Chicago Boyz Some Chicago Boyz know each other from student days at the University of Chicago. Others are Chicago boys in spirit. The blog name is also intended as a good-humored gesture of admiration for distinguished Chicago boys including those pictured above. 2020-02-06T15:41:20Z https:///feed/atom WordPress David Foster http:// <![CDATA[The Roaring Twenties, Revisited]]> https:///?p=61661 2020-02-06T15:41:20Z 2020-02-06T15:41:20Z that mentions some of the technological, social, and economic trends that were important in the 1920s, and goes on to discuss seven tipping points that the author thinks will be key in the 2020s.

Assistant Village Idiot <![CDATA[Fatherlessness]]> https:///?p=61659 2020-02-05T21:29:06Z 2020-02-05T21:29:06Z There are very clear numbers associating fatherlessness with increased crime and other pathologies, such as dropping out of school or early sexual experience.

Yet crime and dropping out have decreased in the society at large, even as fatherlessness in society has risen dramatically. Having a father who leaves or was never there seems to clearly be a bad indicator for an individual child. (Note: this is an association and could be genetic or environmental.) Yet the overall trend, even in fairly dramatic form, has not been able to override long-term improvement on those measures.  I wonder what is happening? I should look at the timetables for all of these and see if anything jumps out at me.  But first, I wondered whether any of you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 had already seen something on the matter.

Sgt. Mom <![CDATA[Books That I Cannot Wait Not to Read]]> https:///?p=61648 2020-02-05T00:12:08Z 2020-02-04T21:37:33Z posted last week with some musings on the current publishing scene – er, that is what I took to calling the Literary Industrial Complex, back when I first went indy around 2008 – Indy Publishing that is. When people ask me who my publisher is, I look at them loftily, and reply, “I own the publishing company!” Which I do – a nice little small enterprise that I came into as junior partner, and which the original founder sold to me when she regretfully concluded that she could no longer carry on. We do other authors’ books, as well as my own; regional and small-press stuff, nothing which would ever excite the interest of the Literary Industrial Complex or the minions thereof. No point to it at this late date; as o I associated with at the time often repeated – “If readers love-love-love the book, they don’t really care who published it.”

I’m basically sitting off to the side, watching the various Literary Industrial Complex shenanigans with the detached interest of someone driving past a really complicated multi-vehicle accident on the interstate; one of those which features smashed vehicles off on the shoulder or the median, in grotesque positions, attended by lots of law enforcement, fire engines, ambulances and wreckers. Nothing much to do with you500vip彩票安卓下载官网, you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 think – but that you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 do drive a motor vehicle on those streets, and such a smash-up is a possibility, even if statistically only a remote one. Books, authors, audience, readers – those of us in the indy author community do have that much in common with those who have caught the brass ring of the Literary Industrial Complex. The blessings of publicity which that happy situation can bestow upon the poor scribbler of fiction are enviable indeed: nothing like a generous advance, lashings of pre-release publicity, an Oprah pick, long lines at well-publicized and organized signing events … the stuff of which indy authors can only dream or perhaps nightmare about.

For myself, I wouldn’t mind a Cat-5 Hurricane storm level of condemnatory Twitter interest. It would do marvels for sales of our books and raise our visibility and I would care nothing because I barely use my Twitter account, as 9 out of 10 Twitteratti appear to be raving loons. My spoilsport daughter forbids this, pointing out that there are vicious and violently inclined raving loons out there; don’t want trouble, don’t start trouble.

The concerns American Dirt by one Janine Cummins; a breathless and much heralded novel about Mexican mother and son escaping from cartel violence in Mexico by joining a migrant convoy and entering illegally into the United States. The author has garnered a boatload of criticism for this; not so much for justifying confounding immigration law by holding a literary pity party for the victims of cartel violence in Mexico, but for doing so while not being of Mexican heritage. Apparently, this constitutes a thoughtcrime of cultural appropriation. Well … apparently, trying to imagine the life and concerns of someone completely different from you500vip彩票安卓下载官网, culturally, racially and every other way, is now an indictable offense against wokery. I suspect that Ms Cummins’ bigger crime in the eyes of writers of indisputably Hispanic background was that she got all the generous goodies of a huge advance, heaps of publicity, the Oprah pick, maybe even Hollywood movie interest – over and above those goodies to which they felt they had a better right.

Nothing much to me, of course; I’m just not that interested in reading American Dirt or even anything much on the anticipatory Literary-Industrial Complex horizon. I looked at ; the most hotly anticipated new releases of early 2020 and was left underwhelmed, first by the covers … seriously, is there a fashion now for artfully-minimalist covers? A couple of primary colors, primitive shapes and blah typefaces? This is the best, the very best that the Literary-Industrial Complex has to offer, as regards to cover art to what is supposed to be, after all, the first and best chance to make a good impression on a potential reader/buyer? Dolly Parton once remarked in another context, “You have to pay a lot of money to look this cheap.”

Casey Stengal also asked plaintively, “Can’t anyone here play this game?” once upon the day. Fortunately, we indy-inclined authors can, when it comes to scribbling entertaining yarns to allure the casual reader. Which is good for us – especially considering the looks of our Literary-Industrial Complex-sponsored competition of late. Discuss as you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 wish – and consider checking out the weekly Sunday morning book discussion thread; talk of books, reading recommendations and a weekly picture of ghastly pants.

Jonathan http:// <![CDATA[Quotes of the Day]]> https:///?p=61641 2020-02-04T01:27:43Z 2020-02-04T01:25:22Z “There’s no algorithmic substitute for wisdom.”

“On any issue, the people who believe there are two sides keep getting shouted down by those who believe there is only one.”

