America Burning

I don’t know if you noticed, but I certainly have that over my lifetime, forest fires (and similar wildfires) have increased dramatically, both in number and in scale and intensity. Why? Well many of us, who are blessed with experience and common sense have noticed it is because of how we manage these areas. Paul Driessen at PA Pundits – International tells us that might finally be changing.

President Trump promised to bring fresh ideas and policies to Washington. Now Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are doing exactly that in a critically important area: forest management and conflagration prevention. Their actions are informed, courageous, and long overdue.

Westerners are delighted, and I’ve advocated such reforms since my days on Capitol Hill in the 1980s.

As of September 12, amid this typically long, hot, dry summer out West, 62 major forest fires are burning in nine states, the National Interagency Fire Center reports. The Interior Department and Ag Department’s Forest Service have already spent over $2 billion fighting them. That’s about what they spent in all of 2015, previously the most costly wildfire season ever, and this season has another month or more to go. The states themselves have spent hundreds of millions more battling these conflagrations.

Millions of acres of forest have disappeared in smoke and flames – 1.1 million in Montana alone. All told, acreage larger than New Jersey has burned already. However, even this hides the real tragedies.

The infernos exterminate wildlife habitats, roast eagle and spotted owl fledglings alive in their nests, immolate wildlife that can’t run fast enough, leave surviving animals to starve for lack of food, and incinerate organic matter and nearly every living creature in the thin soils. They turn trout streams into fish boils, minus the veggies and seasonings. Future downpours and rapid snowmelts bring widespread soil erosion into streambeds. Many areas will not grow trees or recover their biodiversity for decades.

Most horrifically, the conflagrations threaten homes and entire communities. They kill fire fighters and families that cannot get away quickly enough, or get trapped by sudden walls of flames.

In 2012, two huge fires near Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, CO, burned 610 homes, leaving little more than ashes, chimneys, and memories. Tens of thousands of people had to be evacuated through smoke and ash that turned daytime into choking night skies. Four people died. A 1994 fire near Glenwood Springs, CO, burned 14 young firefighters to death.

These are not “natural” fires of environmentalist lore, or “ordinary” fires like those that occur in state and privately owned and managed forests. Endless layers of laws, regulations, judicial decrees, and guidelines for Interior and Forest Service lands have meant that most Western forests have been managed like our 109 million acres of designated wilderness: they are hardly managed at all.

Environmentalists abhor timber cutting on federal lands, especially if trees might feed profit-making sawmills. They would rather see trees burn than let someone cut them. They constantly file lawsuits to block any cutting, and too many judges are all too happy to support their radical ideas and policies.

Thus, even selective cutting to thin dense stands of timber, or to remove trees killed by beetles or fires, is rarely permitted. Even fire fighting and suppression are often allowed only if a fire was clearly caused by arson, careless campers, or other human action – but not if lightning ignited it. Then it’s allowed to burn, until a raging inferno is roaring over a ridge toward a rural or suburban community.

The result is easy to predict. Thousands of thin trees grow on acreage that should support just a few hundred full-sized mature trees. Tens of billions of these scrawny trees mix with 6.3 billion dead trees that the Forest Service says still stand in 11 Western states. Vast forests are little more than big trees amid closely bunched matchsticks and underbrush, drying out in hot, dry western summers and droughts – waiting for lightning bolts, sparks, untended campfires, or arsonists to start super-heated conflagrations.

Do keep reading, he goes into what is starting to change, finally, and it is quite interesting.

And that is the thing I’ve noticed as long as I’ve lived in the west, and that is about 30 years or a bit more by now, the so-called environmental do-gooders organizations don’t and never have, really given a damn about the forest, the rivers, the fish and wildlife, erosion, or any of the other things they jabber on about, all they care about is curtailing civilization, and power over others. Knowing this explains a good bit of my (and probably others, as well) skepticism with regard to global cooling/global warming/climate change. It’s brought to you by the same bunch of Luddites. There may be a bit more to it, but it is far from proven, which is why we see religious furor, rather than reason used to advance the cause.

It also likely has to do with why we use mostly Canadian lumber to build in the United States. I don’t have a problem with that, but a bit more competition would be good, as it always is, for the consumer. And the timber companies have long since proved that they know far better than government how to manage forests. The government management of forests as shown in the linked articles (more here) is not designed for the good of the forest, or of the people, but to advance an agenda, which is to destroy modern civilization, and thus to quite literally kill people. This agenda is, as we have all seen, advanced with the religious fervor of a dervish attack.

