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  • Archive for June, 2013

    iTunes, Threat or Menace?

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th June 2013 (All posts by )

    iTunes was always crap. I run the Windows version. It has inconsistent menus, disappearing menus, a different user interface on each page, a sync button here, an important checkbox there — overall an outstanding example of poor UI design.

    My iTunes got corrupted and for years the text labels on most of the buttons and menu items were invisible. Some kind of font issue, I guess. I tried uninstalling, reinstalling, fiddling with Windows fonts, nothing helped. Fortunately, I remembered where the sync button was. That was all I needed, most of the time.

    Then the computer that I had iTunes installed on conked out. I fixed the computer and installed a new hard drive and reinstalled Win 7 and iTunes. Works great but now it turns out that syncing doesn’t really mean syncing. I’m not sure what it means. All I know is that after I do it the file libraries on my iPod and iTunes don’t match. You can get them to match but only at the cost of deleting all of the files on your device. You cannot download files from your device to iTunes and add them to any new files you’ve acquired. It’s obvious why this is the case: Apple wants to keep people from busting the DRM on purchased files by downloading them to unauthorized computers. But Apple’s system makes life difficult for anyone who has a significant file library and replaces or upgrades his computer. There are workarounds but they are mostly a PITA for the user, and particularly for the non-tech-savvy user who replaces his hard drive or computer. This is a case where the customer doesn’t come first (though, to be fair, Apple is far from the only company that does things in this way).

    Posted in Customer Service, Tech | 8 Comments »

    America 3.0: Video of Michael Lotus Appearance on CLTV Politics Tonight

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Thanks to Chicago’s WGN TV political analyst Paul M. Lisnek for his thoughtful interview.

    You can watch the interview here:

    Segment 1

    Segment 2

    Posted in America 3.0 | 6 Comments »

    America 3.0: Audio of Jim Bennett and Michael Lotus Interview on American Family Association Radio

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Thanks to the American Family Association for interviewing Jim and Mike.

    You can listen to the interview here.

    Posted in America 3.0 | 2 Comments »

    America 3.0: Audio of Michael Lotus Interview on the Guy Benson Show

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Thanks to Eric Kohn for interviewing Mike.

    You can listen to the interview here:

    Segment 1

    Segment 2

    Posted in America 3.0 | Comments Off on America 3.0: Audio of Michael Lotus Interview on the Guy Benson Show

    “Studies Show” – Widespread Errors in Medical Research

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?

    The arguments presented in this article seem like a good if somewhat long presentation of the general problem, and could be applied in many fields besides medicine. (Note that the comments on the article rapidly become an argument about global warming.) The same problems are also seen in the work of bloggers, journalists and “experts” who specialize in popular health, finance, relationship and other topics and have created entire advice industries out of appeals to the authority of often poorly designed studies. The world would be a better place if students of medicine, law and journalism were forced to study basic statistics and experimental design. Anecdote is not necessarily invalid; study results are not necessarily correct and are often wrong or misleading.

    None of this is news, and good researchers understand the problems. However, not all researchers are competent, a few are dishonest and the research funding system and academic careerism unintentionally create incentives that make the problem worse.

    (Thanks to Madhu Dahiya for her thoughtful comments.)

    Posted in Academia, Medicine, Science, Statistics, Systems Analysis, Video | 13 Comments »

    Kenosha Sunrise

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 17th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    Interesting Data on the Persistence of Culture

    Posted by David Foster on 16th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Suppose you had historical information from the 1300s showing in which German cities pogroms had occurred…and in which German cities pogroms had not occurred.

    Would you think this data would be of any use in predicting the levels of anti-Semitic activity in various localities in the 1920s thru 1940s….almost six hundred years later?

    This study suggests that the answer is “yes.”

    (Full paper available on SSRN, here.)

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Germany, History, Judaism | 2 Comments »

    America 3.0: Author Appearance

    Posted by Lexington Green on 16th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Monday, June 17, 2013
    Western Conservative Summit, “Envisioning America 3.0” (James)

    Posted in America 3.0 | Comments Off on America 3.0: Author Appearance

    Institutions, Instruments, and the Innovator’s Dilemma

    Posted by T. Greer on 16th June 2013 (All posts by )

    I have written several posts that use Carroll Quigley’s “institutional imperative” as a lens for understanding contemporary events. [1] Mr. Quigley suggests that all human organizations fit into one of two types: instruments and institutions. Instruments are those organizations whose role is limited to the function they were designed to perform. (Think NASA in the 1960s, defined by its mission to put a man on the moon, or the NAACP during the same timeframe, instrumental to the civil rights movement.) Institutions, in contrast, are organizations that exist for their own state; their prime function is their own survival.

