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  • Schumer’s Threats, in Context

    Posted by David Foster on March 10th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Democrat Charles Schumer, speaking to “protestors” outside the Supreme Court: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

    This statement was clearly a threat, but what kind of threat? Perhaps a direct physical threat, but more likely, I think, a threat to subject the two justices to the kind of orchestrated slander campaign that was already unleashed against Justice Kavanaugh; a slander campaign the would result in great emotional pain to the Justices and their families and great disruption to the operations of the Court.

    The crowd to which Schumer was speaking is typically referred to as “protestors” in news reports, but what are they protesting? No decision has been made in this case. Evidently they are protesting the willingness of the Court to even consider the arguments made by the two sides in this case.

    I’d call them a mob. Judge Andrew Napolitano, who does not believe Schumer’s statement violated any laws, nevertheless called the statement an “effort to politicize the court, to make them look like they can be intimidated by a mob outside of the courthouse.”

    The present-day Democratic Party together with its media/academic/activist archipelago has become quite friendly toward mob action and mob intimidation. One especially appalling event was the attempt to shut down law professor Josh Blackman’s talk at the City University of New York law school. When Blackman said the way to deal with a law you don’t like is to change the law…

    A student shouted out “[expletive] the law.” This comment stunned me. I replied, “[expletive] the law? That’s a very odd thing. You are all in law school. And it is a bizarre thing to say [expletive] the law when you are in law school.” They all started to yell and shout over me.

    There has been an awful lot of this sort of thing, and it seems to have been increasing exponentially over the last several years.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Law, Leftism, USA | 13 Comments »

    Chicagoboyz Waiting Room Series: 28

    Posted by Jonathan on March 9th, 2020 (All posts by )

    woof

     

    Posted in Waiting Rooms | 2 Comments »

    “The Irish Antifa Project”

    Posted by Jonathan on March 9th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Along the lines of Project Veritas comes a promising new endeavor by right-of-center Irish students:

    In December of last year a Twitter account was set-up. Titled “Irish Students Against Fascism”, it described itself as an aspiring antifascist organising hub to physically, socially and professionally harass individuals engaged with conservative or nationalist politics on campuses.
     
    Very soon the account garnered well over a thousand followers, with retweets from the Union of Students Ireland’s official account among other leftist activist organizations. The account boasted of an impending website dumping incriminating material relating to students on campus, particularly in Young Fine Gael, and invited individuals to contribute over private messaging.
     
    What has been unknown until today was that, from the very onset, the page was operated by students involved with The Burkean. The account was set up with the intent of performing long term investigative work into antifascism in Ireland, as well as its insidious and often blatant links with civic society, journalism and politics.
     
    Put politely, antifascism is the euphemism given to the work done to destroy the lives of people with right leaning sympathies. While traditionally associated with left republicanism, it is these days more often than not linked to Ireland’s ubiquitous NGO complex, as well as well-funded activists heavily networked within the world of journalism, politics and the private sector.
     
    Many young people on the Irish Right have long claimed that there is institutional bias constantly working against them. However, it is only now that we can definitively say that this is not the case.
     
    There is no institutional bias against young conservatives. There is an outright conspiracy against them…

    Read the whole thing.

     

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Conservatism, Ireland, Leftism, Media, Political Philosophy, Politics | 4 Comments »

    Ask Not …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on March 9th, 2020 (All posts by )

    … whom the woke-mob bays for; it bayeth for thee… to paraphrase John Dunne. As no less than Woody Allan may testify at this point, as the article linked here outlines. So the woke mob claims another scalp; yay, wokesters of New York City Mainstream Publishing Division! Take a bow, having thrown a glorious temper tantrum and bent your employer to your will! Today, Woody Allen – tomorrow? Who knows?! N.K. Jemison, a notoriously woke science fiction writer and beneficiary of the current system, weighed in on behalf of the mob, which is … not a good look for someone dealing in speculative fiction. She is supposed to possess some talent, but again – encouraging the mob, even joining in – not something which a thoughtful person with a sense of events and historical recall ought to do. But never mind.

    Frankly, as far as I am concerned the mainstream publishing establishment, which is centered in New York (as if that wasn’t sufficient punishment) may ride off into the sunset any time now. Words like “incestuous” and “culturally-blind” come to mind, as well as “arrogant” and “exploitative.” Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Business, Diversions, Marketing, Media | 6 Comments »

    Recommended

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on March 8th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Sorry to be sucking up all the oxygen in the room at present, but my Paranoia post struck a nerve and I will be adding at least one more after this. Cross-posted at Assistant Village Idiot, so comment in either place, depending on which comments you feel more at home with.

    Deevs asked for recommendations of books about paranoia.  I thought this worked better as a separate post. I used to psychblog from 2005-2009, but I haven’t put in so much since then. As there as been interest in the first post on paranoia and some questions asked, I will have another go later – with anecdotes.

    The classic in the field is Surviving Schizophrenia, by E. Fuller Torrey. Checking up to see if it had come out in a fifth edition, I found that it is now in its seventh edition. Xavier Amador has written the very readable I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help, and is an engaging speaker as well.  He has a series of talks on Youtube, of which this is the best introduction.  He was studying to become a psychologist when his brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  The battle over medications and having to confront that “lack of insight” is a frequent symptom was very painful for him.  He eventually became his brother’s guardian, agreed to forced long-acting injectable medication to keep his brother alive, and was relieved that his brother was consistently treated and nonpsychotic for decades. However, even at the end, he would ask his brother if he needed the medication.  “Nah.  I just take it to keep you happy,” said his brother, with mild affection. You can see what a bind that creates. People have rights, and the idea of the government giving permission for guardianship, allowing someone to force treatment on you that you don’t think you need has obvious problems. You can find complaints about this all the time on civil libertarian websites and in comment sections of both liberal and conservative sites. Horror stories are recounted, at which I nod my head and think “I’ll bet I know the other side of that story.”  Sometimes there are real horror stories, of people being railroaded who are not particularly ill. But in most places, psychotic folks are getting too little treatment, rather than merely annoying people getting forced treatment they don’t need.  I can imagine how some trends in mental health could create a situation, decades down the road, where inconvenient beliefs are medicated against the person’s will.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 5 Comments »