Assistant Village Idiot <![CDATA[Unemployment]]> https:///?p=61639 2020-02-03T23:59:05Z 2020-02-03T23:59:05Z Some NH towns are below 2% for unemployment now. As a consequence, you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 will be seeing more people working who have bad attitudes and/or have no idea what they are doing.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a good thing that no one, neither their families nor the government, has to work to support them. Even partial survival in the workforce is a benefit for everyone concerned. It’s just that I want you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 to remember to be of good cheer when you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 are being served by knuckleheads, grifters, and punks. It’s all for the best. It is making it harder on charities that rely on volunteers, though.  They increasingly have to turn to retired people, who have bad backs and bad digestions, to get their jobs done. It doesn’t make low unemployment a bad thing.  It’s just a downside.

There is also a growing movement of people on disability working under the table, because they can get hired and make extra.  I want to be supportive of everyone obeying the law and not abusing the system, but in the longer view I am not that upset.  First, it’s not likely to last forever. The economy is chugging along, but things happen, like China having a new coronavirus and suddenly depressing world trade; it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be at least a minor downturn in the next few years.* Secondly, people get reminded how having a job and doing something useful is satisfying and will strive to keep it even if growth slows.  Some will enter legal employment programs (MEAD in NH) that allow them to keep their insurance, so they are not only employed, but even paying a bit in taxes. That is psychologically a good thing.  I had psychologist friend years ago who followed these things, and insisted that requiring people to pay something in taxes, even if it means giving them more in cash benefits, was good for both the recipients and the national morale of everyone feeling that they are in this together.  He was very big on not helping the poor with “invisible” benefits like housing and Medicaid, which don’t have clear dollar signs.  Those, he said, make the rich feel better but do less for the poor – and the national understanding – than benefits with dollar signs.  “People understand dollar signs very well,” he used to say.  “They don’t understand safety nets nearly as well.” I can’t prove this to you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 and I may be deluding myself here.  But that does seem intuitively true.

A few will even re-enter the legal workforce, having found a slot in a business that needs them and is willing to put up with their limitations. Ex-cons, the dull or socially clumsy, and  obviously-pregnant women have initial entry barriers to employment that are higher than the continuing barriers. .

Back to my original point: rejoice that the irritating SOB isn’t sitting at 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 waiting for his mother or girlfriend to bring him food, like a limpet.

*The reader should know that my economic predictions are consistently wrong.

Michael Kennedy <![CDATA[The fake impeachment is almost over.]]> https:///?p=61628 2020-02-02T00:37:42Z 2020-02-01T18:30:34Z The hysteria that began when Donald Trump won the 2016 election has labored and brought forth a mouse that was dealt with today in the Senate. There are still a few blows to administer, as the State of the Union speech Tuesday before a humiliated Democrat Congress, and the final vote to end the farce Wednesday. The Mueller “Investigation” which ended the Russia Hoax, was anticlimax. Then came the Ukraine manufactured crisis.

The level of corruption by the Biden family, is explored in Peter Schweizer’s book, All the Bidens, not just Hunter the coke addled son, but the brothers and even the sister, are riddled with corruption. The Ukraine matter is just one of the tales in the book.

The Russia collusion was largely based on a “dossier” paid for by the Clinton campaign and probably the product of Russian disinformation. Thus, the political campaign that colluded with Russia was that of Hillary Clinton, not Trump.

I had my doubts about Trump in the beginning.

I am not a Trump supporter but I am intrigued at the steady progress he is making toward success. I have been a fan of Angelo Codevilla’s characterization of America’s Ruling Class.

The recent collapse of Republican Congressional resistance to the left’s political agenda as noted in the surrender of Paul Ryan to the Democrats in the budget, has aggravated the Republican base and its frustration.

Ryan went on Bill Bennett’s radio show on Tuesday to tell his side of the story, which involves the fact that he inherited from outgoing Speaker John Boehner an unfavorable budget framework, as well as some of the tradeoffs involved (especially defense spending). He also laid out the argument I’ve heard elsewhere, which is that he needed to “clear the decks” so that a real return to “regular order” budgeting next year will be possible. You may or may not be persuaded, but the contrast with Boehner is fairly plain, I think.

Ryan, after the election, was a disgrace.

In spite of Democrat and some Republican hysteria, Trump has moved along, cancelling crippling regulation and negotiating trade reforms with Mexico, Canada and China. Meanwhile the hysteria grew.

Then Mueller flamed out with no payoff for the millions spent.

Mueller’s anti-Trump staffers knew they were never going to be able to drive Trump from office by indicting him. The only plausible way to drive him from office was to prioritize, over all else, making the report public. Then, perhaps Congress would use it to impeach. At the very least, the 448 pages of uncharged conduct would wound Trump politically, helping lead to his defeat in 2020 — an enticing thought for someone who had, say, attended the Hillary Clinton “victory” party and expressed adulatory “awe” for acting AG (and fellow Obama holdover) Sally Yates when she insubordinately refused to enforce Trump’s border security order.

Next came the ridiculous Ukraine matter.

The memos raise troubling questions:
1.) If the Ukraine prosecutor’s firing involved only his alleged corruption and ineptitude, why did Burisma’s American legal team refer to those allegations as “false information?”
2.) If the firing had nothing to do with the Burisma case, as Biden has adamantly claimed, why would Burisma’s American lawyers contact the replacement prosecutor within hours of the termination and urgently seek a meeting in Ukraine to discuss the case?

Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) since the summer of 2018, fearing it might be evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws. First, they hired a former federal prosecutor to bring the information to the U.S. attorney in New York, who, they say, showed no interest. Then, the Ukrainians reached out to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

The memos refer to Hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents — many from inside the American team helping Burisma to stave off its legal troubles — conflict with Biden’s narrative.

It is clear that Ukraine participated in the Clinton/DNC efforts to defeat Trump in 2016 and damage his administration after the election.

In February 2014, the Ukrainian Euromaidan uprising finally forced the flight to Moscow of Manafort’s client, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. With American attention intensifying as tensions boiled over in Kiev, Manafort reentered the FBI’s investigative cross-hairs, as did other American political consultants who did work that benefitted the Party of Regions.

