The Iron Law and The Strategy of Progress; Despair is a sin.

View 818 Tuesday, April 01, 2014

I do not do April Fool columns or articles.


“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


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


If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan. Period.

Barrack Obama, famously.



‘For starters, the company [Microsoft] has officially abandoned its “Windows First” policy.’



Roland Dobbins


The story is about why the writer would not buy a Microsoft Surface now, although he would have two weeks ago. Whether that is a correct conclusion, he says much that needs thinking about.

: Kind of like bunny inspectors

Examples are not hard to find; but the Bunny Inspectors thrive and gain promotions, in this open administration that will take a laser like focus on needless government.



It is pointless to speculate about the missing Malaysian 777 at this point. It is almost as if someone is encouraging conspiracy theories by feeding odd and probably irrelevant data and misquotations into the information stream. There are no reliable sources. At this point the most probable explanation is fire, followed by a loss of cabin pressure. The unexplained climb to 43,000 feet is puzzling, but if the cabin was not pressurized the crew would have been unconscious in under a minute at that altitude even on pure breathing oxygen. The Autopilot would have returned the aircraft to cruising altitude, but given the lack of cabin pressure recovery of anyone in control would be very unlikely. Anyone surviving would be suffering from hypoxia and that means irrational behavior. Irrational means just that, and it is unpredictable. Almost anything might seem like a good idea given exposure to 43,000 feet for any time at all followed by above 20,000 feet without oxygen.

But that too is speculation. We have no real evidence. We can deduce that hiding an airplane is not all that difficult but keeping that secret is not so easy for every government. The passengers are almost certainly dead. So is the crew. It is unlikely that we will ever be certain what happened.


Despair is a sin.

By all normal political measurements the next election will return both Houses to the Republicans, but the Republicans have been known to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the past. There is still no agreed Presidential candidate acceptable to the Republican Establishment and tolerable to the Tea Party; at least none that I know of.

Foreign policy is in such a mess that old diplomatic hands can’t resist calling it a farce. An Israeli Deputy Minister of Defense has said that he hopes the world will give Secretary of State a Nobel Prize early on so that Israel won’t have to put up with him any longer. He has since apologized, but I have it on very good authority that most members of the Israeli officer corps found it amusing, and few among our allies have any respect for him. Perhaps this is not astonishing.

The employment situation is far worse than the official statistics indicate. Although we have in theory created many jobs, the total number of hours worked is not going up so rapidly. Moreover, the unemployment rate falls only because the number of people in the work force – those actively seeking work – is constantly being reduced, as the long term unemployed give up and seek public assistance or some other way of surviving. The economy stubbornly insists on growing very slowly. Talk of raising the minimum wage in an attempt to spread more money around and thus boost the economy is not absurd, but that move almost certainly dooms the unskilled workers entering the work force for the first time: they simply can’t do anything worth that much money to anyone hiring them, meaning that the incentive for hiring them must anticipate that they will at some point be productive enough to earn their pay; and fewer and fewer companies are finding highly paid training programs a good investment. That, after all, was the purpose of really small businesses, yard work, ‘burger flipping’ and other such jobs – many of which are now taken by off the books illegal aliens – oops, undocumented migrants – and government policy is to allow de facto amnesty for more than 90% of all undocumented migrants including many with criminal records.

The forecast for the election is hopeful, but realistically no election result will bring about much change. The labor union/public employment/ political contribution axis is strongly forged, while at the top of many states there is fairly rampant corruption. It is not grand corruption, but it is the kind of corruption that ensures that once elected a politician will serve as many terms as term limits allow, and will then very likely move into another term-limited public office. The notion of a legislature made up of citizens who serve and return to private life is nearly gone; the standard practice now is career politicians, which means a career in fund raising interrupted by legislative sessions. This has become true in many state legislatures, and of course such machines have been traditional in big cities for a long time; what has changed is that the practice is nearly universal, not just in New York and Chicago, but all over the country. Any place that has a full time city council becomes beholden to city employee unions whose goal is raises in pay, large pensions, and tax-payer paid benefits both medical and other perks.

In the old days this pattern was periodically interrupted by “Good Government” organization, called ‘googoo’s” by the politicians; they came and reformed and went away and the machines rebuilt after the novelty of good government faded. In the past decades, though, googoos have become rare and successful googoo movements rarer still.

But again I say Despair is a sin. The coming election offers at least some relief and the opportunity to go back down the solidification of government structure and regulation. It is important that those who still care about such matters take advantage of it. Be a googoo. The nation desperately needs it.

When Possony and I were working on The Strategy of Progress, which was to be Dr. Possony’s master career work, we came to the conclusion that the most important trend in history was the diversion of more and more of the output of society into structure. Coupled with the Iron Law of Bureaucracy this explained much of both Western and Chinese history. The difference between Asian and European history was not so much inventions – technological inventions appeared in both cultures – but in the attitudes of the ruling regulators towards it: Europe was less hostile and more willing to give it a try. The result was some periods of productivity growth that leaped far ahead of the ability of the bureaucracy to regulate and control them. This happened briefly during the Viking Warm period, then again with the Discovery of the New World; then the various Industrial Revolutions, and finally, the Compute Revolution. In each case the increases in productivity were larger than before, but the time it took for the bureaucracy to react and regain control was shorter, until the Computer revolution begun in Silicon Valley, despite its enormous increases in human productivity , didn’t last more than a couple of generations before the regulators regained control.

In Strategy of Technology we showed that most progress goes in S-curves (although for much of it it will appear to be exponential). The Computer Revolution looked to make enormous progress in human productivity, as much as the agricultural revolution which transformed the US from an agricultural to a manufacturing nation and moved most of the population from farms to urban areas. The question was, what would happen as the Iron Law took over and the regulators began to fight back.

Alas, Possony’s stroke ended much of our work on this. I have tried to incorporate some of this view into stories and columns, but I have not managed to write a work like The Strategy of Technology based on this theory, and it remains unfinished. I am convinced that it contains much solid truth.



Air Force General Philip Breedlove, Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, says that he’s worried that the Russians will march through the entire Ukraine in order to annex Transdniestria (a landlocked, rebellious Moldovan enclave that would be rather be part of Russia).

Population of Transdniestria is about half a million, about 30% Russian. A bit bigger than Rhode Island: you have trouble seeing it on the map without a magnifying glass.

So our brass thinks that Russia is going to conquer the Ukraine (including a whole lot of indigestible western Ukrainians) in order to seize this little piece of crap.

He also talks about the hyper-ready, massive Russian forces on the Ukrainian border. They are more formidable than he realizes: as revealed by a Reuters journalist who just drove along the entire length of the Ukrainian-Russian border (on the Russian side) , they’ve invisible, which would be a big tactical advantage.

Here’s how I picture it: some contractor for the DIA was tasked to analyze the Russian threat. The contractor is headed by people with some kind of pull, ex-generals or whatever, who naturally do no real work. The actual report is written by a couple of 24 year olds who weren’t smart enough to get a real job in insider trading, who don’t know jack about history or military affairs. Those youngsters did get the correct impression that they were supposed to talk about the Russian threat, so they applied their feeble imaginations to the task.

Apparently they also talked about the Russians cutting a path ( opening a corridor) through the Ukraine in order to prevent the Ukrainians from cutting off natural gas to the Crimea. One guess on  where all that natural gas originates in the first place : Yes, Russia.

So that would work for the Ukrainians, right?

As always with the fools at the top, you wonder whether they’re stupid or crazy.


I don’t think comment is needed.


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




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