Archive for October, 2010

The Marginal Utility of (House) Utilities: Only 1600 Square Feet! (October 25, 2010)

Posted in Case-Shiller/S&P Index, Housing, Less Government Regulation Series, Market Solutions on October 25, 2010 by

. . .

K         “In the near future, rather than marketing the total square feet, we will market a structure based on the average cost of utilities per square foot per year.  A person will pay more for a structure to get less because it has well-insulated but fewer square feet and lower fuel bills than another comparable structure.  ‘Natural gas bill:  only $14,700 per year!  And only 1600 square feet!’”

J          “A few individuals have noted that the market for houses won’t stabilize until the average price is more in line with the long run price measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices or another index of housing prices.  We are not there yet.”

K         “The average size of a new structure must be more in line with the average size in the past so that a family can afford the facility.  The government should not dictate the maximum size for a house; the market should determine the optimal size of the appropriate structure.  Single family homes may not even be the model home for the future.  Townhouses and more open space are more efficient and desirable to house the town.”

J          “The four horsemen of the housing apocalypse ride together – a bigger house means a bigger mortgage, a bigger tax bill, a bigger insurance bill and of course a bigger HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) bill to maintain the monster.  A smaller house means a smaller mortgage, a smaller tax bill, etc.”

K         “And fewer furnishings are needed to furnish it.  The government makes it too cheap to get into the beast.  Then the real costs devour the owner.”

J          “The Republicans and the Democrats and their corporate owners just won’t let the government get out of the housing business.”

. . .

Bumper sticker of the week:

Natural gas bill:  only $14,700 per year!  And only 1600 square feet!

America’s Fraud Factories (October 18, 2010)

Posted in Education, Journalism, Law, Military, Press/Media, Schooling, Society on October 18, 2010 by

. . .

K         “We in America closed the traditional factories but openly operate a network of profitable Fraud Factories.”

J          “Look at the flow of raw material.  The kids who get As in college go to med school, those who get Bs go to law school and those who get Cs go to biz school.  And look who makes the big bucks.”

K         “Those pursuing a journalism degree pursue truth and those pursuing a Master of Fine Arts pursue beauty.  At least in theory.  And Yeats proffered the exchange rate.”

J          “Those in the Corps embody an esprit de corps, the Semper Fi and Siempre Fi spirit.  And former Marines are among the most disciplined and honest journalists.  Think Jim Lehrer.”

K         “And Gordon Peterson.  Interning at Parris Island rather than grunting at The Paris Review provides a different worldview.”

J          “Right.  Fighter pilots reflect that same dedication, discipline and devotion to duty.  First responders, as they now call them, and most doctors share a sense of professionalism and commitment.  Those with the forest service and the fish and game service are genuinely concerned about the future well-being of the evergreens and the blue gills and the white tails.”

K         “And then there are the Fraud Factories, American business and law schools, teaching students the subtle art of fraud and deception.  The kids are taught to advance their own self-interest over anything else at almost any cost.  They are taught the nuances of gaming a business and legal system that is designed to be gamed.  Neither government regulation nor market forces restrain or direct their activities.”

J          “Biz schools are the most profitable divisions of the American corporate university system.  Biz schools are more profitable than law schools that are in turn more profitable than med schools.”

K         “And the colleges of arts and crafts may no longer be tolerated as loss leaders, albeit very expensive divisions of the corporate university system.  The motto of the American Association of Fraud Factories says it all:  ‘No Duty, No Honor, No Country.’”

J          “Some cutting edge biomedical engineers are debating how to teach robots to behave ethically.  The Fraud Factories take kids who exhibit one common trait – a ready willingness to obey and please their superiors – and engineer them to be robots.”

K         “Remember after Watergate when there was a national hand wringing about the nadir of the legal profession that occurred at the same time the journalism profession was at its zenith.  Law schools instituted professional responsibility classes.  Some astute students realized that a B+ grade reflected the right attitude to employers.  That is enough to get by and keep moving through the system but not too much enthusiasm for the topic.”

