Free Trade and Jobs; Climate Change; Trump’s Carrier Coup; Aleta Jackson, RIP; and other important matters.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

If Republicans want to force through massive tax cuts, we will fight them tooth and nail.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

James Burnham

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

“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



Roberta is home and we are frantically rebuilding to accommodate her confinement to a wheelchair. She is recovering, a bit slower than I did, but we’re confident that it’s only a question of time. It has been a rather frantic week, bringing her home and setting up to dare for her, and I am behind on essays; I also have works of fiction to work on, and I got dome of that done, but I can only do one thing at a time, and if interrupted I take a while to resume focus. That sounds like an excuse, and I grew up not to make excuses; but while there are never adequate excuses, there are sometimes expiations.


Things to remember when considering free trade.

There are always nice things you want to do for your workers. Minimum wages are one of them. High minimum wages coupled with free trade produces a paradox. If you require minimum wages in all your factories, companies will compete to bring other costs down; one way they will compete is to raise productivity: to make more widgets with a smaller work force. This means fewer jobs.

If you also have free trade, and you trading partner does not require a minimum wage, he will generally produce widgets cheaper than you can make them; particularly if you keep raising the minimum wage. Surely this is obvious? You continue to raise productivity and employ more robots who do not get minimum wages or annual raises, and perhaps you can compete with your overseas trading partner who has neither minimum wages nor annual raises, so you stay in business; but you do so with fewer workers. This is efficiency, but those who used to work for you must be supported: food stamps, free “surplus” foods grown and bought at government price support prices (it’s cheaper to give them away than to store them), unemployment compensation, government retirement, etc. That means taxes on everyone including those who do not want or need widgets; or of course you can put a sales tax on widgets, including imported widgets, and hope the need for widgets is great enough to keep the widget market healthy.

Now comes a regulation requiring all businesses to give healthcare insurance to all employees. If it applies only to businesses with x or fewer employees, this will work to prevent widget businesses from ever growing past X employees; again limiting the number of people employed. We can also add various health and safety regulations, and inspectors to come around periodically and enforce them. They will have to be paid, of course, either out of the general fund or from the revenue from widget sales taxes. Meanwhile, your trading partner, who has neither minimum wages nor health and safety requirements, continues to export widgets. We can expand the complexities, but surely the point is clear?


There were two relevant articles in the Saturday Wall Street Journal.

First, Peggy Noonan’s weekly column entitled “Trump’s Carrier Coup and a Lesson From JFK” will be interesting to those who do not remember John Kennedy’s experiences with business, about which he knew nothing. (He never had a paycheck from anyone but government, and he didn’t cash those; he endorsed them and gave then to charity.) It isn’t long, and it’s worth reading.

On the same page is a column by Holman Jenkins, Jr., not my favorite journalist, called “Trump’s Charm of Not Being Obama” which injects some much needed realism into the energy debates. It is very well done, and perhaps Mr. Jenkins’ best work this year, also well worth your time.

If the goal is to increase jobs and people working, cheap energy and fewer regulations and restrictions is the way to bring it about. There are many wonderful things you can do for workers, but requiring companies to do them is more likely to shrink the work force than grow it; and free trade will accelerate that unless your trade partners give their workers equivalent goodies. That is why Free Trade with England is not like Free Trade with China or Mexico. But surely you knew that?

And I will say it again: doubling the size of the number of employees exempted from various laws and regulation – as in this regulation applies to companies with 10 or more employees, making it 20, and if 20 making it 40, etc. – is the quickest and simplest way to raise employment.


Aleta Jackson, RIP

She was the executive secretary of the L-5 Society; later I recommended her to General Graham where she did invaluable service in his High Frontier organization. Her biography is well told in the announcement, and I will miss her greatly. Farewell, good and faithful friend.


Global Warming Explained Please

Dear Dr. Pournelle,
First I am very happy to hear your wife (and you!) are doing better! I have read your columns since the Byte days and truly enjoy your style and content. With that in mind, would you please take a crack at explaining what is and is not scientifically known about Global Warming in laymen’s terms? There has been a huge amount of discussion on your site about it, but to be honest I am left with a rather murky picture of what is and is not fact vs. theory.
Thanks in advance!
Robert Porter

One of the problems is disagreement on just what facts we have. I have been required to measure temperatures to a tenth of a degree (both C and F) and I found it very difficult and expensive; yet we discuss tenths of a degree differences in average year-round global temperature, and most of those discussing that seem to have no notion of the difficulty of obtaining that data. I give you one example: what is the average temperature of your back yard over a 24 hour period? Surely easier to measure than the average temperature of the entire Earth for a year, no? But if you attempt to discover it, you will find it no easy task. Take a copper globe, four inches in diameter, and put a good thermocouple inside it. Solder the thermocouple to a dime sized disk of thin copper, and let that hang free in the center of the globe. (While you are at it, put another thermocouple soldered to a small copper disk inside a beaker of ice water, preferably all water including the ice having been distilled. This will serve as the reference temperature and presumed to be 0 degrees C.) Hang the globe out where it will be exposed to the sky day and night.