It’s time for common sense to finally break out, and it looks like Secretaries Zinke and Perdue are starting to do so. May their efforts be rewarded.

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Quantifying Google’s Bias

Leo Goldstein wrote a guest article on What’s Up With That, and it is arguably important, to those of us that blog, but also to those of you who are looking for unbiased information. The short form is: Ya ain’t gonna get it from Google.

Abstract

The percentage of domain traffic, referred by Google Search, net of brand searches (PGSTN), tends to be in or around the range 25%-30% for a broad class of web domains.  This hypothesis is tested by calculating the correlation between the popularity of news/opinions websites and their PGSTN, and finding it to be near zero.  Thus, PGSTN can be used rigorously to detect and even quantify Google Search intentional bias.  Intentional bias is the bias that has been introduced by internal Google decisions, and unrelated to external factors, such as the dominance of particular viewpoints on the web.  Here, the PGSTN method is applied for intentional bias detection about climate debate and in general political discourse.

Google Search is found to be extremely biased in favor of climate alarmism and against climate realism.  The PGSTN ranges for climate realism and climate alarmism do not even overlap!  Some of the most important climate realist domains, including low-controversial judithcurry.com, have such a low PGSTN that they can be considered blacklisted by Google.

Google Search is found to be biased in favor of left/liberal domains and against conservative domains with a confidence of 95%.  Further, certain hard-Left domains have such a high PGSTN that their standing raises suspicions that they have been hand-picked for prominent placement.  Certain respected conservative domains are blacklisted.


[…]  Google servers crawl the whole web, extracting text, links, and other data from trillions of pages.  Google constantly and successfully fights attempts to artificially promote websites through collusive linking, and other search engine optimization techniques.  In its undertaking, Google also uses an enormous amount of off-web information, which it collects through Chrome browser, other Google applications and services, analytics beacons, domains registrar status, and so on.  This information includes domains popularity and ownership.  Google also processes immediate feedback from the users in the form of frequency of clicks on the results, bounce rate, the frequency of repeated searches with modified terms, etc.

Google is very good at its job.  Sites and domains that are less popular with the visitors tend to be less likely to receive traffic from Google, and vice versa.  The effect is that percentage of net traffic that domains receive from Google Search tends to be similar across web domains!  […]

Given the robustness of PGSTN, I conclude that statistically significant difference in PGSTN between a priori defined sets of comparable domains is due to intentional bias by Google, unless there is another good explanation.

I’d say this is by no means a manual operation, like nearly everything Google does, it is an algorithm. But my anecdotal evidence confirms what Mr. Goldstein is saying here. Historically, our search referrals were in that range, until July 2016, when they dropped drastically, as they did at AATW where I also write. I  was very noticeable here since we are a small blog and our view stats dropped almost instantly about 50%, nor have we yet reached the level we were at in June of 2016.

Google Bias in General Political Discourse

To quantify Google general political bias, I selected top U.S. news and opinions sites by their ranking in Alexa, then added some lower ranking conservative sites based on my personal knowledge and/or Alexa suggestions.  There was an element of subjectivity in selection and classification, and I omitted some domains that I could not classify.  Nevertheless, the most popular domains in both left/liberal (including Left, Mainstream Liberal, and Mainstream Center) and conservative (including Conservative and Mainstream Conservative) categories have been selected and classified rigorously, and use of weighted statistics minimized the element of subjectivity in the results.

The results show that Google Search is heavily biased against conservative domains, and some respectable conservative domains seem to be blacklisted:

thegatewaypundit.com

pjmedia.com

americanthinker.com

redstate.com

powerlineblog.com

drudgereport.com

Those are some pretty serious political sites, and the part of this I didn’t highlight is that these (NEO too) are climate realist sites, I’m inclined to think it’s natural for those of a conservative outlook to be skeptical of such things. But I have yet to see anything that even came close to convincing me. And that is likely why this was published on Watts Up With That. They are much more involved with the climate debate and the Google bias looks even worse there as well.

Now mind Google is a private company entitled to treat its products as it wishes. But it pays to understand if one’s provider of information is providing slanted data, and just how it is slanted.

 

Lowering NEO’s Swamp Level

Well, we made it to August. Shall we pop our heads up and see what is going on? Stuff you should know.

