Progress of robonomics

I found this study while cruising the net today. It shows that others are seeing what I am. The cultural shift caused by automation.

This article is written by some one who I think fails to learn from past mistakes. Probably the author has failed to actually study industrial history (Very few people actually do) the author said this:

However, let’s keep in mind that technology does not proceed autonomously, detached from any human influence. It is our tax dollars that fund most of the basic research underlying automation technologies, humans are designing these systems, and consumers have at least some say in how well automated service technologies fare in the market. I can imagine, for example, that “made (or served) by humans” could be the “organic” or “fair trade” of the future. If we as a society collectively vote with our wallets for good customer service by real people, the future may just look different from the often gloomy predictions of science fiction. After all, if there’s one thing humans will always be better at than machines, it’s being human.


The key problem with this paragraph is that Free Trade and Fair trade are hardly economic substitutes. Fair trade is often luxury affectations for the rich and upper middle class.  The superior quality exists only in the mind of the buyer put there by ideological desires rather than productive methods.

Made more complex is the simple fact that machines can make things people can make both better and faster. This drives UP quality and drives down price. This would result in “proudly hand crafted” type logos being higher priced and lower quality. This would require an ideological or advertising push to get these things to sell.

Basically the article looks at how machines were years ago and fails to account for how they are now, or where they are going.


Am I a hypocrite?

ImageSo, a bit of background and personal Information here. I suffer from depression and a few other things and as such my pre-existing conditions make me expensive to impossible to insure.  I apply from time to time to get a lower rate because my current plan is very very expensive.

I got a letter from my insurance company telling me they will be participating in my states health care exchange system.  I don’t like single payer systems. I don’t like government (State or federal) involvement in health care because it is the prime reason my costs are so high. Government is costing me a fortune each month.  But now obamacare seems to be offering me a reduction in price. But at what cost?

A business sets a price for their good or service with 2 things in mind. Cost of production and the ability of customers to pay. There is no purpose in selling something at a price customers wont pay, nor is there any purpose in selling something at a price below cost. Business that does that goes out of business. So using that knowledge, the insurance company thinks I might cost them X amount in the future so they charge me Y per month so they can meet that X.  If Y is forced down by government rules, then X can’t be met, the insurance company goes under and I lose my insurance.

I guess we can think about it like this. Government ordered a pizza that costs twenty dollars but demands that it be priced at ten. The result is every pizza sold will cost the company ten dollars. They go away, unless the government offers them a pizza subsidy to make up the difference.  But with that subsidy comes an obligation to do as the government demands. Henry Ford noted that the government, which didn’t produce cars, was telling car makers what to do. What gives them the knowledge to set these rules for any of us.

And yet, the price reduction will save my ass in the short run, only to hurt me in the long run.  Here is how I think I justify this. The savings I achieve here can be applied to my future development making me better off in the end. But what of my insurance company? I don’t know.

All I know is obamacare and other government interference has driven up the cost of healthcare and then arbitrarily drives down the price (not the cost) making life hell for the already struggling insurance companies.

I don’t know how to figure this one out…

About the Great Depression

I Have been reading a good deal on the causes of the depression. Guess what, the stock market crash didn’t start it. That piece of false history can just GTFO.

When the Austrian Economics guys tell you it was the Fed, that is partly true.

But When the Austrian Economics guys tell you that the gold standard will prevent that, it is false.

The Fed tried to stop the speculation in wall street by restricting cash flows. They wanted that money to go to europe to fund those ww1 loans rather than the wall street bubble.

The FED was working to oppose “wall street interests” in an attempt to control the money supply. That is their job. And They failed to take into account that people are stupid. The crash happened and the loan money for margin stock buying was lost. Banks went under (just part of the reason for bank default. see other posts).

Hoover did alot of work to help the people, many people ignore this or outright lie about it. He raised taxes in 1930 and 1932 to try to balance the budget and get money where it was needed to go. It failed.

A rant on poverty, and a rant on the poverty pimp meida who tries to make it worse than it is


Hoover Flag

Yesterday the AP had a headline “4 out of 5 Americans face poverty”. When you read the story it admits that those 80% who face poverty actually only faced it for a period in their life. We know the poverty rate is 15% so if 80% face poverty, but only 15% are in poverty that means 65% extracted themselves from potential poverty.  People are still rising up economically. 

