Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cash for Clunkers . . . Will they do better with your appendix?

Update - July 31 - AP reports that Cash For Clunkers program suspended because the number of rebates unprocessed in the system is unknown. USA Today spins the same story that the program is suspended until the $1 billion appropriation can be increased to $4 billion.


Original Post -

The federal Cash For Clunkers program began July 1, but the regulations weren't ready for another three weeks. The program ends when the $1 billion is gone, so it's first come/first served. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn't paid out any money yet because they can't get their "on-line" system to work.

Dealers are fronting the money in order to not lose sales. In the Twin Cities, not one dealer has been paid by the government. Not one. Dealers can't be sure when they'll be paid or if they'll be paid. What a great country!

Gee, aren't you glad it isn't your appendix that's waiting.

Congressman John Conyers. . . James Madison . . . and for some strange reason . . . . . .The Treasure of Sierra Madre .

July 29, 2009 - Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan)*: “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill. What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”

February 27, 1788 - James Madison (later, fourth President of the United States) in Federalist Paper #62: "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule which is little known, and less fixed?"

'If you're the police where are your badges?'

Gold Hat:
'Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!'

*from Wikipedia entry for John Conyers:
He is married to Monica Conyers, who is former President Pro-Tempore of the Detroit City Council and the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation into political corruption in the city, and who has pled guilty to conspiring to commit bribery.

I thank for this contrast of Conyers and Madison.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ObamaCare = Cap & Trade = Letting Your 8-Year-Old Take the Family Car

Update -
Life immitating this blog: Sheriff's Office releases video of Congress managing health care.


Original Post -

Don't be naive!!!

  • Letting "the government" regulate something does not convene the best and the brightest to govern in Socratic fashion.
  • Letting "the government" regulate something is turning some unknown 30-year-old lawyer loose to concatenate sonorous phrases, subject only to
  • demands from legislators and lobbyists
  • demands from the White House
  • empire building by career bureaucrats
  • screw the consequences; the 30-year-old lawyer will be elsewhere by the time there are consequences (judicial reviews, prison sentences, citizen protests).
  • See my May 26, 2009, post, below, entitled "Two Fuses linked all the nastiest bits of the 2008 Economic Collapse" for a good example.
In 1972, I was in the corporate headquarters of Norton Simon, Inc., then owner of Hunt Foods, Wesson Oil, Canada Dry, McCall Pattern/Publishing (and soon: Max Factor, Halston, Avis). Nixon - see how his then-speechwriter thinks about all this - imposed wage and price controls. Some 30-year-old lawyer was writing what became thousands of pages of regulations that sounded great and every single case I handled went between the cracks of the regulations. There were criminal penalties for violating regulations that had never been previously applied or litigated; no one knew what they meant, but I could go to jail for doing it wrong.

Later, in Singapore, I got to know a guy who had handled the same work for another major corporation. He confided his company's point of view toward the same wage and price controls: utter contempt. "We shipped off the paperwork and forgot it. The dumb bastards were buried in exceptions and never dug their way out." I had to give high points for bravado, given the penalties provided in the law.

I wasn't born when Roosevelt set up the Interstate Commerce Commission, with the assurance that every trucker would receive documented rights to carry whatever commodities he was currently carrying; no one would lose anything. No one lost their past, but the future became an expensive mess. When my employer had to ship bridge-beams to somewhere in the Mid-West and the trucker didn't have interstate rights to carry bridge-beams - which were separate rights from structural steel or a hundred other varieties of steel - the bridge construction waited while we called around for an available trucker with the right trailer and the right rights. We had to pay the published rate (the government set rates for every commodity) and "fees."

Welcome to Cap & Trade {Waxman-Markey} carbon rights. Initially, it will be a mad grab for as much as everyone (everyone on the inside) can grab. And, then, everything that could be grabbed will be auctioned to the highest bidder - creating money out of a new commodity (the right to pollute) and punishing the chumps who aren't in on the game. Twenty years ago, the Federal Communications Commission declared that cable-television rights were a local monopoly owned by each city, township, whatever . . .and those cable monopolies were auctioned off faster than the speed of light while those transactions never quite saw the light of day - who paid what to whom and whose brother-in-law owned what - and why everybody's local politicians wore grins? Remember how cable-television was expensive and sucked until competition was permitted?

Welcome to ObamaCare, where you can't have more of this or less of that unless five criteria have been met retroactive to the year preceding the onset of the condition or the five-doctor governing board has agreed to an exception. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will issue guidelines to determining the sex of a patient. There's no end; the 1,000 page bill is just the beginning.