    Most institutions start out as instruments, but as with NASA after the end of the Cold War or the NAACP after the victories of the civil rights movement, their instrumental uses are eventually eclipsed. They are then left adrift, in search of a mission that will give new direction to their efforts, or as happens more often, these organizations begin to shift their purpose away from what they do and towards what they are. Organizations often betray their nature when called to defend themselves from outside scrutiny: ‘instruments’ tend to emphasize what their employees or volunteers aim to accomplish; ‘institutions’ tend to emphasize the importance of the heritage they embody or even the number of employees they have.

    Mr. Quigley’s institutional imperative has profound implications for any democratic society – especially a society host to so many publicly funded organizations as ours. Jonathan Rauch’s essay, “Demosclerosis” is the best introduction to the unsettling consequences that come when public organizations transform from instruments into institutions. [2] While Mr. Rauch does not use the terminology of the Institutional Imperative, his conclusions mesh neatly with it. Describing the history and growth of America’s bureaucratic class, Mr. Rauch suggests its greatest failing: a bureaucracy, once created, is hard to get rid of. To accomplish whatever mission it was originally tasked with a bureaucracy must hire people. It must have friends in high places. The number of people who have a professional or economic stake in the organization’s survival grows. No matter what else it may do, it inevitably becomes a publicly sponsored interest group. Any attempt to reduce its influence, power, or budget will be fought against with ferocity by the multitude of interests who now depend on it. Even when it becomes clear that this institution is no longer an instrument, the political capital needed to dismantle it is just too high to make the attempt worth a politician’s time or effort. So the size and scope of bureaucracies grow, encumbering the country with an increasing number of regulations it cannot change, employees it does not need, and organizations that it cannot get rid of.

    I used to think that the naked self-interest described by Mr. Rauch was the driving force behind the Institutional Imperative. It undoubtedly plays a large role (particularly when public funds are involved), but there are other factors at play. One of the most important of these is what business strategists call Marginal Thinking.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Markets and Trading, Politics, Systems Analysis | 16 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th June 2013 (All posts by )

    help us!

    Chicagoboyz meet the Wash Me family.

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

    Posted by David Foster on 15th June 2013 (All posts by )

    John Barnes asks: Are we as a society putting too much emphasis on abstract categorization rather than practical application? The so-called Flynn Effect says that average IQs worldwide rise by about 3 points per decade, but:

    Stuart Brown has described younger engineers at advanced research facilities who are “good at filling in bubbles” but don’t seem to be able to make a machine work. Senior engineers lament that the next generation overvalues its high test scores and undervalues the things that get the job done. Fine arts teachers tailor assignments to students who want to express simpler ideas with easier tools rather than acquire more open-ended and sophisticated skills. 

    A smug and depressing post on “innovation” by a French bureaucrat. Reminded me of my old post Leaving a Trillion on the Table (although “trillion” probably considerably understated the real amount of potential wealth left on the table in this matter.)

    Should Apple get into the 3-D printing market?

    Speaking of 3-D printing, GE is running a couple of interesting contests. First, there is the GE jet engine bracket challenge–participants submit a design taking advantage of additive manufacturing capabilities to meet all performance criteria while minimizing mass. Submitted designs will be evaluated by simulation: the top ten will then be fabricated and subjected to actual loads. There is also the 3-D printing production quest: high precision and advanced materials. This one is focused on making parts requiring extreme precision with complex geometries, especially for healthcare applications–entrants are going to need production as well as design capabilities, and in addition to the $50K prizes there may be an opportunity to become a GE supplier or otherwise “collaborate” with the company.

    John Hawkins and friends select the 20 hottest conservative women in the new media. (photos, obviously)

    Posted in Business, Human Behavior, Humor, Photos, Political Philosophy, Tech | 15 Comments »

    The Great Unraveling

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 15th June 2013 (All posts by )

    The Great Unraveling began this week, near Detroit (they moved the meeting to head off protestors), kicked off by Kevyn Orr:

    Detroit will immediately stop payments on about $2 billion in debt, the city’s emergency manager announced Friday, an effort to conserve cash. The manager, Kevyn Orr, also said Detroit will need to cut pay and pension and health benefits for city workers.
     