Another aspect of poverty is the myth of the starving child.  The census reports that of the 50 million in poverty only 1.6% (or there abouts) actually miss a few meals a week. Not starve to death, just miss two or three of the 21 meals most people have a week. This is not great news. In a country of cheap food, food stamps, food banks, and the ability to dumpster dive (which rich kids do a lot more than poor families, see freegans) how can nearly a million people be missing meals.  what are they doing wrong? why are they ignoring all the handouts and easy access to food?

These questions bring me to the point of my rant. Poverty in America is a choice for most people.  True there are people brought here to work, often illegally across the boarder or across the sea. There are still sex slaves who are forced to be poor by their pimps. There are a few other examples of forced poverty that I am not thinking about right now, I’m sure. But for the most part, poverty is a choice.

I am not saying people wake up and say “let’s be poor!” its more like they wake up and say “School is for chumps”. then they say “Working for the ‘man’ is for idiots!”. Then they say, “Why should I have to do that, this, and that thing?” This is what i mean by poverty being a choice. Learning the skills needed to be productive and paid well is a choice, and too many people make the wrong choice when they are teenagers and adults.

Some people would say that they had no role models as kids. I could agree. I’ve seen too many kids copy their deadbeat parents. This doesn’t wash once those kids become adults and have access to all kinds of secondary education and libraries and today the internet.  Furthermore the political situation that thrives on poverty is encouraging them to be poor rather than rise up. If the state gives you money to survive, how often will you vote against the statists?

The mentality of keeping people poor by keeping them uneducated and on the dole isn’t always malicious.  I have encountered European and American socialists who are proud that they “maintain the poor” without realizing the irony that if you maintain the poor, they stay poor.  You aren’t helping the poor do better, you are kicking them down.

Examine American wealth transfer programs. They provide just enough support to keep you alive, and voting, but threaten to take it all away if you start to earn your own money or save up your surplus. The programs encourage the users to spend all that money and be anti-frugal. (just like a bureaucrat in baseline budgeting.) This may not have been designed to keep people poor, but it has that effect. And when anyone wants to change these programs, the proponents scream “THEY WANT YOU TO STARVE TO DEATH”

1) this assumes that people wont go get jobs, or are too stupid to care for themselves.

and 2) this assumes the reforms wont work.

how nice of them, “you are too stupid to live on your own, let us help you… just vote us in in November…”

If you think these programs help, look at historic poverty rates. In the late 1940s the USA had about a 30% poverty rate. By the end of JFKs term it was down to 15% that is 13 years of decline. then LBJ in 1965 passed a lot of wealth transfer programs. Ever since then poverty rate has bounced between 12% and 15%. When the state subsidized poverty, poverty became attractive and people chose not to get out of it.  But this isn’t quite as bad for the poor as it would seem.

every few years the Heritage Foundation pours through census data to find out what life is like in poverty. In 2006 and 2011 they put out these reports with some astounding information. Poor people some times own 2 cars, several TVs and computers, a good chunk of the poor actually own a home. They have video games, they have washing machines, they almost never go hungry (that 1.6% number again). Poverty is a pretty sweet thing in the USA, not like poverty in Somalia…

According to a number of studies, American poor have more living space than European average income people.  They have access to cheaper goods. Poverty really is relative.

Too bad people rarely crunch the numbers to see the broader picture.

Cybernetics: the modern revolution


Cybernetic arm

In the late 1990s an English scientist and engineer named Kevin Warwick designed and installed a microchip in his arm. This chip allowed him to control small machines that he designed to respond to his microchip. He improved the chip to also give feedback. He built a baseball cap with a radar array on it and gave himself an artificial sense.  As I was on my walk today I was thinking about the smartphone I had in my pocket. I use this phone to listen to music on my walk, to study things via the internet while I’m at a restaurant, and to look up funny pictures when I am bored. Now imagine a melding of these two technologies. A smartphone that communicates directly with your nervous system. 

In 2006 Matthew Nagle, a paralyzed man, was able to operate a computer mouse using an implanted machine in his brain.  This is nothing totally new, there have been the cochlear implants for inner ears to restore hearing to the deaf. This was more of  proof of concept.  Reported just a few days ago a number of neurologists claimed to have been able to implant memories in the brain of a lab rat. These technologies, when combined, will radically change the way humanity lives and interacts.

