Free Trade and other important matters. Em drive redux. Porkypine on early days

Thursday, December 1, 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 recovering slowly, but getting better each day. The vectors are all toward improvement.

I got the Fire Department’s bill today. Unlike the one I got for myself, most of this one was covered by various insurances; since Roberta and I have the same insurance, I’m not sure why I got the whole bill, but we only pay less than half of this one, but I’m not going to complain. I will note that the Fire Department paramedics and ambulance used to be paid by the city – after all, the major expense is salaries of the Firemen and medics, and they’d have to be paid whether they were on a call or not – but again I’m not going to complain. They were there when needed, and they did their work efficiently and smoothly. But I do wonder who would have paid for their time while they took her to St. Joseph’s if she hadn’t needed them.


Continuing the discussion of Free Trade, national production, robots, productivity and wages:

You will recall that Dr. David Friedman said when I asked him what advice to give Mr. Trump,

“Unfortunately, the best advice I could give he can’t follow, politically speaking. That’s to declare unilateral free trade, the policy of Britain in the 19th century and Hong Kong in the 20th. That would not only be good for the country and set a good example for the world, it would eliminate the current practice of using free trade negotiations to pressure other countries to adopt policies popular with American voters in exchange for the agreement.”

Hong Kong’s policy is “Hong Kong is a free port.  We pursue a free trade policy and do not maintain barriers on trade. No tariff is charged on import or export of goods.  Although licensing is required for the import and export of some goods, this is only to fulfill obligations undertaken by Hong Kong to our trading partners, or to meet public health, safety or internal security needs. The licensing procedures are as simplified  as possible in such cases.”

Whether that is strictly true now that Hong Kong has reverted to being under the Chinese People’s Republic, it was certainly true in the British rule period, and the licensing regulations were continually scrutinized to be sure they were regulatory and not protectionist. Given Hong Kong’s quite limited natural resources (essentially none) and the wealth developed there, it is certainly worth study.

Of course most trade agreements are not really for Free Trade even if that is the treaty’s name. Many of them run to hundreds of pages. Some products and industries and companies are favored, and quite often newcomers are so regulated that the startup costs of entering a particular market are prohibitive.

The theory of Free Trade is that there will be more goods to consume, since each country will make the stuff it does best with, and buy the stuff that it finds expensive to make from somebody else: thus consumers pay the lowest possible prices, regulation costs will be kept to a minimum – over-regulation drives costs up, and thus over-regulated nations cannot compete – and so forth.

The theory does not take into account “entitlements” which must be paid to those no longer employed because what they used to make is now produced elsewhere; since these entitlements must be paid for, generally by the consumers who enjoy the benefits of cheaper stuff, the benefits may not be as large as supposed; indeed, sometimes the savings might be negative, depending on the goods under discussion. There is not a great deal of analysis of this, and there should be more.

The United States makes a lot of stuff; by some accounts, more than ever before. What it doesn’t have is as many people employed in making that stuff. Look at an automobile assembly line, and compare it to one in the 1950’s. The older lines had far more people turning out fewer cars. Today’s factories have a lot more robots turning out more cars. Workers tend to assist and supervise the robots, not actually make some part of the product. At one time a great proportion of the work force was involved in agriculture; now a tiny fraction of those formerly employed produce far more food at a cheaper price. So it appears to be in manufacturing. A lot more robots, a lot more product, a lot fewer workers at decent wages.

That trend will continue. More stuff, fewer human workers. I have said before: by 2024, and I think a great deal sooner, over 50 % (and I think more) of the existing jobs in manufacturing, sales, and distribution will or can be done by a robot costing no more than a year’s salary for the human the robot replaces. Humans should be employed in jobs not easily taken on by a robot. Since our education system seems unable to turn out graduates who can do jobs that other people will pay them money to do – one might wonder if the system is designed for this result – we are left with some obvious questions I will at present leave as exercises for the readers.