Yanukovych’s abdication delighted the Obama administration, which was quick to back the new administration of President Petro Poroshenko. Kiev became so dependent on Washington for desperately needed financial support that, by threatening to withhold funds, Vice President Joe Biden pressured Poroshenko into firing Viktor Shokin, one of his top prosecutors. Shokin just happened to be investigating a natural gas company called Burisma, which just happened to have placed Hunter Biden, the vice president’s son, on its board of directors.

It was easy for the Obama people to force Ukraine to participate in the plot to take down Trump.

In 2014, NABU alerted the bureau to a ledger said to have belonged to Yanukovych, bête noire of the new Ukrainian government. The ledger purports to show $12.7 million in cash payments to Manafort. The FBI used the information to interview Manafort, but the authenticity of the ledger has not been established. Manafort dismisses it as fake, contending that the Party of Regions paid him by wire transfer, not cash. Ukrainian officials have conceded that they cannot prove the payments reflected in the ledger were made. The case was thus reportedly closed with no charges. (Perhaps not coincidental to the Obama Justice Department’s decision not to pursue the case: Manafort had brought influential Democrats into his Ukrainian work, such as former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig and the consulting firm started by Obama and Clinton adviser John Podesta — a firm that is still run by Podesta’s brother.)

Gregg Craig was later prosecuted for the same FARA violations that landed Manafort in prison. A DC jury quickly acquitted him. Manafort is still in prison.

The impeachment caper ended this week with the final end to be posted next week with the Senate vote but it is all over but the next attempt by Democrats to take down Trump.

The only thing that would really bring this to an end will be an electoral spanking similar to that administered to that of the Labour Party last fall after the BREXIT affair.

Sgt. Mom <![CDATA[Going, Going. Gone]]> https:///?p=61623 2020-01-31T22:16:59Z 2020-01-31T22:13:33Z The credibility of the mainstream press establishment is shimmering into nothingness, like the last bit of winter snow after a week of warm spring days; just as our respect and trust for such federal bureaucracies and establishments like the FBI are similarly evaporating. While acknowledging and accepting that such establishments are operated by mere mortals, with all the weaknesses and moral failings that ordinary human beings are heir to, and grudgingly accepting the understanding that the establishment news media trends strongly to the left in political sympathies … look, we can accept all that and a certain degree of human bias, but what’s getting hard to swallow of late is the sheer, mind-numbing, flaming incompetence of them all. Which might be a blessing, for terrifying competence on the part of our current Ruling Class and their minions would make protesting or opposing them that much more difficult. Instead, as Kirk so memorably put it last week,

“What we have is, instead, an aristocracy of dunces, men and women who tell the rest of us how smart they are, and then screw up the entirety of civilization based on fantasies they’ve come up with. The rest of us need to start recognizing that the emperor not only isn’t wearing any clothes, he’s drunk off his ass and waving his wing-wang in our faces. The people who’ve flim-flammed their way into power are all dangerously inept and terminally deluded. If you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 doubt me, open you500vip彩票安卓下载官网r eyes and look around you500vip彩票安卓下载官网rself: Is there anything, anything at all that these soi-disant “elites” have gotten right in the last century? Anything at all?”

The combination of ineptitude and delusions of superiority looks to be shattering American institutions and establishments like gaping fissures opening across the landscape in a 1970s earthquake disaster movie; the establishment mainstream media, establishment publishing, city and state governance, the major producers of our entertainment, law enforcement … you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 name it, and some notable in that establishment is telling us how superior they are to us deplorables … as they pedal in mid-air over a chasm, rather like Wylie Coyote, Super-Genius, just before he drops like an anvil to the bottom of the gorge below. Viewing figures for the Grammy awards broadcast is down, CNN is a laughingstock, a much- – which got the nod from Oprah is now going down the vortex of cancel-culture, and the FBI took a break from trying to reverse the results of the 2016 election and . The last-named gentleman apparently took a break from doing something innovative regarding the poop-filled streets of that place, to engineering sweetheart deals for such entities as lavished generous bribes and perks upon him, to such a degree that the FBI was brought to take notice of it all. Social justice wokery turns college campuses into overpriced bear-pits; and we pay more and more for public education and get less and less out of the whole project, while the national news media pursues jiggery-pokery, fakery-wokery hoax news. Really, as the Diplomad suggested – you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 could make a drinking game out of listing all the ways in which our Ruling Class attempts to perpetuate news hoaxes on us, by means of panicking us into becoming good little biddable serfs.

What may save us all is that in the main, and at street-level in communities which still function (which is most of them, with certain bi-coastal, urban and prog-managed exceptions) we are still a high-trust society. The majority of us can still trust our neighbors, coworkers, and our local elected officials; and that may be the saving of us all. Discuss as you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 wish.

David Foster http:// <![CDATA[Worthwhile Reading & Viewing]]> https:///?p=61614 2020-01-30T01:45:34Z 2020-01-30T01:45:34Z It is unwise to let you500vip彩票安卓下载官网r dislike for certain individuals to run away with you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 .

Thoughts on personal productivity

.  From Tyler Cowen’s summary:

He explicitly considers the possibility that the rate of scientific innovation may decline, in part because the austere and moral mentality of semi-rural family life, which is most favorable for creativity in his view, may be replaced by the whirlpool of distractions associated with the urban lifestyles of the modern age.

…the 2020 edition.

.  A little advice for the captains of those boats:

Kevin Villani <![CDATA[Are Professional Economists Idiots?]]> https:///?p=61599 2020-01-23T20:13:15Z 2020-01-22T00:12:47Z That’s the view of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Wharton MBA, mathematical finance PhD and author of and .

Taleb, a libertarian, aims his critique of intellectuals yet idiots (IYI) broadly but particularly at the contemporary economics profession. His targets are those described by :

“The professional economist is the specialist who is instrumental in designing various measures of government interference with business.”

