Back to Normal. Beginning a discussion of Free Trade

Chaos Manor View, Friday, July 22, 2016

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983



The day was devoured by the business of living. The plumbing stopped yesterday, and Mike Diamond’s efficient $99 drain clearers couldn’t come until today. They came early enough, but that was the first household problem. I couldn’t shower yesterday when I had someone to help, so it was today, alone. Not fun, and I couldn’t start until the drains were free. Meanwhile, the people who are going to get rid of my fallen wall and replace it usually work for an insurance company and all their standard forms are drawn up with the insurance company as the payer; we were referred to them by USAA, whom we have good reason to trust, but that wall falling after trying to fall for fifty years is a good example of normal wear and tear. Why it couldn’t have fallen in one or another earthquake I don’t know; but it didn’t, and there it is. So we’ll pay, which means the contracts need to reflect that, and it took three iterations and Roberta’s skills to get it rewritten, after which we had to wait for the next draft. I needed stuff from the grocer, but there was always some reason I couldn’t go. I had to wait where I could hear the doorbell, which meant I could not get upstairs to the Monk’s Cell to work on the novel; I did some pretty good work on it this week, but I can only work on fiction where I am not interrupted and distracted. For that matter I can’t do decent essays when distractible. I used to write the Chaos Manor column in the Press Room at major shows, but that was before brain cancer and a stroke – now I can only two finger type while staring at the keyboard.

On that score, there’s good news. I’ve found the 15” ASUS ZenBook just what I needed, this after trying all kinds of keyboards. I have the ASUS upstairs in the Monk’s Cell, on a good stand with a 25” LED very high resolution monitor at eye level when I sit back and relax. I type looking at the keyboard, but I can see the laptop’s screen, sort of, as I do. I don’t hit two keys at once so often. I still manage to hit c of v along with the spacebar too often, but I am training myself not to do that; and I can type fast, fast enough to keep up with scenes as I imagine them. I can then sit back and edit on the big screen with mouse and keyboard as I did before the stroke. It’s wonderful. You can recover from a stroke. It’s a bit like learning skills all over again, but that’s fine – you can do it. What you can’t do is give up. Anyway, what with my ADSUS ZenBook and other equipment I’m back in business – when I can get upstairs to use it. Today I couldn’t.

And then about 4 PM my oldest son sent an email, cryptic, saying that our number three son Phillip, the career Navy officer, just landed at Burbank Airport and would be at the house anon. He has a Navy conference in San Diego next week and will spend the weekend here. Of course he was expected but with all the other distractions I had forgotten.

After which things began to get back to normal. The restoration guy showed up and the papers were all in order, and they start next week, and there are no more decisions to make. The plumbers finished their work and the toilets work again. So do the showers. I took one, alone and unassisted, and even treated myself to a real shave with a real razor, no incidents to report. Alex, Phillip, Roberta, and I all went to dinner at a local Italian restaurant that serves gluten free, and it was great. Phillip and I then went to the grocery store and got things urgently needed – I don’t drive at dusk or later – and that pressure is off. It’s quiet, everyone is in bed, and I’m working in my back bedroom, not as good as the Monk’s Cell, but Phillip is sleeping there – it is, after, the bedroom of the oldest boy living with us, which means it was his room at one time. But it’s quiet here, no distractions, and here we are.

So it turned out to be a pretty good day after all.


On Free Trade

One reason Conservatives are advised by Conservative leaders to disagree with Trump is his position on Free Trade. The problem for me is that I do not see Free Trade, particularly laissez faire Free Trade, as necessarily Conservative at all,

The advantages of Free Trade are lower prices for stuff. That means they are more cheaply produced. As the economist David Ricardo wrote, there is a principle of comparative advantage that coupled with free trade guarantees maximum profits for when there are no trade restrictions, and impediments to free trade are supposed to be mutually disadvantageous.

But do understand, what is conserved is lower prices. Nor social stability. Not communities. Not family life. Indeed those are often disrupted; it’s part of the economic model. Under free trade theory, it’s better to have free trade than community preservation, better to have ghost towns of people displaced because their jobs have been shipped overseas; better to have Detroit as a wasteland than a thriving dynamic industrial society turning out tail finned Cadillacs and insolent chariots and supporting workers represented by rapacious unions in conflict with pitiless corporate executives.