    Debt holders are likely to get only pennies on the dollar.
     
    “Financial mismanagement, a shrinking population, a dwindling tax base and other factors over the past 45 years have brought Detroit to the brink of financial and operational ruin,” said Orr.

    This article then goes on to name what happend to Detroit, caused by mismanagement and fleeing of their most productive resources, noted above:

    “The city has effectively exhausted its ability to borrow,” he writes in the report, adding that the city “is clearly insolvent.”

    INSOLVENT is the key word to understanding what happened in Detroit, and what I believe will soon happen across cities in dire situations across the USA. Insolvent (in practical terms) means that 1) you don’t have enough cash revenue coming in to pay your current bills such as salaries on current staff, pension contributions, payments to vendors, etc… 2) you have already accrued substantial borrowings to date that need to be either paid off (not a chance of that) or re-financed through even more debt (the route that has been taken to date) 3) there is no practical chance that you can find enough revenues to get current on your bills and make a substantial, good-faith “dent” in the backlog of debt that you’ve piled up over the years.

    Over many years cities, states, counties and other non-profit entities have piled on debt to avoid raising current taxes and to placate their staff’s demand for higher pay and current benefits. They also promised benefits in the future such as pensions, medical insurance, and the like which don’t exist anymore for many / most citizens employed in the private sector. They failed to pay in advance (pre-fund) those obligations, as well. Meanwhile, many of these cities, plagued by dis-functional government, crime, rising taxes, and a low quality of life, saw an exodus of their most productive citizens, those upon whom the “real” burden of servicing these current obligations and long term debt really lie.

    Unlike the United States as a whole, which can capture its citizens’ revenues anywhere within its borders and around the world (there are relatively few that give up US citizenship), cities, states and counties can drive out their productive staff and then the increasing burden of paying for mounting debts will fall on a shrinking (financial) base. Detroit can’t burden those that have escaped; not only has their population fallen, their highest-income citizens fled long ago and have no plans to return (why would they come back to pay the bills of a city that they would no longer recognize?).

    Amazingly, the municipal debt market, which has funded these insolvent cities all these years at relatively low interest rates (given the facts that many of these entities are insolvent in practical terms), hasn’t taken an enormous hit yet. While plans are not finalized, Detroit is in essence offering pennies (less than 10 cents) on the dollars for their unsecured bond-holders (they do have some debt tied to utility revenues and other revenue sources which has its own economics). The municipal debt market probably doesn’t really believe, nor do I really truly believe, that the whole worm-infested edifice is about to come down now. In the past there have always been last minute bailouts, subsidies, “insurance” on bonds (with the tiniest of real-world cushions), etc… to prevent the collapse that economic sense says has been coming for years.

    Another thing to note in Orr’s statement is that he plans to not only 1) stiff the creditors 2) INVEST in the city to increase the level of policing, infrastructure, etc… Cities and states are run by politicians. The odds that a city would shut schools while paying off creditors should strike anyone with a bit of political sense as incredible. Creditors don’t vote – if it came down to it, why would you put them ahead of your own political survival, especially when your opponent in the next election would just do the same thing, anyways?

    The heart of the matter is that all of this Ponzi scheme depends on everyone “pretending” that the problem isn’t there and that somehow, someway, these minor moves of short term cash and budget tricks can put the wolf off forever. But the wolf is here now, and anyone who lends new debt money to these sorts of entities might as well just throw their money into a disposal and expect to get a few pennies out the other side.

    Not to sound too “black helicopter” but the super-smart money might be betting that the federal government will bail out the states and cities and make all the creditors whole, to keep the illusion running a bit further. This definitely strikes me as plausible, irrespective of all the supposed Constitutional guards that prevent this from happening. A huge percentage of the funding for states, cities, and counties comes from the US government anyways – perhaps at some point we stop pretending that we will let them fail on their own (and destroy the political “minor leagues” that end up in Washington, in the end) and just backstop everyone’s debts on the US dollar.