First, Computers will be able to get a lot smaller because the input/output part will be built into the user. That means keyboards, mice, microphones, screens, printers, speakers, all will start to go away and be replaced by the human mind.  This will allow for much quicker access for information than we have now, even with the internet.

Schools won’t have to issue text books in physical form, they will be all digital. Memos and emails will be delivered right to the employee. Politicians will never be able to get away with claiming they didn’t do something because their public records will be right there for all to read.

There will be things to worry about, however. Already with the internet we have a lot of information being produced that is faulty. Either by ignorance, ideology, or malice, there is just a lot of bullshit on the internet. This might not change when the internet goes neural. But perhaps the experience of the internet will help temper the transition to neural networking.

Some will be worried about being able to be tracked anywhere on earth, but frankly you can be tracked now. The technology will not make anyone easier to find, in fact, because of hacking people will be able to cloak themselves and if oppressive governments use these for tracking, they will run into problems and likely return to current methods of tracking which are harder to evade.

What about those same hackers hacking the implants and hurting the host human? This will be a problem that needs to be dealt with. It is annoying when your computer crashes, but normally you just reload it. The same will likely be true for the on-board computer system. it would just be embarrassing to have to reload your system in the middle of a presentation, or get stuck in a pornado. (That’s a situation when a bunch of pop-up pornography blankets your screen with windows.)

Ultimately this technology will increase productivity and reduce cost of living. But it will be troublesome getting there as people will be both unsure about what to do and willing to do improper things to abuse this new technology. Baring a massive culture shift, this will happen, so be ready.

Economics is not physics, neither is alot of other stuff


an image of various concepts in physics

the phrase “Economics is not physics” is somewhat common and very true. Not just in the obvious sence wherein physics is the study of motion and economics is the study of resource distribution and scarcity but in the fact that physics often deals with very few varriables (although shooting rockets to mars, landing rovers, recovering samples and returning them safely to earth does involve millions of variables, its tiny when compared to the variables involved in economics.)

With the moon shot we had a whole bunch of constant things, like earth’s gravitational pull, the moon’s pull and the sun’s pull. we knew the relative velocities and orbital paths of everything involved. we knew the mass of the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo craft and all three astronauts. We knew what they would be on Tuesday, or Friday since they weren’t going to change enough to matter. 

Let’s compare this to economics. Today I wanted a quesadilla so I bought the cheese at the store and i happened to have the rest of the stuff at home (a tortilla, oil, a pan and some fire). Because I wanted something, i used my resources to trade with the grocery store for their resources and we both walked away happy. I bought cheese, they got two bucks. But who at the store knew i wanted to eat a quesadilla today? no one could know that because I didn’t know that until a few hours ago. They knew i would want some kind of food, but they couldn’t be sure what. They couldn’t even be sure I would buy from them, there are a dozen other options for me to buy the same cheese brand in the area where I live.

My point is that with economics the economists who try to gauge what will happen based on what has happened are at a disadvantage because there is no way known for them to collect the data necessary to turn human behavior into an equation.  There are patterns in larger groups of people and this is all they have. Out of a million people X% will want cheese and of that X% another y% will come to their store to buy cheese. So they do some math and guess that about Z people will want cheese, so they buy Z bricks of cheese and put them on the shelves. Then they sit and watch to see how close they were. If they had too many, they buy less cheese next time. If they sold out, they buy more cheese. Smart store managers track this over several years and find annual trend. Amazingly in America turkey sales peak around November and plummet as the spring comes. By summer hambur and hotdog sales are peaking but eggnog is nearly non existent. There is alot of wiggle room in these results leaving room for intuition and experience over hard mathematical number-crunching.  If you did that with the moon shot, the first words on the moon wouldn’t have been “One small step for man…” they would have been “Hey Buzz, aren’t we going a bit too fast?”

