Chaos Manor View, Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.
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
Saturday, July 30, 2016
The wall is done.
That’s one less thing to worry about, although there is some concern about the ivy growing back; a problem that is not a problem now nor likely to be for some time, and which can be dealt with when it emerges. For the moment I’ve got my life back. I did manage some exercises, and new scenes in two of the books I’m working on, and now that the Great Wall incident is coming to a close – they still have to haul off the bricks and take down those props which make sure the new fencepost concrete settings harden so it won’t wiggle – but that shouldn’t take long and with luck I ought not have to think about any of it.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
The braces are down, the sidewalk is clear, and in theory the old bricks will vanish sometime today. The distractions from this fallen wall continue, and used up more time, but today ought to finish this chapter in the Chaotic Times of Chaos Manor. We can hope. I am continuing my campaign to stop turning into a vegetable, principally with the Five Tibetan Rites plus some exercises to rebuild leg and arm strength. I’ve also done some fiction.
This is late, and big. Apologies, but not many.
We continue the discussion of Free Trade. I do not think it an axiom that Free Trade is always the best solution to a problem; in particular, how do you get to be an industrial power if anything you can make can be made and sold cheaper by someone else? I grew up in the Old South, where it was taught from 5th grade on that the South never had industries because of Northern Tariffs; we might have competed with New England (particularly before railroads), but we could not compete with England – who wouldn’t sell us spinning jennies anyway. There was always a high tariff on manufacturing equipment tools. As I got older I understood that was not strictly true, but it was axiomatic in Tennessee that Democrats were for tariff for revenue only, while Republicans wanted protective tariff; and protective tariffs prevented the formation of competing industries while keeping prices high. When I came of college age, the marvel we saw was that imports were forcing Detroit to make better cars; better being defined mostly as cheaper cars that intellectuals who wrote books like The Insolent Chariots liked.
I didn’t pay a lot of attention at the time. Detroit was a place that could make anything, and make it fast. The US could build Boulder Dam during the Depression, and do it in under three years. The Empire State Building was started after the Crash of ’29 and completed in a year. The United States could do anything. The Depression slowed us down, but after Pearl Harbor united us Detroit was the foundation of the arsenal of democracy, and we turned out ships and planes and tanks and guns.
So we began imports in the 50’s – 60’s, and Detroit became a sinkhole. Suddenly there was no tariff for revenue or for protection. We had Free Trade. Factory equipment was shipped south of the border, then to China and Singapore and anywhere else you could find educable workers, while the jobs vanished in the United States, fewer people learned the new skills demanded by globalization, and a National Commission on Education concluded that we had developed a national system of education indistinguishable from an act of war. Federal Aid to Education – non-existent before the 60’s – was supposed to give us schools for the space age. They succeeded in giving us a third world literacy rate.
We now have a low unemployment rate, but, astonishingly, fewer people who don’t have jobs – aren’t even looking for jobs, so they aren’t counted as unemployed. They just don’t work for a living. They aren’t trying to. The remedy to this, we are told, is more regulations to make work safer, higher minimum wages to make work more attractive, and more welfare benefits for those who aren’t working. This makes investing in new manufacturing enterprises hideously expensive.
My friend David Friedman believes the solution to all our economic problems is less government, and more Free Trade. He once told me “I am in all cases in favor of others dumping products on us.” This specifically included high tech stuff like memory chips. It hardly mattered where it was made: cheaper is better. Perhaps so; but he is almost in all cases in favor of less government, too, and that he doesn’t get with dumping and Free Trade. I would advise Mr. Trump to include Dr. Friedman in his circle of advisors, because David is infuriatingly able to explain his views and they need to be presented; but he needs some other around who aren’t so sure. Free Trade with high compensation for not working, and increased regulations making startup enterprises require high capital has produced this mess. For years the US economy consisted of opening cargo containers filled with Chinese stuff, much of it paid for with borrowed money.
America used to produce many of the world’s goods. Detroit and the industrial plant that city symbolized was the envy of the world, and Pittsburgh produced steel for the world. Neither is a symbol of productivity today. Capitalism requires creative destruction; but I would have thought it also requires good schools, loyal citizens, settled households and neighborhoods, people who are accustomed to self government, and a measure of stability.