True free trade produces more goods. It also cares not for dignity, community stability, or many of the other civic values we used to prize so highly. Yes, I think the US better off with jobs remaining in the US, not exported to Mexico or further away, and I do not think we are better off for turning Detroit into a wasteland; on the other hand, Detroit contributed to this by remaining inflexible and counting on government protection (Labor Relations Act, Union Shop, Protective Tariff, etc.) until the costs of “Made in America” became just too high. Detroit also had a great deal of capital sunk into investments of early World War II productive instruments, while Germany and Japan were bombed flat and had to start from bare floors; but that is another story and not part of this discussion.

We need education institutions aware of national trends, who can turn out graduates who can do jobs needed that robots can’t do. Clearly we don’t have those.

Abraham Lincoln said that if he bought a shirt from England, he had the shirt. England had the money which would be spent in England. If he bought it from New England he probably paid more, but he had the shirt and the money remained in the United States, to be spent again and again. When considering free trade, that simple and undeniable observation needs to be kept in mind.


Porkypine sums up the first weeks since the election:


Early days yet, but the President-Elect is disappointing widespread fears of chaotic amateurism. Thus far he’s picking competent people for his Administration in a competent manner.

As I see it, the focus should shift from how soon will he shoot himself in the foot, to how soon they’ll manage to send enough alligators at him to completely distract him from draining the swamp.

That, and to the necessary tradeoffs between which parts of the swamp he thinks most important to drain and which parts are most practically drainable. Because even absent alligators he will not have unlimited resources.

All Presidents do end up as full-time alligator-wrestlers eventually.

The mark of a good one is how much swamp he gets drained before that sets in. So far, it’s mainly the left siccing ‘gators on him, and they don’t yet seem to realize how toothless theirs have become.

But the truly fierce ones are out there, in Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, in jihadist enclaves all over, in obscure corners of this economy, and tucked away among factions of his own nominal party. The question now is how long he can keep enough of those threats deterred, distracted, or at least directed elsewhere so swamp-drainage can proceed.


And that, I think, sums it up quite well. When you’re fighting the alligators it’s hard to remember the mission was to drain the swamp. Of course the best way to drain the swamp is to choose the right people and support their efforts, while choosing others to fight the alligators.

I note that Trump said he would accept the results of the election, and so did Hillary; then there emerged the odd attempt to reverse the election in the electoral college (with about one in a billion chance of honestly doing so), and Trump began to question the popular vote total and illegal voting practices. Voting by non-citizens is a federal felony and thus a deportable offense whether you have documents or not; and of course there are counties in Illinois rumored to have ballots cast by voters known to have died in the Chicago Fire…


Free trade

Good evening

Dr. Pournelle, may I suggest the possibility of a connection between campaign finance and free trade? Free trade is primarily about business advantage, a would-be car salesman in a city that already had dealerships for the Detroit brands was likely very receptive to a pitch for Toyotas and Datsuns. A shop owner looking for a better profit margin would be interested in oriental electronics. These people would suggest the benefits of free trade as they contributed to political campaigns, politicians who acted on these suggestions received more donations and enjoyed more success. The benefits to consumers were a happy accident, it was not the original intent.

I hope Roberta’s recovery continues, good health to you and yours, Tim Harness.


Beware the fury of the legions

“Obama Administration Tells Medal of Honor Recipient He Cannot Attend Marine Corps Ball”

“Why? Because Meyer has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration.”

Words fail.




Newt on Trumps 3 greatest challenges

Very good.

Phil Tharp



a website I’ve been following (I may have first seen it from your columns) has a possible explanation for how the emdrive works and is saying that the NASA experiment may be off by a factor of ~10x
I will say that his idea seems to explain a lot of anomalies in one formula that doesn’t require any arbitrary constants or dark matter positioning.
David Lang

EM drive

Dr. Pournelle,
Excellent news that Roberta will be home today. My prayers for both of you to continue your recoveries. I am curious about EM and continue to read everything I can find in lay media, but I am a little confused. I thought that light drive was a known technology (light sail and photon drive). I know that rest mass of photon is accepted as zero, but it must have some mass at c. However, generation of photons does not require the emitting body to lose mass. So, in essence isn’t the EM drive more a photon drive?
Thank you for clearing up my confusion.
Merry Christmas!


