liquid Paper

Bette Nesmith Graham put some tempera waterbased paint, colored to match the stationery she used, in a bottle and took her watercolor brush to the office. She used this to correct her typing mistakes… her boss never noticed. Soon another secretary saw the new invention and asked for some of the correcting fluid. Graham found a green bottle at home, wrote “Mistake Out” on a label, and gave it to her friend. Soon all the secretaries in the building were asking for some, too.

Bette Nesmith Graham – The Mistake Out Company

In 1956, Bette Nesmith Graham started the Mistake Out Company (later renamed Liquid Paper) from her North Dallas home. She turned her kitchen into a laboratory, mixing up an improved product with her electric mixer. Graham’s son, Michael Nesmith (later of The Monkees fame), and his friends filled bottles for her customers. …

Keep reading at Thought Co. And as you do, if you’re like me, you’ll also wonder if people do things like that these days or simply go on welfare. Well, I’d bet Bette would do it all again. But, I suspect that Liquid Paper is another company that unless it diversified (I haven’t a clue) has suffered from progress, as well.


I like melons. I bet you do too!

Cardboard boxes did this sort of labeling in. Too bad.


And my vote for best video of the season.

And some companies just seem suicidal.

Swampcare v Obamacare

Well, Ryan’s healthcare plan is out. What is no surprise is that it is a statist, big government plan, not as bad as Obama’s but pretty bad all on its own.

Dan Mitchel wrote back in 2010

The only way to fix healthcare is to restore the free market. That means going back to a system where people pay out-of-pocket for most healthcare and use insurance to protect against genuine risk and catastrophic expenses. The time has come to reduce the size and scope of government. …Change Medicare into a system based on personal health accounts and shift all means-tested spending to the states. …the flat tax is ideal from a healthcare perspective since it gets rid of the healthcare exclusion in the tax code as part of a shift to a tax system with low rates and no double taxation.

This video, narrated by Julie Borowski for the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, looks at the Obamacare/third-party payer issue.

via Our Healthcare Policy Problem Is Much Bigger than Obamacare

Yep, and for that matter, back in 2013, I wrote this,

Understand this, 404Care isn’t healthcare, it’s a chance to buy insurance, executed properly, in some alternate universe it might even have been useful. But here, where the sky is blue, it’s not. Why? Because with the limited number of plans available and the narrowness of providers, you’re screwed. You’re screwed, even if your identity doesn’t get stolen, which is likely as well.

Why? Because healthcare is properly defined as having a doctor and/or hospital take care of you when you are sick or injured. Depending on your choices, insurance is a valid way of paying for that (which is required, since Obamacare, before that doctors and hospitals were required to provide minimal, lifesaving care, free, if necessary.) 80 years ago, chickens and/or eggs worked, cash nearly always works, nearly anywhere. The way this is written, since I’m from Nebraska, if I go see Mt. Rushmore, and get food poisoning (because I’m too stupid to refrigerate my potato salad, say) I’d better be tough, cause I ain’t going to see a doctor in South Dakota, unless I have cash, of course.

What all the noise then and now is about is how to pay for it. Medical care in this country is very expensive. Mostly that is so because of bureaucracy, of the government, of the insurance companies, and of the healthcare industry (although to be fair, much of the industry’s bureaucracy is driven by the other two).

In 2010, John Goodman wrote,

Almost everyone believes there is an enormous amount of waste and inefficiency in health care. But why is that? In a normal market, wherever there is waste, entrepreneurs are likely to be in hot pursuit – figuring out ways to profit from its elimination by cost-reducing, quality-enhancing innovations. Why isn’t this happening in health care?

As it turns out, there is a lot of innovation here. But all too often, it’s the wrong kind.

There has been an enormous amount of innovation in the medical marketplace regarding the organization and financing of care. And wherever health insurers are paying the bills (almost 90 percent of the market) it has been of two forms: (1) helping the supply side of the market maximize against third-party reimbursement formulas, or (2) helping the third-party payers minimize what they pay out. Of course, these developments have only a tangential relationship to the quality of care patients receive or its efficient delivery.