    Paranoia

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on March 7th, 2020 (All posts by )

    For most of you, people with paranoid disorders are encountered more frequently online than in regular life. Not for me, of course, but my situation is unusual. I would like to explain them to you a bit. Parts of their thinking that seem strange are quite reasonable once you understand what they are starting from. They may end up in a crazy set of ideas, but the reasoning to get there often makes an internal sense. This is part of why you can’t argue them out of these ideas.  It’s not that their reasoning is broken, it’s that something else is broken. Chesterton’s first chapter of Orthodoxy goes into the idea quite well from the perspective of a nonprofessional writing over a century ago. And fun.

    First, they retain most of the knowledge and abilities they had before, not necessarily impaired in any way.  If she knew horses well, she still knows about horses; if she played the cello well, she can still play well.  She may have developed suspicions about people in the horse barn or the orchestra.  These may grow until she can no longer manage to stay involved with either. She may or may not be attracted to new theories that explain things to her and decide that horses or music are far more important in the cosmic scheme of things than others have noticed.

    There is a sense that some things are important that others have overlooked.  In the same way that theme music plays in a movie, telling us that the villain has arrived, (cue Darth Vader music) the person with paranoia has a sense (quieter, though no less sure) that something ominous is occurring when they hear the news or even just go to the supermarket.  The number 7 is occurring too frequently, there are people who have Russian names, or look Russian, the cashier exchanges a look with the bagger that tells the person she knows something. They wonder for a time what it all must mean, but settle quickly on an explanation.  The brain will not allow events to stand unexplained.  They must be fit in somehow. The insignificant data that is regarded as significant continues to accumulate.  This is supplemented by real data , sought or unsought. The ATM has twice not been available when you needed it most.  A guy who you met just last week and told about these growing plots has a car accident.  There must be a Russian (or more frequently, a Jew) behind this.  Those forces are signalling to you to back off.  They know you are onto them and will punish you.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 14 Comments »

    Gratitude

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on March 6th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I just want to mention my gratitude to Trent for tracking down good information and getting it to us in quantity. I have not commented because I have no particular expertise, neither on the medical nor the political side. As I work in a psychiatric hospital I may end up over time knowing things that most people don’t, but at the moment I am dependent on those who know more and those who do their homework. Thank you.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 12 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-10 Update 3-5-2020 — “As long as you remember to keep breathing and don’t fall asleep, it’s basically just like the flu.”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on March 5th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Issues covered will be on COVID-19 spread, World Headlines, the 3-4-2020 Seattle Public Health Press conference, World Headlind Summary, Corruption at the WHO, Bad and good news COVID-19 medical developments. the Political/Demographic Implications of COVID-19 for the Gov’t Elites, and the social media and videos COVID-19 tracking source section.

    Top line, There are currently 97,138 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 3,351 fatalities as of the March 5, 2020, at he 4:48pm ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus tracking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) There are 80(+) and growing umber of nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran, Germany, R.O.K. and the USA all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease. Russia, Egypt, and Columbia appear to have joined the endemic spread list as well due to airports in the UAE and elsewhere picking up air travelers originating from those nations as sick with COVID-19.

    WORLD HEADLINE SUMMARY (3/5/2020)

    o New Jersey confirms first presumptive case
    o NY state cases double to 22
    o Seattle closes 26 schools
    o Pentagon tracking 12 possible COVID-19 cases
    o Illinois reports 5 more cases
    o NYC reports 2 more cases, raising total to 4
    o Italy postpones referendum vote; death toll hits 148
    o WHO’s Tedros: “Now’s the time to pull out the stops”
    o Tennessee confirms case
    o Nevada confirms first case
    o New Delhi closes primary schools
    o EU officials weigh pushing retired health-care workers back into service to combat virus
    o Italy to ask EU for permission to raise budget deficit as lawmakers approve €7.5 billion euros
    o Beijing tells residents not to share food
    o 30-year-old Chinese man dies in Wuhan 5 days after hospital discharge
    o Cali authorities tell ‘Grand Princess’ cruise ship not to return to port until everyone is tested
    o Global case total passes 95k
    o Lebanon sees cases double to 31
    o France deaths climb to 7, cases up 138 to 423
    o EY sends 1,500 Madrid employees home after staffer catches virus
    o Trump says he has a “hunch” true virus mortality rate is closer to 1%
    o Switzerland reports 1st death
    o South Africa confirms 1st case
    o UK chief medical officer confirms ‘human-to-human’ infections are happening in UK
    o UK case total hits 115
    o Google, Apple, Netflix cancel events
    o HSBC sends research department and part of London trading floor home
    o Facebook contract infected in Seattle
    o Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Netflix cancel events and/or ask employees to work from home
    o Netherlands cases double to 82
    o Spain cases climb 40, 1 new death
    o Belgium reports 27 new cases bringing total to 50
    o Germany adds 87 cases bringing total to 349

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, China, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Dogs, Ebola, Economics & Finance, Iran, Medicine, Middle East, Miscellaneous, USA | 125 Comments »

    Protecting Feelings II

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on March 4th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Update:   There is likely something in this of why black males are defecting to Trump much more than black females, but I can’t quite see what that is.  Offer suggestions you think might fit.

    As I developed this, I think I came upon an explanation of the Sanders/Biden split in the Democratic primaries as well. I almost made that into a separate post because I am striving for shorter essays these days, but the one topic just flowed into the other. Bear with me, and be charitable.