Instead, we have an enormous and growing national debt – one we don’t just owe it to ourselves, not any more – an unemployable class which isn’t even officially unemployed, the wreckage of a school system that once was the envy of the world; and we are apparently going to vote for eight more years of Hope and Change.
I don’t know if we can get back to better schools, but I suggest that one way is to read the Constitution: it says nothing about the Federal Government having any power over schools. Neither education nor schools are mentioned among the powers of Congress.
So: what we need is for the courts to rule that the Congress has not the power to make laws about education, save in the one place that it does have sovereignty: the District of Columbia. There it has the power to rule. Abolish all Federal Aid to Education, and leave it to the States. They can’t do worse than Washington has done; left to themselves some might now do better.
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I see you have had an excellent discussion on free trade on your wall.
I would like to argue for it with a historical example:
The English Corn Laws from 1815-1846 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_Laws).
Their grain industry was threatened due to imported wheat from America, so several tariffs were enacted to protect the home industry.
What could possibly go wrong ? This :
You see, the immediate impact of these measures was to make food cost more. That fell especially heavy on the bottom layer of society, for whom every shilling counted. It was seen as people in government doing favors for their fat cat friends at the expense of the poor, resulting in revolutionary agitation, , to which the government
responded with blundering force. Things began to spin out of
Then this happened:
And suddenly the price of food became a critical political issue. Sir Robert Peel willingly sacrificed his own government to repeal them, and the crisis was averted.
But even then, that didn’t mean all was wine and roses. As discussed in the first article, without the protection of tariffs, the domestic grain industry was indeed destroyed. The UK became totally dependent on imports — which the Germans would then attempt to exploit via blockade in two world wars. That would have been impossible if the UK could feed itself.
But then … it’s possible the UK would have been unable to fight that war if they had made that choice. The collapse of the grain industry was unremarkable in the 1920s-1930s UK, because everyone worked in factories. Even today, in our economy, there are jobs (social media analyst, tablet manufacturer, app developer) which simply did not exist even ten years ago.
So here is my Great Economic Theory (TM):
1) Globalization allows economic innovators to out-compete local industries , delivering various goods more cheaply. When these goods are commodities such as food or automobiles (needed to travel to work), the first beneficiary is the working class. Further, entrepreneurs are always one step ahead of the legislators. This means that all economic legislation is reactive, not pro-active, and is an attempt to ‘roll back the clock’ against the prevalent market forces.
2) Because of this, the impact of any trade tariff falls disproportionately on the lowest classes. Having so little money, they are the readiest market for cheap imported goods, and they are least able to adjust to any increase in price. *You* may be able to tack on 15% to the price of a car without trouble, but to the vast majority of Walmart-shopping Toyota-driving working-class people, it’s the kiss of death.
3) Further, as discussed by correspondent Mark, to the extent the economy is protected by subsidy from market forces, to that extent they are protected from the need to innovate, to reform, to cut costs.
Mark identifies the problems of archaic American automobile manufacturers, but the USSR had the same problem. It was an isolated economy, and it served no one in it well.
4) Against these costs I have yet to see where any industry so protected was able to thrive and remain competitive after being protected from the very effects of competition and the ‘creative
destruction’ that is at the heart of economic innovation. This is a
serious request to you or any of your correspondents: If anyone knows of a counter-example, you will have my full attention.
Thus, I draw the following conclusion:
It is impossible to make the economy stronger by enacting tariffs or
otherwise isolating it from the global marketplace. Ultimately, you
cannot make a noncompetitive industry competitive through government action.
What, then, is to be done?
Ironically, I would say double down on free trade. Encourage entrepreneurship. Encourage new industry. Cut taxes. Provide reasonable intellectual copyright protection, peace, and the rule of law. Yes, old industries will become obsolete and die. The trick, then, is to encourage the growth of new ones. If the new industries grow quickly enough, there will be work for everyone. And no one will notice if there aren’t many factory jobs any more, because as with agriculture, it’s no longer the centerpiece of our economy.