This fuzziness in large systems where there is a great deal of missing information is covered in chaos theory. Read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. It’s an older book, dating to the 1970s and the movie doesn’t really cover the chaos theory part enough, Jeff Goldblume wasn’t given the screen time to do it right, (the movie has much more basic description) . The idea is that without the required information you can only get percentages of probability. 80% chance, 70% chance. We know this in our modern life with the weather report where they don’t come out and say “there will be rain” much of the time, they say “a high probability of rain” because frankly shit happens.  The weather is a great example of a chaotic system. It is, perhaps, the most complex system operating on the planet right now. Every molecule of gas in the atmosphere is part of the system, every therm of solar heat that comes to the earth is part of the system, mountains, lakes, streams, towers, blimps, fat guys, butterflies, and kittens are part of the system.  If you have heard of the “Butterfly effect” (again the movie of the same name kinda gives you an idea of what happens) the idea that a small change over there can lead to a dramatic change over here. It’s a factor in any well thought out time travel story.  Even the Simpsons embraced it when homer went back in time and stepped on a big. Then sneezed on a T-rex, then got angry and killed a bunch of stuff.  The simple fact is we do not have the ability, at this time, to track nearly enough pieces of the climate to measure predict anything beyond a few days. 

If you would like some evidence you can play scientist at home (see my previous entry).  1) google up a tv station’s weather reports for the last few months. Then assume that what they have for “Today” (what ever day you are recording from) is about as accurate as they can get. Realize that they are talking about a very tiny location when they give the temperature because temperatures can vary wildly even in your own home.  Then compare the date of “Today” to what they thought it would be 5 days before, 4 days, 3 days. Many times it shouldn’t change too much, some times it will change radically.  What causes the massive miscalculations?  well time for an example.

A*B-C(D/E)^f+g*2=z  this is a mock formula that I hope will get the idea of how complex the climate is. (real climactic prediction formula are much much more complex and require a lot of grad students with excellent math and computer skills to set up.)  But I will tell you that A=4, and D= 3/5s and G= -4… the other stuff you have no idea what it is because you can not measure it accurately. So in order to give me Z you will have to give me likely numbers, but you will have no idea What it could be. Over time you can figure out likely ranges for the rest of the numbers but you can not nail it down with our current technology.

Why am I talking about all this complexity? Well being a student of history and from my youngest days reading old books on the future, I always found it hilarious how people thought “This is how it WILL be” got it way wrong.  The more complex the calculations the less likely of any accuracy with time. A weatherman can likely tell you the weather for 4 days, but after that they are just guessing. fronts can move, winds can shift.  Economists are even worse off. Unlike the weather, the economy is based largely on human feelings.  A great historical example of that is FDR. His programs, by the numbers, make problems worse. a pure mathematical evaluation of the depression shows how it was prolonged by FDRs actions, BUT, he got on the radio and made people feel good. So they spent a little bit more because of “Consumer confidence”.

No weatherman can sweet talk a cold front into moving into a place where there is a heat wave, But a smooth political leader can sweet talk a million consumers into buying something they wouldn’t have bought before, its called Advertising. It’s a skill as old as trade. Nikes and New balance shoes are nearly identical in material design and construction. but they sell themselves radically differently and people feel different about them. Nike is trendy, cool, basket ball players can slam dunk with them. New balance is all American, made by American hands, so people are patriotic when they buy them. 

The other side to this confidence is when an executive puts out a stupid memo on how to live on minimum wage for the employees of his franchisees. This makes people think “that man is a bad bad man, I’m not going to buy at his store for a while.” The quality of the product and service, the only really quantifiable measures, remain unchanged, but human opinion shifts.  And that is the tricky part, human opinion.

How do you  measure opinions? how do you quantify thoughts. When You ask a human what they think, they might sugarcoat it to please the ears that want to hear it. Or they might say something to insult those ears, or nothing at all. when you radiocarbon data a rock, you get a solid number, the rock wont lie, you might make a mistake in testing it, but you can test again, or some one else and correct it.  How do you confirm what some one says is true? Many people aren’t even honest with themselves let alone other people. You ask a person about Wal*mart “Oh, i hate those bastards” they say, next night they are down at the store buying toilet paper because its closer, or cheaper, or more convenient. When pressed they might say “the girl asking me about it was against wal*mart, i thought i might have a chance with her…”