    James the Lesser uses the word “perverse” to describe the elevation of feelings over actual sickness and safety in the comments under Protecting Feelings, just a few days ago. It is also revealing of the motivations of those folks.  No one who has been sick near death would say having their feelings hurt was worse, nor would we say that if we had had the experience of watching another go through a terrible illness. It is rather like those people who tell us that various verbal oppressions are just as bad as physical abuse, or that sexual harassment is just as bad as rape.  Those who have been abused or raped might give a different answer, don’t you think? These must either be people who do not believe that the danger is real, or are vulnerable enough that the social death of hurt feelings is the worst they can imagine.

    This latter came up in reference to Jonathan Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind, which I discussed about ten weeks ago. He identifies the highschool classes of 2013 and 2014 as a sharp break point, with anxiety, depression, and suicide rising in that group and remaining high.  He attributes this to this being the first cohort which had personal devices starting in middle school. They really do live in a world where social death is more frightening, because it can strike in an instant and there is no effective fighting back.  Those whose personalities were formed outside of internet life have resilience against this.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 12 Comments »

    Co-Vid -19 and Supply Chain

    Posted by Dan from Madison on March 4th, 2020 (All posts by )

    As I mentioned on these pages a few days ago, I am attending a national conference in DC for my company and around 300 of our vendors. As a reminder, I am involved in industrial distribution (actually HVAC distribution, which is a subset of industrial distribution).

    I asked the same question of dozens of my top vendors, and it was basically “what issues are you seeing with regards to the production slowdowns in China?”. I left the question open intentionally as I didn’t want to funnel responses.

    Almost all of them, as if they rehearsed their responses together, said the following:

    We have enough safety stock to get us through the Spring orders and a few months afterward.
    We are in constant contact with our Chinese vendors (as if this means anything) and are looking at alternate sources (prices will increase).
    There may be shortages on certain items in the future.

    I distilled these responses down a bit and thought about it and I think that there will be some supply chain issues, and there may be some opportunities. One vendor remarked that once Chinese production is fully back on line that there is a container logjam anticipated that might put some orders back several months. The vendors could be giving us the “remain calm” routine to try to keep runs on product to a minimum, but the demand in HVAC just isn’t there right now, as we are firmly in “shoulder” season. Shoulder season is Spring and Fall, where there aren’t too many emergencies, unless you live in the commercial world, where everything is an emergency.

    Not much more outside of these comments was related to me and I think they are for the most part telling the truth. I guess we will know in a few months. If we start out Spring with some hot weather like in 2018, we could start to see some relationships tested.

     

    Posted in China, Current Events | 2 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Update 3 March 2020

    Posted by Trent Telenko on March 3rd, 2020 (All posts by )

    This will be a short update. Issues covered will be on COVID-19 spread, World Headlines, COVID-19 medical developments regards PPE & the role of building contamination in spreading disease in Japan, and the social media and videos COVID-19 tracking source section.
     
    Top line, There are currently 92,138 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 3,134 fatalities as of the 3 March 2020 at 5:51 a.m. ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus traking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) There are 70(+) and growing nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran, Germany, R.O.K. and the USA all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease.
    The reality of personal protective equipment shortages in the USA because we outsourced most such production to China.

    The reality of personal protective equipment shortages in the USA because we outsourced most such production to China and many regional medical systems sent a lot of our existing medical PPE to China in January 2020 per the request of the CDC.

     
    World Headline Summary (As of late evening 3/2/2020):
     
    o US death toll climbs to 6; all in WA, which has 18 cases
    o 2 new cases confirmed in Tampa Bay
    o 1st case reported in New Hampshire
    o Hubei reports 114 new cases, 31 new deaths
    o Santa Clara County confirms 2 more cases, bringing county total to 9
    o Gottlieb warns US cases likely in ‘low thousands’
    o Illinois announces 4th case
    o Boris Johnson: “A very significant expansion” of the virus is “clearly in the cards”
    o Italian death toll climbs 18 to 52 while total cases surpasses 2,000
    o BMW tells 150 to quarantine after Munich employee infected
    o Algeria total hits 5
    o Senegal becomes 2nd sub-Saharan country to confirm virus
    o WHO’s Tedros: Virus is “common enemy” of humanity so don’t focus on blame
    o Jordan reports first two cases
    o French death toll revised to 3, total cases climb to 191
    o Tunisia reports first case
    o UK total climbs to 40
    o OECD warns global growth could fall by half
    o Indonesia reports first cases
    o “Progress is being made” toward a vaccine
    o Cuomo says NY expects more cases
    o India confirms 2 more cases
    o ‘Official’ Iran death toll hits 66
    o EU confirms 38 deaths across 18 members
    o First cases confirmed in Fla.
    o 2 Amazon employees test positive in Milan
    o Virus now in 8 US states: Washington, California, Illinois, Rhode Island, New York, Florida, Oregon and New Hampshire
    o San Antonio virus patient re-hospitalized after testing positive
    o China warns it could face ‘locust invasion’
     
    COVID-19 MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS
     
    This article is very much worth reading in full, printing out a copy, highlighting and carrying around. I’ll excerpt a couple of sections from it below the title and link:
     
    Unmasked: Experts explain necessary respiratory protection for COVID-19
    by Stephanie Soucheray
    CIDRAP News, Feb 13, 2020
     
     

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Health Care, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, USA | 41 Comments »

    Politics, Demographics, and Milkshakes

    Posted by David Foster on March 2nd, 2020 (All posts by )

    Much political media coverage these days focuses on demographic categories:  How will candidate X do among women…among Black people…gay people…low-income people…etc?  And much if not most political marketing is also aligned along these categories.

    Demographic and targeting are also used in business marketing, of course.  But that’s not the *only* approach that can be used.

    In his book The Innovator’s Solution, the late Dr Clayton Christensen told of a restaurant chain which was trying to improve sales results for its milkshake product line. “The chain’s marketers segmented its customers along a variety of psychobehavioral dimension in order to define a profile of the customer most likely to buy milkshakes. In other words, it first structured its market by product–milkshakes–and then segmented it by the characteristics of existing milkshake customers….both attribute-based categorization schemes. It then assembled panels of people with these attributes, and explored whether making the shakes thinker, chocolatier, cheaper, or chunkier would satisfy them better.”  Marketing 101 stuff, but it didn’t yield much in terms of results.