The economics profession in the U.S. today is mostly involved in research and education that broadly investigates “market failures” or is directly engaged in public action – regulation, tax, expenditure and off budget guarantees – to manage industries and the macro-economy purportedly in the public interest. This is the opposite of laissez faire economics, political advice to a 17th century French minister to “let it be” later developed into an economic theory by the 18th century philosopher Adam Smith and popularized by 20TH century economist Milton Friedman, a libertarian and cofounder of FFE (and my advisor, twice removed). How and to what end did the economics profession evolve from a philosophy of leaving economic decisions to individuals in the marketplace with few exceptions to public economic management of the United States and global economy?

From Individual to Collective Economic Decision-making

Benjamin Franklin, considered the leading intellectual and inventor of the 18th century whose inventions are still in use today, admitted to Harvard at age 12, but instead indentured to his brother’s tannery, advised

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”

That’s his rendering of a Confucian saying dating back thousands of years. Taleb, a Wall Street trader prior to his writing and academic career, echoes Franklin’s emphasis on direct experience, arguing that capitalism isn’t an ideology or system but a set of mutually agreeable arrangements worked out over the centuries through trial and error by market participants who bear the full consequences of their decisions.

Exiting the Constitutional Convention, Franklin, a great political theorist, when asked whether the Constitution had created a monarchy or republic replied

“a republic, if you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 can keep it.”

Taleb argues that if given the choice Franklin would have more accurately described the Constitution as a federation with powers over economic activity limited to promoting free trade among states. But these limits were lost more than a century later when progressive President Woodrow Wilson first created the Federal Reserve System then used entry into the to “make the world safe for democracy” as the means to create the “modern state” managed on scientific economic principles. A half century later, focusing on the “principal –agent” problem of the modern corporation run by managers who had no “skin in the game” in (1967) argued for public management by an intellectual elite, replacing business experience with academic success.

From Competitive to Crony Market Capitalism and Rent-Seeking

Franklin had warned the Convention delegates that

“We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”

The libertarian U.S. Constitution never mentioned democracy, and principal-agent conflicts are orders of magnitude worse in the public sector. As theorists have since noted, we neither hang deep state managers nor otherwise hold them accountable. Democracy may depend on the deep state as political theorist argued in a recent Wall Street Journal article (12/20/2019), but it can’t hold it accountable, as argued in a subsequent Journal article. Accountability erodes with each additional layer of government as decisions are elevated from “at risk” individuals in the marketplace to private, local, state, and federal governing bodies and is virtually eliminated at international entities (e.g., the IMF and World Bank). In no case is democracy a substitute for markets because the most intolerant minority with the most to gain or lose inevitably dominates.

Market capitalism is . Is there a sufficiently good reason for collective economic management? Adam Smith never argued in his (1759) that the invisible hand was perfect: the actual favored nationalism over globalism. In (1776) he did say:

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices”

but in the same paragraph admonished government from any attempt to do anything about it. Britain had long been what we now call a crony capitalist economy that heavily favored the political elite, which in Smith’s view further government intervention would only exacerbate.

Taleb’s “idiots” are Galbraith’s inexperienced intellectual elite economic managers and advisors who have no skin in the game. Professional economists are generally smart, rational (many ideologically dedicated ”virtue merchants”) exploiting a one sided trade, in economic jargon crony “rent seekers” – redistributing income (rents) from the generally lower income non-politically connected. (I would argue there is a minority in resistance, primarily in business schools and conservative think tanks.) It’s their statistical analysis and reasoning to justify rent seeking opportunities he often finds idiotic, faux science or scientism.

Public intervention to mitigate downside risk (as do e.g., public pension and retirement systems, housing, school and other entitlements, loan and deposit guarantees and other forms of insurance (e.g., flood) that can supposedly be financed without pain by taxing the idle rich or unlimited debt financed by money printing ( is a religion promising heaven without the threat of hell. Come Judgment Day when the system fails systemically, well insulated politicians and bureaucrats will subsequently label it “an extremely rare and random “Black Swan” event that nobody could have seen coming” and professional economists will join the chorus. The general public gets fleeced and market capitalism gets blamed.

Name any of sixty economic issues and presidential candidate . The lyrics to the Beatles swan song album of a half century ago concludes “whisper words of wisdom, ”

Kevin Villani


Kevin Villani was chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985. He has held senior government positions, has been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published on how politicians and bureaucrats with no skin in the game caused the sub-prime lending bubble and systemic financial system failure.

Sgt. Mom <![CDATA[The New Versailles]]> https:///?p=61597 2020-01-21T21:15:54Z 2020-01-21T21:15:39Z My daughter actually suggested this line of thought; that the current ruling class (or those who think themselves to be so) in the United States are perilously akin to the French nobility – those who were termed the ancient regime, of pre-revolutionary France. The ruling class were gathered together deliberately at Versailles, where all was all as far as the nobles and ruling class were concerned for at least a hundred years.

There, amid the squalid splendors of Versailles, they were gathered together, under the eye of the King, to frivol their lives away, distracted by spectacles and the vicious grasp for and fall from power within a very small realm. Only instead of a vast palace, outbuildings, gardens and minor palaces, our ruling class disports in a slightly larger venue, that of Washington, DC and the surrounding suburbs.

But the airs and graces, the privilege and entitlements, the mind-set of a ruling and a ruled class is plain to see. There is ‘us, the noble and entitled to rule’ and ‘all those grubby, smelly, Walmart-shopping peasants’ out there, beyond the Beltway and the boardrooms, beneath the notice or consideration of the grandees … except when our presence is required, say when there is an election, a war, there are taxes to be paid, or whenever one of the highest ruling nobles need a suitable (and racially/sexually diverse) background crowd for a photo op.