Problem: The new economy forming is based heavily on high technology, and our education system is a disgrace.
Ironically, I think the answer there is less federal money for education. Cut people’s taxes, put money in their pockets so they can buy the education they need. Stop driving up the cost of education by injecting billions of federal dollars into unproductive schools — as I’ve just outlined, protecting an industry from the effects of competition does nothing to improve it; the Iron Law means that, instead, they adapt to absorb as much money for as little work as possible.
Thus my thesis. I submit it for critical feedback and evaluation. What do you think?
Well, if it is impossible to build a thriving economy isolated from everyone, then of course interstellar colonies are impossible; and surely that is not true? The old Technocracy organization once tried to analyze economies and determined that North America could have a thriving high tech economy with no foreign trade. It was part of their pitch. Today there are Rare Earths and other minerals that are very rare in North America that we might have to trade for or invent workarounds, but do you really think that the United States could not survive without foreign trade? Trade is a convenience, but surely self-sufficiency is a goal worth considering? I know England during the Battle of the Atlantic mightily wished they had more working farms. Of course so did Germany…
Russia — not directly Trump related
There’s an interesting series of articles in today’s (London) Times, regarding Russian efforts to influence British politics through “news” agencies, centered on Edinburgh. They’ve been somewhat successful in spreading rumors that the “Brexit” referendum was rigged, and that the murder of MP Jo Cox might have been set up by the government to win support for “Remain.” The method is to introduce rumors, conspiracy theories, and outright falsehoods and then wait to see if reputable news outlets pick them up under the “people are saying” category.
Worth keeping an eye on, I think. The Cold War is over (I hope), but KGB influence is not. And in this case, the enemy of your enemy is *not* your friend.
Allan E. Johnson
…another day with no sunspots. If the active sunspots that rotated off about 5 days ago have survived, they would seem to be the only spots on the solar surface. The most recent imagery from the STEREO website (which is NOT on the Solarham website, which has begun updating less and less frequently in recent weeks) indicates that they have indeed survived and are nearing the center of the solar farside disk.
Spot group 2570, which showed up to end the last no-spot run, dissipated on Saturday; another short-lived binary spot group showed up on Sunday but didn’t even stay around long enough to be numbered, and now, officially August 1st, we are back to no spots.
If I count the “dinky” spots as being essentially no spots, then 29 out of the last 62 days have had little to no sunspots visible (46.8%). 21 out of 62 were unequivocally spotless (33.9%).
“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
Understanding opposing points of view
I have a ton of respect for you and your points of view, even though I find us disagreeing on some points and agreeing on others. I think you are missing something when you discuss the importance of diversity vs. melting pot for example. There is room for reasoned discussion. Most of all, I appreciate yours as a forum where you welcome dissenting opinion.
I point you to an article that isn’t too academic, but seems to reflect what was taught to me in Sunday School.
to quote the author:
What is emerging is the worst kind of echo chamber, one where those inside are increasingly convinced that everyone shares their world view, that their ranks are growing when they aren’t. It’s like clockwork: an event happens and then your social media circle is shocked when a non-social media peer group public reacts to news in an unexpected way. They then mock the Other Side for being “out of touch” or “dumb.”
Please don’t let Chaos Manor contribute to the echo!
Bottom line, I am rededicating myself to understanding the other sides – both of them – because neither candidate seems to align to any kind of future that I can support – and despair is a sin!
Bully for you. Rational discussion is always best for understanding; and what you are trying to optimize for is less and less discussed. If your goal is more and more cheap stuff, unregulated capitalism and free trade are probably the quickest way to get it. I remind you of the German Economic Miracle. I also note that Germany abandoned many of the practices that made the economic miracle possible.
Some regulations designed to do good and prevent harm have worked out well; but they always require a bureaucracy which creates a New Class which seeks to rule. The Framers wisely internal commerce to the States, giving Congress power only over Interstate Commerce, which soon expanded to federal minimum wages, safety regulations imposed on the states against their will, and eventually leading to federal bunny inspectors.
I have never been under the illusion of infallibility, in myself or others, when it comes to the hard real world. I know that the map is not the territory, and I always seek better maps.