    A different team of researchers. found that, surprisingly, most of the milkshakes were being bought in the early morning. Customer interviews indicated that these were people who faced a long, boring commute and wanted something to eat/drink on the way. Milkshakes were superior to alternatives because they didn’t get crumbs all over (like bagels) or get the steering wheel greasy (like a sausage & egg sandwich.)  And the morning milkshake buyers wanted shakes that were thick, in a large container, whereas the customers at other times preferred less-viscous shakes and smaller containers.  (Even though the morning and non-morning customers might be the very same individuals)

    Christensen observed that a product can be thought of in terms of the ‘job’ it is doing for the customer:  what is a customer trying to accomplish when he ‘hires a milkshake’?

    The parallel isn’t perfect, but something like the same thought process might be applicable in political marketing:  What is a voter trying to accomplish when he ‘hires’ a candidate for X position?

    For example, there are a lot of voters who lives in areas with poor public schools and who are not in a position to send their kids to private school.  Maybe the ‘job’ they want to ‘hire’ a politician for is to give them realistic alternatives.  And maybe the appeal of this message is pretty independent of whether the voters are male, female, black, or white, and of whatever sexual preference they have.

    There are a lot of voters who own small business.  They have a lot of broadly-similar issues that are relevant to politics, and, again, these are mostly independent of the usual demographic categories.

    Seems to me that a lot more could be done with this kind of cross-demographic-category marketing…not that demographics can be totally ignored, but that other voter-behavior factors need more consideration.

    Also, it’s important to note that the Democrats are, because of their emphasis on top-down planning, inherently much more focused on demographic categorization than are the Republicans.  As Rose Wilder Lane wrote:

    Nobody can plan the actions of even a thousand living persons, separately. Anyone attempting to control millions must divide them into classes, and make a plan applying to these classes. But these classes do not exist. No two persons are alike. No two are in the same circumstances; no two have the same abilities; beyond getting the barest necessities of life, no two have the same desires.Therefore the men who try to enforce, in real life, a planned economy that is their theory, come up against the infinite diversity of human beings.

    But people who think in categories…and rigid categories, at that….tend to communicate in those same categories.  Which may not always be to their interest.

    Your thoughts?

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Update 02 March 2020

    Posted by Trent Telenko on March 2nd, 2020 (All posts by )

    The themes of this update will be on issues of COVID-19 spread, World Headlines, Major COVID-19 medical developments, the Washington State COVID-19 outbreak and its implications, and the social media and videos COVID-19 tracking source section.
     
    Top line, There are currently 89,788 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 3,061 fatalities as of the 2 March 2020 at 7:03 a.m. ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus traking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) There are 65(+) and growing nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran, Germany, R.O.K.and the USA all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease.
     
    World Headline Summary (As of late evening 3/1/2020):
     
    o Global virus deaths hit 3,000 as China reports another 42
    o NY State confirms 1st case of Covid-19
    o Rhode island announces “presumptive” case; patient recently visited Italy
    o Washington State confirms 2 more cases
    o 2 new cases confirmed in California
    o Israel case total hits 10 day before vote
    o South Korea death toll hits 22
    o Germany case total doubles in 24 hours to 129
    o Mexico case total climbs to 5
    o White House to hold meeting tomorrow with 8 pharma CEOs
    o Italy reports 42% jump in cases overnight to nearly 1,700
    o France reports 30 new cases, bringing total to 130
    o Czech Republic, Dominican Republic report first cases
    o Chinese health officials report first ‘double lung’ transplant connected to virus case
    o Iraq, Bahrain confirm 6 new cases; Lebanon confirms 3
    o 6 being tested in NYC for coronavirus
    o South Korea confirms 18th death, officials seek murder charges for founder of church at epicenter of outbreak
    o American Physical Society cancels major scientific conference
    o Juventus quarantines U23 squad [Professional Soccer/football in Europe]
    o Iran death toll hits 54 as Trump offers aid
    o Thailand, Australia report first deaths
    o Spain case count hits 73; France hits 100
    o Independent scientist says it could have been spreading in WA for six weeks, with hundreds infected [Much more below]
    o Italian cases number more than 1,100; South Korea reports more than 3,700
    o Italian death toll hits 29 [with a 9% serious case rate]
    o Luxembourg reports first cases, says it’s linked to Italy
    o UK cases rise to 35 as 12 new cases confirmed; 2 cases infected inside UK
    o UK health secretary says China-style lockdowns “an option”
     

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 26 Comments »

    The Battling B’s

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on March 1st, 2020 (All posts by )

    Oh, my … does the Dem Party, the historic party of slavery, secession, and segregation now look to add another “s” to their banner of massive fail – that of ‘socialism’, or whatever currently-fashionably euphemism that superannuated, work-shy Commie-symp, Bernie Sanders wants to call state control of any resources of value, including the labor of the masses? Looks like the finger of the burned fool is wabbling back to the fire, as Mr. Kipling so memorably put it all these decades ago. The live-action political version of Grandpa Simpson polled well in Nevada; he would have looked perfectly awful at the Dem Party debate-debacle … save that apparently all the other contenders came off even worse. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Politics | 10 Comments »

    A Presidential Ad in Wisconsin for Someone Not Named Bloomberg

    Posted by Dan from Madison on March 1st, 2020 (All posts by )

    I have finally seen an ad for “not Mike Bloomberg” here in Wisconsin – it was sort of like a bigfoot sighting I was so slack-jawed. And it was from an unlikely source: Liz Warren. The ad wasn’t about how great she was or about any sort of policy, rather it was a Bloomberg bash. I couldn’t find the ad on youtube, but essentially it just said something like “hey, aren’t you tired of all of those Bloomberg ads, billionaires bad, I’m Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message”. I thought for sure I would have started to see some Biden stuff by now, but not a peep, as of yet.