The tiny sliver of the market (less than 10 percent) where patients pay out of pocket has also been teeming with entrepreneurial activity.  In this area, however, the entrepreneurs have been lowering cost and raising quality – what most of us wish would happen everywhere else. For example:

  • There are more than 1,000 walk-in clinics spread across the country today – posting transparent prices and delivering high-quality, low-cost services;
  • Whole businesses have been created to provide people with telephone and e-mail consultations because third-party payers wouldn’t pay for them;
  • Mail-order pharmaceuticals are a huge and growing market – one which emerged to offer price competition to consumers who buy their drugs out-of-pocket;
  • Wal-Mart didn’t introduce the $4-a-month package price for generic drugs in order to do a favor for Blue Cross. It is catering to customers who pay their own way;
  • Concierge doctors are also providing patients with innovative services – services that health insurers don’t cover.

Nothing has changed. Except that the GOP has taken ownership of Obamacare, well it might accidently be a little better, but not much. David Harsanyi says this.

First of all, the preferred free-market plan for health care policy should be no plan whatsoever. The idea that we need a federal, top-down strategy to manage a huge chunk of the economy is at the very heart of the problem. We don’t need a federal “plan” for health care any more than we need a federal plan for food or clothing. Yet, Republicans have allowed liberals to frame the entire health insurance debate in these anti-market terms.

So the American Health Care Act is obviously weak tea, falling far short of a promised free-market solution, much less a full “repeal” of Obamacare. It’s a half-measure that endeavors to fix Obamacare with small doses of deregulation while failing to repeal its core. It’s almost as if Republicans were trying to mollify their constituents and save Obamacare at the same time.

Donald Trump tweeted out something about a three-phase rollout, but the specifics of the other two parts have yet to be confirmed as of this writing. Perhaps the full proposal will reflect better on Republicans, although considering the noise moderate senators have been making and Trump’s own views on entitlement programs, it’s unlikely to meet conservative expectations. So what can be done?

In a piece highly critical of the planThe Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein, who’s done some of the most insightful writing on Obamacare, states: “the GOP will either be passing legislation that rests on the same philosophical premise as Obamacare, or will pass nothing at all, and thus keep Obamacare itself in place.” What if this is the choice?

We know the Democratic Party’s plan for health care: constrain markets to create monopolies that can be controlled by a federal regulatory regime (this is why liberals oppose markets expanding across state lines); and rather than worrying about access, choice, or cost, continue to incentivize the growth of the welfare state. When this situation becomes untenable, pass single-payer. What Democrats understand, but Republicans often don’t, is that you can reach your goals incrementally.

He asks this: “is something better than nothing?”

Perhaps, at the margins, but the basic problem is that the government has been driving healthcare fiscal policy since World War II, and the market distortions are continually getting worse. Swampcare isn’t going to help much, if at all

Castel Gandolfo and Economics

giardino_degli_specchi_castel_gandolfo_ii_20141006Interesting story here. Note that I’m not picking this as either pro or con Catholic. For me, today, it is purely an economic story and an example of why equality of income is such a bad idea.

Speaking of Francis, I was told by a priest here that the Holy Father has visited a handful of times but has never spent the night or greeted the staff, only stopping to consult the Jesuits in residence. That’s rather bad manners, I should think. It takes only a little magnanimity to imagine what a papal visit means to the staff here. They keep the place in pristine readiness all year round, eagerly awaiting the pope’s arrival, as their fathers’ fathers have done proudly for generations, and His Holiness won’t deign to stop by for the evening! I mean, he has an image to keep up, but isn’t this a bit snobbish? The poor people there have had to open the gardens and palace to tourists just to find something to do with the place and replace lost revenue.