But I repeat myself.
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
One dictum of history as a scholarly avocation is, as a good initial step in studying the past, take the people of that time and place out of The Stupid Box, and believe that they were doing the best they could to not get into the horrible situations that historians love to study.
I also believe that tackling current problems with a similar attitude can be fruitful.
Case in point: What is the simple, obvious out of the box solution to the problem of NATO having expanded into less-defensible areas of eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Baltic?
Expand NATO just a bit more, by bringing in the bear. If Russia is a NATO member, well, the first part of being a NATO member is you don’t go around invading OTHER NATO members.
I know, sounds a bit too easy, a bit too simple, reductionist, etc. The neo-con’s will bitch that Russia ain’t no democracy, though it may be at least as much of one at the moment, as founding NATO member Turkey.
Would the Russians join? I have no idea, but it would certainly set the cat among the pigeons in Russian domestic politics.
By the way, wouldn’t a Russian entrance into NATO lead to a sort of Co-Dominium?
Someone ought to sit down with Trump and make him realize that without NATO, i.e. American involvement in the internal affairs of Europe, the Europeans would be at each others throats within a generation, and we would have to do it all over again. Europe has its’ Balkans, boiling with old disputes, and -we- have Europe, in larger world terms -our- “Balkans”, filled with old disputes that only the USA can sit on and tell the kids to shut up and let us do the driving.
Europeans are good at two things, really good: inventing ways to make stuff, and finding reasons to use some of that stuff to kill each other over something their great-grandfather did to someone else’s grandmother.
So bring the Russians in. They’re already de facto allies in the middle East, anyway.
You do understand that I invented the CoDominium as a warning?
DNC Emails Provenance
It occurs to me that if Wikileak’s DNC emails actually resulted from a Russian government espionage effort, it was a damned sloppy one to leave clues all over the hack pointing back to Russia.
If the DNC hack was done by intel pros, the “Russian” clues may well have been misdirection. Nor have I yet seen a convincing explanation of why the Russians would have then leaked the product this way.
To hurt a candidate who as SecState specialized in incompetently creating opportunities for them? To help a candidate who’s said nice things about them, but known for turning on those he was praising a month ago? I don’t buy it.
Leaving me to ponder, “clues” aside, who did have both capability and motive?
One possible answer is, any one of several US-allied countries not looking forward to a continuation of the last eight years of feckless US policy.
Another is, moonlighting US intel pros appalled over the prospect of working for an egregious security violator.
Or, if it in fact was Russians, but freelance types working on spec not government pros, who would have had more motive to buy the product then release it right now than hacked-off Sanders supporters?
This is a bad year to take convenient, gift-wrapped explanations at face value. Just sayin.
And as of Tuesday afternoon Andrew Napolitano on Fox News is reporting that he has a source (an unnamed US official) saying the DNC hack-and-release was actually from within NSA. Alleged motive: Some of the overseas agents whose covers Hillary blew in her unsecure emails have since been killed.
Napolitano also reported that NSA has the 30,000 emails Hillary wiped from her server, that Comey knew but didn’t ask for them, and that one reason may be to hide that NSA has been intercepting and storing domestic US emails all along.
Again, it’s one anonymous source, and the incentives to misdirect remain plentiful. I’m not sure yet I’d give this any more credence than the original “Putin did it” spin. Nor, less.
It’s 2016. Looks gift-horses in the mouth. Thoroughly.
Hillary Armed Daesh and NSA has her Emails and Russians did not hack?
Just in case everyone forgot about the Daesh training camps in Jordan that had mysterious connections to US intelligence and US Special forces. Oh, what am I saying, this article pretty much spells out that US trainers made Daesh possible so they could fight Assad. :
Now, we find claims of more evidence of US sponsorship of Daesh in other parts of the world led by Clinton II:
So, for example, the disastrous, absolutely disastrous intervention in Libya, the destruction of the Gaddafi government, which led to the occupation of ISIS of large segments of that country, weapons flows going over to Syria, being pushed by Hillary Clinton, into jihadists within Syria, including ISIS, that’s there in those emails.There’s more than 1,700 emails in Hillary Clinton’s collection, that we have released, just about Libya alone.
