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  • Archive for September, 2020

    Obamacare – The COVID-19 Virus of U.S. Healthcare Insurance

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 30th September 2020 (All posts by )

    It tricks its way in and infects the vital organs.

    Obamacare promised to reduce the cost and improve the availability of health care services in the U.S. without reducing the quality, generally considered the world’s best. By traditional metrics, e.g., the health of the American public, the cost, and the share of national resources devoted to healthcare, Obamacare is a total bust. As with any government program targeted to a single metric, a higher percentage of the population has insurance, whatever the cost or coverage, but even that has been declining since the enforcement mechanism, a grossly excessive individual mandate, was eliminated.

    Obamacare made some households feel more financially secure, others less so. But it’s an illusion from a broader perspective as federal, state, and local finances are virtually all unsustainable. The federal government spent about $1.5 trillion on health care in 2019 and states about $300 billion. Handing out stacks of newly printed $100 bills to assist households with medical bills would have been a much cheaper and simpler solution.

    The current Rube Goldberg monstrosity reflects the attempt to achieve the universal coverage and uniform quality of national health systems while maintaining private medical services and private health insurers under the misleading banner of “insuring the uninsured.” Many analysts believed Obamacare was purposely designed as a Rube Goldberg contraption intended to end with a “bang,” paving the way for “single payer” or “Medicare for all” – the current progressive goal. But like virtually all failed government programs, Obamacare whimpers on.

    To repeal and replace would admit the obvious. But the “single payer” and “Medicare for all” proposals aren’t an actuarial insurance fix, merely a progressive federal tax. Their perceived merit is eliminating insurance company administrative costs (and administration), profits and actuarial premiums with political premiums – payroll taxes that contribute to total Treasury tax revenue. Politicizing the premiums will further politicize provider payments, two steps toward nationalized healthcare, the likely goal of many proponents.

    Socialized national healthcare may be preferable to it. But politicians deny and mis-represent the European national healthcare systems’ inferior medical performance and deny the totalitarian necessity even while issuing multiple mandates and threats under Obamacare. The original separation of the private and public healthcare systems in the U.S. – the original “public option” – is another, arguably better option.

    The Winding Road to the Obamacare Dead End

    In a competitive market economy health expenses would largely be paid from personal precautionary savings or medical insurance, the premiums sufficient to cover actuarial claims according to the “law of large numbers” for unpredictable claims, with insurance reserves for worse than predicted experience, e.g., due to a pandemic. All insurance requires a degree of “assurance” to mitigate avoidable claims, a “moral hazard that the insured will take greater risks.

    The U.S. health insurance industry in the early twentieth century followed the path of the savings bank industry of the prior century. Individual not for profit (mutual) firms (Blue Cross and Blue Shield) started appearing during the Great Depression for employees (initially teachers). The big expansion came when during WW II, FDR, no stranger to fascist business methods, capped wages but not benefits creating a loophole for un-taxed employer health insurance benefits that persists today, an advantage over individual plans paid mostly with after tax income.

    Health care needs of the poor were addressed by a variety of public, civic and religious institutions. During the first half of the 20th century, driven largely by public health concerns, municipal hospitals provided health services but with independent fee for service doctors, whereas housing policies followed the fascist Wehrmacht model, paying private developers and builders to construct public rental housing.

    Public healthcare, like public housing, was definitely below average. But the World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution of 1946 declared “enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”—defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”—“is one of the fundamental rights of every human being,” reaffirmed in the 2020 Democratic Party Platform.

    Similarly, in market economies housing structures are considered a capital investment financed with debt or equity, owned or rented. But the United Nations identifies adequate affordable housing and secure tenure as a “fundamental human right.”These assertions followed the destruction of WW II and rise of European “democratic socialism,” but were foreshadowed by FDR’s New Deal policies during the Great Depression and his Second Bill of Rights in 1944.

    European national Healthcare systems reflected this uniformity, with one standard for all under Britain’s system, whereas the French system allowed about 10% of the population to opt for higher quality care with private insurance.

    The U.S. went in the opposite direction in the 1950s and 1960s. Federal expenditures for housing and health services were increasingly directly subsidized with federal progressive taxation, less intrusive to the private sector than prior methods or European systems, albeit more so than subsidizing income directly. The advent of federal Medicaid and Medicare subsidized insurance led to the decline of public hospitals (as did the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” ) But the Budget Act of 1974 making expenditures more transparent shifted lobbying efforts to less transparent tax subsidies and to regulation by the Administrative State.