    Kevyn Orr is calling everyone’s bluff. Maybe this will be the second great accomplishment of our current presidency, stopping the “pretending” that there is any fiscal accountability with real consequences anywhere in the USA. The first accomplishment was the stone acknowledgment that Social Security /Medicare is just a “pay as you go” system of taxes when he cut the tax rate to supposedly spur job creation at a time when the actuarial numbers actually called for higher contributions.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance | 9 Comments »

    America 3.0: Jim Bennett at Colorado Christian University, Monday, June 17

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th June 2013 (All posts by )

    [Note that this event is scheduled for next Monday and reservations are required.]

    From the CCU website:

    Issue Monday: Envisioning America 3.0
     
    Monday, June 17 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
     
    Where is the voice of practical optimism to counter worries from both left and right that the USA faces irreversible decline? One such voice is that of James C. Bennett, historian, economist, space scientist, and futurist. Based right here in Colorado, Bennett is the originator of the Anglosphere concept and a Centennial Institute fellow. Join us on Monday evening, June 17, at 7:00 p.m. in the CCU Beckman Center to hear about the important new book he co-authored with Michael J. Lotus, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days are Yet to Come. His talk is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

    [bumped]

    Posted in America 3.0 | 1 Comment »

    History Friday: The Fight at Plum Creek

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th June 2013 (All posts by )

    The historian T.R. Fehrenbach postulated that the unique character of Texas came from one thing which differentiated it from other trans-Mississippi states; that it was in a constant state of war for the best part of half a century and so the readiness to fight for life at a moment’s notice became ingrained. Usually the fight was with the Comanches, who lived for war, plunder and ransom. While the Anglo settlers occasionally took a break from fighting to farm or ranch, or take up some peaceable trade, the Comanches never did; there was no other means of advancing in their culture, save being a fearless warrior and raider. At the high noon-time of their peak, they were the lords of the southern plains, from the Arkansas River to the Balcones Escarpment, having ruthlessly pushed other tribes out – the Tonkawa, Lipan Apache, the Karankawa and others. The Comanche ranged and raided as far as they pleased, occasionally interrupted by a fragile peace treaty.

    A relative period of peace between the Penateka, or southern Comanche, and the Republic of Texas came to a spectacularly violent end in the spring of 1840 during the course of what had been intended as a peace conference in San Antonio. A contingent of chiefs and Texan peace commissioners met in a large building adjoining the town jail, on Main Plaza and Market Street. In token of their good faith, the chiefs had promised – or led the Texans to believe they had been promised – to turn over a number of captives, and sign a peace treaty. But the Penateka only released one; a teenaged girl, Matilda Lockhart, who had been savagely abused, raped and mutilated during a year of captivity. She told the disappointed and outraged Texan officials that the Comanches camped outside the town held more than a dozen other captives, including her own sister, but meant to extort large ransoms for each. When the chiefs and the peace commissioners met again, the commissioners asked about the other captives. The leader of the chiefs answered that they had brought in the only one they had. The others were with other tribes. And then he added, insolently, “How do you like that answer?”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Human Behavior, North America, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    History Friday: MacArthur’s “Red Bull Dust Express”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 14th June 2013 (All posts by )

    One of the maddening things about researching General Douglas MacArthur’s fighting style in WW2 was the way he created, used and discarded military institutions, both logistical and intelligence, in the course of his South West Pacific Area (SWPA) operations. Institutions that had little wartime publicity and have no direct organizational descendent to tell their stories in the modern American military. This is a huge problem for readers/researchers interested in World War 2 Southwest Pacific history because most modern historians have become like modern journalists. They both have lost the have lost ablity to do systematic record searches “outside the accepted narrative.” And as my previous post “MacArthur — A General Made for Convenient Lies” made clear, MacArthur’s historical narrative was written by his enemies.

    A case in point of a ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ logistic institution was MacArthur’s “Red Bull Dust Express“, or more properly, “Motor Transport Command No. 1.” Unlike the fabled “Red Ball Express” that trucked supplies to Patton’s 3rd Army in it’s dash across France. The efforts of the 3,500 African-American truckers in the racially segregated 29th and 48th Quartermaster Truck Regiment’s to convoy supplies across the Australian Outback to a besieged Darwin, in the dark days of 1942, have been largely forgotten. Their story was hidden behind veils of wartime censorship, Mid-World War 2 American Army organizational restructuring and the post war demobilization.