The result is the same, though; an out-of-touch elite, amusing themselves by playing at governing, diverting themselves with award ceremonies, cavorting in front of any handy camera for whatever purpose, dressing up in the latest exaggerated fashions and trend-of-the-moment causes, and issuing the occasional royal decree. These decrees are deployed in the confident and hasty assumption that such will solve whatever has the peasantry restive and resentful; invariably when the royal decree makes the problem infinitely worse, it’s the fault of the peasantry for not properly appreciating the benefits and those good intentions of the ruling class so generously bestowed upon them. It’s not just the royal environmental decrees, which I wrote about last week, which make things worse – it’s the other decrees; the one which limited free-lance contractors in California comes to my mind almost at once, as well as the New York no-bail law, and the whole Obama Administration Title Nine fiasco, which enabled campus kangaroo courts to investigate and rule on sexual offenses among college students.

The nobles diverted themselves at Versailles, serenely out of touch but convinced that they weren’t, not a bit of it indeed! while outside the palace precincts, matters got worse and worse, and not only the laborers and peasantry became increasingly disaffected – but the middle class as well. Unlike the laborers and peasantry, who were almost always unhappy and with damned good reason, the middle class had the means, ability and confidence to make their unhappiness with incompetent misrule made known in such a manner that the nobles couldn’t brush them away.
And that was when things got … interesting. For a certain value of interesting. Discuss as you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 wish.

David Foster http:// <![CDATA[Book Review: The Good Jobs Strategy, by Zeynep Ton]]> https:///?p=60771 2020-01-20T21:45:01Z 2020-01-19T21:58:19Z Retail businesses are associated with low pay and high employee turnover–especially in the case of those retailers who offer low prices–and the same is largely true of customer-service call centers.  It has been generally assumed that low wages in these operations are a necessary concomitant of low prices for consumers, and that only businesses serving a premium-price customer base can afford to pay high wages.

Comes now , arguing that the low-wage strategy is not the only one available to retailers and other customer-service businesses that need to offer low prices, and that indeed often–usually–it is not the best strategy.  She draws connections between the pay and hiring strategy of a business and the operational basis on which it is managed.  To wit:

Low pay and high turnover implies minimal employee training, because you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 can’t afford extensive training for employees who are going to leave in a matter of months.  Minimal training implies less operational flexibility, because employees will not be cross-trained for other functions.  An environment of high turnover and not-well-trained employees implies that employee functions must be strictly proceduralized, often to the point of excessive rigidity.  And the lack of flexibility driven by minimal training and experience makes it harder to build in appropriate staffing “slack” to handle peak demand situations.  The lack of slack and flexibility leads to endless emergency rescheduling of personnel, reducing morale and further increasing turnover.  (She provides some vivid examples of what this endless and short-notice rescheduling can mean to the personal lives of employees.)

On the opposite site, higher pay can contribute to lower turnover, making more-extensive training economically viable.  Better-trained employees can more easily perform multiple functions, so that absences or staffing imbalances have a less-harmful effect.  Better-trained and more highly-motivated employees don’t need micromanagement, either by human managers or by systems and procedures.

Ho, hum, you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 say, what’s new?…people, especially consultants and professors, have been writing for years about why employees should be treated well and how it pays off to do so.  How is this book different from a million of others?

is, in my view, something quite different from the typical “just treat ’em right” sort of soft, warm, and cuddly advice often found in books and LinkedIn posts.  The author ties the feasibility of the high-pay / high-expectations strategy to effective operational management, with the right systems, procedures, and incentives to enable such operational excellence.

An interesting example the author mentions is that of 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 Depot. She credits much of the chain’s early success to its high-quality associates–“knowledgeable and helpful and willing to do whatever it took to help you500vip彩票安卓下载官网, even if that meant explaining to you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 that you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 didn’t actually need what you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 came to buy.”  The associates tended to be former plumbers, electricians, etc–and they were employed full-time.  HD grew very rapidly–“customers were driving two hours to go to its stores and, once they experienced the service and great prices, they kept coming back”

But, with the growth came problems.  There was a lack of discipline in the stores, in how the stores communicated with headquarters, how the company selected its products, and how it communicated with suppliers.  “In 2000, bills and invoices were still processed by hand, and headquarters communicated to 1134 stores via fax because there was no companywide email.”  In 2008, two senior IT executives (newly hired from Walmart) concluded that 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 Depot’s IT systems were about where Walmart’s had been in 1991.  In summary, HD had become “a classic example of a service company that did not fully appreciate the role of operations in making customers and investors happy…Operations are all those factory-like activities that a business has to carry out in order to provide whatever it is that it sells. ..In a retail store, for example, operations involves things like having the right product in the right place, having a fast checkout, and having a clean store.” Zeynep Ton says that internal measurement systems often don’t focus on such matters–at one retailer she worked with, “Twenty percent of the (store manager’s) score had to do with the store’s customer interactions.” In this chain, “mystery shoppers” would score the store on things like how the employees greeted customers and made eye contact.  But, she notes, “kindness or friendliness won’t make up for operational incompetence. ..It is hard for you500vip彩票安卓下载官网r dry cleaner to make you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 happy if you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 can’t wear you500vip彩票安卓下载官网r favorite suit to an important interview because they didn’t get it cleaned on time.”

When Robert Nardelli became HD’s CEO in 2000, the systems and procedures problems were rapidly addressed.  Gross margins and net profit margins increased substantially.

BUT, “the culture of cost-cutting was soon felt at the local level, where store employees, who were once at the center of 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 Depot’s success and at the top of 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 Depot’s inverted pyramid, became a cost to be minimized.”  The company started hiring part-timers, in the name of both staffing flexibility and cost…the knowledge level of the typical employee encountered by a customer fell noticeably.  By 2005, HD was ranked lower in customer satisfaction than was K-mart.  Same-store sales growth fell and even became negative.  Nardelli left the company in 2007.

Zeynep Ton summarizes:  Operational designs don’t execute themselves.  They depend on having the right people, and having those people motivated to do the right things.