J          “The problem today is with the students admitted to the schools, the indoctrination process and the indentured servitude status that consigns the graduates to represent wealthy interests to pay off their crushing debts.”

K         “Think about it.  If Schicklgruber applied to law or business school today, the profitable schools would aggressively bid to attract him.  He is the ideal applicant – brilliant, charismatic and destined to succeed.  Everything is about success and power, and power and success, and success and power.  Yeats could have proffered the exchange rate.”

J          “If Concentration Camps of America, Inc. ever needs to staff concentration camps to warehouse and dispose of the unwanted, hire American-trained lawyers and biz school grads.  They won’t ask questions.”

K         “But don’t dare miss payroll.”

. . .

Bumper stickers of the week:

I’m not my brother’s keeper, just his banker.  I’m not even his banker, I’m my own banker.

Follow the money

I was just following orders

I was just following the money

I was just following the money orders

Duty, Honor, Country

Honor, Courage, Commitment

Smile while you’re makin’ it, Laugh while you’re takin’ it, Even though you’re fakin’ it, Nobody’s gonna know.      O Lucky Man!

Girding For The Going Grid (October 11, 2010)

Posted in Energy, Gas/Fossil Fuel, Society on October 11, 2010 by

. . .

1     “We were warned about the coming storm.  The storm wasn’t any worse than other storms.  Without any warning, the power went out.  The lights went off.  The tv went blank.  The heat went cool.  The cool went warm.  For everyone.  At the same time.  We needed to find a flashlight and then find and hook up an old analog telephone to call about available refrigerator space.  The stop lights did not work.  Some of the electric pumps failed at a gas station.  We happened to have enough fuel in the tank to transport our fuel.  Our food ended up spread out in three refrigerators and freezers in another state.”

2     “Remember that the root word of ‘electric gird’ is ‘fragile and precarious.’  I keep a number of flashlights and candles stashed throughout the house and two analog phones plugged into the wall on different floors.  And that assumes that the phone system even works.  I keep a store of blankets, food, water and a portable radio that typically disappear quickly from the stores before a storm, yet that is desperately little preparation.”

1     “We had no radio in a house, yet we had a dozen remotes to worthless boxes.  At least we resisted recycling the one analog phone that is now stored in the kitchen pantry.  Near the radio.  And that assumes that the phone system even works.  We commented to each other on the drive that the power failure was very democratic, even indifferent.  One Republican Senator’s house was as dark as ours.  He could authorize and appropriate funds to build another TVA but did not have the power to deliver power to his house.  There are no circuits to route the limited power in the system to the homes of the powerful.”

2     “Power outages impact the powerful and the powerless equally.”

1     “At the time, the event was a spooky and sobering evening before a long and uncertain wait.  In hindsight, it was a benign if not an amusing diversion, but that may not be true the next time.”

. . .

(Bioneers Conference, October 15 – 17)

Bumper stickers of the week:

From the Internet to the Inter-mittent-net

Be Less Unprepared

Not “if, or when,” but “when, and when”

The Beginning Of The World As We Don’t Know It

One Gun Per White Adult Male? A Flintlock Musket? The “One Man, One Gun” Decision (October 4, 2010)

Posted in Constitution, First Monday In October, Guns, Law, Society, Supreme Court on October 4, 2010 by

.          The Supreme Court ruled today that states can limit the ownership and possession of guns to one and only one gun for each White adult male.  In a closely followed case challenging the state statute limiting gun purchases to one gun per month, a majority of the Supreme Court, adopting a ‘strict constructionist’ and ‘originalist’ analysis, held that each White adult male in 1787 possessed one and only one gun – a flintlock musket.  That fact and circumstance underpinned the Founding Fathers understanding of and the language in the Second Amendment.  That historical fact is the benchmark for the strict constructionists/originalists.  The case is being heralded as the “one man, one gun” decision.

