Irrelevant Trump Wingeing, and Some on the Free Market.

129445-quotes-about-can-do-attitudeYesterday, Jan Hansenn in comments proposed that we are not logical in our hopes for Trump, that others fear him, not because he may succeed but that he may damage the country, and finally that his business career is not all that successful. He also referenced sites that I consider mostly fake news, the New York Times, and Newsweek. But that’s still common, and many share the delusion (including the purveyors) that they provide real news.

I think he is wrong and Kurt Schlicter is right, categorically, that is my conclusion, and the only one that fits. My article and Colonel Schlichter’s had little to do with Trump, in fact. They were expositions of why the so-called Progressives are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats who want a do over. The thing they, and Jan, need to realize is that about 12 Noon on January 20, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Your reservations, fears, and my hopes, in fact, all of our feelings about him are simply irrelevant. He is the President -Elect.

But what is the wonder of an age to me, is the sight of a plurality of the country, and a good percentage of the world, denying these facts. Trying to reverse a deal as done as Jodl’s signature on the surrender of Nazi Germany. It’s over, kiddies. We can argue about cabinet picks, Supreme Court justices, policies, and many other things. For the most part you, and occasionally I will lose. It’s real simple, elections have consequences, and he won. For good or bad, he will be President. Deal with it, Snowflakes.

America doesn’t do do-overs. That’s Europe’s thing, to keep voting until the elites get the answer they want. If you remember way back there in 2008, most of us thought Obama had some pretty looney ideas, but we were prepared to give him a chance, until about the time of that speech in Cairo, anyway. Speaking of damaging the country. We managed to survive, although it was tough, and I’d guess we’ll make it through the next fortnight as well.

Then we’ll see, all of us, how he does. I’m pretty confident he’ll be the best president since Reagan, and perhaps since Coolidge. But that remains to be seen, he could be a total flop, but if he can accomplish a third of what he wants to, it’s likely to become known as ‘the Roaring Teens’.

There is a reason, several really, but one salient one, why I am almost always opposed to government interference in markets. It could easily be summarized as “they do not know what they do”. Mostly we call it the law of unintended consequences. It echoes through almost every piece of legislation and regulation that the government does (see Obamacare). That’s why Coolidge was right, it is much better for the government to not do, than to do, especially if they know not what they are doing. The best thing for the workers, whether blue or white collar, for the investors, and indeed for the country, is for the government to get the hell out of the way.

That is why we were a bit disappointed with Trump’s handling of the Carrier thing. Offsetting that, though, is this: a promise is a promise.

Dan Mitchell has more on the economic thing, here. Read it and absorb it, because he, and Bastiat, are simply correct.

12 Bucks for a Cup of Joe – Why it is Worth it to Many

Barista Ryan McDonnell siphons coffee using vintage technology at the coffee experience bar of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. (David Ryder/Bloomberg)

Barista Ryan McDonnell siphons coffee using vintage technology at the coffee experience bar of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. (David Ryder/Bloomberg)

George Will notes in the Washington Post the other day that Starbucks has a new and exclusive coffee experience awaiting you. Let him explain.

Indiana’s Thomas R. Marshall, who was America’s vice president 100 years ago, voiced — he plucked it from a Hoosier humorist — one of the few long-remembered utterances to issue from that office: “What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar,” which would be $1.11 in today’s currency. A century later, what the country needs is a $12 12-ounce cup of coffee.

Or so Howard Schultz thinks. Betting against the man who built Starbucks to a market capitalization of $86 billion is imprudent.

Today, you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a Starbucks store. There are 25,000 in 75 countries, with another 12,000 due by 2021, so Starbucks is not an elusive or exclusive experience. This poses a problem peculiar to affluent societies, and an opportunity. Seattle, where the original Starbucks was opened in 1971, now has a Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room where customers can turn a cup of “small-batch” coffee into an experience — Starbucks sells experiences as much as coffee — of both conspicuous consumption and conspicuous connoisseurship. Bloomberg reports that for a pittance, a.k.a. $10, skinflints will be able to buy a cold-brew coffee, which presumably is an excellent thing, infused with nitrogen gas, which sounds like an acquired taste.