The book discusses the actual complexity that exists in many seemingly-simple businesses, and the fact that individual employee decisions do make a difference. “If you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 are a supermarket employee shelving a case of toothpaste and all but two of the tubes fit on the shelf, should you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 take the two extras back to storage or would it be better to squeeze them onto the the shelf, even if it doesn’t look so good?  If a tomato looks just a little soft, should you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 take it to the back room now or wait until it looks worse?  Maybe it will be just fine for a customer who wants to make tomato sauce…it is hard, if not impossible, to make such work so simple and simple and standardized that anyone can do it without exercising judgment.  Things happen in real time at retail stores, and employees have to learn to react.”

(It is incredibly refreshing to see a B-school professor thinking and writing at this level of detail and specificity)

One interesting company discussed in the book is QuikTrip, a large chain of convenience stores combined with gas stations.  The company is very selective in its hiring….the author compares getting hired there with the difficulty of getting into an Ivy League college.  In the Atlanta area, 90% of applicants don’t even quality for an interview, and of those who do, only one out of five is selected.  Turnover rate among QuikTrip employees is only 13%, far lower than the industry as a whole.  The chain emphasizes speed and flexibility…”QuikTrip’s fast checkout is a site to behold.  One thing that makes it so fast is that any employee can use any register at any time without making the customer wait.  If you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 regularly shop at a supermarket, you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 know it’s no fun waiting for the cashier do a changeover.  The other thing that makes QuikTrip so fast is that employees have been trained to ring up three customer per minute.”  She says that the employees can even calculate change in their heads!

Other examples discussed include Costco, Trader Joe’s, In-N-Out Burger, and the Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona.


At Mercadona, there is a formal process improvement program:  for example, an employee suggested that vegetables used in stew should be displayed near the stew meat, so that customer could find all the ingredients they need for stew without heading over to the produce section.  Like all such proposals at Mercadona, the proposal was first tested in a single store, then in a region, then finally rolled out to the entire chain.  (I have some questions about how this actually worked in practice:  what about the customer who wants, say, carrots or celery for some purpose other than stew-making? I’d think you500vip彩票安卓下载官网’d have to stock the vegetables in two areas, requiring double restocking activity…whatever the solution, apparently Mercadona found the change to be worth it.)

The author devotes much attention to inventory management and its pathologies.  Wal-Mart and Target are both famous for the amounts of data they collect and the uses to which they put it…but:

A former Target cashier said she was under so much pressure to ring up sales as quickly as possible, so if a customer bought 10 bottles of Gatorade–in two flavors–she would scan the first one and then hit the quantity key for ten.  The inventory system thought the store had sold 10 lime-flavored Gatorades and no cherry-flavored Gatorades, rather than the mix that had actually just been sold.  And the cashier, who had received only 8 hours of training before starting work, probably wasn’t even aware of the problem she was creating via this shortcut.

The author cites a study of another company ($10 billion in sales) which found that the system had the right information for only 35% of the products…for the other 65%, the discrepancies between the system inventory balances and the actual quantities available averaged 5 units…a third of the target stocking levels.  In one case, a certain item was continually out of stock, to the frustration of a regular customer.  It turned out that the inventory system thought there were 42 of these on hand, whereas there were actually none.  AND, since this particular store hadn’t sold any units in several weeks (because they didn’t have any to sell), the system automatically reduced the target stocking level for that item!

(Faust, in Goethe’s eponymous play, asserted that “One mind is ample for a thousand hands”…an approach that has definite limitations, even/especially when the mind is an electronic one.)

Poor inventory data can lead to strategic constraints as well as to operational inefficiencies:  In the case of Borders Books, it was not feasible to integrate online shopping with delivery from the then-existing stores, because the “phantom stockout” level was so high–“Imagine what would happen if, say, 18 percent of time time, online customers who zipped over to a store because the book they wanted was supposed to be there wasn’t–or at least found that no one could find it.”

Zeynep Ton believes that retailers tend to get caught in a vicious downward cycle:

“At most retail chains, payroll budgets are determined as a percentage of sales.  For each month or week, store managers are given a target for payroll as a percentage of sales.  So when sales drop, store managers will do whatever they can to bring their labor budgets down in proportion.  They will schedule fewer hours or shift the mix of employees toward more part-timers.”  But if the reason for the drop in sales is that customers are responding to poor customer services, then cutting employees will likely make things worse…leading to still further drops in sales and consequent further drops in customer service levels.  This is a malign positive feedback loop, aka a vicious circle.

In manufacturing, productivity improvements allowed broad-based increases in wages and standards of living, a famous example being Henry Ford’s five-dollar day.  Indeed, some of these productivity improvements demanded higher wages…one reason for Ford’s pay increase was that workers found assembly-line work so unpleasant that they wouldn’t put up with it, otherwise.  Can something of the same sort happen in the lower-paid realms of the American service sector?

Certainly, there are millions of people who can perform well at a higher level and in a more flexible environment than their jobs now provide–and certainly, there are a lot of mediocre-to-outright-terrible systems and procedures in American retail and service operations.  And with an improving economy, higher wages and/or better work environments are going to be required to retain employees who do have alternatives, just as Henry Ford had to pay his workers more to keep turnover within manageable levels.

Not everyone can perform in the environments represented by the companies presented as positive examples in this book, of course.  Some individuals have severe educational deficiencies…what % of American high-school graduates could do change-making in their heads, as is apparently expected of QuikTrip people?….and some have unfixable attitude problems, such as a strong dislike for making decisions and taking responsibility.  But such people are hopefully a considerable minority.

Overall, a valuable and thought-provoking book.  Highly recommended.

Your thoughts?

Jonathan http:// <![CDATA[“NO NUTS”]]> https:///?p=61553 2020-01-18T00:40:41Z 2020-01-18T00:39:18Z
Just nuts

Assistant Village Idiot <![CDATA[State Capacity Libertarianism – an Update]]> https:///?p=61550 2020-01-18T00:12:19Z 2020-01-18T00:12:06Z I posted on this new topic of Tyler Cowan’s .  I have seen other commentary since then.  Law and Liberty had.