Trying to figure out how people will react in an economic situation is more complex than trying to figure out the climate because the climate does what it does with no cares about anything, its purely Newtonian physics with trillions of variables we can not yet measure.  Economics might only be billions of variables but the problem that makes it harder to gauge is the inability to trust gathered data.  If a cold air mass is moving south west over Los Angeles at fifteen mph, that’s what its doing. Its observable. We may not be able to track all the air at the same time, but we can measure the bulk of it and its general direction.  If a mass of people are waiting to buy an Xbox One at Target at midnight, we can ask them “why are you here?” they could say “To get me an xbox!” but what if they are there because they just want to be on tv, or they are bored, or they really want a Wii? Maybe they cant afford the Xbox right now and will put it on layway, or try…

my area of history at this time seems to be economic history. I read a lot of economic articles from a lot of people and some of them are more honest than others. They make predictions saying “This is what we have seen before, we can assume something close to this will happen because the situation is similar.” Thankfully those are more of the mainstream guys (gender neutral “guys”)  in the field. Some people, however, make wild claims that go contrary to the past data and make very specific predictions about what will happen. Strangely these guys (gender neutral) seem to work for the Congressional Budget Office and make stunningly precise predictions about how the economy will pan out, how much tax money the government will receive, and nearly every time they have more egg on their face then the guy who landed in the chicken coop. 

in 2001 the CBO predicted the deficit and debt would both be going down by 2009. (Source with some commentary, i don’t often read zero hedge, i make no claims about its accuracy, nor do i agree with or oppose what is said there, they just posted the numbers, and I’m citing the numbers they posted)

I remember this happening every year, always ten years down the road things would be great, Ive been watching for 20 years now, it never seems to get here.  The problem is who in 2001 would have predicted the 2008 housing bubble collapse?  People got worried about it seriously in 2005 and 2006, in 2001 it was under the radar. This is part of that complex system. With a space mission you could look out into space and see anything that was likely to be in your path for your mission (at least to the moon or maybe mars). the CBO in 2009 issued a report (haven’t read it all, just skimmed it for some predictions) and on page 18 predicted the deficit would be triple digits in 2010, 11, and 12, and by 2013 would be 400 billion (shaping up to be more than 900 billion this year,) How can they be off by more than half a trillion dollars? Because they are just really out of touch. They looked at the world in 2009 and said “if everything stays the same, this is what will happen.” But economics isn’t physics. Gravity doesn’t change (we think (we have never observed it changing yet) ) but human behavior changes radically with stimuli. Some economists know this and try to account for it, they make shorter range predictions and say its a probability, not a certainty.

When I make my predictions about the future, I try to take into account how people will react. If you have been reading this, you know Ive predicted that unions will try to oppose automatic trucks. But I haven’t talked about random wars that no one can predict which will change the outcomes of this. What about a possible Luddite movement that banns technology? It might happen, but not likely to get too widespread.  My big thing is when people try to tell you how the economy, and the buying public, will react to programs, taxes, news, new products, disasters, ect, try to remember that whether they know it or not, they are making a guess because they can’t possibly have all the data, know all the players, and see all the angles.


Why Capitalism is the ONLY system that promotes and secures civil rights


A collection of civil rights buttons

For strange reasons many people who push for Civil Rights violate the fundamental civil right of the individual and attack the only system in human history that creates civil rights in a just and equal manner, Capitalism.  Look at the modern Civil Rights movement and then close your jaw once you realize that they are all associated with socialism and progressivism, two ideologies that revoke personal choice and freedom and demand on submission to the state or to the “collective good”.

The fundamental flaw with modern liberalism is the violation of the individual as a free person who is able to live their life as they see fit. Civil rights groups fight not for the freedom of the man or woman, but for the freedom of the gender, the race, the language, the class, the whatever. The individual women, or members of the race, or speakers of the language or members of the class are abandoned into a collective maw that swallows them whole and will willingly sacrifice a few for the “Greater good”.

Capitalism, these activists say, is all about the greed of the industrial class, (Marxists would use the term Bourgeoisie, which if you read Marx are the factory owners and thanks to the spread of the stock market and invested retirement funds includes nearly 60% of the American public and many business employees have easy access to buy ownership in the company they work for making them Bourgeoisie themselves and not the hapless proletariat. )  This capitalistic greed some how deprives the “Workers” of their fair share, (ignoring that employees are often the number one cost of any business meaning they are getting paid quite a bit of the revenue) and also that the leadership class is taking unfair amounts of payment. (again ignoring that the CEO often works 90 hours a week, no vacations, and all those fancy jet and golf trips are working vacations. Also Executives are more likely to go to jail if there is wrong doing rather than the rank and file employees because they should know better.)