Well, OK, even though my taste runs more to strong although not burned Java. In fact, I dislike  Starbucks, and find the average convenience store coffee better, although I admit that gets you negative style points from the cool kids.

My favorite(s) come from the Black Rifle Coffee Company, a fairly new outfit, started by veterans. I like the coffee, and I like the badassery, which feels so very American, for a change. Like this from their site:

Patriotism, honor and sacrifice; three words that hipsters, (most) millennials and as of recently…an NFL quarterback know nothing about. Thousands have served our country through 2 wars and have seen first-hand what sacrifice means. Personally, I have lost many of my best friends and teammates to both wars. Whether they agreed on the politics behind being there, when our country asked, they called! So sitting on my ass while our nations anthem is played is something I cannot fathom. I can say with a substantial amount of certainty that with any other veteran, this is also the case. With all that said, the United States of America would not be who we are without the right to free speech, expression, religion and most importantly…the right to bear arms.

Worth my money, and yours, to have people around that understand that.

Back to George:

Four decades ago, the economist Fred Hirsch distinguished between the material economy and the positional economy. Once a society has satisfied basic material needs (food, shelter, clothing), it turns yesterday’s luxuries (cars, air conditioning, college educations) into necessities. Because these are mass-market commodities, such material prosperity is a leveling, egalitarian force. Positional competition is emphatically not.

In the competition for an “elite” education or an “exclusive” vacation spot, one person’s success is necessarily a loss for many other persons because positional goods cannot be expanded indefinitely. Of course, Starbucks Roasteries could be expanded by the thousands, but this would make the “experience” banal and drain the stores of their positional power.

via Starbucks shines in our ecosystem of snobbery – The Washington Post

Yep, he’s right. In fact, my liking for BRCC is kind of like that as well. It’s damned good coffee, in my opinion, but a good part of the appeal is in the values they promote. And in a sense, we all do this. Why do we drive a Caddy instead of a Chevy, or a Ram pickup instead of a Prius, or any of those myriad choices we make. It has a lot to do with how we see ourselves, and how we want others to, as well. Nothing new under the sun, it’s always been that way, and it always will. That’s why I wear Lucchese boots and a Stetson hat these days, instead of Chuck Taylor All Stars and a stray baseball cap.

You know, I always laugh at people buying bottled water, but it’s the same thing, Richard Hammond explains it pretty well, amongst other interesting things to do with water.

‘If Russia and Saudi Arabia lead, rest will follow’…

american-oil-producers-must-collaborate-if-oil-prices-are-to-reboundor so says the Saudi energy minister on this historic oil deal. Well, maybe they will. But what if North America doesn’t follow?

Let’s see, he’s talking about

On Saturday, twelve non-OPEC countries, including Azerbaijan, Oman, Mexico, Sudan, South Sudan, Bahrain, Malaysia, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Kazakhstan and Russia, agreed to cut oil production by 558,000 barrels per day (b/d) under the deal with the OPEC members.

OPEC members also confirmed their commitment to the plan to reduce the oil supply by 1.2 million b/d. This, together with the commitments made by non-OPEC states, would lead to the total reduction of oil production by about 1.7-1.8 million b/d, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said at the press conference.

They tried this before, of course. The most famous one was in 1973 when they thought they could scare the United States into abandoning Israel. That part didn’t work, but it did rather mess us up, not least as the defense department discovered it had between one day and two weeks of reserves. That’s why, ever since, defense has been burning other people’s oil, mostly. But you know 2017 is not 1973. Here’s some more

He then said that he “does not expect the US government to react to this in any way” to the Saturday deal as it has “not reacted in the past and let the market respond.”

via ‘If Russia & Saudi Arabia lead, rest will follow’: Saudi energy minister on historic oil deal |

He’s probably right about that, one hopes so. Still, I do expect President Trump to open up a bunch of federal land for exploration and/or drilling. That means there are two rather large gorillas in the room here. A lot of American wells are mothballed because their cost of production is not quite profitable, right now. By the way, when I looked last night Crude closed at $51.50 a barrel. Here’s the chart from infomine

American companies, as a rule, don’t do things that don’t make a profit, and they don’t think they will at these prices. Fair enough, I’m sure they know their cost of production and shipping quite well. Bring the price a bit higher, and a bunch of Americans will go back to work.