.          Supreme Court commentators note that the majority – Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy – issued one of the few completely honest opinions of their judicial careers.  For reasons that are not elucidated, the majority departed from their tendentious jurisprudence and displayed rare doctrinal integrity consistent with their “strict constructionist/originalist” analysis.  The “strict constructionist/originalist” analysis looks at the state of affairs when the Constitution was adopted in 1787.

.          The dissenting opinion of the minority – Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan – notes the generally accepted conclusion of all reasonable men and women that there are fundamental disagreements about the state of affairs in 1787 that undermine the basic assumption of the “strict constructionist/originalist” worldview.  The dissenters note that rational regulation is allowed and contend that the Second Amendment read in concert with other Amendments and protections allows more than just Whites, and more than just adults, and more than just males to own and possess more than just one gun.

.          Some commentators note that this interpretation of the Second Amendment allows and may now require states to regulate gun ownership and possession diligently to protect the right to keep and bear arms.  The regulation is necessary so that a White adult male is able to own and possess one but no more than the one flintlock musket as mandated by the Second Amendment.

.          One commentator observed that those in the West typically possessed a pistol on their hip and a rifle in their scabbard.  Pictures were offered in support.  However, although there was land to the west, there was no West in 1787.  And there was no rifled barrel.  Thus, consistent with the analysis of the majority, a White adult male in the West also is limited to one flintlock musket.  The commentator notes that the decision will be construed by some liberal activist judges in the Ninth Circuit (an area that includes some of the West and all of the West Coast states) who maintain a more dynamic and pragmatic view of Constitutional interpretation.  Those who believe in a “living Constitution” recognize that society and technology change and develop over time.  These judges likely would allow residents of the West and West Coast to own and possess two guns, one pistol and one rifle.  Commentators agree that such a decision by the Niners surely would be overturned by the Supremes.

.          In an interview, a local sportsman, Norm Smith, Jr., who is included among the named plaintiffs challenging the state statute, commented to reporters:  “I’ve thought a lot about this, but the lawyers wouldn’t listen to me.  I was saying to Norma the other day, she’s my wife, that they should not look at things in 1787, the year the Constitution was adopted, or in 1791, the year the Second Amendment was adopted.  The Amendments, now she agreed with me on this, at least the first Ten Amendments are not really our Bill of Rights because the Amendments are only limitations on the government not an enumeration of individual rights.  The individual rights are already out there.  At the founding of our Great Republic, a flintlock musket was of course a manual not an automatic weapon.  With the flintlock musket, a man could trigger one shot but then had to reload; there was a short break before the next shot which gave him time to reflect even if he was frantically reloading.  The weapons did not represent the threat to the populace that weapons represent today.  What if Congress finds that there was and is a human right to be free of excessive violence in society grounded in one’s fundamental liberty interests that existed in 1787?  What if a 28th Amendment is adopted to repeal the Second Amendment and ban all private ownership of weapons?  No one can assert a claim pursuant to the 18th Amendment today because of the passage of the 22nd Amendment.  The 28th Amendment would become the test of constitutionality.  That outcome would not be good.”

.          Mr. Smith continued:  “Now I am a responsible sportsman who stores my guns in a locked safe and uses them carefully in the field.  Under the worst case scenario before the decision in my case was issued, I feared that the law could be construed to require me to choose between Jack O’Connor’s favorite caliber, the .270, and my dad’s choice, the .300 H & H Magnum, he’s Norm, Sr.  And Elmer Keith’s celebrated .44 Magnum is now illegal except maybe on the West Coast of all places, so they say.  I just didn’t realize that the Second Amendment limits me to one and only one flintlock musket.  Who would have known?  However, when you think about it, they are right.  The average White guy around 1791 only had one flintlock musket.  That’s the way it was; that’s the way it is.  That’s the law.”

Bumper stickers of the week:

Be careful what you aim at because you just might hit it

Gun control means missing your target

An armed society is a polite society . . . and a dangerous one at times