What is lost on many liberals is the fact that capitalism is economic freedom. Two people meet and agree upon a price and a product. Each side gets something out of the deal, no compulsion, no inequality, no force. Two people trade, two people profit. This profit encourages people to produce more, more production equals more profit. More production isn’t the only avenue to wealth, superior production or superior marketing can also create profit. In capitalism there is a native drive to make things better (not just in business but in all aspects of life) because better is more profitable. Look at Lamborghini and Ford, two car companys that sell to two different niches. They both make profit but do so in very different ways. The free market allows both to survive while a socialist state would outlaw Lamborghini as unfair to the masses. Why should some people get fancy cars? they might ask.

Capitalism allows poor people to provide goods and services and make a profit. They earn more and more money and cease being poor. They rise up. This is overshadowed by the fact that rich people also earn more and more money and become more rich. Many liberals will cry and moan over the “income gap” which has absolutely no bearing on economic health. We can show this with a simple analogous example. There is a healthy weight person sitting next to a fat person. Clearly there is an eating gap. Is the healthy weight person becoming malnourished when the fat person gains 50 pounds? No, of course not. Lower income people are not being hurt when higher income people have more than they do. The idea that pushes the badness of the “income gap” is based on the zero sum game idea of wealth, that there is a finite amount of wealth and when the rich have more everyone else has less. This is untrue. Wealth is not limited. As the rich have gained 20% the poor have gained 50%, no one has lost. Everyone has gained. But 20% of a million is a lot more in real numbers than 50% of 50,000. But this is what happens when liberals abuse pie charts. They like to see what percentage people play and when the rich have a larger percent of the pie, they ignore that the pie itself is much much larger.  It’s all about forcing people to be the same to liberals.

What does all this capitalism have to do with civil rights? Historically equality of political rights was forced upon society by people of economic means. In the USA we have a history with gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and general cultural discrimination. The American colonists inherited English xenophobia and ethnocentrism which was complied by a century and a half of isolationism.  We are a land of immigrants and were made so kicking and screaming all the way. Even Ben Franklin in the 18th century opined how the Germanic peoples in Pennsylvania would never assimilate. (they make up the cultural foundation for a majority of white people in the USA now.)  Add to that the history of Slavery, propaganda used to justify taking land from the Indians, anti Hispanic (and anti catholic) history, and the anti Asian history we acquired during the gold rush.

All of these groups that have pushed for civil rights have done so because of the capitalist system. Members of these groups worked through the system, even when forced into their special segregated corner of it, such as Jim Crow South and the segregation in the American south west of Hispanic peoples.  At this time I have no examples of Hispanic economic growth until the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez, but for African Ameicans I point to Sarah Breedlove and Maggie Lena Walker who both were able to be economic tycoons (and women) in a very segregated south. They rose up and were not alone.

Economic freedom exists even when social and political oppression reigns. This is the beauty of capitalism. With enough economic freedom wealth can be accumulated and support systems for political rights can be put into place. As soon as African Americans started establishing themselves in reconstruction and post reconstruction situations they began to organize for political rights. They could not have done that with out the economic freedom to initially amass wealth.

in 1848 the Seneca falls convention was held and the women’s movement had a big kick off. Over the next fifty years women slowly made more economic and social gains that allowed them to push for political rights by the turn of the century. Those economic gains were the foundation for the 19th amendment and all state laws allowing women to vote running up to that.

in the 1950s and 1960s we see the greatest example of civil rights activity. It wasn’t the first but it was the biggest and it was televised making it more memorable. These happened after a hundred years of economic growth of African Americans and women. Key to this is world war two and the massive economic boom that happend in the post war era. Blacks and Women had access to good jobs during the war and they realized they could force society to accept them. Capitalism (even in its FDR ruled deformed shape) had lead the way. Capitalism was about making products and serving the customer, the industrialists needed labor and women and blacks were the only ones around. Desire to produce trumped sexism and racism. That in turn gave economic power to blacks and women they had never had before. When that was taken away in 1946 to return to the status quo it left a bad taste in their mouths and that lead to the civil rights movement.  Russia had a similar economic buildup, but no capitalism, thus no civil rights movement.

Capitalism is the enemy of liberalism because liberalism is devotion to the group and the state. Civil rights is not about black people, Hispanic people, women, it is about individuals having the rights of everyone else.


