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Reform Abuse July 12, 2011

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Government, Politics.
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On the drive home I heard a Republican member of the House defending the Republican position on revenues. Their position is to claim that they don’t believe in any increases in revenue for the government but will support tax reforms. So far as I’ve been able to tell that means, in effect, more tax cuts. How is that supposed to help with the deficit? Why, didn’t you know that any and all tax cuts create job? The magic tax cuts will stimulate the economy enough to create growth that will fix the deficit when combined with spending cuts for everyone except the Pentagon. At least that’s what the Republicans seem to take as an article of faith. But I don’t go to that church and I don’t know of any economists who aren’t political hacks who go there either.

I Hope This Isn’t the End July 10, 2011

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Uncategorized.
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The space shuttle Atlantis launched Friday. It’s the last shuttle mission that will ever be launched. Assurances are coming from many quarters that we shouldn’ t worry, it doesn’t mean the end of American space exploration, manned or unmanned. But those in our government whose vision is limited to the day to day and mundane are already looking at NASA projects to cancel. Others say that they look forward to what the private sector will do. Well, the private sector isn’t going to be making the kind of investments in pure research and exploration that are still needed. They are currently focused solely on what will return on their investment in the relatively near future. While their hearts may be in the right place in terms of their hopes that their businesses will lead to further explorations of space I just don’t see how it will happen if the types of payloads that only NASA has been willing to underwrite vanish into the maw of unreasoning budget cutting. I’m just not optimistic on this issue and that saddens me tremendously.

Way Too Long Away July 10, 2011

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Uncategorized.
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Wow. It’s been over a year since I wrote something here. Well, I certainly still hope to create a blog hosted somewhere else but felt I had to come back and start posting regularly.

Strange Ideas of Fiscal Responsibility July 5, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Does Not Compute, Economics, Employment, Government.
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The good folks at Calculated Risk provide some information concerning why it’s really a bad idea to play games with unemployment benefits.

What do the BP oil gusher, bad cyber security and bad customer service have in common? May 27, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in bad news, Business & Society, Environment, The Internet, Uncategorized.
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A certain mindset in most of American business, that’s what. Basically what it comes down to is a categorization of people, departments and activities as either contributing directly to the bottom line or not directly contributing. And if you don’t contribute directly then you are second class in the company at best. This leads to a strong drive to cut costs when it comes to second class activities and people. Computer security falls into this class of lesser being, unlike production programmers or the people who keep the network running. People in charge of trying to meet safety regulations are also lesser beings in the socio-economic hierarchy of businesses. Customer service is definitely viewed purely as a cost center that’s pretty worthless when it comes to actually generating income.

Then comes the breach of computer security. Then an oil well or drilling rig blows out, killing people and causing an environmental disaster. Then a well known blogger or someone else in the public eye starts griping about how bad your customer service has become and how angry it makes him. Then his readers chime in and link after link is made to his rant, making it a wide spread PR nightmare that even makes it into the mainstream media.

Let the finger pointing begin and all too rarely does anyone recognize that the core problem is a lack of understanding on the part of many executives that their business, like everything else in our complex world, has an infrastructure that it depends upon and that it isn’t just the stuff on the surface that is meaningful.

Conservative Fear April 20, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Government, Health Care, Science & Society, The Obama Administration.
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Jason Arvak writes a post at The Moderate Voice entitled The Slide Down The Slippery Slope Begins. In it he argues that the concerns that conservatives professed about government interference in the tiny details of our private lives just might be justified because the FDA is thinking of proposing standards to reduce the amount of salt in processed foods. He ends his post with the line “But it is unclear why they are unwilling to allow the government into the bedroom but perfectly willing to shove it into our kitchen pantry.”. While he links to an article on the proposals in the Washington Post he does not mention why this proposal is being put forth. From the WP article:

Until now, the government has pushed the food industry to voluntarily reduce salt and tried to educate consumers about the dangers of excessive sodium. But in a study to be released Wednesday, an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine concludes that those measures have failed. The panel will recommend that the government take action, according to sources familiar with the findings.

He also doesn’t mention why this proposal is important. Back to the WP article with the emphasis being added by me.

A recent study by researchers at Columbia and Stanford universities and the University of California at San Francisco found that cutting salt intake by 3 grams a day could prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks, strokes and cases of heart disease.

Most salt eaten by Americans — 77 percent — comes from processed foods, making it difficult for consumers to limit salt to healthy levels, experts say.

“We can’t just rely on the individual to do something,” said Cheryl Anderson, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who served on the Institute of Medicine committee. “Food manufacturers have to reduce the amount of sodium in foods.”

