Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Command Decision

We've decided not to drive down to Madison today. For us to be at the graduation would have made a great deal of work for people who already have a hundred things going all at once regardless of what the weather does. When we found that out yesterday evening, we figured it would be easier for everyone if we just planned on being down there tomorrow afternoon to pick up Debbie's mom and bring her back here in the evening. Meanwhile, all the foul weather for our area has been canceled, and it's just sunny and 80's for as far as the eye can see. Sweet. [About ten minutes after typing that, it started raining and the temperature dropped into the 60's. sigh.]

Scott Adams:

Q. What is the new definition of "Taliban"?
A. Anyone who lives above a lithium deposit

...If you're wondering when the U.S. will withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, you now have your answer: Never. Our worst case scenario is peace.

If you haven't heard, Afghanistan went from "worthless rat hole into which the US pours blood and treasure" to "source of unimaginable wealth" overnight when immense mineral deposits, including the all-important lithium, were discovered. Now if we could just play the part of competent empire long enough to benefit....

We may have heard the last from the Spirit rover. It could survive the winter and begin transmitting when it gets a bit more sun, but I have a feeling that it will die peacefully in its sleep. Regardless; we got nearly six years from a very complicated bit of equipment that was expected to last around 90 days.

As soon as the government stopped paying people to buy houses, housing starts went off a cliff. Big surprise. All a short-term credit (or rebate or whatever you want to call it) does is cause people who were going to buy a new car or build a new house to move the deal date into the time frame of the credit. This causes a steep drop immediately prior and following the time the credit is in effect, and an increase during the time the credit is running. In other words, the result is little or no net increase in new car sales or first-time home purchases, but instead yet-another transfer payment to the middle class.

The taxpayer-subsidized train wrecks called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will no longer be traded on the NYSE because they can't keep the share price above $1 even with all the billions of tax dollars that has been poured into them. I'm sure similar sorts of public-private "partnerships" (health care, GM, Amtrak, etc., etc.) will work much better, right? Maybe if we close our eyes and wish real hard?

It easy to forget that not long ago (as in my lifetime), many European countries had very different governments than they do now. Economic hardship has a way of making people nostalgic for the "good ol' days." The next decade may prove to be interesting indeed. We like to think of representative democracy as inevitable and stable. It is neither.

Here is an interesting concept: if the outcome of local elections don't turn out the way some federal bureaucrat thinks they ought to, keep changing the rules until the desired outcome is achieved no matter how ridiculous the rules become. Wouldn't it just be easier to give up the pretext and have federal judges appoint people to local office according to whatever racial formula they think appropriate? Keep in mind that we are not talking about ballot cans from Hispanic neighborhoods being found at the bottom of a lake or dead people voting. Rather, the federal government decided that the results of free and fair elections were not to its liking, and is dictating the rules under which elections can be conducted for the expressed purpose of altering what the outcome of a free and fair election would otherwise be. Again, representative democracy is neither inevitable nor is it stable.

Well, we need to finish up the cleaning and I should start thinking about what we are going to do for dinner. Enough of this internet stuff.

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