But my largest disagreement is that Tyler misses what is most problematic about modern libertarianism. In my view, modern libertarianism has too narrow a view of social harm and too limited a role for government in encouraging mediating institutions that help ameliorate such harms. Tyler underscores a certain obtuseness on this point by professing not to be able to understand the difference between classical liberalism and libertarianism, except that classical liberalism was a 19th-century philosophy suited to solving the problems of its times, but not ours.

It’s a thoughtful response. 

Sgt. Mom <![CDATA[The Perfect Villain]]> https:///?p=61544 2020-01-16T22:17:34Z 2020-01-16T22:17:34Z For the life of me, I cannot recall who first observed that environmentalists now make the most perfectly hissable villains, because they almost invariably make matters worse in the long run. Absolute certainty in their own mind that their dictates are the one and only true way, combined with reluctance to consider any other method, and of late, just about all their prescriptions have had lamentable results … yes, there is a perfect villain. Smug, certain … and wrong. Catastrophically, earth-shatteringly, human-damaging, and economically-harmful wrong.

I will concede that it didn’t start out that way, of course. It’s perfectly reasonable to want clean air to breathe; I remember how smog in LA made my throat hurt when I was a kid, before 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 incineration of household waste was banned. It’s reasonable and salutary not to dump industrial wastes into rivers; having a river catch fire is at the very least, unexpected and embarrassing. It’s also reasonable and salutary not to bury 55-gallon drums of dangerous waste products where a housing development can later be built over them. It’s also quite reasonable to refrain from hunting game or apex predator species to the point of extinction; an understanding which has been in place for all of the previous century. And finally, it is eminently reasonable to expect a general and accurate understanding on the part of engaged citizens of how ecologies work. Things in the natural world all fit together, sometimes obviously, and sometimes obscurely; and pulling a thread at once corner will inevitably cause something in another corner to unravel, often in completely unforeseen ways.

Alas, reason and moderation seem to have gone out of fashion among the professional environmental scold; perhaps it’s something to do with diminishing returns; chasing tinier and tinier causes, once the big projects were done and dusted. It is said that in academia the fights are so vicious because the stakes are so small. In matters environmental, as the great causes were won, the professional enviro-scolds become even more dogmatic over smaller and smaller elements. Bit by bit, the environmental became personal. In service to the professional enviro-scolds their sympathizers in the political/bureaucratic realms have managed to land us all with inefficient low-flow toilets, limiters on shower-heads and hot-water heaters, dishwashers that don’t really wash dishes, washing 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 that don’t really clean clothes, crappy curly-whirly lightbulbs which create their own environmental hazard when broken. Environmentally sustainable is apparently newspeak for “crappy, inefficient and expensive.” And that’s apparently just the start; eventually we’re all supposed to not have electricity at all, if it’s generated from coal, oil, or natural gas.

Screwing over consumers isn’t the half of the damage done. They’ve poured mine-waste contaminants into a formerly pristine Western river, turned California’s once-profitable farmlands into near-desert for the benefit of a bait-fish which probably wasn’t in danger of extinction anyway, beggared whole districts which depended on industry, logging, mining and manufacturing, and damn-near burned down half that state and a good chunk of Australia while congratulating themselves on being environmentally-sensitive. The millions of wild animals burned alive in those fires are not grateful for the consideration of their environment, however.

And the most galling aspect of the enviro-scolds as villains? They don’t seem capable of admitting error, ever – and now they look to be going all in for blaming it all on human-caused global warming and demanding even stricter controls over human activities and choices. Discuss as you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 wish.

Dan from Madison <![CDATA[Presidential Ad Placement in Wisconsin]]> https:///?p=61535 2020-01-16T00:54:47Z 2020-01-16T00:54:47Z I sort of wish Wisconsin wasn’t in play in the presidential election, but here we are. I work very hard and do enjoy my evenings at peace with Wheel of Fortune, and perhaps a sporting event on TV. Sadly, my peace at 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 has been trifled with for the past several months, and I fear it will be a nonstop blitz until November.

As of now, we are getting crushed with a massive ad buy from Bloomberg. And that’s it. Bloomberg is everywhere. And no other candidates (including Trump) on the media I consume, at least. Upon questioning the spousal unit, who watches things on TV that are apparently called “shows”, of which I have never heard of, she reports that it is all Bloomberg all the time too. She also inquired as to who this guy is and I simply told her “nobody you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 need to be concerned with”.

As of several months ago we had ads from some different candidates. I remember ads from Robert Francis O Rourke and a few others but none of the buys have been as massive as this salvo from Bloomberg.

That’s all I got for now. More to come as the campaign develops.

Kevin Villani <![CDATA[Will America Vote to Drink the Kool Aid, Committing Mass Suicide?]]> https:///?p=61504 2020-01-12T03:21:38Z 2020-01-11T18:46:43Z Presidential candidates are talking about every issue except the one that matters most for America’s future: “American Exceptionalism.”

President Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, the notion of American exceptionalism. Conservative writer Jonah Goldberg in (2018) argues that the political abandonment of American Exceptionalism is eroding liberty, society and prosperity. Parenthetically, Taleb, (2018) concludes (pg. 86) ”the west is currently in the process of committing suicide” by tolerating the intolerant. The “mass suicide” metaphor became a reality when religious cult leader told his followers in 1975  “I love socialism, and I’m willing to die to bring it about, but if I did, I’d take a thousand with me” which he did in Jamestown, Guyana three years later. “He wanted the world to think this was some uniform decision, that they willingly killed themselves for socialism to protest the inhumanity of capitalism” but armed guards made sure the reluctant chose the Kool Aid and exited the Johnstown dystopia for the promised socialist utopia in the next life.