You will notice that your temperatures will vary considerably from day to day, and even hour to hour. You are getting a combination of conductive air temperature and the radiation environment temperature, and while air temperature varies more slowly, the radiant temperature varies a lot, and quite quickly, depending on cloud cover. When there are clouds in daytime the temperature will be lower than when it is exposed to the sun. At night it’s even more variant; the radiant temperature of clear night sky is some -270 degrees; the Romans used to make ice cream in the desert by taking advantage of this. The radiant temperature of cloudy environment will be much higher. OK, put you thermometer in the shade; but have you really got the temperature now? Just what is the temperature of your back yard averaged over a 24 hour period? Your answer will depend on how you measure it. Now look at the source temperatures fed into the climate models.

I could list some more problems; but my point is that the “consensus” of the scientists includes people who never think about measurements and how they are obtained. The models are not sensitive to cloud cover. And if we try to compare temperatures from long ago to today’s, none of those from long ago – even fifty years ago – were accurate to a tenth of a degree. In the 12800’s and for much of the 20th Century, sea temperatures were taken by drawing up a bucket of water and measuring it with a hand-held mercury thermometer. At night, by a seaman who didn’t have a magnifying glass.

Part of the consensus comes from the agreement of many models; they nearly all use the same inputs, and they give the same predictions. They all attempt to account for all known energy sources, but of course those aren’t all predictable. The year 1816 is known as “The Year without a Summer” (also known as 1800 and froze to death). This is because the volcano Tambura blew off and polluted the Earth’s atmosphere, reflecting sunlight that normally would have reached Earth; the result was year round winter. The models could not have predicted that, nor could they predict most other volcanic eruptions. As an aside, Benjamin Franklin, observing an Icelandic volcano pouring gup into the sky that reached England and beyond, proposed the theory that something like this caused the Ice Ages.

No one sane denies that raising the CO2 levels without limit would have great and very likely deleterious effects on Earth’s climate. If those levels get a good bit higher, something ought to be done. We were told the Iraq war would cost $300 Billion. I said at the time that for that much I could build 100 1000 megawatt nuclear power plants (the first ones would cost maybe $15 billion, but by the time we had 20 or so they would be more like 1 or 2 billion each, leaving plenty of money to mine Uranium); with that power we could tell the Arabs to drink their oil, and build plants to take whatever amount of Carbon we liked out of the atmosphere. Of course that wasn’t done, the war cost far more than $300 billion, but that’s for another discussion.

We know that in historical times the Earth has been warmer than it is now. In Viking times. Leif the Lucky and his cohorts built dairy farms in Greenland that are still covered by ice; and the Vikings planted a colony on Nova Scotia which they called Vinland because they could grow grapes and make wine there. Needless to say it’s still to cold to grow grapes in Vinland. In those Viking times we find middle European monastery records of longer growing seasons, and we find similar records of agricultural yields in China. It was warmer in Viking times. We have pretty good evidence of a Roman Warm period, and of climate variations during the Bronze age. It is unlikely that human CO2 contributions caused those. I don’t know what did, but it seems clear that in historical times we have been warmer.

Clearly it has been colder. In 1776 cannon were brought across the frozen Hudson River to the relief of General George Washington in Harlem Heights, thus saving the Continental Army and the Revolution. The Hudson hasn’t frozen hard enough to walk on, much less drag cannon across it, for a century.

It has been warmer and colder in historic times. The models say there is a sudden great rise in temperature now, but the data don’t show it.

And in a way it’s all irrelevant anyway: give me enough electric power and I’ll take the Carbon out of the atmosphere if we have to do that, and if we don’t have to and it’s getting colder again, I’ll have power to heat homes. Our Climate Problem is an economic and energy problem, and that’s true whether we are in for warming or cooling.


Erik Verlinde’s Gravity Minus Dark Matter | Quanta Magazine

Might not be dark matter out there after all. Maybe we just don’t understand gravity.