The theory of free trade includes liquidity: liquidity in capital flow, and liquidity in labor relocation.

What was conserved by turning Detroit into a wasteland? How was that conservative? Wouldn’t it be more conservative to argue that if everyone pays a little more for stuff made here, by people who work here, we are better off than having it made south of the border and inviting our people to go work there at their prevailing wages?

Go further. You don’t have to move. We’ll pay you for not working and you don’t have to move. Of course we’ll have to raise taxes on those who do work to pay those people no longer working, but that’s life. But after unemployment benefits work out – in my days the government would pay you $26 a week for 26 weeks – you’re in trouble. So much so that welfare benefits kept being raised. Food stamps, which became larger and bought more items. Negative income tax. And if you dropped out of the labor force – no longer looking for a job – you are no longer unemployed. The unemployment rate just went down. You stopped looking for a job. Of course you don’t have a job – you are certainly not employed – but you aren’t unemployed and don’t count toward the unemployment rate. I wouldn’t have thought that sort of lying to the people by government officials was a very Conservative thing to do at all.

Would a 15% tariff on cars have saved Detroit? It would mean that I would have had to pay about $5000 more for my 1988 Ford Eddie Bauer V8 Explorer I bought in 1999. I could have afforded that. And I suspect that I’ve paid more in income taxes sent to welfare recipients in Detroit than that. Is paying people not to work more Conservative than trying to keep their jobs – and manufacturing capabilities and potential here, bot dismantling it and leaving its former site to rust away – Conservative?

And is encouraging people not to work – at least making it easier and more possible – building a Conservative nation?

What, precisely, is being conserved here?




Some addresses I saved; I intended to comment on them, but things got out of hand, and I have to reduce the number of tabs I have open or Firefox glitches.

While this was written recently in Fred’s current style, most of the column is a reprint of a 1981 article he wrote for Harper’s (and is in a more journalistic style). He could have written it last week, only more so: it’s about DC schools. They’re bad. They were bad in 1981. They were bad in 1983. They are worse in 2016. Interestingly, the Constitution gives Congress the authority to deal with the DC school system: you’d think that if the Federal Government could tell you how to run your local schools. It could show you how to do it in a place where the Congress – i.e. the Federal Government – has all the Constitutional authority it needs. Yet from 1981 to now, under Democratic majorities with Democratic Presidents, Democratic majorities with Republican Presidents, Republican majorities with Democratic Presidents, Republican majorities with Republican President, and in the past few years Republican majorities with Democratic President – under all these combinations the DC schools have got worse and worse, the federal government always had the Constitutional authority to fix it, and did nothing: yet the Department of Education still pretends it knows how you should run your schools.

This is robbing the poor. This is building a caste system. This is seeing to it that the ruling class has an out – a few good public schools in neighborhoods dominated by the governing class can send their kids to public schools, but for those who are governed, the public schools are all they have.

I sent my children to Catholic schools because they learned more there; more than they would have even in the best Los Angeles public schools. But I could – just barely – afford to do so. I don’t live big, and I’m not addicted to conspicuous consumption. I tend to be Conservative even if the formal Conservative Movement had the egregious Frum throw me out .




Asteroid that formed Moon’s Imbrium Basin may have been Protoplanet-sized – Science, Astronomy, Medical News & Updates

The asteroid that slammed into the moon 3.8 billion years ago creating the Imbrium Basin may have had a diameter of at least 150 miles, according to a new estimate.

Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”


‘The scattered, moated complexes like Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom were merely the most enduring features of what we now know was the biggest city on Earth during the 12th and 13th centuries.’



Roland Dobbins


: REDUX: Turkey  <.>

Turkish media announced that:

15,200 teachers and other education staff had been sacked

1,577 university deans were ordered to resign

8,777 interior ministry workers were dismissed

1,500 staff in the finance ministry had been fired

257 people working in the prime minister’s office were sacked </>

The coup crackdown surpassed 50k today (the media breakdown doesn’t seem to list it all). How can you put together lists like that in a few days? The sheer collections and sorting alone would take longer than that. The Nazis used lists and even they would be astounded by such efficiency.

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Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

It is the final end of the Ataturk secular republic.





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.



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