     

    Posted in Politics | 12 Comments »

    Disease and Cold Drive History

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on February 29th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Update: For example, drought.

    This was not prompted by Coronavirus discussions in any way. My reading and podcast listening the past month have both led to considerations of disease affecting historical events. I have several times thought it would be fun to talk with Trent and Mike K about the subject over a beer or three.

    The effect of disease on historical events has usually only been mentioned in extreme cases, when it is obvious that at least some influence must have occurred.  The effect of smallpox on the Aztecs, or the Black Death on the economics of Europe receive some mention, but even in those cases summary histories can leave them out. Amazing, but true. There has been some increase over the last twenty years of historians addressing the issue of disease directly, and the last five years has seen an explosive growth in that approach because of what we can learn from archaeology rather than written records.  What has then happened is that the text historians have doubled back and acknowledged “yes, this was there all along, but because we could not clearly understand symptoms nor measure extent we could not make definitive statements.” So they mostly said nothing.

    Or, as I suspect, they preferred other explanations, as we all have, due to the training in how to look at history we have all grown up with. I may be partly guilty myself.  I have heard doctors offer up possible medical explanations they have run across in their reading, only to be greeted with blank looks and polite smiles.  No, silly.  It’s kings and battles and trade routes and technological advances. Diseases are just there all the time and have only a marginal effect. I have been only slightly more sympathetic until the last decade,
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 8 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Update 29 Feb 2020

    Posted by Trent Telenko on February 29th, 2020 (All posts by )

    The themes of this update will be on issues of

    – COVID-19 spread,
    – World Headlines,
    – US Good News,
    – US Mixed News,
    – A sample of US Relevant Coronavirus Stories,
    – Medical Information of the Day,
    – The SARS-CoV2 Virus and it’s COVID-19 infection ARE NOT THE FLU
    – The On-Going Just-in-time, Sole Source in China Supply -Chain Crisis, and
    – The social media and videos COVID-19 tracking source section.

    Top line, There are currently 85,996 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,942 fatalities as of the 29 February 2020 at 2:46 p.m. ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus tracking site (https://bnonews.com/index.p…/…/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) There are 59 and growing nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran, Germany and R.O.K. all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease.

    The US may currently have endemic spread as the CDC has confirmed 62 cases of coronavirus in the US (and there late breaking news of a COVID-19 death in Washington State and the slimming of a senior care facility in Kirkland). These include 44 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three people repatriated from China and 15 US cases.

    Spread inside the US cases include:
    California: 9
    Massachusetts: 1
    Washington state: 1
    Arizona : 1
    Illinois: 2
    Wisconsin: 1

    World Headline Summary:

    o Health authorities in Texas and Oregon report 12 new coronavirus cases in US
    o US coronavirus case total hits 63, 2nd case ‘of unknown origin’ confirmed
    o US issues travel advisory for Italy
    o Italy says first case discovered in Lazio
    o China, SK release nightly figures
    o Google says employee who visited Zurich office has coronavirus
    o France confirms 57 cases
    o Italy reports 3 deaths in Lombardy; nat’l toll now 21; total cases 821
    o Google employee tests positive for coronavirus after visiting Zurich office
    o British man becomes 6th ‘Diamond Princess’ passenger to die
    o Two Japanese dogs tested positive for coronavirus
    o Mulvaney says school closures, transit disruptions may happen in US
    o Dr. Tedros said Friday that there’s no evidence of ‘community outbreak’
    o Mexico confirms 1st virus case [More below]
    o Fauci warns virus could take ‘two years’ to develop
    o Kudlow says “no higher priority” than the “health of the American people
    o Toronto confirms another case
    o WHO says 20 vaccines in development
    o St. Louis Fed’s Bullard pours cold water on market hopes
    o Netherlands confirms 2 more
    o United cuts flights to Japan
    o Advisor to CDC says shortage of tests in US creating a “bottleneck”
    o Nigeria confirms first case in sub-saharan africa
    o South Korea reports more than 1,000 new cases in under 48 hours
    o Italy cases surpass 700
    o WHO says virus will ‘soon be in all countries’

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Business, China, Civil Society, Ebola, Health Care, History, Miscellaneous, USA | 44 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Update 2-27-2020

    Posted by Trent Telenko on February 27th, 2020 (All posts by )

    The themes of this update will be on issues of COVID-19 spread, World Headlines, The Trump news conference on community spreading in the USA, pandemic preparedness in the USA past & Present and a COVID-19 social media and video news tracking section.

    Top line, There are currently  82,586 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,811 fatalities as of the 27 February 2020 at 6:40 a.m. ET hack on the BNO News corona virus traking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-
    coronavirus-cases/) There are now 40(+) nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections.

    In a first for the Pandemic, COVID-19 infections outside China outnumber those reported inside China, See:

    New Coronavirus Cases Outside China Overtake Inside for First Time
    The first cases of coronavirus cropped up in several countries, including Norway, Greece and North Macedonia.
    By Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder, Staff Writer Feb. 26, 2020, at 4:33 p.m.
    https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2020-02-26/new-coronavirus-cases-outside-china-overtake-inside-for-first-time

