Thursday, December 03, 2009

Google And Freedom Of Information


UPDATE: Dennis Mangan is now blogging at: Unfortunately, his many years of archived posts are not available there. I would hope that Google will reconsider the removal of his blog or, at the very minimum, provide him an xml file of his blog so that he can restore it at typepad.
Now you can read the story...

Recently, I wrote a post about Costco And Al Gore in which I prefaced my remarks with: "First, I love Costco. My wife spends a fortune there. Great merchandise; great prices."

Now I'm going to preface this post with a similar remark:
First, I love Google. Google provides enormous value and utility to millions of people with their search, email, documents, websites, and blogging utilities. I use Google for all of those and Google does not charge for those utilities. Google makes it's money from advertising, so in some respect it has a model similar to newspapers for making money, but is far more extensive in its offerings. Add YouTube and telephones to the equation and Google rules the interactive world.
That said, I have to say that I do have some concerns about Google... and similar service providers. The biggest concern is power over information. The "cloud" of software, document storage, email communication, website serving, and weblog hosting gives Google enormous informational power. I want to believe that Google is an ethical company and exchanges those services for the great enticement to advertisers within those services.

But there is the nagging feeling that so much information about so many people and organizations could be used in nefarious ways. Additionally, there is the concern that Google or other companies like Google could become the biasers of information... allowing only that information they deem fit for consumption into the world of information sharing.

As a blogger who often takes strong positions on many subjects, I wonder if some arbitrary decision will be made that my positions are politically objectionable to someone... someplace... so I should not be able to express those opinions through the blogging facility offered by Google. While it is their right [see here] to discontinue their service to those who they see as unfit to use their service, one must wonder... who makes such decisions? Does a complaint justify removing a blog? If so, perhaps only blogs about candy recipes are safe... until a diabetic complains.
I bring this up because Dennis Mangan's blog was recently removed by Google... at least that seems to be the case because Dennis wasn't aware of that happening for a brief while. This is a cached version of his blog for November. While he is controversial at times, he doesn't appear to arbitrarily "step over the line" He may discuss race or religion, but he appears to cite data and experts when doing so. Dennis is an extremely intelligent and contentious writer, but he allows anyone to comment on any of his posts... he uses free speech and promotes it.
It will be interesting to see if Google restores Dennis' blog. I've had the experience of having my blog remain off-limits for a day because someone at Google apparently did not like one of my post titles. I wrote to Google and the next day the blog was back in operation... without any explanation.
The most reasonable explanation may be the simplest: there was a complaint, Google took down the site in response, Google will investigate, Google will restore the site when the complaint is found to be unjustified.

Google has too much to do other than nit-picking intellectually honest blogs.
Nevertheless, I do back up my blog now.



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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)