Father also mentioned that he felt a bit sorry for the townspeople, because with the papal court no longer summering at the palace, the local economy is taking a hard hit. Usually, the entire Vatican is run from the palace from June to October, and the restaurants do good business with the influx of papal staff. No longer. “I guess the papal gardener is in a very enviable position!” “That’s right – it’s actually a hereditary position. Like many of these jobs, they’ve been in the same family for generations.”

These revelations added a layer: the merciless enforcement of mercy under Francis’s pontificate has more concrete ramifications in Rome for those who faithfully serve the papacy. It turns scores of talented people out of their jobs. From the great artists who wove the papal vestments and write the papal masses to the humble village family who has kept his garden for generations, there is a great cadre of people who give their lives in noble service to the Church.

via What ‘Humility’ Means for the Papal Staff |

Interesting isn’t it, that the Pope’s refusal to use Castel Gandolfo costs the neighborhood a goodly chunk of change. Of course, it’s pretty obvious when one thinks through it, and indeed, at least some of that money is likely spent in Rome instead.

But his grandstanding (at least that is what it looks like to me), showing off his humility, which to my mind doesn’t really match his statements, hurts those around him. Who’d a thunk it? Just about everybody with any common sense, which pretty much leaves out anyone who thinks virtue signaling a good thing.

Doesn’t make him any better or worse than anybody else, really. We all do things that hurt others although not all of us believe that hurting other people shows virtue (except maybe as a soldier).

What this really shows is that not thinking deeply enough about your actions has consequences. That’s why we call it ‘the law of unintended consequences’, after all.

The non-SOTU

trump-sotu-terrorists-immigrants-900x450Paul over at PowerLine wrote this yesterday.

The slogan and organizing principle of President Trump’s administration is “America first.” As he explained last night: “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”

This is just common sense. Absent the Obama aberration, no president would think to say it.

However, even a message this obvious can use powerful, patriotic rhetoric and effective staging to support it. Trump’s presentation contained both, beginning with the second paragraph:

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice — in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

The address ended on the same note:

[W]hen we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.

The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.

We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.

The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.

And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears — inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past — and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and believe in yourselves.

Believe in your future.

And believe, once more, in America.

via A little patriotism goes a long way | Power Line

Those are paragraphs that could have been written by almost any president – before Barack Obama. It is the essence of American patriotism, not the blood and soil patriotism of Europe. Like most things in America, American patriotism is different. It is more about having optimism in the future, sharing the dream, if you will.

The huge recognition of CPO Ryan Williams (the longest applause, at about two minutes, of the speech) through his widow, he was killed in the January raid in Yemen, also speaks to that. And yes there is a story in who did not join in the standing ovation.

In fact, I completely agree that Mr. Trump became Mr. President during that speech. I don’t agree with every thing he wants to spend money on, which is fine. He’s the president and I’m not the all-knowing philosopher-king. It’ll work out. He’s by far the best of what was on offer.

The speech itself made me think of Roosevelt (both), Kennedy, and especially Reagan. It was that good. After an eight-year hiatus, it seems to me that America is in process of getting out of the ditch, and back underway.

You did notice that the Dow broke 21,000 yesterday?

Francis Browning wrote:

Light in the eastern horizon, it cometh, hail, all hail!

Bringing the joys of the New Year, and the tiding on the gale

Leading the World: Why and How

A few videos from Praeger today, and perhaps some comments from me.

He’s right, of course. You don’t have to like it, it some ways, none of us do. The old saying is, “If not now, when?; If not us, who?

A lot has gone wrong in the last eight years, we may not be able to fix all, or perhaps even most of it, but our lives will be worse if we do not try. And who else is there, really, who can do even half of it? Especially without mostly looking for advantages we don’t need.

We’ve gotten too far away from this ideal, again, in my estimation. It’s time to fix it.

Otherwise, this is where we end up.

 

UK and US Stuff That Caught My Eye Yesterday: Enjoy

Ramirez:

w10565

One of the really fun things to do here is to feature people who are friends, or at least you get to interact with on a regular basis. One of the people in this video is somewhere on that spectrum. Let’s see if you can figure out which.