    So progressives targeted finance and insurance, where the subsidies are often opaque. The objective became achieving a socialist incidence of both cost and delivery of health services by subsidizing and manipulating the private insurance market. The problem with FDR’s freely granting of multiple “rights” including healthcare and housing during this “fireside chat” was that they were not his to dispense. Progressive “rights” are nothing more than meretricious socialist promises implemented with a totalitarian stick that violate the unalienable rights in America’s Declaration of Independence that are the cornerstone of a market system, the reason for multiple conflicting and confused Supreme Court decisions regarding Obamacare.

    The Clinton Administration first proposed Hillarycare, the precursor to Obamacare, in 1993. When that failed, it turned to housing, where it was too successful. These latent New Deal viruses later turned deadly. Some three and a half years ago I argued that the two legislative centerpieces of the Obama Administration, the “Dodd-Frank Act” (the Wall Street Bank Bailout) and the “Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare) had the same fatal flaw. Politicians basically intervened in finance and insurance markets to provide equality of home ownership and medical care across all incomes without transparently paying the price. The effects spread like a deadly virus, distorting all the incentives, checks and balances that kept the private system afloat, replaced by universal one-size-fits-all mandates. The sub-prime lending debacle, like the Wehrmacht, lasted a decade, the current age of Obamacare (see Appendix).

    The Building of a Rube Goldberg Contraption: Doubling Down on “Pre-Existing Distortions”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Medicine, Obama | 17 Comments »

    Paint it Black

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Well, if this isn’t a good reason for a grad student passionately interested in English literature – meaning the study of classic literature written in English (starting with Beowulf and running all the way to Tom Stoppard) to avoid the U of Chicago and embrace a program of self-education then I don’t know what is. It’s akin to being invited to a grand, lavish multi-course banquet and then only allowed a single tiny plate of hors d oeuvres. Which you must consume, and praise lavishly, and not even consider looking over at the main course. Or for another comparison – be fascinated by American pop music all through the 20th century, and then only be permitted to specialize in Motown. Because … reasons. Anyone fascinated by Chaucer or Tin Pan Alley is just plain out of luck, because of systemic racism, and overwhelming whiteness of the culture and the stain of slavery, et cetera, which is usually the reason given. Frankly, I think it’s just momentarily fashionable to Paint everything Black. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior | 30 Comments »

    Stopping the Insanity

    Posted by Robert Prost on 28th September 2020 (All posts by )

    On a recent fishing trip with a group of politically conservative friends, we found ourselves lamenting the societal insanity that has evolved around the covid-19 virus. The question was, how long will this massive over-reaction to a low-octane viral illness continue? Half of the group admitted to continuing to wear their masks when going into stores, simply to avoid being hassled. This struck me as rather sheep-like behavior. Most citizens are used to listening to, and following the advice of their local officials, a natural pattern of behavior which helps maintain the general order of society. This virus, which due to its occult origin, originally appeared potentially disastrous, is in reality, very pedestrian in its lethality. It has however, succeeded in bringing out the inner tyrant in many state and local officials. The demand that masks be worn, despite the fact that they are little more than a talisman against an invisible boogey man, has created a degree of compliance in the population unlike anything since the legitimate threats of polio or the Spanish flu.

    It is a universal truth that tyrants never cede their power willingly. For most of us, ‘sic semper tyrannis’ is not a good solution if one wishes to continue the course of one’s life. One might rob the tyrant of his, but it’s likely to be accomplished at the cost of one’s own life or liberty. Simple civil disobedience has been shown to be effective when many participate, but it too is often injurious to one’s liberty.

    Many years ago, I worked for one of the giant American corporations that inhaled management philosophies like hits from a bong. In the mind of upper management, each new inhalation was sure to provide magic visions to cure all the ills of the business. I took to calling it ‘panacea du jour’. One hot philosophy in the early 1980s was called ‘leadership by example’. In practice, it consisted of putting hard hats on the managers and making them pretend to be workers. Someone exhaled, and the vision was gone. But the core concept will work for us in our present circumstance.