    World Headline Summary:

    o South Korea reports 334 new cases, bringing the total number in the country to 1,595
    o South Korea, US postpone joint military drills due to coronavirus
    o The US State Department has issued a level 3 travel advisory urging people to reconsider going to South Korea
    o CDC confirms first case of ‘unknown origin’ in US [See below]
    o CDC reports 6 new cases among repatriated Americans
    o WaPo reports Northern California has 16th US case, says it’s first of “unknown origin” and risks local spread [See below]
    o 83 being monitored in Nassau County
    o Orange County declares state of emergency
    o Norway has confirmed its first case
    o 8 quarantined in Westchester
    o HHS confirms 15th US case
    o Iran deaths hit 19
    o Brazil confirms first case in South America
    o France confirms 2nd death
    o Japan’s Prime Minister is requesting that all elementary schools, junior high & high schools nationwide close starting next Monday until spring break
    o Greece confirms first case
    o Germany unleashes fiscal stimulus after confirming new cases
    o Dems one-up Trump with $8.5 billion package compared to $2.5 billion.
    o Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain confirm new cases
    o Finland confirms 2nd case
    o 1st 2 cases reported in Pakistan
    o HHS Secretary tells Congress infectious disease fund has no extra uncommitted cash
    o Congress begins talks on corona virus spending bill with vote expected early next month
    o Germany health minister warns we’re at beginning of epidemic in Germany; 5 new cases
    o Italy confirms 12th death, cases soar above 400
    o North Macedonia confirms first case
    o South Korea cases soar above 1,200 as gov’t begins testing of 200k patients
    o Brazil confirms infected patient came on plane from Paris
    o Ericsson confirms one of its employees in Croatia tested positive

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 30 Comments »

    Co-Vid 19 and Supply Chain

    Posted by Dan from Madison on February 26th, 2020 (All posts by )

    As I mentioned on these pages a few days ago, there will be supply chain issues with the Co-Vid 19 event, whether you think it is the next Black Plague, or just another version of the flu (from reading the comments on Trent’s post on the subject, we appear to have both reading here). As a reminder, I deal in HVAC distribution, which is a subset of industrial distribution. Most equipment for my market is made close to the USA or in the USA itself, but the component parts are many times made in China.

    Today I got the first letter from a vendor talking about the possible issues. They are saying that they are preparing to see product shortages due to component supply problems and are actively trying to source from other places, but the information is very general in nature. It seemed more CYA than anything and almost could be a force majeure setup, recommended by their attorneys to get ahead of contracted jobs. I have no proof of that but have seen enough legal documents in my day to know that a lawyer or ten helped write their CoVid-19 letter rather than a bunch of HVAC dorks like me.

    But let’s be real for a minute. The supply chain (in my industry) is long so we aren’t likely to see any problems for the Summer, as most of those orders for inventory are already in the tank and on their way to our warehouses. Fall/Winter is my estimate for issues in industrial distribution if the problem continues. And that could be a BIG problem for you if you have a house where a furnace breaks down and it is -20 outside. Critical infrastructure will get priority I am assuming (blood banks, etc) but you don’t know when that stuff will break, do you?

    As I receive more communications from my vendors I will put up an occasional post here. I have a meeting next week in DC and will personally speak with many of my vendor contacts and may get more/better information at the cocktail parties when my contacts get loosened up from the booze. It’s going to be an interesting year in industrial distribution and I imagine that the Chinese are going to lose some business over this when it is all said and done, never to come back (the main reason I don’t think this whole episode is fiction/blown out of proportion – incentives).

     

    Posted in Business, China | 14 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Evening Update 2-25-2020: The Pandemic Hide the Name & Blame Games

    Posted by Trent Telenko on February 25th, 2020 (All posts by )

    The themes of this update will be on issues of COVID-19 spread, World Headlines, border closings, the CDC news conference, developments with fomite spread, how American Public Health institutions build a liablity law suit proof diagnostic test and how that limits tests for community spread and a new recommended COVID-19 sites, social media and videos section.
     
    Top line, There are currently 80,420 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,710 fatalities as of the 24 February 2020 at 5:24 p.m. ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus tracking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) There are 39 nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran and R.O.K. all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease. Italy has spawned further spread in Spain proper, it’s Canary Islands possession, Austria, Germany, and possibly Croatia. And now Brazil in South America and Algeria reporting a case signals North West Africa have added two new regions to the Pandemic spread list. The virus has spread from Asia to Europe, North America, Australia and Africa.
     
    All of the above meets the pre-COVID-19 WHO standard for a “Pandemic” that requiring endemic spread in multiple nations in multiple WHO regions. However, the WHO just decided that it was time to retire the term “Pandemic” because…something…[insert reasons here]. The WHO statement for doing so was a master piece of unintelligible double talk that boils down to “Lets not scare the “Normies” and set off more “Run, Hide & Hoard” panics like seized Italy, ROK and Singapore in the last few days. Meanwhile the WHO is cheering-on China’s “Hospice-Prison system for the infected” Quarantine as a “Model” in aiding China’s restarting the World economy.
    ITALY COVID-19 Confirmed Cases and Deaths 25 Feb 2020

    ITALY COVID-19 Confirmed Cases and Deaths 25 Feb 2020

     
    World Headline Summary
    o WHO warns the rest of the world “is not ready for the virus to spread…”
    o CDC warns Americans “should prepare for possible community spread” of virus.
    o San Francisco Mayor declares state of emergency
    o Later, CDC says pandemic not a question of it, but when
    o Brazil may have South America’s first coronavirus case
    o Germany confirms 2nd case on Tuesday, brings total to 17
    o Italy cases spike to 322; deaths hit 10
    o Japan’s Shiseido tells 8k employees to work from home
    o Trump Economic Advisor Kudlow tries to jawbone stock markets higher
    o HHS Sec. Azar warns US lacks stockpiles of masks
    o Italy Hotel in Lockdown After First Coronavirus Case in Liguria
    o Algeria confirms 1st case
    o First case in Switzerland
    o Kuwait halts all flights to Singapore and Japan
    o Iran confirms 95 cases, 15 deaths
    o First case in Austria
    o Spain reports 7 cases in under 24 hours, including in Madrid, Canary Islands, Barcelona
    o Iran Deputy Health Minister infected with Covid-19
    Pandemic Border Closures
    Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Armenia, and UAE blocked border crossings by Iranians.
    Russia, North Korea and Vietnam are blocking border crossings from China
    Austria and Switzerlan are blocking border crossings from Italy.
    El Salvador on Tuesday announced it would prevent entry of people from Italy and South Korea.
     