Since they’re Brits, the arguments are slightly different than they are here, but I doubt you have many doubts that I admire Laura a good deal. Quite something to watch her take on a couple of leftists (one of whom works for the BBC) and wipe the floor with them. Well done, Laura. And yes, this level of competence in writing and commenting, as well, is much of the reason I enjoy The Conservative Woman as much as I do.

Also from Britain come a very sad story of what happens when the government becomes too big for its britches. From politics. co. uk and that is somewhat unusual, they usually strike me as pretty much statists, at best.

Two elderly ladies in Birmingham have been threatened with fines for sweeping up leaves. They did this because the leaves were a slip hazard – one of them had already fallen over. They left the leaves neatly in bags and tried to arrange for the the council to collect them. But rather than collect them, council officers slapped the bags with ‘illegally dumped garden waste’ stickers and threatened ‘action’.

This is not the first case of this kind. Other people have been fined for putting swept up leaves in their recycling bins. Another man in southern England was told he had to pay for the leaves to be collected, after he and other residents had cleaned their estate for it to look ‘spick and span’ for Christmas (if he put the leaves back on the road, he was told, he would be fined for fly tipping). [essentially littering, I think. Neo]

The maintaining of the street outside your house is one of those traditional, community-spirited things to do, which has rather fallen away. I am always struck with admiration when I see the elderly lady opposite sweeping up her pavement or pulling out stray weeds from the cracks. This is not something that my generation does. Yet community-spirited actions increasingly come into conflict with official rules. The communal space has become something solely occupied by the official actor.

So, it is only for the public authority to sweep up – or fail to sweep up – leaves on the pavement. Any citizen’s action into the public realm appears as a violation and a disruption of bureaucratic order. Spontaneous public action messes up the categories: they put the leaves in the wrong box, in the wrong place, or in the wrong bags. The state cannot appear to manage the interrelations with public action, even though people who have been sweeping up leaves say that they have been doing it for 30 years, and the council never used to have a problem with picking up the bags. It’s not that complicated to pick up a bag.

Right up there with penalizing 8-year-olds for running a lemonade stand, isn’t it? It’ll likely get worse before it gets better, both there and here. It’s why we need to get control back of our government, at all levels.

And finally, we talk some here about echo chambers, and yes, we all have them. The Federalist had an article yesterday about: Here Are The Media Hottakes We’d See If The Chronicles Of Narnia Were Released This Year

The press has certainly taken its lumps lately—and they’re not altogether undeserved. As Federalist contributor Tom Nichols points out in his new book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge, a great deal of journalism currently exists more to confirm its audience’s preconceived notions than to inform them about reality.

Nichols’ book inspired me to reflect on how politically obsessed and ideologically sequestered our press has become, particularly when it comes to hot-button social issues.  To illustrate this, let’s take the debate into the world of counterfactuals: in the alternate history where C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s fantasy series is released this year and becomes a mega-hit, I think the hot takes would probably look something like these. 

The American Conservative: “Narnia and the Problem of Borders”
By not effectively maintaining border security, King Tirian ensured his nation would be invaded and plundered by the Calormenes. Also, Archenland should’ve been Narnia’s Benedict Option.

The Atlantic: “How World War II Shaped Narnia”
One of those very comprehensive and thoroughly researched articles that’s so long it’s divided up by roman numerals. […]

Including this, and quite a few more.

The Federalist: “17 Reasons Puddleglum Is The Most Hopeful Character In Literature”
We promise, there really is something good to be found in bottom-feeder mass-market material. Also, it has something to do with sex, gender, and Alexis de Tocqueville. Can’t we get that in the title?

Heh! Part of the reason I like The Federalist is that they occasionally laugh at themselves, as we all should. Read the whole thing™, I LOLed, likely you will as well.

A bit lighter today, because hey, why not.

 

 

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