    When you go into a store or other enclosed area that demands you wear a mask, do not. Simply go in, go about your business not as if you were dancing naked in public, rather you are treating the mask-less condition as entirely normal (as it should be). Be courteous, be pleasant and smile. I even sing along to whatever background music is being played in the background. You will get a lot of ugly looks from the karens around you. But when they glower, smile back. You will notice something that you may not have anticipated. Some of the masked individuals will look at you with obvious jealousy. For those few who also choose to not wear a mask, give them a wink and thumbs up. You have now assumed the mantle of leadership. Will you be in trouble? Nope. You have a trump card, HIPAA. The tyrants of the 1990s planted the seeds of their own destruction by making it illegal to demand details of your medical condition. On the off chance of a real confrontation, you have two magic words, ‘medical exemption’. A medical exemption means that you don’t have to wear a mask. The nature of your medical condition cannot be demanded by local authorities. HIPAA is over-riding federal law. States may in fact add to HIPAA law provisions, but cannot subtract from it in a way that forces you to reveal information.

    If you choose a leadership position as outlined here, there are no absolute guarantees of personal safety from rogue tyrants or the fists of the ultra-aggrieved. But the tiny tyrants’ taste of dictatorial powers has intoxicated them and they will not swear off its sweet succor without our help.

    Posted in COVID-19 | 40 Comments »

    “We Live Here Together” – Comments?

    Posted by Ginny on 26th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Executive Order on Combating Race & Sex Stereotyping

    A taste

    Context: “From the battlefield of Gettysburg to the bus boycott in Montgomery and the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches, heroic Americans have valiantly risked their lives to ensure that their children would grow up in a Nation living out its creed, expressed in the Declaration of Independence.”

    Descriptions of critical race theory workshops subsidized by the government.

    Its position:

    But training like that discussed above perpetuates racial stereotypes and division and can use subtle coercive pressure to ensure conformity of viewpoint. Such ideas may be fashionable in the academy, but they have no place in programs and activities supported by Federal taxpayer dollars. Research also suggests that blame-focused diversity training reinforces biases and decreases opportunities for minorities.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Anti-Americanism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Human Behavior, Politics | 15 Comments »

    COVID 19:The Value of Lives Saved versus the Cost of the Shutdown

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 25th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Economics is all about trade offs. In response to COVID 19 politicians have made these decisions. Ironically, the politician most directly responsible for well over 10,000 deaths, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has argued that human life is’”priceless”’ But politicians always put lives at risk and imply a value. Had a national health care system existed as progressives like Gov Cuomo support, his defense may well have been that those deaths were justified as a matter of national health care policy.

    The practical pending question is who should get the vaccine first. Ezekiel Emanuel, Obama Care designer and Biden COVID adviser, would give the over 65 group, which accounts for 80% of U.S. deaths, the lowest priority for the vaccine based on their age, whereas the CDC recommends the opposite based on risk.

    Productivity Finances Health Care

    In a purely private system, the population would save for lifetime health care expense directly or through insurance companies and decide to what extent they would do so. Individual “value of life” determinations would depend on income and wealth, both reflecting individual productivity. In a fully socialized system, all lives would be valued equally based on the country’s ability to pay, reflecting average national productivity, I.e., still subject to aggregate fiscal and actuarial constraints. Whereas about 10% of households in the French National Health System top it up with private insurance and care, the British NIH system operates more like the Soviet System, with the political elite leaving the country for private care beyond the standard.

    Market based systems require a large life cycle accumulation of capital, for retirement and medical expenses, both back-ended and virtually indistinguishable. Socialized systems could – and arguably should – do the same.The U.S. has a hybrid (many would say Rube Goldberg) health care system, with Medicare, like Social Security, entirely pay-as-you-go with a faux Trust Fund. Social Security has relied on general tax revenues for over a decade and Medicare will as well in about four years.

    National health care systems are funded entirely by progressive taxation. In the US. payroll taxes and progressive income taxes pay for about half of all insurance costs: Medicaid (20%) covers the poor, Medicare (15%) the elderly, Obama Care the working population (16%), the military (5%) and almost all the rest receive tax-subsidized employer insurance. Government also provides partial explicit unemployment insurance for lost productivity paid by taxing workers, with an occasional top-off in a pandemic.

    Society benefits from the additional wealth accumulation of funded systems in the form of enhanced national productivity and economic growth, expanding the tax base. This allows the wealthy to opt out, but progressive politicians may find the increased longevity “unfair” and tax that wealth away, implicitly an advanced estate tax. Liquidating wealth has the same macro-consequence as increasing government debt to finance current health care, reducing future well being and potential tax revenues.

    The Value of Life: to Whom?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in COVID-19, Tradeoffs | 18 Comments »

    Who Does That?