Thinking about a lot of science fiction I have read and watched and only one author, Ian Douglas, has produced a future I think likely. (This is not to say that no other author has done this, There is a great deal of sci-fi i have not yet encountered.) Many of his future stories include an economic system radically different from ours. He often writes about, in the background, AIs, Robots, and Nanotechnology that has fundamentally changed human economics and interaction.

What would the world be like if we had so much food and basic goods that we didn’t need to pay for it. What would we do for a living? So many questions and the exciting thing is that it is unfolding before our eyes right now.

Smoot-Hawley 1930 rant

I am doing research into the Great Depression. I am trying to find economic numbers to the month for 1929 and 1930 to nail down the actual start. Many people assume the big October crash caused it, But I tend to follow the line that a combination of Tariffs, wage freezes, and monetary contractions actually caused it.  I would eve go so far to say that blaming the stock market crash is an artifact of anti-capitalism in the mainstream of historians.

The stock market was making a recovery by late 29 and early 30, but there was a panic. This panic, as I partially discussed in my previous entry, resulted from post war recovery in Europe making life harder for american farmers.  The Smoot-Hawley Tariff act was signed into law June 17th 1930.

Some historians say that since trade was only 7% of our economy, it couldn’t have hurt us to lose 80% of our global trade. But Lets crunch a number here, 80% of 7% is 5.6%. That’s 1/20th of our income slashed. This would have a ripple effect. You couple this with an inability to reduce wages with our major businesses (most of whom were involved in that trade) and they could only reduce staffing levels rather than reducing wages as business had done before. Unemployment goes up rapidly in 1930 and 1931.

The Federal Reserve made issues worse, after trying to expand the money supply for a year, they reversed course and tightened money supplies. This is like pulling in the rescue rope before you snagged anyone.

FDR made the depression much worse by raising taxes on the rich and on businesses and jamming through union concessions that made it harder and harder to hire people. the Wagner act of 1934 reversed decades long trends of restricting unions and gave unions a seat at the table. This didn’t help recovery when wages were forced up.

How Hoover Hurt Humanity

ImagePresident Hoover stepped into the presidency in March of 1929. He was the third republican president of the decade and had made a name for himself as a great humanitarian in the Great War by feeding a lot of starving people.  But for much of the 1920s the stock market was roaring. A lot of shady dealing was going on and in October it crumbled. After the initial shock, the market rallied and things looked to be getting better. The country was shaken. Also going on in the 1920s was an agricultural problem.

During world war I the european farmers were killing each other in the war and american farmers were making a killing selling food with fewer European farm goods on the market. This fell apart early in the 1920s and American farmers were faced with decreasing crop prices. Part of the reaction to this was a government program to stabilize farm prices and a tariff. When the stock market spooked the country work was accelerated on this tariff. Americans had always bunkered down with protectionism and this time it hurt us baddy.  The Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 was the most expensive tariff the US ever enacted and caused very brutal reactions by european countries.  Global trade dropped to 20% of what it had been.

But that wasn’t all. The Stock Market crash caused an economic slow down as firms reorganzied. The tariff turned that slow down into a near stop. Hoover enacted wage freezes that prevented many businesses from lowering wages. So instead of cutting pay, they cut hours and jobs. (This is like obamacare now). So Instead of employment staying high and spending slowing down, employment dropped rapidly, down to about 75% (its 87% now) and spending didn’t slow down, it crashed.

Hoover, trying to help the working man had caused the working man to be horribly injured. Hoover did himself in. He tried to help everyone, and they hated him for it. His economic action was like a bull in a China shop.  And he paved the way for FDR, who can be likened to a nuke in a china shop.

Hoover watched unemployment go from 4% to nearly 30%. GDP shrunk 20%, global trade dropped 80% and all of this in the name of protectionism.  FDR did much of the same things, only he had much better control over the media. His famous fireside chats helped convince the public that they were being helped. Never mind it took 15 years for economic recovery to set in.

In 2008 left leaning publications tried to compare Bush to Hoover as “Do nothing presidents”. Alas they ignored all of Hoover’s interventions and Bush’s TARP program and GM Bailout. Obama and FDR have a great deal in common. Both continued failed policies of their predecessors but both had superior control over the media to tell the public that things were getting better when all statistical data clearly showed otherwise. Both imposed massive govenrment programs that are destined to bankrupt the country, but they are not economic, they are ideological. 

Time will tell. But things don’t look good.