The other gorilla? Canada is the same story, maybe more so, extracting all that oil in the tar sands is not all that cheap, and unless the pipelines get built which is increasingly likely, they’re a long way from their markets. That too is likely to change with the administration in Washington. So, a lot of North Americans may well be going back to good paying jobs, our balance of payments may well improve, and if we do this right, we can continue to take money out of Saudia Arabia, Russia, Iran, and other not so friendly nations.

Sounds pretty good to me, and you know, if I and my friends are making more money, I could probably afford another 25 or 50¢ a gallon for fuel. And if we get it rolling, we will be.

It’s also a textbook example of why monopolies don’t work

Carrier Blinks, Jobs Stay, Trump Wins |

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)

Well, well, well, look at that, Carrier with all the noise about domestic manufacturing jobs decided it would be a good idea to stay in Indianapolis. Undoubtedly they are correct. From the NY Times

From the earliest days of his campaign, Donald J. Trump made keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States his signature economic issue, and the decision by Carrier, the big air-conditioner company, to move over 2,000 of them from Indiana to Mexico was a tailor-made talking point for him on the stump.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump and Mike Pence, Indiana’s governor and the vice president-elect, plan to appear at Carrier’s Indianapolis factory to announce a deal with the company to keep roughly 1,000 jobs in the state, according to officials with the transition team as well as Carrier.

Mr. Trump will be hard-pressed to alter the economic forces that have hammered the Rust Belt for decades, but forcing Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies, to reverse course is a powerful tactical strike that will hearten his followers even before he takes office.

“I’m ready for him to come,” said Robin Maynard, a 24-year veteran of Carrier who builds high-efficiency furnaces and earns almost $24 an hour as a team leader. “Now I can put my daughter through college without having to look for another job.”

It also signals that Mr. Trump is a different kind of Republican, willing to take on Big Business, at least in individual cases.

And just as only a confirmed anti-Communist like Richard Nixon could go to China, so only a businessman like Mr. Trump could take on corporate America without being called a Bernie Sanders-style socialist. If Barack Obama had tried the same maneuver, he’d probably have drawn criticism for intervening in the free market.

via Carrier Blinks, Jobs Stay, Trump Wins |

The Times goes on with comments from Robert Reich and such. I don’t disagree, part of the reason it worked this time for Trump/Pence is that pence is Indiana’s Governor, and Trump speaks business. I suspect part of it is also that Carrier is owned by United Technologies, one of the big defense contractors, who undoubtedly don’t want any troubles with the administration, if they can help it.

All that said, it’s good news, and it goes to the point that relocating to Mexico is a rather marginal cost-savings, usually. I can remember when we had a Monroe shock absorber plant here, it was the old Rancho suspension plant, built in the 50s or 60s, a few years ago it moved to Mexico, now it’s off in Asia somewhere. Apparently, the Mexicans didn’t work cheap enough either. By the way, they couldn’t get the plant sold, so a few weeks ago they bulldozed it, it ain’t coming back. The tax breaks weren’t good enough, likely.

He won’t win them all, but it’s a good start: when you can save 1000 jobs in December before you are even inaugurated. That’s a thousand jobs that Obama couldn’t have saved.

The Beautiful Lie

Have you seen this, yet? It has about 600,000 views on YouTube.

Steven Heyward over at PowerLine comments, “Here you will take in a typically politicized student, at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, arguing that “Science as a whole is a product of western modernity, and the whole thing should be scratched off.” The audience laughs with approval at this apparent bold transgression, and when someone interjects, at about the one minute mark, that “It’s not true,” he is shouted down and demanded to make an apologize for having violated their “progressive safe space.” Chairman Mao would have been proud.”

Quite. As Steve says, then the nonsense resumes,

Steven Novella of the NeuroLogicaBlog summarizes it thus:

She gives as an example that Newton saw an apple fall, made up gravity, wrote down some equations, and now that is scientific truth imposed on the world forever (seriously, I am not exaggerating this one bit).

The other pillar of her position is that in Africa there are practitioners of black magic who can summon a lightening bolt at their enemy. This is not explainable by “Western” science, and yet this is African knowledge, and therefore is an example of Western colonialism suppressing indigenous wisdom.

via Academic Absurdity of the Week: Who’s Against Science Again? | Power Line

Wow! Just Wow!