> But the dark matter hypothesis assumes scientists know how matter in the sky ought to move in the first place. This month, a series of developments has revived a long-disfavored argument that dark matter doesn’t exist after all. In this view, no missing matter is needed to explain the errant motions of the heavenly bodies; rather, on cosmic scales, gravity itself works in a different way than either Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein predicted.



I have long said that until we understand gravity better, we should not adopt a new physics and assume 75% of the universe is invisible…


‘My research was attacked by thought police in journalism, activist groups funded by billionaires and even the White House.’



Roland Dobbins

In this Land of the Free. I thought the point of university tenure had to do with free exchange of ideas, but apparently it’s just more rent seeking.



Poems from Paradoctor

Hsin Ku and Quads

    By Nathaniel Hellerstein
    In May of 1993, I participated in a poetry festival at Lincoln University, then in San Francisco. At this conference, Dr. Kenneth Fan called for poems of a new form: “Hsin Ku”, or “New Classic”. Its form and rules are summarized by these two hsin-ku I wrote:

New classic poem form;
four words, four lines
Any topic, any image
Second, fourth near rhymes.

“Let Reason rule Rhyme,”
Decreed the sage Master,
“So our audience be
(I hope) much vaster.”

I admit that I couldn’t resist some sardonicism there. I hope much vaster!
Here are some more:

A single look reveals:
Airplane left, bird right
Climbing, crossing; silent passage
In the evening light.

Me, praise a pearl?
Or its owner, ma’am?
Or its inner grit?
I praise the clam!

O love, we wonder;
Through you, I’m wise;
How deeper we see
Than only two eyes!

Mr. Fan wanted poems in honor of an ancient Chinese king who prayed for world peace. Alas, I could not resist delivering the following snark:

“May all war cease,”
The high lord sings;
But when there’s peace
Then who needs kings?

There are also “quad” poems, which are hsin-ku with 4 letters per word, abab rhyme, and telegraphic grammar. Here are some:

This quad poem form;
Four word, four time
Four each word; also
Even line good rime.

Don’t rule over rime!
You’d feel like fool
When even this time
Says rime over rule.

Hill tent camp rest
Even dark sees afar
Late nite view best
Land, lake, moon, star.

Dear love, what song
What best true rime
Will show them long
This love thru time?

I also composed these science-fictional hsin-ku and quads:

Science, myth and fantasy
Future joy and sorrow;
Dreamer, come enchant me
With life beyond tomorrow.

Don’t take time trip!
Push days into spin
Make just tiny slip
You’d ain’t even been.

This book make slip;
They don’t show rite
That move that ship
More fast than lite.

“This plug,” says punk
(make such huge deal)
“fill head with junk
That ain’t even real.”

Just what does Zugs
From afar star hurl
With eyes like bug’s
Want with Urth girl?

“We come in peace,”
The green man said.
“Came we for war
You’d all be dead.”

Said robot to man
“You low human slob!
Behold my evil plan;
I’ll take your job!”

Build cities in space?
It doesn’t seem fair
Pay owners of place
Food, rent – and air.

“What is true reality?
Computer, say the word!”
It answered with finality,
“Your question is absurd.”

“I seek your boss,”
The star man sings.
“That is your loss;
We have no kings.”

Why read science fantasy
Mostly thud and blunder?
I seek marvels, mystery,
Vision, sense of wonder.



The Trump Carrier Deal

Carrier gets $7 Million in tax incentives.

If average Carrier employee salary =$23/hr x 40 = $920/wk x 52= $49k/yr x 1000 jobs =$49Million

Federal Income Tax paid by 1000 employees = $7,350,000/yr

State Income Tax paid by 1000 employees = $1,127,000

That leaves ~$40 Million/yr that people have to spend in the local economy and bills.

Only an idiot would think this is a bad deal.

No wonder Trump made all the other candidates look like silly children.

Of course, employees don’t concern themselves with details like these.

Obama administration is more concerned with “Bathroom Bills”, Muslims and

continual stupid race dialog.

Trump Protesters don’t have jobs (That’s why they have time and energy to protest.)

so they don’t pay income tax.

The Carrier deal is the kind of policy change every working American has been waiting for.



“British officers don’t duck!”

With examples, historical testimony, and explanations as to why.


He’s cheeky, but quite serious and worth hearing out, this Lindy beige chap.



Stephen Hawking: AI will automate middle class jobs – Business Insider

I think he is spot on and understating the danger to society. 