Of course, this all contradicts her testimony before Congress but she meant no harm so nothing will happen. Hell, if Congress can hold an Attorney General in criminal contempt with nothing happening, why should anything be different if Clinton II is held in criminal contempt? She’s already gotten a pass from the FBI on her server and apparently with affairs related to the Clinton Foundation, which was also under investigation at one point according to news reports.
And we have more:
The National Security Agency (NSA) has “all” of Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails and the FBI could gain access to them if they so desired, William Binney, a former highly placed NSA official, declared in a radio interview broadcast on Sunday.
Speaking as an analyst, Binney raised the possibility that the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s server was done not by Russia but by a disgruntled U.S. intelligence worker concerned about Clinton II’s compromise of national security secrets via her personal email use.
Oh did you catch the part where it says “no oversight” when FBI wants to access NSA files? That’s right, we live in an Eastern Bloc state where all our communications are now subject to government inspection.
These creeps are worse than pedophiles.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Vladimir Putin’s backups of the Clintons’ Emails
“Mrs. Clinton destroyed it after erasing the 33,000 emails. Mr.Trump could hardly be daring the GRU to hack a destroyed server. It is supposedly impolite for him to have asked them for the emails, but I don’t see why not. It would have insulted their competence if Mr. Trump had pretended they did not already have the emails, but he did not so pretend; and does anyone seriously believe that a private emails server, not under any special protection by NSA or other US technical agency, was not hacked? And since she erased all those emails, then destroyed the server, and none of our agencies are going to admit they hacked her server, we’ll never see them unless the Russians show them to us. So please, Mr. Putin, favor us with copies.”
The first question to ask is, how many total emails on the clintonemail.com server(s) were destroyed? We were given a number for deleted Hillary emails because she volunteered this was how many yoga, wedding invitation and recipe emails she erased. But what about:
1. Huma Abedin emails?
2. Cheryl Mills emails?
3. Chelsea Clinton emails in her official capacity as an officer of the Clinton “nonprofit” enterprises?
4. Other Clinton Foundation and private employee emails?
5. William Jefferson Clinton emails relative to his sudden 5x multiplication in per event speaking fees upon Hillary’s assumption of office as Secretary of State? And other sundry matters. Unless of course Bill was choosing to use aol.com, comcast.net or even .gov email addresses. iow foregoing use of the private email server initially located in the basement of his own house?
We know for a certainty that #’s 1-2 exist. I’ll stake serious money that all of 3-5 also exist.
Surely it is reasonable to conclude that Vladimir has copies of all these emails, too? iow the entire email traffic of the Clintons’ pay-to-play operation. Enough to support impeachment and conviction for “high crimes and misdemeanors”, along with numerous federal felonies.
The second question to ask is, what does Vladimir Putin want more than anything else in the entire world? Or perhaps want second after his first desire, which is the end of the USA as a superpower and the concurrent demise of NATO? Higher oil and gas prices, anyone?
Hillary and the entire Democratic Party are now fully committed to this same goal in their platform. This is nothing less than a declaration of all out war on all forms of domestic USA hydrocarbon production. It seems to me that the Wilileaks release of DNC emails was a deterrent show of force on Putin’s part. On the above assumptions the further ‘leaking’ of still more damaging emails seems unlikely.
Donald Trump on the other hand is far too prone to encouraging domestic self sufficiency in all forms, including digging and drilling hydrocarbon energy. From the point of view of ex-KGB Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Putin a thoroughly compromised and controlled agent will be the most reliable.
The Saudis will be quite happy with this result too.
Ready for Hillary?
ps Here’s to hoping some eastern European intelligence services or other major oil and gas importers, like the Japanese or South Koreans, also have full sets of clintonemail.com emails. And can now see more vital self interest in conveying these to Julian Assange and others as soon as possible.
US, NATO and entangling alliances.
Donald Trumps comments which brings uncertainty to the US security guarantees to NATO members, is opening a can of worms.