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Bioethics, China, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Iran, Medicine, Middle East, Miscellaneous, National Security, North America, Politics, USA | 28 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Evening Update 2/24/2020 — Public Health Institution Credibility Collapse Proceeds A-Pace

    Posted by Trent Telenko on February 24th, 2020 (All posts by )

    The themes of this update will be on issues of COVID-19 spread, public health institutional messaging credibility, and my personal analysis of same, and finally China’s honking of Pres Trump after the top line infection numbers and headlines.
     
    Top line, There are currently 79,774 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,628 fatalities as of the 24 February 2020 at 5:24 p.m. ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus traking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-
    coronavirus-cases/) China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran and R.O.K. all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease. Italy, ROK and probably Iran have exponential growth in progress. Singapore has it’s infections seemingly under control. The Chinese reported numbers indicate increasing control…but few believe them. The USA reports a large increase in COVID-19 cases and a pathetic number of COVID-19 tests being conducted.
     
    South Korea COVID-19 Infection Chart

    South Korea COVID-19 Infection Chart

    World Summary Headlines:
     
    o Stocks slide as CDC releases new US case numbers [More later]
    o Italy reports 7th death, 200+ confirmed cases [More later]
    o Spain reports 3rd case
    o WHO says outbreak not yet a ‘pandemic’ [More later]
    o WH reportedly considering expulsion of Chinese journalists in retaliation for WSJ reporters
    o US consulate in Milan temporarily halts visas
    o California has 8,000 under ‘self-imposed quarantine’
    o CDC warns Americans against travel to South Korea [no S–t!]
    o Italian finance minister suspends tax payments in virus-hit areas
    o First cases reported in Oman, Bahrain
    o WHO kowtows to China in statement [more later]
    o Wuhan issues order to loosen lockdown, then U-turns
    o NHC says outbreak is fading, though situation remains “grim”
    o 2 new cases confirmed in Canada
    o China approves crackdown on wildlife trade after WHO says virus likely came from bats
    o Iranian lawmaker says more than 50 deaths in Qom; officials say 12
    o Hong Kong bars South Koreans [But allows Mainland Chinese in?!?]
    o More cases reported in SK
     

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 32 Comments »

    Andrew Yang and Automation

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

    Rome fell in 476 AD, according to the high school and World History 101 shorthand we are used to. You can prefer a date in the 370’s instead, or 410, or the Vandals taking Carthage in 439 AD, which broke the tax spine of the Western Empire for good.  Going in the other direction, you can choose the collapse of the reconquest by Justinian in the late 6th C, or even later.  If one wants to be really technical, Constantinople, the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire for a thousand years after Rome itself fell to Ostrogoths, did not fall until 1453. Few would pick that date, but you could, and make an argument with at least some facts to buttress it.

    But let’s focus on 476 and let that hover in the background as we look at the collapse.  In 440AD all looked bleak for the empire, though those in the central cities did not perceive it.  Britain and Northern Gaul had fallen out of the empire. Northern Africa was a trading partner, not part of the empire. The influence over Persia, Syria, and the easternmost sections of empire was waning. Yet by 450, trading was bustling again.  Some researchers would claim that this was actually the height of trade throughout the Mediterranean, unmatched for more than a thousand years. There was recovery! Despite all the dark portents, Rome reached its height.  Arguably.  Some would pick 150, 350, or other dates. Still, a case could be made.

    If you were living at the time, those naysayers who pointed to the loss of tax revenue from across the Mediterranean, or the growing power of the Goths, who had an internal kingdom in Gaul, or the slow loss of border provinces and increase in cross-border raiding would be laughed off.  However plausible their arguments might sound that the empire was in decline, the objective evidence was that things were fine.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 25 Comments »

    COVID-19/SARS-CoV2 Update 2-23-2020 — When the “New Versailles Class” Meets Reality Without Privilege

    Posted by Trent Telenko on February 23rd, 2020 (All posts by )

    The themes of this update will be on issues of COVID-19 spread, testing, public health institutional credibility, some e-mails evaluating the CDC and our elites, and my personal analysis of same after the top line infection numbers and headlines.

    The SARS-CoV2 virus and it’s COVID-19 virgin fields infection seems to have a top line R(0) of between three and 6.7 — that is one person infects near seven people on average — because there are repeated “super spreader” events where one person slimed an institution with a lot of close contact and then the fomite contamination of that institutional setting causes everyone present to get the disease. Examples thus far include the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, a pair of prisons in China, and multiple hospitals in China and now South Korea. The rate of growth of the COVID-19 pandemic is such that we will be fighting it on a very large scale in a few weeks (no more than 10) in every nation world wide with the public and private medical institutions, societal resources, and people we have right now, with all their flaws. And not what we wish they were, but will never have. There simply isn’t going to be time and energy for blame games when issues of daily survival break upon us all.

    Top line, there are currently 78,986 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,468 fatalities as of 23 February 2020 at 11:52 a.m. ET on the BNO News corona virus traking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) China, Taiwan Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, and Iran all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease. See multiple charts attached and headline summary

    Bar Chart of World COVID-19 Infections as of 23 Feb 2020

    Bar Chart of World COVID-19 Infections as of 23 Feb 2020

    Bar Chart of World Qide COVID-19 Infections Without China and the Diamond Princess Cruise Liner

    Bar Chart of World Wide COVID-19 Infections Without China and the Diamond Princess Cruise Liner

    World Headline Summary:

    o Italy confirms 3rd death and cancels last 2 days of carnivale in Venice as cases soar above 100
    o 4 more cases confirmed in UK
    o 200 Israelis quarantined
    o Japan confirms more cases
    o Japanese Emperor expresses hope for Tokyo Games (fat chance)
    o ROK Gov’t total cases above 600
    o Trump says US has everything ‘under control’ as he asks Congress for more money (I call B.S. below)
    o EU’s Gentiloni says he has ‘full confidence’ In Italian health officials
    o Turkey, Pakistan close borders with Iran as confirmed cases soar
    o Global Times (Chinese Gov’t news source) says virus may not have originated at Hunan seafood market
    o Axios reports shortages of 150 essential drugs likely. (Most source in China)

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Health Care, Iran, Medicine, Middle East, Miscellaneous, National Security, Uncategorized, USA | 42 Comments »

    Flashy Himself – A Literary Diversion

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on February 22nd, 2020 (All posts by )

    So it took a link on Powerline last week to bring to my attention that George McDonald Fraser’s first Flashman book came out fifty years ago.