Is there some conspiracy to enter our kitchens and confiscate our table salt? No. Is it at all likely that this is going to happen? Once again, no. In fact, the industry, with the exception of the Salt Institute, is working with the government and has been for a while and both groups recognize the problems inherent in the attempts to reach this goal as this bit shows.

Above all, government officials and food industry executives say, a product with reduced salt must still taste good, or it will flop in the marketplace, as evidenced by several low-sodium products that had abysmal sales.

“Historically, consumers have found low-sodium products haven’t been of the quality that’s expected,” said Todd Abraham, senior vice president of research and nutrition for Kraft Foods. “We’re all trying to maintain the delicious quality of the product but one that consumers recognize as healthier.”

So while it may be something that conspiracy theorists will love to seize upon as a weapon against the evils of Obamacare I just don’t think it’s very good ammo for them.

Nothing to See Here, Don’t Move Along Without Wondering Why April 20, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in bad news, Climate Change.
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There are people who call themselves skeptics. They attempt to say that they are the ones wanting “sound science”. According to these people there is no such thing as global warming or climate change, take your pick on the terminology. Since there is no such thing as global warming the seas can’t be rising. Sure. Right.

Hard Core Libertarians – Ignorant or Delusional? April 19, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Does Not Compute, Government.
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I had to really think on that title. Sir Charles at Cogitamus writes about what he describes as The Libertarian Pathology. Reading the article and following the links to the actual articles written by libertarians definitely illustrates why I find Libertarianism to be as realistic as Communism when it comes to looking at the actual human condition and how people think of things. If you don’t necessarily want to follow every link I did here is some of what I found, directly referenced by Sir Charles and not.

In “How Free Were American Women in the Gilded Age?” Bryan Caplan attempts to make a case that women were, as libertarians ought to see it, freer in 1880 than they are now. The freedom to vote is dismissed as not proving that women were denied their freedoms just because they couldn’t vote in defense of them. He actually writes this little gem.

In what ways, then, were American women in 1880 less free than men?  Most non-libertarians will naturally answer that women couldn’t vote.  But from a libertarian point of view, voting is at most instrumentally valuable.

Does anyone else think that if true, this says something not all that good about the libertarian point of view as applied to the real world? And when criticized for the many weaknesses in his article his defense just wasn’t any better than the original article.

The first article referred to by the Cogitamus article is this one by Jacob Hornberger. But…that one is actually a defense of this article from this criticism by David Boaz. Got that all straight now? But what’s interesting is that apparently the section of the first article where he posits a tortuous defense of those who compare Obama’s economic philosophy to that of Hitler wasn’t deserving of hardly any criticism. If you want an idea of the strength of this argument consider that almost the first thing in it is a link to a part of the Social Security Administration web site that has an engraving of Otto Von Bismarck. Hornberger finds this absolutely shocking. How dare a website of the United States government have an image of a 19th Century chancellor of Germany? Why, so that it can glorify him as the creator of the first social security system, of course. Glorify a European socialist? What part of the SSA website has committed this heinous crime? That would be the section on the history of the concept of social security.  You know, history, that thing that apparently shouldn’t include anything other than Americans if it is on a United States government website?

So, after considering those articles and others that I didn’t take the time to link to, do you understand why I came up with the title for this post?

It’s Good to Finish the Article April 18, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Uncategorized.
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A new NYT/CBS poll of the Tea Party movement is getting this phrase printed in a lot of places:

In the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, they are better educated and wealthier than the general public.

This sentence has caused a lot of people to leap to the defense of the Tea Party activists since the defenders know that this is not how “liberals” and “the mainstream media” have described them. Their defenders also really try to portray them as non-ideologues who are not dominated by one political party. But…it’s always good to dig and see what the basic article isn’t telling you about a poll. So here is a link to the actual poll results. Over and over again the answers from the Tea Party respondents are far more conservative and Republican than the general public. They overwhelmingly have positive opinions of Glen Beck, Sarah Palin and other people from the right. 75% of them think that President Obama doesn’t share the values that most Americans live by.  This compares to 37% of the general public. Does any of this sound like the typical Americans that some are portraying the Tea Party as? I certainly don’t think so.

Obama’s New Plan for NASA – Some Different Sources April 18, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Politics, Science, Science & Society, Space Program.
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Whenever there is a major announcement by an American President concerning important government programs, pretty much all of the media jumps in with coverage. President Obama recently made some major changes in plans for NASA and the normal script was followed. But when it comes to some things maybe people who are a bit more interested in the subject and therefore hopefully more knowledgeable on the subject should be found. So here are some articles on the plan from lesser know outlets.

CNet

Space.com

A theoretical astrophysicist’s blog on ScienceBlogs

Bad Astronomy blog

My opinion is that a lot of what President Obama laid out are very good ideas. But I still think that doing some really original research on a new approach to returning to the moon would be a very good idea.

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