EMdrive & diamond – not dilithium – crystals….

Interestingly this
plus (with a bit of luck) the EM drive….

D J Turner

The EM Drive Subject

Proving that the EM drive is reactionless will take more than an externally powered gravity sling experiment. After all, thrust can be produced by a laser, and an externally powered laser thruster would not lose mass when operated. We would not call this a reactionless drive as we are emitting photons from the test article and the loss of mass in the power supply.
To me, the biggest part of the proof is not to show that the test article produces thrust, but that it produces thrust without the asymmetric emission of ANYTHING, including all electromagnetic bands. If all of its emissions are symmetrical and still a thrust is produced, I will start thinking that this could be a reactionless drive, otherwise, I will remain skeptical.
However, even if the EM drive does not turn out to be reactionless, it may well be the most efficient particle/photon emitting drive ever built. This still makes it very useful.

Kevin L Keegan

I still want to see it hang off vertical in a swing for two weeks.

Ideas and Blue Sky on EmDrive

Dear Doctor Pournelle,

If the experimentum crucis were to prove that even the current lab bench prototype EmDrives are doing that thing they seem to do, I thought of some possible uses for even a low thrust device:

Imagine a tank equipped with such a unit, and suitable power source.

Suddenly the tanks effective weight is lowered by the thrust of the internal EmDrive. It can cross bridges that without the EmDrive the tank was too heavy for. Operate the EmDrive from solar, and you lower the amount of fuel needed to move the tank, because of the effective reduction in weight. Or you can carry more fuel and ammo because the tanks suspension can handle the extra mass with the EmDrive lowering the weight. Ooops, inertia remains for the added mass though, so easy on the brakes there!

Same for long haul trucks. Same for railroading. Put an EmDrive in each car of the train, and you’ve got a massively more efficient transportation system.

Hybrid aircraft. The EmDrive lowers the weight of the vehicle, again, making it more fuel efficient. Put the EmDrive on a zeppelin, with the exterior of the zeppelin covered in solar cell fabric, and you can cruise the world for zero fuel cost.

Aerial crane helicopters now become much more efficient. Same for ground based cranes. Have to lift a load 200 feet by crane? Put an EmDrive on the load, power it up, and your crane is now several per cent more efficient.

Even a few newtons per KW will make some/all of the above possible.

What happens when we can use an ambient temperature superconductor with a working Em Drive? Weight for generators and power cables goes way down, efficiency goes through the roof.

I know this is early days for any proof of concept, but we are talking Richard Seaton watching the experiment fly through the skylight and out of sight territory here if ANY of this is real. Deep change will be upon us. Forty days to Mars, a year to the Kuyper belt, mining the asteroids.

The end of worry over an upper Torino Scale object ending all life on Earth. If some rock has our name on it, we slap an EmDrive and power source on the offensive bit of slag, and shove it on its’ way.

This is H. G. Wells meets “Doc” Smith times Victor Appleton II, with a dash of G. Harry Stine and John W. Campbell. If it works, somewhere they will are having a laugh at our expense, and smiling!

Against all odds, we might have a future worth having, after all…


The power source might not be so simple…


Minimum wage increases cause automated restaurants

All-Vegetarian Automated Restaurant Opens in Downtown DC




Does this mean that someone in government will actually have effective oversight?

David Couvillon
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; 
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; 
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; 
Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; 
Chef de Hot Dog Excellence;  Avoider of Yard Work

Having met a few probation officers, I’d say no.

Korey Harvey


Subject: Warning about Chinese Camera Manufacturer’s

The e-mail stream is a bit lengthy but I deleted a lot of the superfluous info. This is from the surveillance folks that have installed all of our surveillance cameras around the City, they come from the military and security groups and now run a private company. The information they pass along regarding the cameras and camera systems might help some of the agencies looking into camera surveillance programs. I left they contact information on one of the e-mails in case anyone needs to call and get more information from them.

Yes, Please do forward this.  The US really needs to become more aware of the threat that China can be on our infrastructure

Yep, do you mind if I send this e-mail on to all the other police departments in Monterey?