Don't forget that these 30-year-olds and their typists make mistakes. has a nifty item about new banking regulations that include compulsory bankruptcy for the largest financial institutions in the US - compulsory - and theorizes that this is a mistake. Ooops.

There is no way things get better or easier or cheaper when you impose government adminstration - because there is no incentive to improve and no alternative to compliance. The powers of government are wisely used only sparingly because every use is an opportunity for corruption and stagnation.

This is no way to maintain the integrity of your body or your life or your family. This is no way to maintain the growth and opportunity that has made the United States the leader of the world in freedom and innovation and quality of life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Voodoo Trifecta of Nonsense- - - Memetics, Hermeneutics & Semiotics !!!

Many years ago, I issued a fatwa on Umberto Eco for his intellectual depravity in The Name of the Rose and in Foucault’s Pendulum. Umberto Baby is a professor of semiotics. Those books looked at history and speculated exquisitely on what events might mean without ever providing a definitive insight or resolution. It was the intellectual equivalent of sexual awakening without sexual satisfaction. The fatwa remains outstanding.

In the exquisite debris about “structures of knowledge,” there ineluctably stands the principle known as The Fallacy of the Stolen Principle. When someone uses a principle to deny that same principle, a swindle is afoot. Specifically, when someone says, “There’s no such thing as truth,” it is reasonable to note that if the statement is true – or could be true – then the statement is false. The statement is “stealing” the concept of truth in order to deny that truth exists. Similarly, when someone (my favorite villain is the relatively-dead post-modernist Jacques Derrida) says that all meaning is relative to culture (or cuisine or couture), he/she/it is stealing the concept of an absolute in order to assert that everything is relative.

However, assaults on meaning and drastic surgery in education have resulted in a general public that does not learn primarily through the Aristotelian/Thomistic system of logic – through principle, induction and deduction. The general means of learning in western culture have become simple, inane repetition by electronic media. This is actually a degeneration of western culture into the older tribal habits of other parts of the world and of pre-Enlightenment Europe. The scarcity of American math and science students is partially accounted for by this re-primitivization of American education and culture.

The Voodoo Trifecta of Non-sense actually has something to contribute to this re-primitivized, media-saturated cultural phenomenon because the question remains how to educate – or, at least, motivate – people who are inured of reason?

The answer is, obviously, voodoo! You get witch-doctors to conjure the images and associations that will motivate the enormous numbers of people who do not know how to think analytically or synthetically.

How else do you account for the election on a platform of hope and change with no specifics? How else do you account for the legislature passing precedent-shattering laws while admitting that no one has read them? How else do you account for the White House spending $500,000/week on media management?

If the Republicans think they have a prayer to win in 2010 or 2012, they better begin with understanding this process. See a prior blog entry entitled “Defining Failure Before the Next Election.”

I can even recommend a witchdoctor: me.

Robert McNamara (1916-2009) A lifetime of failure – his and ours.

Robert McNamara failed at Ford, failed at Defense and failed at the World Bank. Such a life of consistent, high-profile failure says a lot about the world in which he failed. His credentials and intellect were universally respected in his day, but were inadequate. Why were they – and he – so universally acclaimed in the midst of manifest failure? Who was kidding whom?

In a few paragraphs, one cannot do comprehensive justice to the compelling failings of Robert McNamara. He “rationalized” Ford, leaving it rigid and unprepared for changes in labor, technology, consumer taste and competition. He “rationalized” as Secretary of Defense, using a Wagnerian hellish brew of ignorance and power to kill millions and accomplish nothing. He rationalized the lending program at the World Bank, supporting old political structures and creating destructive economic structures to the extent that the World Bank – 30 years later – still privately regrets what was done and still acts to atone for the misery inflicted on hundreds of millions.

Robert McNamara was a failure as a man mostly because he either ignored or could not see the futility of his ideas and actions. Robert McNamara was also a failure of his time – that his approach was lauded and his failures unseen or ignored for nearly his entire lifetime by the politicians and press. The fruit of his life was extraordinary evil.

My opinion is that McNamara was granted exceptional trust and power precisely because the world was changing rapidly. Neither politicians nor press could get a firm intellectual grasp on what was happening. They gave the whole over to Robert McNamara – “the numbers man” - in blind, primitive hope that he understood what they could not. The political, intellectual and moral failings of everyone involved were immense.

None of the above addresses the irony that the political left now blames McNamara when he was of the left, promoted and supported by the left. The political left now makes mighty noises about McNamara so that no one looks behind the curtain – at the responsibility and guilt that the left desperately hopes to deflect and avoid.