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 23rd September 2020 (All posts by )

    I read an article a week or two ago about the non-silence of many Trump voters, with a bit of cultural disdain for people who write TRUMP in big letters on the hulls of their boats.  Who does that?  You never saw anyone do that with Obama, however much they admired him. Fair enough.  That does seem a bit much, though no harm done.

    Who puts up lists of haranguing strawman criticisms in their yard, in rainbow colors?

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 34 Comments »

    Excess Deaths Are C19 Deaths

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 21st September 2020 (All posts by )

    Note: The graphs in this post may require an administrator to be made visible, which I have requested. In the meantime, those graphs and more are at the link. (I take it back. It looks like they came up first time!)

    I wrote early on that there would be errors in both directions in the Covid count of deaths, that some might be called C19 that could be better attributable to another condition, and some ascribed to flu or pneumonia that were really coronavirus. A couple of months ago, when the drumbeat started that there were all sorts of deaths being called Covid that really should be called something else, I repeated that claim of errors in both directions, but noted that our numbers were more likely an undercount than an overcount, largely because some places require a confirmed diagnosis of C19 before it can be put down as a cause of death. This was unpopular in some corners. As reports of more suicides crept into the news, more attributable to lockdowns than to other explanations (isolation, loss of employment, anxiety) I likewise cautioned again: wait  for the data.  Do not speculate on why something has happened until you know that it has actually happened.

    Please note, this is true for other countries as well.  Everyone seems to have excess deaths, and it is difficult to measure how many at present. There are different problems in counting in rural vs urban areas.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 36 Comments »

    The Year That Everything Happened

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st September 2020 (All posts by )

    Weirdly enough – and this apparently happens to authors at random – I had a dream about the plot of a new book late this past summer and woke up just in time to remember it all. A novel set in WWII, which is at least half a century or more out of my fictional headspace; I like the 19th century. Got all the reference books, the books or art, a grasp of the vocab and the look of the whole 19th century universe and outlook. But – WWII. For me, it is just enough close in time that I knew a lot of people personally involved, from Great-Aunt Nan, who was one of the first-ever women recruited for the WAACs, to any number of high school teachers (some of whom were more forthcoming about their service than others) to the Gentleman With Whom I Kept Company for about a decade, to a neighbor of Mom and Dad’s who had been a prisoner of war in the Far East and fortunate enough to have survived the experience. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, History, Military Affairs | 42 Comments »

    Larry the Liquidator is on the Line

    Posted by David Foster on 17th September 2020 (All posts by )

    The current behavior of the Democratic Party and its allies in media and academia reminds me of the 1991 movie Other People’s Money.  The main character, known as Larry the Liquidator, specializes in acquiring companies for the purpose of selling off their assets.  When the film opens, his new target is a struggling company called New England Wire & Cable Company.  Larry calls on the CEO (Jorgy) and says that by his calculations, the company would be better off from a shareholder standpoint (and hence from the CEO’s standpoint) being broken up and sold off in pieces.  Jorgy,emotionally connected to his family-founded company and  conscious of his position as the town’s leading employer, is appalled at the very idea and refuses to give in.

    Nevertheless, Larry prevails in the resulting proxy fight, and the company falls into his hands.  But there is a deus ex machina…Kate, the beautiful lawyer who has been hired to defend the company, identifies a major new market for the company’s products: the stainless steel wire cloth required for automotive airbags.  (And, of course, Larry (Danny DeVito) has fallen head-over-heels in love with Kate (Penelope Ann Miller)

    The Dems and their allies appear to care about the long-term existence of the US and the welfare of its people as little as Larry the Liquidator cares about the continued existence of New England Wire and Cable and its employees and customers.  They will happily sell it off to miscellaneous parties…various ethnic and gender groups and pressure groups…promising those groups an appreciation in their ‘stock’, in the form of government goodies or at least self-esteem and the pleasures of righteous anger. And regardless of whether those promises are actually fulfilled, the Dems and their allies will, like Larry, collect their substantial fee.

    And, in fairness to Larry, there are indeed cases whether spinoffs, breakup, or outright liquidation is the best thing for a company, sometimes the only thing.  (That would likely have eventually turned out to have been the case with New England Wire & Cable absent Kate’s highly-improbably ‘invention’…it seems clear that Jorgy was not managing the company well in the existing circumstances…if he had been, he would have uncovered the wire-cloth opportunity himself..and was unlikely to change his ways.)  But breaking up a company is a very different thing from fragmenting a company and a society.  And, while Larry has had no prior involvement with NEWC, the Dems and their allies have mostly lived here all their lives and benefitted greatly from doing so.