Exactly, that is why I included King City and the other PD’s in my email.  They must think security first!  Just imagine this, that the Chinese government gets into the PD’s records, evidence, crime reports, etc… through a backdoor in the surveillance system.  It’s not just a probability that this could happen it has happened.

And having access to surveillance cameras and surveillance systems all over the country is not a bad perk for the Chinese either, make a bunch of money selling surveillance cameras that give you access to the surveillance system. Very smart move especially when most companies (and government entities) worry more about the bottom line and the lowest bid for equipment.

I was on the Information Security Team when Cisco’s Internet Operating System (IOS) software was stolen by Huawei. A Chinese backed networking company who got its start by stealing Cisco Systems source code. 

We were tasked to go through the code and identify the stolen Intellectual Property.  When we looked at their source code it was almost laughable.  We thought that we were tasked with something that would be difficult to prove but Huawei did not even bother to remove the Cisco Copyright statements from huge sections of the code.  Based on my experience with Huawei vs Cisco,  the Chinese are out to steal their way to success at the expense of US companies.

I am passing this information along since I know many cities in Monterey/Santa Clara County are looking to deploy cameras, including the installation of cameras in sensitive areas (PD’s, airports, hospitals). HikVision is now the world’s largest camera manufacturer. They are being extremely aggressive in the Public Safety and Government verticals in the USA.  I’ve seen 2 RFP’s go out that have spec’ed this camera into their bid.  HikVision is a Homeland security concern.  We do NOT recommend or install them. Many integrators are also responding to RFP’s using these cameras, due to their low price point, not being aware of the security risks.




On Climate Change.

We were all sold by the smooth talking speech giving politician Al Gore with his

2006 “Inconvenient Truth” movement. Now anybody who questions the global warming

narrative and subsequent “Carbon Tax” that results in windfall profits it brings.

Anyone going against the narrative is a “Science Denier”.

But I am pretty sure that we all have been fooled on CO2 and……;


I think it’s 10x harder to convince them they’ve been fooled.

(Nobody has the time to become un-fooled.)

It turns out that a group of “scientists” colluded to produce the “Global Warming” scam.

It’s all an effort to fleece the huddled masses of more money in the form of “Carbon Tax”.

Of course, if you listen to Obama, this “Fake News” and Russian propaganda site is to be

ignored. Even though James Corbett is always armed to the teeth with facts and charts.

It’s unfortunate the simple people just want somebody (Obama) to tell them the truth.

They don’t have time to investigate for themselves.

The latest 17 minute (Too much information) Global Warming Corbett Report;

Other too much information reports;

(It’s easier to just believe Obama and mainstream media.)

Nobel Laureate on Global Warming;

Noam Chomsky on Global Warming;

The climate is however, changing and there’s nothing we can do about it.

We know it has been warmer than now in Viking times, and colder in the a8th and 19th Centuries. Beyond that is theory.

‘Global warming’ hits Tokyo. 



Roland Dobbins


Leftist Propaganda

The propaganda becomes most ridiculous these days. On Yahoo News, sourced to Thompson Reuters, I’ve seen the most incredible piece of “news” yet. This piece holds out hope that one could use the 25th amendment to remove Trump from power:


There are two options to remove a mentally unfit president, which were helpfully laid out step-by-step by Fusion. The first option requires a majority of the president’s cabinet — positions such as secretary of state and secretary of defense — joining together with the vice president to declare the president is unfit. The second option requires the vice president to convince a majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate to decide the president is unfit. Both chambers of Congress then submit a letter stating such, which removes the president from power.

In both cases, the president can then submit a letter claiming he is fit for office, which then mandates a special session to vote on the issue. Once that special session is called, those trying to oust the president, in this case Trump, would have 21 days to convince a two-thirds majority of both Congressional chambers to vote to keep Trump out of the Oval Office.

While this might seem like a long shot, many are navigating toward it.


Now, how would the GOP Congress, enfranchised by Trump and confirmed through Paul Ryan’s announcement craft such letters and secure a 2/3 majority? Are we to endure four to eight years of this sort of

nonsense? The election ended; these people must get on with their


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Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

I find it rather amusing.



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



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