But as Steve also says, it allows us to introduce Dan Sarewitz’s essay in The New Atlantis, “Saving Science,”

I’ll give you the opening, as Steve did, but while very important, this essay is long, it’s also wide ranging , well written, fascinating, and I think pretty much on the money, but make a pot of coffee, because you’ll be a while.

20160816_tna49sarewitzendlessfrontiercoverw300Science, pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble. Stoked by fifty years of growing public investments, scientists are more productive than ever, pouring out millions of articles in thousands of journals covering an ever-expanding array of fields and phenomena. But much of this supposed knowledge is turning out to be contestable, unreliable, unusable, or flat-out wrong. From metastatic cancer to climate change to growth economics to dietary standards, science that is supposed to yield clarity and solutions is in many instances leading instead to contradiction, controversy, and confusion. Along the way it is also undermining the four-hundred-year-old idea that wise human action can be built on a foundation of independently verifiable truths. Science is trapped in a self-destructive vortex; to escape, it will have to abdicate its protected political status and embrace both its limits and its accountability to the rest of society.

The story of how things got to this state is difficult to unravel, in no small part because the scientific enterprise is so well-defended by walls of hype, myth, and denial. But much of the problem can be traced back to a bald-faced but beautiful lie upon which rests the political and cultural power of science. This lie received its most compelling articulation just as America was about to embark on an extended period of extraordinary scientific, technological, and economic growth. It goes like this:

Scientific progress on a broad front results from the free play of free intellects, working on subjects of their own choice, in the manner dictated by their curiosity for exploration of the unknown.

“The free play of free intellects…dictated by their curiosity”

So deeply embedded in our cultural psyche that it seems like an echo of common sense, this powerful vision of science comes from Vannevar Bush, the M.I.T. engineer who had been the architect of the nation’s World War II research enterprise, which delivered the atomic bomb and helped to advance microwave radar, mass production of antibiotics, and other technologies crucial to the Allied victory. He became justly famous in the process. Featured on thecover of Time magazine, he was dubbed the “General of Physics.” As the war drew to a close, Bush envisioned transitioning American science to a new era of peace, where top academic scientists would continue to receive the robust government funding they had grown accustomed to since Pearl Harbor but would no longer be shackled to the narrow dictates of military need and application, not to mention discipline and secrecy. Instead, as he put it in his July 1945 report Science, The Endless Frontier, by pursuing “research in the purest realms of science” scientists would build the foundation for “new products and new processes” to deliver health, full employment, and military security to the nation.

From this perspective, the lie as Bush told it was perhaps less a conscious effort to deceive than a seductive manipulation, for political aims, of widely held beliefs about the purity of science. Indeed, Bush’s efforts to establish the conditions for generous and long-term investments in science were extraordinarily successful, with U.S. federal funding for “basic research” rising from $265 million in 1953 to $38 billion in 2012, a twentyfold increase when adjusted for inflation. More impressive still was the increase for basic research at universities and colleges, which rose from $82 million to $24 billion, a more than fortyfold increase when adjusted for inflation. By contrast, government spending on more “applied research” at universities was much less generous, rising to just under $10 billion. The power of the lie was palpable: “the free play of free intellects” would provide the knowledge that the nation needed to confront the challenges of the future.

To go along with all that money, the beautiful lie provided a politically brilliant rationale for public spending with little public accountability. Politicians delivered taxpayer funding to scientists, but only scientists could evaluate the research they were doing. Outside efforts to guide the course of science would only interfere with its free and unpredictable advance.

We are, of course, free to agree or disagree with what he says. I’m inclined to agree, particularly since I have always found that unless you have some sort of a destination in mind for any endeavor, well, how will you know you’re making progress.

Steve also says that this sort of nonsense is even more prevalent in social science. I’ll easily forbear from arguing with that thesis.

This English Major Just Got Fired. Here’s Where I Went Wrong

tumblr_nof8igts8n1qbceqdo1_500This is pretty interesting. It tells us quite a lot about how it is out there in the job market. But it tells us something else, maybe. Maybe our young people are coming out of college with rather overblown expectations of what a degree is worth. The best thing that college can teach you, is to be responsible for yourself, and it sounds like this person got that lesson, but that’s not enough to start a career at anyplace but the (or pretty close, anyway) bottom.