Federalist publisher Ben Domenech joined CBS’s “Face The Nation” Sunday morning to explain why Republicans’ lies are to blame for their failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Hammer, meet nail.

Milton Friedman on Mineral Resource Theory

A sample of why this is important.

[An email from Milton Friedman to Rob Brdley:]

FRIEDMAN TO BRADLEY, 9-8-03
Dear Mr. Bradley:

The basic point I believe in your natural resource discussion is that the economic product in question is not coal or oil or natural gas but energy.

The question is, what is the supply curve of energy? The use of coal or oil is a simply a means of producing energy. The stock of coal, of oil, etc., is certainly in some sense finite, but that doesn’t mean that the potential amount of energy capable of being produced by whatever source is to be considered finite.

Energy will be produced in whatever way is cheapest at the time and as new means of producing energy are discovered the particular mode of producing energy will change from coal to oil to natural gas to atomic sources. That is the view expressed in the statement of mine that you quote.

Worth remembering, always

Is Putin panicking? Maybe he should be.

First, everyone in Washington assumes the Russian hacking operation was a brilliant success. Was it? Here’s what Putin’s spooks actually accomplished: They hacked into Hillary Clinton’s email server, then got two shady characters with known ties to the Kremlin into a meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. That’s it.

For the second reason Putin is panicked, let’s turn our attention away from this phony scandal to focus on something that actually matters: The first ever tanker with liquefied natural gas from the United States just docked in Poland.

This a global game-changer. For decades, going back to the Cold War days of the Soviet Union, exports of natural gas from Russia to Europe have been among the Kremlin’s most vital levers of power. These exports provided hard currency the Soviet Union needed to enable its pathetically weak economy to compete globally against the United States, not just economically and politically, but militarily.

You, like me, being sensible people, remember that back in the 80s, that rising tide, lifting all boats, that Reagan spoke of, killed the Soviet Union. Yes, the US military held the line, but the victory was won on the home front. We’re doing it again, with Russia, and also with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. It’s the American way, send a tanker, make people’s lives better, and watch what happens.

The Imran Awan IT Case Isn’t About Bank Fraud, It’s About National Security

Six months late, but better than never.

State Department officials quitting over “complete and utter disdain for our expertise”

More good news

Why this Matters so much.

In recent years, one catastrophe has followed upon another in the Middle East. In a bracing essay authored for Power Line, David Horowitz lays blame where it belongs, at the feet of the Obama administration:

During the eight years of the Obama administration, half a million Christians, Yazidis and Muslims were slaughtered in the Middle East by ISIS and other Islamic jihadists, in a genocidal campaign waged in the name of Islam and its God. Twenty million others were driven into exile by these same jihadist forces. Libya and Yemen became terrorist states. America – once the dominant foreign power and anti-jihadist presence in the region – was replaced by Russia, an ally of the monster regimes in Syria and Iran, and their terrorist proxies. Under the patronage of the Obama administration, Iran – the largest and most dangerous terrorist state, with the blood of thousands of Americans on its hands – emerged from its isolation as a pariah state to re-enter the community of nations and become the region’s dominant power, arming and directing its terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and Yemen.

These disasters are a direct consequence of the policies of appeasement and retreat of the Obama administration.

Heh! ‘Collusion’ Collapses: Dem Congressional Espionage Ring Takes Center Ring

What made America great? According to de Tocqueville, our women. Which makes all the sense in the world to me.

Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in 1831 to study its prisons, but ended up documenting nearly every facet of American life. With journalistic curiosity, the French aristocrat scrutinized America’s religion and government, its society and industry. He wanted to know what allowed the United States to surpass Europe as the world’s political and economic superpower.

His conclusion? Women.

The women Tocqueville saw were not CEOs or celebrities, politicians or professional athletes. They were largely confined to the home: cleaning, cooking, taking care of children. But to the young political historian, no position seemed more important. “There have never been free societies without morals, and…it is the woman that molds the morals,” he wrote. Tocqueville saw American women as the keystone of the family, the ones who held everyone else together.

By taking primary responsibility for the home, American women allowed their husbands to fulfill their roles as providers and protectors, and they both worked toward a common goal: strengthening the family. These traditional roles of men and women, maligned today as harmful “gender stereotypes,” are precisely what helped to make America exceptional in Tocqueville’s eyes.

Some things actually are true, everywhere, always. This is one of them.