     

     

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Film, Leftism, USA | 41 Comments »

    Chicagoboyz Billboard Series: 1

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th September 2020 (All posts by )

    sue

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    Where They Burn…

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th September 2020 (All posts by )

    “Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.” – wrote the 19th century German poet and essayist Heinrich Heine. Or in English, “Where they burn books, in the end they will also burn men.” I’d update the line to say – “Where they burn cities, they’ll burn the countryside, too.”

    And since Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators have been busily setting fires in urban protests, attempting to set fire to police stations, throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks, and incinerating whole city blocks, businesses, pawnshops and bookstores alike, can one really blame residents of rural and small-town Oregon for assuming the worst and suspecting that the catastrophic fires scorching the west coast have a man-made origin? It’s a logical assumption to make, after six months of threats, violence, and deliberate urban arson. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Environment, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Terrorism | 43 Comments »

    IQ

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 12th September 2020 (All posts by )

    I have written a lot at my own site. I don’t know how strong the interest is here. It is a topic I know a fair bit about, both the Mythbusters and the recent-thinking-and-research varieties. I can put up a couple of posts here if you like. To get the blood warm, I will tell you that it is much better to live in a place of high average IQ than to have a high IQ yourself, in terms of prosperity, lack of violent crime, freedom, and individual rights. Doubly warm, it is a real thing that measures real properties and has significant predictive value. It is usually polite to say YMMV, but I won’t because your mileage really doesn’t vary, you just want it to.

    So ignore this if you don’t want to see valuable ChicagoBoyz space taken up with the topic, or jump on it if you want to engage. If you have a common Myth, I will of course Bust it, but if you have an uncommon myth I might be set on my heels and have to think about it a bit. Much is known, but much remains dark.

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 69 Comments »

    Chicagoboyz Waiting Room Series: 31

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th September 2020 (All posts by )

    POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS

    Posted in Waiting Rooms | 4 Comments »

    The Giants of Flight 93 – Plus 19 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 11th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Today, 9/11/2020, is the nineteenth anniversary of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Often forgotten or glossed over as time goes on were the actions of the passengers of Flight 93, whose resistance to Al-Qaeda’s suicide-hijacker team brought the plane down in Shanksville, PA rather than Al-Qaeda’s chosen target, saving the lives of other Americans at the price of their own.

    On the 2018 anniversary of 9/11/2001, President Trump dedicated the National Park Service memorial to their actions that day.  The NPS has since posted a memorial web page with the recordings of the cockpit flight recorder, cellphone calls from the plane, and court trial evidence including crash photos, here:   https://www.nps.gov/flni/learn/historyculture/sources-and-detailed-information.htm

    Yet for all that, I have not seen anything matching what a friend of mine, Tom Holsinger, wrote about 9/11/2001 and the people on Flight 93 — our fellow citizens who rose up and fought Al Qaeda, when all others, our military, our political leaders, our law enforcement, were frozen in surprise — at the strategypage.com web site in October 2002.  I have not read any written commemoration of their act, before or since, as moving as this passage:

    Students of American character should pay close attention to Flight 93. A random sample of American adults was subjected to the highest possible stress and organized themselves in a terribly brief period, without benefit of training or group tradition other than their inherent national consciousness, to foil a well planned and executed terrorist attack. Recordings show the passengers and cabin crew of Flight 93 – ordinary Americans all – exemplified the virtues Americans hold most dear.

     

    Certain death came for them by surprise but they did not panic and instead immediately organized, fought and robbed terror of its victory. They died but were not defeated.

     

    Ordinary Americans confronted by enemies behaved exactly like the citizen-soldiers eulogized in Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture.

     

    Herman Wouk called the heroic sacrifice of the USS Enterprise’s Torpedo 8 squadron at the Battle of Midway “… the soul of America in action.” Flight 93 was the soul of America, and the American people know it. They spontaneously created a shrine at the crash site to express what is in their hearts and minds but not their mouths. They are waiting for a poet. Normally a President fills this role.

     

    But Americans feel it now. They don’t need a government or leader for that, and didn’t to guide their actions on Flight 93, because they really are America. Go to the crash shrine and talk to people there. Something significant resonates through them which is different from, and possibly greater than, the shock of suffering a Pearl Harbor attack at home.