    My, I don’t know how the time flies – but it does. I must have read the first couple of Flashy’s adventures sometime in college, shortly thereafter, and being quite the history nerd even then, they were rowdy enough, and amusing enough that I read most of the rest of them when they came out, even if I had to order them from an English book catalog when I was stationed overseas. I do remember very well reading The General Danced at Dawn, in the back of one of my more boring lecture classes at CSUN and nearly self-strangulating in trying to not laugh uproariously out loud. The professor lecturer would not have been amused – he was a medieval history expert with a thoroughly tedious interest in the most comprehensively boring of early dark age church confabulations and absent any detectable sense of humor.

    My main regret as far as the Flashman series goes is that GMF never wrote of Flashy’s adventures in our own Civil War, which sounded from references in other books, as if Flashman conducted himself in the manner which we came to expect of him – that is, purely and basely devoted to the preservation of his own skin, while dodging, lying, fornicating and back-stabbing on battlefields spread across three continents, as well as hob-nobbing socially or sexually with all sorts of likely participants. As one early reviewer put it, Flashy saw 19th century history briefly over his shoulder as he fled down the corridors of power at high speed. His adventures in our very own Civil War would have been … interesting, although when I touched on this matter before, a reader pointed out that a) Flashy was a British officer and hardly gave a toss as to what we recalcitrant ex-Colonials got up to, and that b) that all our native ACW experts, amateur and professional alike would have made passionate objection to any error or omission, fancied or with historical backing that GMF might have worked into the plot. So, the effort wouldn’t have been worth the candle to him … although I and most of his fans would have loved to read it anyway. Just to see the process by how Flashy got suckered into participation by Abraham Lincoln, fought on both sides, and wound up being pals with George Armstrong Custer and well-acquainted with General Grant, and how many other Civil War notables.

    I myself would have loved to see Flashy entangled in some kind of partnership with Elizabeth Van Lew, the Richmond spy queen, or perhaps a much deeper entanglement with Allan Pinkerton, of the national detective agency … it all would have been great reading, no matter how contentious the fallout might have been with Civil War historians. His take on Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals would have been interesting, as well. Because GMF had the eye, an absolute gift for writing 19th century dialog, and loved history enough to go into the deep weeds about it all … and most of all, make it interesting to the reader. Pop media is not downhill from culture, it’s in a symbiotic relationship with it. One shapes the other, mutually.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Culture, Diversions, History, Humor, Media, War and Peace | 21 Comments »

    Wages, Employment, and Productivity

    Posted by David Foster on February 21st, 2020 (All posts by )

    I think President Trump is quite sincere about his oft-stated desire to drive up the wages of low-income workers…especially young and non-college workers…and he does seem to be having some success at this quest.  It has struck me for a while that while this is a very good thing from the standpoint of the overall society, it is also likely to pressure business profit margins, with possible consequences for the stock market as well as for Fed policy.

    Yesterday the WSJ noted that “wages for 20- to 24-year olds are increasing twice as fast as for other workers…Overall job satisfaction in 2018 was the highest since 1994.”  At the same time, “90% of blue-collar businesses report operating with unfilled positions, and 29% say this has made them reduce output or turn down business.  Rising wages together with sluggish productivity growth are crimping corporate profits.  Between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2019, profits for nonfinancial corporations  declined 17% and 46% for manufacturers.   The article quotes the Conference Board:  “The US will not be able to maintain its current standard of living unless the US government acts to significantly increase immigration, improve labor force participation, and, together with employees, raise labor productivity growth.”  To which the WSJ writer adds:  “Maybe the only short-term fix is to increase legal immigration–unless Americans want to see their living standards decline and more jobs exported.”

    Higher wages do of course drive productivity improvement…the US has been a pioneer in the mechanization of work in large part because it has been a high-wage country, and that mechanization has helped to enable further wage increases.  This doesn’t always require any new inventions:  there are always productivity tools available that will make sense to a business that is paying $25/hour for labor but would not make sense to one paying $15/hour.  The process isn’t instantaneous, though.

    Concerning immigration as a solution to labor shortages: commentators sometimes lose sight of the fact that GDP per capita matters for broad-based prosperity, not just absolute GDP.  And the only way to increase GDP per capita is through productivity improvements and higher labor force participation rates.  Increasing the raw number of workers doesn’t do this.

    The Conference Board statement appears to put a lot of emphasis on things that the government should do, and the WSJ emphasizes more (legal) immigration.  Some increases in legal immigration may well be a good idea…as would increases in American fertility rates…but the main issues, I think, are productivity and the labor force participation rate.  The actual productivity numbers don’t reflect all the talk about (and even the realities of) robotics and AI.  Maybe this is largely just a matter of implementation lags, maybe it reflects increasing bureaucratization and ‘compliance’ costs throughout our economy.

    My concern is that margin pressure may lead (in conjunction with other factors, like already-high valuations) to a sharp stock-market decline, which could have electoral implications.  Such decline might also lead to many deferrals of productivity-improving investments.  Alternatively, Fed concerns about rising wage rates as a possible signal of incipient inflation could lead the central bank to increase interest rates excessively as a preventative.

    And any electoral result which substantially increases Democratic party power could lead to massive upsurges in legal and illegal immigration, with consequent wage pressures, demoralizing many workers who are now on an positive track and deferring the need for productivity investments.  Any attempt to deal with such wage pressures by establishing high Federal-level minimum wages would add much rigidity to the systems, creating problems of many kinds.

    Discuss, if you feel so inclined.

     

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Elections, Tech, Trump, USA | 21 Comments »