We’ll have Univ Basic Income and a lot of people spending most of their lives in boredom with nothing to do and no sense of accomplishment. Drug use will soar. We think our schools are bad now. Wait until no one has any real reason to get a good grades since they have no future to worry about. 77% of China’s population with no work is really worrisome.

I see this as a far greater threat to our survival as a species than climate change will ever be. 

A report put out in February 2016 by Citibank in partnership with the University of Oxford predicted that 47% of US jobs are at risk of automation. In the UK, 35% are. In China, it’s a whopping 77% — while across the OECD it’s an average of 57%.
And three of the world’s 10 largest employers are now replacing their workers with robots.
Automation will, “in turn will accelerate the already widening economic inequality around the world,” Hawking wrote. “The internet and the platforms that it makes possible allow very small groups of individuals to make enormous profits while employing very few people. This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive.”

John Harlow

A topic for another time; but are robots good for democracy? And what do we do here?


Origin of the second amendment,


How far back does the Second Amendment go? According to David E. Vandercoy (,

Blackstone credits King Alfred, who ruled England from 871 to 901 A.D., as establishing the principle that all subjects of his dominion were the realm’s soldiers. Other commentators trace the obligation of Englishmen to serve in  the people’s army to 690 A.D. Regardless of the beginning date, an Englishman’s obligation to serve in a citizen army is an old proposition. Coupled with this obligation to defend the realm was the obligation to provide oneself with weapons for this purpose. …

Charles  II  disbanded  the  army  except  for  troops  he  believed  would  be  loyal  to  his government. Parliament assisted by enacting the Militia Act of 1661 which vested control over the militia in the King. Charles II began molding a militia loyal to the throne by directing that his officer corp assemble volunteers for separate training and “disaffected persons … not allowed to assemble and their arms seized.” In 1662, the more select militia was authorized to seize arms of anyone judged dangerous to the Kingdom. In addition, gunsmiths were ordered to report weekly on the number of guns made and sold; importation of firearms was banned.

A move toward total disarmament occurred with passage of the Game Act of 1671. The Game Act dramatically limited the right to hunt to those persons who earned over £100 annual income from the land. More importantly, and unlike any prior game act, it made possession of a firearm by other than those qualified to hunt illegal and provided for confiscation of those arms.

Charles II’s successor, his brother James, pursued the disarmament. James, however, was the object  of  suspicion  because  he  was  Catholic.  As  King,  James  was  also  the  official  head  of  the Anglican Church. He sat on the throne of a country that barred Catholics from holding appointed office. …

James continued disarmament by enforcing it in Ireland. The common perception was that James was disarming Protestants in Ireland and the new Whig party that opposed him. James then asked Parliament to repeal the test acts that precluded Catholics from holding office, to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, and to abandon the militia concept in favor of standing armies. Parliament refused.

James responded by having his Judges find that the laws of England were the King’s laws and the King could dispense with them. The King replaced Protestants with Catholics at high government posts, including the military; he then placed 13,000 men of his army outside London. In 1688, James’s son-in-law, William of Orange, a Protestant, landed in England with a large Dutch army. James’s army deserted him and he fled to France.

William and Mary became sovereigns in 1689. Parliament restricted their powers by adopting the Declaration of Rights. William and Mary were required to accept the rights enumerated in the Declaration as the rights of their subjects and to rule in accordance with Parliament’s statutes. The Declaration  recited  the  abuses  by  James,  including  the  raising  and  keeping  of  a  standing  army without  Parliament’s  consent,  quartering  of  troops  in  private  homes,  and  disarming  Protestant subjects. The declaration set forth the positive right of Protestant subjects to have arms for their defense, suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law.

Well, there you have it. I have read this elsewhere, so it is not just one guy’s notion of history. The Founders wrote the Second with history and past abuses in mind.

Further, in a series of essays collected in A People Numerous and Armed, John Shy makes the case that it was the militia who won the Revolution. Wherever the Brits ventured the Militia rose up and fettered them, preventing them from gathering fodder and food, even fighting with them. When you think about it, that’s just the way it happened: they left Boston and took over NYC. Yet (as detailed in Washington’s Crossing, by David Hackett Fischer) the New Jersey militia made any extension to NJ impossible. And when they leaped down to Charleston, the militia and the Swamp Fox slowed them, pestered them and hobbled them.

So with both negative and positive examples to guide them, the writers of the Bill of Rights wrote this amendment, and placed it second, following only the amendment concerning the freedoms of speech and religion.

It makes sense when you look at it this way.




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



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