     

    Pearl Harbor remains a useful analogy given Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto’s statement on December 7, 1941 – “I fear we have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” They were giants on Flight 93.

     

    A chainlink fence covered in mementos and flags dedicated to the flight 93 crash


    This was the spontaneous memorial wall erected by Americans for the passengers and crew of Flight 93 in a field near Shanksville, PA that Tom Holsinger wrote about above.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Culture, History, Middle East, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    Plastic Pipe and You

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 10th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Preface – I own an HVAC distributor – HVAC distribution is a subset of industrial distribution.

    I received today an interesting letter from our supplier of PVC fittings. PVC is used in everything from plumbing to venting furnaces and a lot of applications in between. Every single contractor in the USA uses a PVC type product in their daily grind. The letter talked about several price increases from PVC resin suppliers – I have seen this before, and it isn’t too terribly unusual (any excuse to raise the price, right?). But also, there was this:

    Hurricane Laura dealt a devastating blow to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana where a substantial amount of PVC resin and related plastic raw materials is produced. Hurricane Laura damaged many chemical plants, including those in the PVC supply chain, and left many without any electricity. Two of the four PVC resin manufacturers have declared force majeure. Hurricane Laura also severely damaged portions of the railway system used to transport PVC resin from the Gulf Coast to various locations across the country. Depending on the severity of the damage to these manufacturing plants, regional infrastructures and railway system, the time required for us to receive PVC resin could be negatively impacted.

    Which is all to say that many building projects will see further delays, and the price just went up. Add to this the difficulty we are seeing with finished goods such as furnaces due to covid related production issues, and raw material price increases (silver) and it all makes for a miserable time to be an industrial distributor – although a time that has provided opportunity and rewards hustle and thinking outside of the box. I have never worked harder at keeping the barns full, but my contractors are very thankful and understand the challenges.

    Energizer batteries is even having covid related production issues. I have never been out of batteries before, but I guess we have never seen a year like 2020.

    Posted in Business, COVID-19 | 6 Comments »

    Contracts Breeched: Freedom Cancelled

    Posted by Ginny on 10th September 2020 (All posts by )

    A previous post mentioned trust and the responsibilities of government to keep up their share of their contract to provide safety and the kind of order property rights demand. Such trust comes easily when our respect is internalized. Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards both spoke of teaching the young “virtuous habits”. In the America in which I grew up that kind of respect was internalized – and not just in towns of 500 in the Great Plains – Thomas Sowell talks of his boyhood in Harlem with such affection. This too, is critical of the broken contract of so many politicians with their citizens surrounded by the rubble of riots.

    In Property and Freedom, Richard Pipes examines “property” in terms of land, but also money and goods; what is “proper to man” – including his inalienable rights. I’ve found his journey to follow the historical development of different societies’ definitions of property and man’s relation to it interesting.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy | 10 Comments »

    Victimhood

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 9th September 2020 (All posts by )

    I reviewed a book in 2013 about The Saint Benedict Center, a Feenyite (renegade Catholic with old-fashioned trappings) group in rural NH.  I link back to it now because they very much believe that they are victims, and victimhood is in the air more than ever at present.  I believed as I wrote it that much of what I said then had general applicability, and rereading it today, I still think that.

    Longtime readers might recognise that this last point is of particular importance to me. The more deeply pathological people are, the more they are certain that absolutely none of the fault is against their score. Ultimately, it is the perpetual victimhood of criminals and narcissists, that cannot allow there is even a 1% chance they are 1% wrong. Stalin, as an example, believed he was the victim of the starving Ukrainian peasants, who wanted so desperately to discredit him that they would even starve themselves to death rather than admit his enforcement of collectivisation was a better idea. Hitler did not see himself as a an aggressor, but as a lone defender against the worldwide Jewish conspiracy. SBC is orders of magnitude less pathological, certainly, but the tone is the same. That they did not live up to their permit agreements, that they repeatedly moved beyond what was allowed even as they promised not to, that they made insulting comments about their neighbors, these things are never mentioned. It’s all those others against them.

    It is related to paranoia, and the genesis is similar. The feeling of victimhood comes first, like the paranoid interpretation, and then goes looking for an explanation that validates it. They are first driven by the whine, not the divine. Victimhood is a pose of weakness that is actually a cover for inordinate retribution. Being thin-skinned and attuned to small sleights and being “disrespected” is a prelude for revenge. We have all heard guys who say, “I’m not looking for a fight, but if anyone messes with me…” Yeah, dude, you’re looking for a fight.