For the first time in my life, I’ve been fired. It was probably as easy an experience as it can ever be. I had known it was coming, since I had gone in the day before to check the coffee shop schedule, and found my name wasn’t on it.

I wasn’t fired for incompetence; the manager made that clear. I could do the work required as well as anyone. The trouble was that I’m not a very enthusiastic, outgoing, or bubbly kind of person, and I couldn’t pretend to be for six hours at a time. I’m not a “people person,” you see, and begging is not my style.

Only trouble was, no one else wanted me, either. Nine years ago, I went into college with only a vague notion of what I would do when I got out. I took a degree in English writing, since my intention was to eventually become a writer, although I knew I’d need some kind of suitable day job in the meantime. I figured that would just work out and that pretty much anything would do.

During college I considered and rejected pretty much every career option you can think of, from teaching to law enforcement, but never settled on anything definite. I ended up taking a job at an auto parts company upon graduation.

About a year ago, after leaving that job, I found myself looking for work.  I had a college degree and almost four solid years of work experience under my belt. I am intelligent, dependable, and courteous, and I have a record of learning new duties quickly. Apparently, that qualified me to work in a coffee shop. Then I was courteously dismissed from it with no further prospects.

College Taught Me I Didn’t Need College

Weeks have now turned to months. I’ve sent application after application. About one time out of a hundred, I’ve been called in for an interview. Most of the time I receive nothing. As of this writing, I am still unemployed.

My experience is not unique. There are thousands of college graduates in my shoes today. In fact, I’m better off than most: thanks to my wonderful parents, I don’t have any student debt weighing me down. I was also fortunate that the school I went to included a Great Books program, which is where I first truly learned to think.

Having learned that particular skill, I’ve concluded it probably wasn’t a good idea for me to go to college. Oh, I’m grateful for many things—the aforementioned Great Books program, the friends I made, and so forth. But looking back, I can’t avoid the conclusion that if I had learned to think a little sooner I would have realized that I shouldn’t have gone to college at all when I did.

I would have been better off going into the military or getting a job right off the bat. That way I would have had the kind of skills necessary to find the kind of jobs I want. College, for me, was unnecessary. Many people have to go into debt to attend a school where, instead of teaching you to think logically, they teach you how much the world owes you. It’s a liability.

Could well be so, hard to say from here. But there is also this, most employers, for a job with any kind of future don’t want to talk to you if you don’t have that piece of paper. It likely has to do, amongst other things, with how risible a high school education has become, and it’s an easy marker for computer sorting. To continue:

Searching for work is a potent cocktail of urgency, confusion, rage, and helplessness. You are keenly aware that you need a job, and you want to get one, but at the same time it feels as though it is completely out of your hands. All you can do is send out your applications, wait, do your follow-up calls, and wait again while whatever money you have saved dwindles and the gap in your resume grows.

That’s the worst part of looking for work: how utterly powerless one feels. You don’t get to set the terms. You don’t control if or when the other side will respond. You have to jump through the same tedious hoops over and over, laboriously entering the same information time and again, all the while knowing your only reward is likely to be a form letter stating they “have decided to go with a candidate who better fits our qualifications” and they “Wish you luck in your search.”

That’s if you’re lucky. Most of the time your application simply vanishes into the ether without leaving so much as a ripple. You are competing with untold thousands of others, leaving it highly unlikely that anyone will even see your application. But you’re forbidden from applying in any other way.

via This English Major Just Got Fired. Here’s Where I Went Wrong Do read it all.

I sympathize, boy do I sympathize. I too have been there, and applying online just plain sucks, although I completely understand why most companies do it that way now.

I suspect I would, if I were still active in growing a business, would love to have this person on board. That way of thinking is the key going far. But as they’ve discovered, even with a college degree, they have to start at the bottom. What they may not know is this. It’s always been that way. Back in the day, when being the ‘Standard Railroad of the World’ meant something, a newly graduated civil engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad started as an assistant rodman, and worked through many positions before their title included that coveted word ‘engineer’. No matter what you want to do, there are many things that you can only learn from experience, not from school. Although schooling is always helpful, if not always required.

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