Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Egypt Under the Gun

It's a pity that this requires discussion. When millions of unarmed people are willing to stare down tank treads, discussion should not be necessary - but it is.

Government legitimately exists by consent of the governed. The so-called government of Egypt is a thing of the past. What we have now is an attempt by a gang of thugs to hold a nation hostage. They should be de-fanged.

It might be argued that this is a matter for the Egyptian people, and so it is, but we have armed the thugs over a period of more than a quarter century. That's one of the things we do; we arm thugs. Are we then complicit in their crimes? Maybe that needs some discussion.

We do it closer to home also. Guns are shipped south to the Mexican drug cartels. Guns are sold to minors, criminals, and lunatics at shops and gun shows. Money talks, especially in the Congress of the USA. Maybe that needs some discussion.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Game Goes On

In recent years a popular revolt has been suppressed in Iran and a popular revolt has overthrown the government of Tunisia. The outcome of a very massive popular revolt in Egypt is still unknown.

In Egypt President Mubarak has hung on but it remains to be seen whether he is willing to walk on corpses and to what extent the army will support that.

We are what we are, we do what we do, and it is clear that we have not yet learned how to govern ourselves in a humane, productive and stable manner. Until we do, life, even in what we call "civilization", will sporadically become nasty, brutish and short.

While people in all parts of government can be bought, co-opted, or suborned these problems will remain. Haven't you noticed?

Bigger Storms

Regardless of the cause, NASA's data on mean ocean surface temperatures, both globally and in the tropics, show an undeniable warming trend. This means that there is more energy in the atmosphere and also more water vapor in the atmosphere. This translates into more energetic storms and more precipitation when the moist air encounters cooler air.

The exact way in which this will increase the violence and flooding cannot be predicted without a good computerized weather model, which I do not have. However, we do have some actual data, for example the flooding and the storms that have recently hit Australia and the big rain/snow storms recently in the USA. This is only an indication and not a proper global model, which will vary locally much more than it varies globally because it is so dependent upon the local wind directions.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bravo, Mr. President

Having been critical of the President in past communications, I am now delighted to express my admiration for his speeches at Tucson and today, at Schenectady. At Tucson, he relaxed some of the growing rhetorical tensions promoted by the extreme Right. At Schenectady, he demonstrated his deep involvement in the much needed effort to promote American economic growth. Some even more difficult work lies ahead.

There are three very powerful forces at work to increase the already very large concentrations of wealth and disparities of income. One is the fact that labor is in plentiful supply while natural resources are limited. In addition, ever advancing technology will continue to improve productivity. This means that owners will prosper while workers will not. The third one is the powerful army of
serve-the-rich politicians and professionals who will not readily sacrifice privilege, even for the sake of a stable, humane, and productive social order.

Dealing effectively with these facts will require not only the will to do so but an unprecedented combination of genius and political skills.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Obama Wins (well, sort of)

Some call the present recovery a sham. I'd simply say that it is a managed economy, as usual. Mostly, it has been managed by bankers and intended in their own interest but sometimes with unexpected results. A good computer program could stabilize our economy much more successfully. Human beings are hindered by very short time horizons and a desire for quick satisfaction. The consequences frequently resemble what has been known as "the tragedy of the commons." In a word, they greedily foul their own nest and produce tragic results for many of the innocent.

Money rules; human beings primarily act as place holders for accumulated capital which continues to accumulate in good times and bad. Unfortunately, the human element only makes things worse. Incompetent hogs are Mammon's Achilles heel. They rig the "invisible hand" of the markets and create bubbles and crashes like there is no tomorrow. They will, if not restrained, destroy the biosphere of this planet. They create their own "facts" and slander all contrary science as "junk science." They employ an eagerly bought army of servile professionals; politicians, scientists, intellectuals, pr experts, media commentators, money managers, lawyers and, yes, even thugs. It pays well to lie and to spin and to legislate in their service.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bipartisanship Rampant

Today, the compromise tax bill's romp through the congress seems to have become unstoppable.

When the two parties and the electorate come together like this, it is possible to infer that they are going to borrow even more money than had previously been contemplated. Even the staunch defenders of the "unborn" are not protesting loudly. After all, the debt is a long term problem and, in the long run, we shall be dead.

In the short term, this bill is good for almost everyone: the unemployed, the middle income taxpayer, the rich who just love to get richer, the businessmen whose main concern is the next quarterly report, the wall street crowd through whose sticky fingers pass the most lucrative transactions, and even me because my modest investments will be made moderately less modest.

So much for the class war, which will just bubble along quietly until the next election campaign is underway. The screams will probably be very audible a year from now.

Is there a point to all this? Yes, it is clear for all to see: it is not lack of information that afflicts us. The fault is in our nature. It will take more than a few deaths and modest ecological disasters to change us in any constructive way.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We are not all Sheep

In his hastily called press conference today Obama gave a very slick defense of his compromise with the Republicans on taxes.

It has not escaped me that the extra x00 billion dollars we will borrow to pay for it will be just another excuse for attacking important social programs. It is a part of the "starve the beast" strategy that is being used in a long standing and vicious class war against the American people.

Obama is a skillful shepherd but we are not all sheep.