    29th Quartermaster Truck Regiment at Mt Isa, Australia

    The African-American drivers of the 29th Quartermaster Truck Regiment taking a water break at Mt Isa, Australia

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Uncategorized, USA | 6 Comments »

    Who are they protecting us from ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th June 2013 (All posts by )

    The latest word on the NSA scandal, and it is a scandal, is that the FBI is not allowed to snoop on mosques.

    Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string[sic] operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.

    Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.

    We do know the panel was set up under pressure from Islamist groups who complained about FBI stings at mosques. Just months before the panel’s formation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations teamed up with the ACLU to sue the FBI for allegedly violating the civil rights of Muslims in Los Angeles by hiring an undercover agent to infiltrate and monitor mosques there.

    That makes sense. After all, all terrorists thus far have been fundamentalist Christians.

    Oh wait.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Anti-Americanism, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, Politics, Religion, Terrorism | 75 Comments »

    Obama, NSA Surveillance, and the Future of the American Information Technology Industry

    Posted by David Foster on 12th June 2013 (All posts by )

    I’m currently reading 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War, by Charles Emmerson. The book describes the social and political climates then existing not only in the major European countries, but also in other places around the world, ranging from Australia to Canada to China.

    In his description of Jerusalem–then under control of the Ottoman Empire but with a population including residents and pilgrims from many countries–the author says:

    Different countries even had their own postal services, circumventing the Ottoman telegraph service, which was widely thought to be a nest of spies reporting communications back to Constantinople.

    Fast forward 100 years….In the wake of the reports concerning NSA surveillance programs, there is widespread concern..among non-Americans as well as among citizens of this country…that the American telecommunications and information-processing services may be “a nest of spies” reporting communications back to Washington…and from there, possibly, to other shadowy recipients. These concerns may have serious economic ramifications.

    See, for example, Forbes–NSA Surveillance Threatens US Competitiveness:

    Non-US customers of any US business will immediately evaluate their exposure to these new risks and look for alternatives. European, Canadian, and Australian tech companies will profit from this. Competitors in those regions will offer alternatives that will also draw US customers away from the compromised US services.

    Washington Post–European Leaders Raise Concerns on US Surveillance

    “The German business community is on high alert,” said Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. “It’s not just about listening in on some bearded guy from Ulm who bought a ticket to Afghanistan and makes conversation with his friends in Waziristan. . . . The suspicion in large parts of the business sector is that Americans would also be interested in our patent applications.”

    Popular Mechanics–Why the NSA Prism Program Could Kill US Tech Companies:

    Think for a second about just how the U.S. economy has changed in the last 40 years. While a large percentage of our economy is still based in manufacturing, some of the most ascendant U.S. companies since the 1970s have been in the information technology sector…

    Let’s say you ran a business in (Japan, India, Australia, Mexico, or Brazil)  that relied upon information services from a U.S. company. Don’t these revelations make using such a service a business liability? 

    See also Business Insider–Did Obama Just Destroy the US Internet Industry?

     

    I don’t think these revelations, even if they are fully validated, will really “kill” US tech companies or “destroy” the US Internet industry…the headlines are a bit over the top, as headlines often are. I do believe, however, that the American information technology industries will be significantly harmed, with implications for the entire US economy…something that we really cannot afford at this particular point in time.

    I think it is obvious that the US government needs to conduct anti-terrorist surveillance programs, which must encompass telecommunications networks…the idea that NSA should be abolished, as some have suggested in recent days, is to my mind very unwise. But non-Americans as well as Americans have every right to be concerned about the scope of what has apparently been going on, and the apparent lack of proper controls, and furthermore, to raise questions about how the information gathered is actually being used.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Economics & Finance, Obama, Privacy, Tech, Terrorism, War and Peace | 14 Comments »

    Siesta

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Nahal David flows over rocks in a canyon in the Ein Gedi nature preserve. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz / jonathan@gewirtz.net)

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    America 3.0: Jim Bennett and Mike Lotus on the Mark Bernier Show

    Posted by Lexington Green on 11th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Thank you to Mark Bernier for having Jim Bennett and me on his radio show on AM 1150 WNDB in Daytona Beach, Florida last Friday, to talk about America 3.0.

    The audio of the interview is here.

    Posted in America 3.0 | Comments Off on America 3.0: Jim Bennett and Mike Lotus on the Mark Bernier Show

    America 3.0: Review-Essay by T.Greer

    Posted by Lexington Green on 10th June 2013 (All posts by )

    T.Greer is the proprietor of the excellent blog The Scholar’s Stage.