Wesley J. Smith tells us there may be another Charlie Gard case, coming up.

The treatment is unwanted by doctors because it is working. Hence, it isn’t the treatment but Alfie’s life that would be declared futile if the courts pulled another “Charlie Gard.”

Half a dozen US hospitals may be willing to offer alternative care for the Alfie:

Well, the customer is the one who pays the bill. In the UK that is HMG, and they don’t want to spend the money. It’s more important to turn boys into pseudo girls, or something.

In spite of the London bubble, Brexit is working out quite well for Britain, not that you’ll hear much of that news from their very own FSM.

LONDON — On July 24, trade talks began between Britain and America. All right, they weren’t formally called trade talks: As long as Britain is still in the European Union, it is supposed to contract out all its commercial decisions to Brussels. Officially, the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and the British trade secretary, Liam Fox, met for broad discussions about what might happen when Brexit takes effect in 2019.

Still, both sides can see the prize. For decades, there have been fitful negotiations between Washington and Brussels on trade liberalization, but they have always run up against the protectionism of France and some southern European states.

Between Britain and America, there are few such problems. Each country is the other’s biggest investor: About a million Americans work for British-owned companies, and a similar number of Britons work for American-owned companies. A liberal trade deal, based on mutual recognition of standards and qualifications, will bolster both economies.


Well, as we start a new month, that brings the water level down a bit in my part of the swamp. Enjoy the links, they’re all good ones.

 

The Yanks Are Coming, Again

John Hinderaker over at Powerline caught something that I should have. It happens. He quotes the Science and Environmental Policy Project’s The Week That Was:

Mr Hilton discusses the highly successful UK petrochemical firm Ineos. The firm may invest €2 billion (£1.76 billion) expanding its European petrochemicals capacity, possibly in Belgium. But location is only part of the issue. As Mr. Hilton states:

Once you have built a major chemical complex, your main (in many ways, your only) worry is the cost of the raw material you need to feed into it. This can account for half or more of total production costs, and is similarly crucial for other energy ­intensive industries such as refining, iron and steel, glass, cement and paper.

Until a few years ago Europe and America paid more or less the same amount for their petrochemical feedstock — the US had a slight advantage but not so great after transport and other costs had been factored in. (Middle East plants, sited right by the oilfields, did have such a price advantage but lacked scale.)

This is no longer the case thanks to the fundamental changes across the Atlantic. The Marcellus field, which spreads over several states and is just one of many in the US, produces 15 billion cubic feet of gas a day which is almost twice the UK’s entire consumption. But the result is that US prices have disconnected from the rest of the world and the subsequent feedstock prices have given American chemical plants so vast a price advantage that, on paper at least, there’s no way Europe can compete. It is staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, not now, but in a few short years, unless it can find some way to get its raw ­material costs down to American levels.

Thus far, the effect has been muted — and the European industry has had a little time — because the US petrochemical industry was originally not built for indigenous US gas and oil supplies but instead located near ports and configured to process supplies of oil from the Middle East.

But this is changing fast. There has been virtually no big petrochemical investment in Europe in the past decade whereas in the US since 2010 some $85 billion of petrochemicals projects have been completed or are under construction. Spending on chemical capacity to 2022 will exceed $124 billion, according to the American Chemistry Council, creating 485,000 jobs during construction and more than 500,000 permanent jobs, adding between $80 billion and $120 billion in economic output. After years where chemical capacity has run neck and neck with Europe, the American industry is about to dwarf it.

Makes all the sense in the world, when one thinks about it. And it’s true all through the energy sector. When I started this blog, we, in America, were paying about $5/gallon for gasoline (mostly slightly less) while Britain was paying about £4/Liter, if I recall. The BBC says they are now paying £1.19/Liter while we are paying ~$2/Gallon. But there are almost 4 liters in a gallon, and while I don’t remember what the pound was worth 6 years ago, I suspect it was considerably more than $1.28. And while we’re OK on Gasoline, we’re pretty much awash in Natural Gas, to the point that we are using it to replace coal in electrical generation, because it burns cleaner, while exporting coal to China.

So often I say here that America was built on abundant (and increasingly cheap) energy. I don’t usually document it because it seems pretty obvious to me, but it really is. Think about why such companies as Amazon, which are really little other than overgrown mercantile houses (in itself a concept we pioneered a hundred and fifty years ago with such firms as Sears, Roebuck, and Co.) both started and prospered so mightily here.

