Thursday, September 28, 2006

Persistence Pays... Maybe

I received a call from the county Road Commission today. I have been a thorn in their side for quite awhile, but I have to say that Oakland County has been reasonably responsive. A lot of my issues are actually with the Michigan Department Of Transportation, but the county gets to process the complaints.

I did learn that some of the great things that were supposed to have been done over the past few years in the area of traffic management actually did not get done. All of those computerized signals that were supposed to optimize traffic... well, a lot of them aren't there. And, therefore, the high-traffic routes are disrupted by mechanical timers that lose their timing and create traffic "bunching"... clusters of vehicles that go from one red light to the next.

The Road Commission representative said that she would see to it that the specific problems I identified would be checked out by an engineer and corrected. That's great, but as long as the system is not upgraded, it will be a losing battle for commuters. Still, I applaud the Road Commission of Oakland County for trying to be responsive and responsible. Now, about MDOT....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Catholics Threaten Cartoonist

Angry Catholics around the world threatened cartoonist Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press with death and beheading for publishing the cartoon depicting "fallible" popes. Catholics chanted "death to Mike," "death to the infidel" as they burned copies of the newspaper and declared a "Holy Crusade" against the "unbeliever"...

or not.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Muslim Reaction: Same Song 2nd Verse

... a little louder, a little worse....

Back in February I wrote about Muslim reaction to cartoons about Mohammed.

It appears that nothing has changed:

  • An elderly nun was killed in Somalia
  • Two churches were set afire on the West Bank
  • Protests occurred in Iran
  • Al Crummy declared the that the Pope and the West are "doomed"
Meanwhile, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and others went about their daily lives.

As I said Friday, you can protest all you want, but if it is written and said and done... it's what it is.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pots and Kettles

My unprovable beliefs are better than your unprovable beliefs.

By SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press Writer

ANKARA, Turkey - Muslims around the world expressed outrage Friday over Pope Benedict XVI's comments on Islam, with Turkey's ruling party accusing him of trying to revive the spirit of the Crusades and scores taking to the streets in protest

Pakistan's parliament unanimously condemned the pope, and the Foreign Ministry summoned the Vatican's ambassador to express regret over the remarks.

The Vatican said the pope did not intend the remarks — made in Germany on Tuesday during an address at a university — to be offensive.

Benedict quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"
People really get angry when you express something negative about their most closely held beliefs... probably because they know that they can only believe what they believe, not prove what they believe... especially when there is a provable assessment about what they believe... this is what is written; this is what is said; this is what is done.

Of course, using a 14th century reference from someone who supported 14th century Christian beliefs and actions is a lot like the pot calling the kettle black.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ahh! September!!!

Golfing in the 60s (temperatures not scores) with cider and doughnuts afterward. The only thing that could be better is scoring in the 60s, too.

Okay, not everything in Michigan is getting bad.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Path to 9/11

Kudos to ABC for its two-day broadcast of "The Path To 9/11". If you didn't see it, you can.
ABC did a risky and classy thing with this broadcast.

It was very difficult to watch it, but it's something that Americans should. While the portrayals may have offended some, the people portrayed did not have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight. It was amazing that some government officials actually tried to do the right thing and, at times, succeeded. The message was pretty clear to anyone watching: us or them.

It was also pretty clear that the Geneva convention doesn't apply... even if politicans and judges want to say it does. But that's another matter.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Uncivilized and Barbaric

September 11, 2001: the actions of those who caused the destructive events were uncivilized and barbaric. That does not mean they were unintelligent; it just means they are representative of a way of thinking that is the opposite of: Unabridged (v 1.0.1) - civ‧i‧lized[siv-uh-lahyzd] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1.having an advanced or humane culture, society, etc.
2.polite; well-bred; refined.
3.of or pertaining to civilized people

It also means, however, that they are ignorant of the Western culture to the extent that they believe that the Western world will convert to Islam under threat of death... anymore than it would convert to Nazism under threat of death.

Right now, these so-called Jihadists are nothing more than a major annoyance to the West. They cause some damage and hurt some people, but do not represent a substantial threat. But, in the future, if they actually pose a significant threat to the West, there will be an unprecedented price they pay for that... and Geneva convention violations will be the least of their worries.

Civilization is a thin veneer when ones world is threatened. The Jihadists, whether wildly disturbed individuals or rogue nations will learn that even nuclear weapons in their hands ensures nothing except a larger target on their backs. They will learn that even though they may be intelligent, cunning, brutal and fanatic... they will be tremendously stupid to do more than they have already done.

I believe that if there is another military action against a rouge nation or geography dominated by these people, it will not involve many land-based troops or nation rebuilding. The patience of the U.S. is running very short... and the willingness to be "civilized" toward these people is evaporating.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Inflationary Education - Part 2

A recent comment regarding my assertion that the cost of college education, which affects tens of millions of Americans, as a large contributing factor to overall inflation was criticized as unfair with the blame being placed on Medicaid.

While it is true that there have been some cutbacks in state support recently, the fact remains that SINCE 1958 the rate of tuition increase has been from 1.5-2.0 times general inflation.

It really boils down to two things:

  1. colleges and universities can have large increases in tuition year after year because our society places a premium on a college education, and
  2. colleges and universities choose to have large increases in tuition year after year to fund non-teaching efforts (and fairly hefty salaries for college presidents).
Nevertheless, colleges and universities are quick to point out the fiscal management shortcomings of business and government.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Not Feeling Your Pain

Visitors to the Cafe Hayek might be surprised to see how little empathy? there is toward the situation so many wage earners find themselves in today: declining real income. Rather, there are strong arguments made that because technology has improved the products we buy, even if the median income is declining (which they argue is not the case), our standard of living is increasing rapidly.

I think the only qualification is whether declining real incomes (if that is the case) allows the same number of people to buy the kind of products they would have purchased had their incomes kept pace with the costs of living. After all, if you can't afford to buy better products, you can't really enjoy them... or is that too self-evident?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

South of the Border

With all of the focus on the Middle East, most Americans... and the government, too?... seem to be ignoring what is happening in Mexico.

There is a growing movement away from the idea of a free-market, centrist government toward the socialist approach of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The prospect of another Venezuela on our border is not exactly gratifying and could cause some additional political pressure to restrict the border even more than the planned wall and patrols.

Not much has happened to change the Hispanic tradition of bungled government in Mexico, Central America and South America. It looks like stupidity continues to have its own rewards there.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Can"t Find It?

Use the SEARCH BLOG feature at the upper left. For example, try "Global Warming".

You can also use the "LABELS" below or at the end of each post to find related posts.

Blog Archive

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CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)