While I can appreciate the futility in stopping the Russian Army in the small Baltic states; making them members of NATO, has the same benefits for the US as the rest of the NATO structure even though it pledges the US to declare war on Russia in case of a Russian attack on the Baltic states.
Additionally the Trump argument, that the allies do not pay their fair share, is incorrect precisely in the case of the Baltic contrives, which is above average in military spending in Europe and above NATO requirements which many bigger NATO members do not fulfill.
So why mention the Baltic countries with a specious argument about not doing their share, when this is not the case?
Trump could have named keeping the US out of “entangling alliances”, which I can perfectly understand, but that was not his argument.
And indeed the US experience of the period leading up to the two world wars is, that even a US trying to avoid fighting other peoples wars, will be drawn in eventually when the conflict has grown much more costly and complicated. So why not try to be proactive?
Another much ignored benefit to the US, is that NATO has limited the nuclear club very much. If US security guarantees to NATO members is drawn into doubt, the logical step for many countries would be to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Even lots of relatively minor European countries would be able to do this, though it would require higher defence budgets than todays.
Is a multiple nuclear armed Europe in US interests?
Hardly, as it would be much more explosive and prone to accidental nuclear exchange, which probably would include the US in the end.
That is an important reality behind the US pledge to NATO, and one that benefits the USA greatly.
I really don’t worry a lot about Estonia or Denmark firing nukes at the US or Israel or even at Sweden or Poland. I do worry about what we’d do if Russian “volunteers” went into Estonia. I recall trying to stop Chinese volunteers in Korea…
US, NATO and entangling alliances
A good comparison between the Chinese ”volunteers” in Korea and the ”Little Green Men” in Ukraine…. I know you have experience confronting that kind of mass ”volunteers”….
Anyway, my point was not that Denmark or any other European countries would be firing nukes at each other or the US. That will never happen.
Please consider the following scenario:
After president Donald Trump (or any other with his comparable policies) declares that the US no longer can be counted on to defend other NATO countries, several NATO countries develops their own nuclear weapons.
Denmark considered that in the 1950’s, and Sweden was quite far along with the actual development. The unconditional US security guarantee changed all that, with the US actively discouraging nuclear programs within its allies.
Denmark for example, will never be able to field a conventional force which would be able to hold back Russia.
But it could, with considerable national effort, develop nuclear weapons and get the means to deliver them.
Now that is beyond the means for a country like Estonia. Imagine that Russia tries to rebuild the Soviet Union and sends “little green men” to Estonia. Denmark has quite close bonds to the Baltic states, and there exists a national will to risk its soldiers to defend them.
A Danish battalion is sent to defend Estonia, which results in Russia threatening Denmark, and when seeing that the rest of NATO is not behind Estonia nor Denmark, decides to escalate and invade Estonia outright. In the resulting combat the Estonian army together with the Danish forces are overrun, but Denmark closes the Baltic sea to the Russians, which results in Russia bombing several key points in Denmark. Denmark and the Baltic states being pretty much on their own, sends a ultimatum to the Russians: We have nuclear weapons, and will use them unless you stop attacking and withdraw.
Russia knows that that is suicidal for Denmark and do not think the treat realistic. The resulting Danish nuclear attack on Kaliningrad, escalates into full scale nuclear exchange between Denmark and Russia. Denmark is wiped out, but Russia suffers the loss of 50%+ of their population and the loss of the 15 largest cities.
Will Russia stop there, or will they nuke the US and the rest of Europe, as they anyway are finished?
I agree that is not a scenario now, but can you say that it is totally inconceivable that a minor or mayor nuclear armed European country, in the future might get into a situation like that?
I do not live in Europe. If I did, I would want the United States to guarantee peace and stable borders. Since I do not, I find it more reasonable for the Europeans to be more involved in their own affairs. The Warsaw Treaty Organization ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Neither East German nor Polish nor Czech troops are going to pour through the Fulda Gap to the Rhine; Russia must do that without them. I would not like to see that; but I do not think I want to bankrupt myself preventing it.
One day I may revise The Strategy of Technology to bring the examples up to date. Of course the European Union is welcome to read it as it is. It is a better comment on your scenario than I have time to give this afternoon.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.