This will, I think become obvious quicker in chemical plants (do remember that the fertilizer we use on crops, another field that the US/Canada dominate, are products of chemical plants). Fracking is going a long way towards making America competitive with anybody in the world, again. And if you combine that with the traditional American propensity for innovation, well, the limits of our return become hard to discern.

Memorial Day Weekend

Well, we’ve made it to the traditional start of an American summer, Memorial Day. We’ll be talking about various aspects of that throughout the weekend. But for today, let’s just relax.

If I were asked to provide a synonym for America it would be movement. We’re a restless, impatient people with itchy feet. That’s why our ancestors became Americans, why the initials GTT were once famous in Tennessee, why we went westering until the Pacific got in the way. And still today, a wise man said, “To the British 200 miles is a long distance where to the American 200 years is a long time”. If we have a motto other the E Pluribus Unum, it has to be “real quick”. de Tocqueville noted it in us all those years ago, and it’s still a major part of us.

A lot of that depends on cheap energy, back in the day, we walked from St Joe to Oregon and California. Our Clipper ships were amongst the finest (and fastest) in the world. And gave the world such songs of loneliness as Shenandoah.

But that movement had a price, and you can hear it in that song. Those folks westering, and the ones they left behind, knew that if they were lucky, they would receive a few letters from their friends and family in the rest of their life. And thus the American quest for faster movement, and freedom of movement.

First, the steam train, with its promise of going almost anywhere, and it’s successor the airplane. But the real mark of America is the privately owned motorcar, epitomizing two important strains in our wanderlust. The ability to go where we want, when we want.

And faster, always faster. That’s why the Greatest Spectacle in Sports is American and will be this weekend, in Indianapolis, as always. By the way, did you know that the first winner, Ray Harroun, invented the rear view mirror? Like old Satchel Paige said, “Don’t look over your shoulder, someone might be gaining on you!” Like all of us expatriate Hoosiers, you can sing along with Jim Nabors and the Purdue All-American Marching Band.

And don’t forget to culturally appropriate a few bratwursts and beers, either! 🙂

What’s that got to do with a proper view of Memorial Day? As far back as the Civil War itself, foreign observers were marveling at the speed and fluidity of American Armies, they still do, especially combined with the awesome firepower we have always sought.

But a lot of it has to do with cheap (or affordable) energy, Our malaise in large part dates to that day back in 1973 that  OPEC shut off the oil spigot. We’ve never been quite ourselves since. Well, that malaise seems to be in remission.

Get happy. Summer beckons. Not only bike and hike but also drive, bus, train, and fly to a better environment–your self-selected environment.

The automobile is environmentalism-on-wheels. The open road is freedom to escape the concrete for the great beyond. Mountains, rivers, hills, forests, even beautiful green golf courses–it is all a drive away. (And if it makes you happy CAP, those ‘huge profits’ of “Big Oil’ are a few years absent.)

Everyone else: forget the spin and go for a spin!

Each year, MasterResource celebrates the beginning of the peak-driving season knowing that our free-market philosophy is about energy abundance and affordability and reliability. And there is little to apologize for. When is the last time you got a bad tank of gasoline, anyway?

Oil, gas, and coal have been and continue to be technologically transformed into super-clean energy resources. Carbon-based energies are growing more abundant, not less. And energy/climate alarmism is losing steam on all fronts (except the shouting).

The real energy sustainability problem is statism, not free consumer choice. As Matt Ridley concluded: “There is little doubt that the damage being done by climate-change policies currently exceeds the damage being done by climate change.” As Alex Epstein is telling each one of us to tell our neighbors: I Love Fossil Fuels.

From: Celebrate the Open Road

But, for now:

Go on, get out there, our soldiers didn’t risk and sometimes lose their lives in all those wars so you could sit around and mope about all that’s wrong with the world. Go, and have fun, the world’s problems will still be here for you, and you’ll be better for it.

Workin’ in the Mill

Apparently, Craig Bouchard has decided to build a new aluminum mill – in Ashland Kentucky. That’s something that ‘t doesn’t happen very often. In America, at least. Allysia Finley, over at The First Street Journal took a look at it following a story in the Wall Street Journal.

In April the CEO of Braidy Industries, Craig Bouchard, announced his company would build a $1.3 billion aluminum mill in Ashland, Ky., creating 550 jobs. Within the past few weeks, he has received 2,600 applications—many with heart-wrenching personal anecdotes.