    He recently posted a thoughtful and positive review of America 3.0 which I commend to your attention.

    James Bennet and Michael Lotus get everything right that all of the other popular commentators get wrong. In contrast to pundits incessantly focused on the character flaws of the opposition and controversies of the hour, these authors focus on the broad political principles and broad political context – “centuries into the past and decades into the future” (xxv). Where most popular political creeds are shallow, filled more with hype and platitudes than meaningful evidence, America 3.0 is both respectful in tone and deeply researched (and none the less readable for it!). Few popular political works have any real historical grounding; America 3.0 possesses this in spades. Even more impressively, the authors manage to convey both their sense of history and their firm belief in American exceptionalism without any of the reflexive chest-pounding sometimes mistaken as patriotism in conservative corners. (As they write in the introduction, “We are attempting to avoid sentimentality in this book, and look at the record in a cold light. As we write things are not good in America. Being realistic is a matter of urgency (xxiv).”) Most impressive of all is the political platform they lay out. In age where conservatives are too often defined by what they are against, America 3.0 paints a compelling picture of what they should be for.

    T.Greer mentions that he would like to have had more about religion and civic institutions, and “how to rekindle America’s civic spirit.” I hope we will be able to say more about these issues in future discussions and future publications.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | Comments Off on America 3.0: Review-Essay by T.Greer

    More on Bureaucracy

    Posted by David Foster on 9th June 2013 (All posts by )

    Here’s Peter Drucker, writing way back in 1969:

    Whether government is “a government of laws” or a “government of men” is debatable. But every government is, by definition, a “government of paper forms.” This means, inevitably, high cost. For “control” of the last 10 per cent of any phenomenon always costs more than control of the first 90 per cent. If control tries to account for everything, it becomes prohibitively expensive. Yet this is what government is always expected to do.

    The reason is not just “bureaucracy” and red tape; it is a much sounder one. A “little dishonesty” in government is a corrosive disease. It rapidly spreads to infect the whole body politic. Yet the temptation to dishonesty is always great. People of modest means and dependent on a salary handle very large public sums. People of  modest position dispose of power and award contracts and privileges of tremendous importance to other people–construction jobs, radio channels, air routes, zoning laws, building codes, and so on. To fear corruption in government is not irrational. This

    This means, however, that government “bureaucracy”— and its consequent high costs—cannot be eliminated.  Any government that is not a “government of forms” degenerates rapidly into a mutual looting society.

    (Emphasis added. I’m confident Professor Drucker would agree that whether the forms are paper or electronic makes no difference at all in this context.)

    If government operations are fully proceduralized, to the point of eliminating individual employee and frontline manager discretion, they will be cumbersome and inefficient. If they are not fully proceduralized in this way, then they will be subject to widespread corruption and tyrannical behavior.

    Hence, the expansion of government into all aspects of human life leads to increasing inefficiency, eventually resulting in sluggish performance across the entire economy–while the increasing frustration with bureaucracy results in a widespread demand to “make government more responsive” by giving more discretionary authority to administrators and to their political superiors. This, in turn, results in a government which is not only a looting society but a tyranny. Yet at the same time, there will still be enough baroque proceduralization (selectively enforced) to ensure high levels of inefficiency and very high government administrative costs.

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Management, Political Philosophy, USA | 13 Comments »

    America 3.0: Media appearances

    Posted by L. C. Rees on 8th June 2013 (All posts by )

    All Jim Bennett and Mike Lotus media appearances for America 3.0 with publicly available audio or video are now on YouTube.

    Posted in America 3.0 | 2 Comments »

    Security Theater

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th June 2013 (All posts by )

    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin.

    “The president has put in place an organization that contains the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life. That’s going to be very, very powerful. That database will have information about everything on every individual in ways that it’s never been done before.” Rep. Maxine Waters

    Who expected that 1984 has arrived? I recall that in the actual year of 1984, a great many commenters in the political arena rejoiced that the whole Big Brother thing had not arrived, but it looks like such rejoicing was premature. Now we have the NSA collecting telephone records from Verizon wholesale for the ostensible purpose of security reasons … not so much for tracking specific suspected terrorists, but rather for data-mining … and very likely for opposition research. The revelations of the IRS stalling Tea Party groups’ applications for 501 status? Almost certainly this distracted or discouraged those groups from going all-out in last year’s election season, which I believe was the primary purpose.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Just Unbelievable, National Security, Privacy, Tea Party | 27 Comments »

    The Reductio ad Absurdum of Bureaucratic Liberalism

    Posted by David Foster on 7th June 2013 (All posts by )

    The government of Sweden didn’t do a very good job of protecting its citizens and their property from the rampant rioting that took place in late May.