    As this was a several years ago and I had paid them no further mind I did wonder if they had mellowed, as I don’t like to kick folks unfairly. I looked them up again. I suppose they might have mellowed, but it isn’t showing in their online presence.  They are still out of communion with the Roman Catholic Church and claiming they are right and the others are all wrong.  Seldom a good sign.

    BTW, Sgt Mom gets a good mention in the comments of the 2013 post. Solid things last, i suppose.

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th September 2020 (All posts by )

    From an interview with Stanley Druckenmiller:

    This massive market rally is due in large part to the measures taken up by the Fed since the pandemic began, Druckenmiller said. He noted that, while the central bank did a “great job” in March by cutting rates and launching unprecedented stimulus programs to sustain the economy, the follow-up market rally “has been excessive.” He also said that for the first time in a while, he is worried about inflation shooting higher.
     
    “The merging of the Fed and the Treasury, which is effectively what’s happening during Covid, sets a precedent that we’ve never seen since the Fed got its independence,” Druckenmiller said. “It’s obviously creating a massive, massive mania in financial assets.”

    You don’t say.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Quotations | 19 Comments »

    In the Field

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 8th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Sometimes, long after first reading a book or watching a movie and enjoying it very much, I have come back to re-reading or watching, and then wondering what I had ever seen in that in the first place. So it was with the original M*A*S*H book and especially with the movie. I originally read the book in college and thought, “Eww, funny but gross and obscene, with their awful practical jokes and nonexistent sexual morals.” Then I re-read after having been in the military myself for a couple of years, and thought, “Yep, my people!”

    The movie went through pretty much the same evolution with me, all but one element – and that was when I began honestly wondering why the ostensible heroes had such a hate on for Major Burns and the nurse Major Houlihan. Why did those two deserve such awful, disrespectful treatment? In the movie they seemed competent and agreeable enough initially. In the book it was clear that Major Burns was an incompetent surgeon with delusions of adequacy, and that Major Houlihan was Regular Army; that being the sole reason for the animus. But upon second viewing of the movie, it seemed like Duke Forrest, Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre were just bullying assholes selecting a random target for abuse for the amusement of the audience. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Film, History, Holidays, Korea, Medicine, Middle East, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, War and Peace | 30 Comments »

    For Labor Day: Songs About Work

    Posted by David Foster on 7th September 2020 (All posts by )

    …from Tom Russell

    What Work Is

    US Steel

    Small Engine Repair

    Ambrose Larsen

    California Snow

    Posted in Holidays, Music | 3 Comments »

    Jury Duty Question

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 6th September 2020 (All posts by )

    If you are in a state that does not mandate pay for jury duty, I am curious to know what your employer pays you for jury duty, or if you are a business owner, what you offer. We are putting together a policy at my company and I am interested in what the going rate seems to be. Thanks in advance.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | 15 Comments »

    New Frontiers in Offshoring

    Posted by David Foster on 6th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Babysitting…of kids in Japan, via Zoom, by women in Rwanda.

    Relates to my posts telemigration and Covid-19, Remote Work, and Offshoring.

     

    Posted in COVID-19, Economics & Finance, Internet, Japan, Tech | 7 Comments »

    I’ve Been Everywhere

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th September 2020 (All posts by )

    The 2004 remake of “Flight of the Phoenix” was mostly dreck except for the sublime opening scene.
      

    Posted in Film, Music | 10 Comments »

    Follow The Science

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 5th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Posted yesterday at AVI

    Teddy Roosevelt’s 1910 speech has been frequently quoted

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    I think of this with regards to all the complaints on a variety of topics about “following the science.” Folks are throwing that phrase around pretty blithely lately, both seriously and as a sneer. I like Glenn Reynolds and his site is one of the ones I go to first every day, but his credentials, formal and informal, do not include anything about making judgements about scientific matters that affect others. He is complaining about the experts, always in quotes, and how they have failed us recently, and he is not the only one. It has become a popular sport this year. I’m calling it out. It’s a cheap way to make points. People who have to read scientific research and try to get some sense out of it that they can pass it on safely to other people tend much more to “On the one hand, on the other hand.” People trying to score political points tend to make broader statements. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 19 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th September 2020 (All posts by )

    colors

    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Random Pic