Ashland, a small Appalachian town on the Ohio River, was once an industrial powerhouse. Fifty years ago, nearby coal mines churned out cheap energy and raw materials for steel production. But in recent decades the region has suffered a series of blows. In 1998 Ashland Oil relocated to the Cincinnati suburbs. Two years ago, AK Steellaid off 600 workers. Last year CSX Railroad cut 100 jobs due to reduced traffic from the coal mines. Unemployment in Greenup County stands at 8.9%.

Last month President Trump —who won the county with 71% of the vote—ordered an investigation into whether aluminum imports were jeopardizing national security. It’s a step toward the tariffs that protectionists hope will revive America’s Rust Belt. But the best hope for towns like Ashland is innovation and investment by men like Mr. Bouchard.

He’s the kind of businessman who might appear on a union hit list. The CEO cut his chops in derivatives trading before buying the scraps of a bankrupt Chicago steel company in 2003 with his brother James. Within five years, the Bouchard brothers had built their company, Esmark, into the nation’s fourth-largest steel conglomerate.

They sold it for $1.2 billion to the Russian steelmaker Severstal in 2008, shortly before the stock market and steel industry crashed. Thousands of workers subsequently lost their jobs. Mr. Bouchard blames the United Steelworkers. He had first tried to sell a partnership stake in Esmark to the Indian company Essar Steel. But the United Steelworkers sought to force a sale to Severstal, which the union perceived as more labor-friendly. Had the Essar deal been consummated, Mr. Bouchard says, “every one of those people would have their jobs today” because all of the company’s debt would have been paid off.

The episode soured him on organized labor, and it’s one reason he was determined to build his new aluminum plant in a right-to-work state, where workers can’t be compelled to join a union. Before choosing Ashland, he drew up a list of 24 potential sites. The logistics favored Ashland, and Kentucky offered $10 million in tax incentives as well as low-cost electricity. But Mr. Bouchard says he was prepared to build elsewhere had Kentucky’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, not signed right-to-work legislation in January.

Pay at the plant, which is expected to be up and running in 2020, will start at $50,000 a year and average $70,000—about twice the median household income in Ashland. Workers will also have access to health insurance, fitness facilities and a day-care center.

There’s more at the WSJ link, although it is subscriber only. But there is enough here to draw some conclusions.

First, Ashland is a superb location, especially for heavy industry, on the Ohio River, only a few miles from an Interstate Highway, lots of railroad infrastructure, and lots of unemployed people, both a legacy from coal mining. Nor does it hurt, that the Kentucky government offered $10 million in tax incentives and cheap electricity (aluminum production takes a lot of electricity, I seem to remember).

And finally, Kentucky is a right-to-work state, and Bouchard, like so many of us, has been turned anti-union, by the unions, themselves. Many of us watched as the were the main actors in destroying many of the industries that dominated my childhood, primary steel, the big 3 automakers, and many others. Apparently including Bouchard’s Esmark Steel. Nor does he appear to be exactly planning on exploiting his workers, starting them at $50K, and averaging $70K, that’s a pretty decent living, and working conditions are no longer really a contract condition, they’re a government regulation. Yes, often a silly group of them.

One of the things that the unions used to kill enterprises, and why it is a very silly move anymore to buy a legacy business, are the defined benefit pension plan, Allysia says this.

The pension decisions of decades in the past are still weighing down American manufacturers today. Those decisions cannot all be blamed on unions; management too frequently took decisions concerning pension plans and funding which worked fine for the individual managers in the fifties and sixties, but are unsustainable today. Defined benefit plans are being replaced by 401(k) plans, and the like, plans which do not depend upon the company’s future contributions to those plans. The defined benefit plan, if not properly funded as the company moves along, is, in effect, paying retired personnel a wage for no longer working.

That’s correct, and a good deal of that was taking the easy way out, rather than fighting the union. And by the way, it is not only business, it’s the basic problem (besides corruption, of course) with government, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Illinois, in California, and pretty much anywhere that government employees have unionized, because politicians, being the weak-willed creatures they are, have almost always not funded the retirement systems as required (often the unions haven’t, either).

And that’s why smart people go for a 401k these days, which was originally designed for the self-employed. If you fund it yourself, it tends to get funded, if you depend on other people’s money, well people are subject to the temptation of shinier objects than taking care of those who used to work with them.

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