    Government agents did, however, fulfill their duty of issuing parking tickets…to burned-out cars.

    Link with picture

    I’m reminded of an old SF story, “Dumb Waiter,” written by Walter Miller, who is best known for his novel A Canticle for Leibowitz. This story, which dates from 1952, lacks the philosophical depth of Canticle, but seems quite relevant to the events in Sweden.

    In the story, cities have become fully automated—municipal services are provided by robots linked to a central computer system.  But when war erupted–featuring radiological attacks–some of the population was killed, and the others evacuated the cities. In the city that is the focus of the story, there are no people left, but “Central” and its subunits are working fine, doing what they were programmed to do many years earlier.

    The radiation levels have died down now, and the city is now habitable, from a radiological standpoint–but the behavior of the automated systems, although designed with benign intent, now makes entry to the city very dangerous.

    Mitch, the protagonist, resolves to go into the city, somehow get control of Central, and reprogram it so that it will be an asset rather than a hazard for future human occupants of the city.  The first thing he sees is a robot cop, giving a ticket to a robot car with no human occupants. Shortly thereafter, he himself is stopped for jaywalking by another robot cop, and given a summons to appear in traffic court. He also observes a municipal robot mailing out batches of delinquent utility-bill notices to customers who no longer exist.

    Eventually Mitch establishes contact with Central and warns it that a group of men are planning to blow it up in order to have unhindered access to the city for looting…that the war is over, and Central needs to revise its behavior to compensate for the changed situation. The response is that he himself is taken away for interrogation. He hears a woman crying in an adjacent cell—she has been arrested by a robot cop for some reason or other, and her baby was separated from her and is being held in the city nursery.

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    Posted in Big Government, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Management, Political Philosophy, Tech | 20 Comments »

    History Friday: MacArthur’s SWPA Intelligence

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 7th June 2013 (All posts by )

    One of the most important things to know about General Douglas MacArthur is that almost everything you “know” in popular culture and from official WW2 US Navy and US Intelligence histories about MacArthur as a military commander is wrong. This is especially true with regard to his intelligence operations. Like MacArthur himself, when MacArthur’s intelligence institutions were very, very good, such as in the use of Ultra intelligence in the Bismark Sea, Lae, Wewak,and Hollandia in 1943 and 1944, his bureaucratic enemies described his intelligence work and motives badly in official histories…if they mentioned them at all. And when MacArthur was struggling with intelligence, they were worse…and what they did “while being worse” wasn’t documented in those official histories.

    MacArthur developed a wide ranging set of intelligence institutions that supported his drive to the Philippines, which answered only to him, and through him to Washington, DC. This made these organizations “less efficient” than the centralized intelligence model the British used, and the FDR Administration partially copied, because it duplicated cryptographic efforts of other commands and Washington, DC. However, it was far more responsive to MacArthur’s needs and especially the needs of battlefield commanders in his theater.

    General Douglas MacArthur created the following intelligence agencies —

    o The Central Bureau, under the direction of his Signals officer, General Akin
    o The Allied Intelligence Bureau, under the direction of his G-2 intelligence officer, General Willoughby
    o The Allied Translator and Interpreter Section, under the direction of his G-2, General Willoughby
    o The Allied Geographical Section, under the direction of his Chief Engineer, General Hugh J. Casey
    o Section 22 Radio and Radar Countermeasures, under the direction of his Signals officer, General Akin

    Every one of the organizations above was run by one of MacArthur’s “Bataan Gang”, officers who had been with him at the siege and defeat at Bataan in the Philippines. And every one of them gave their chief loyalty to MacArthur. This drove the US Army and US Navy intelligence Mandarins in Washington, DC crazy, particularly with regard to the caviler way MacArthur’s people used Ultra signals intelligence.

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    Posted in Book Notes, History, Military Affairs | 10 Comments »