Suicide of the West

Goldberg’s history of politics and human nature begins with humans first walking upright, concluding in 2017 with U.S. domestic political choices. Ideas promoted by John Locke and bequeathed by the British that the state is the servant of the people, are the core of American exceptionalism as opposed to the opposite ideas of the Frenchman Rousseau that individuals are the servant of the state, the governing principle of authoritarian socialist economies and in practice social democracies as well. What’s exceptional in the U.S. political system bequeathed by the Founders are the strict limits on federal powers in the two written documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. This is the cornerstone that allowed the many secular and religious institutions of civil society to deepen as a pre-requisite for and complement to entrepreneurial market capitalism, the source of virtually all .

In the American version the state guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” whereas the French national motto is an oxymoron. Individual liberty erodes at each stage as decisions are elevated from the marketplace to private, local, state, federal and ultimately international governing bodies. Competitive market capitalism’s “creative destruction” and entrepreneurial innovation produces relative winners but benefits all, whereas political favoritism comes at the expense of the typically poorer less politically favored.

The Deep State is Sovereign in a Democracy

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, political theorist Francis Fukuyama argues that run by professionals protected from politicians. Progressive President Wilson used entry into the as the means to create the “modern” sovereign state” to which Fukuyama refers under the motto to “make the world safe for democracy,” never mentioned in the Founding documents. What took a Revolution to produce was protected only by the willingness to adhere to paper documents that Wilson basically ignored.

Individual dependence on the modern pater welfare state corrodes the institutions of civil society and inevitably leads to identity politics, tribalism and cronyism. With the state the master, many democracies evolve into to help implement free market reforms that produced a growth miracle, but that proved difficult to sustain as subsequent socialist governments .

The 2016 Presidential Election

In 2016 candidate Trump promised to – both direct attacks on the deep state, particularly the military-industrial-congressional complex (Eisenhower’s original censored version) that manages the economy as well as foreign policy and . Reagan promised to roll back the deep state but failed. Clinton declared “the era of big government is over” but it barely paused. The Tea Party, composed of older more conservative voters tired of Republican false promises of limited government, launched a grass roots political campaign to limit government, which also failed. Once the state (or the Party of the state) is sovereign, the process has proven irreversible through political means.

That leaves the Supreme Court. Candidate Trump committed to conservative Supreme Court Justices who would stay within the original intent of constitutional limits, the primary issue cited by his supporters. The abortion issue is a ruse, a litmus test for progressive precedents to trump constitutional intent.

The U.S. deep state is immune to accountability. A recent docudrama tells the story of CIA torture after 911. The Agency lied to two Presidents, lied and stonewalled Congress over 8 years, violated the separation of powers and squashed the biggest seven thousand page Congressional oversight investigation in history. Only the stature of Senators Feinstein and McCain eventually got the Report released, but no one was held accountable, sending a clear signal that the deep state was immune. When President Trump alleged (later proven by the Mueller and Inspector General Reports – in spite of ) that the intelligence community was involved in in 2016 and a subsequent coup attempt to remove him from office when that failed, Senator Schumer : “Let me tell you500vip彩票安卓下载官网, you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you500vip彩票安卓下载官网.” is () one way.

The 2020 Presidential Election

On domestic policy, progressives arguably fared better under the Trump Administration than they would have from any of the other Republican candidate (e.g., victories on the budget and trade protectionism) and better than conservatives during the Obama Administration. Many conservatives (including Goldberg) join progressives in abhorring Trump’s personality and attacking his character (questionable, as is that of his political antagonists, e.g., Congressman Schiff). His lies and exaggerations may stretch the limits of political discourse, but the main stream media has regressed to . The biggest cause of Trump derangement syndrome – and his source of political support – is likely his politically incorrect speech.

But Supreme Court appointments remain the existential issue for progressives and conservatives alike (as the demonstrated), although limiting the power of federal government leaves progressives with free reign at the state and local level where they have had substantial success. Even “” in big states like California is by the state, forcing the oppressed to leaving with , which then seek .

The electorate is divided along generational lines, with democrats appealing to you500vip彩票安卓下载官网nger liberal voters and republicans to older conservative voters. Lowering the voting age to 18 dramatically increased this demographic (why Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi proposed it to 16). Yet current Democratic candidates are divided among the ”electable”“moderate” 78 year old (by inauguration) Joe Biden campaigning as the former VP of a decidedly immoderate administration, authoritarian Michael Bloomberg who is almost a year older that Biden, socialist Bernie Sanders who is more than a year older than Biden, and Progressive Elizabeth Warren who would be 70 by inauguration. The you500vip彩票安卓下载官网ng radical anti-capitalist progressives/socialists will undoubtedly be in control should victory be achieved by any of these elders following Taleb’s thesis (pg 69) that in a democracy the intolerant dominate.

What explains the strong of 18-29 year old voters? Goldberg (pg. 340) quotes theologian Eugene Peterson: “humans try to find transcendence-apart from God – through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, recreational sex, or … crowds (i.e., mobs or cults).” Millenials are than older voters and sex has relative to past generations. Non-college graduates have turned to drugs – .

Promises of debt forgiveness and free stuff by Socialist Sanders – and Warren – obviously appeal to the typically deeply indebted . But so does their attack on business. Once taboo, socialism is now chic on college campuses as anti-business progressive ideas pervade college professorial ranks, particularly among historians and economists. This goes back to the early days of progressivism as socialist/communist historical myth makers accused business leaders of being vastly over-stating the extent of American cronyism. Economists have generally under-appreciate the fragility and benefits of capitalism focusing instead on “market failures” real or imagined requiring government intervention, to be expected by a started by a German educated progressive to train Americans in the visible hand (fist) of state economic management

So millenials may be lured to join the cult and drink the Kool Aid: as an aging baby boomer, I’ll and, sex and alcohol (, of course).

Kevin Villani


Kevin Villani was chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985. He has held senior government positions, has been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath.

David Foster http:// <![CDATA[Shovel That Code]]> https:///?p=61490 2020-01-11T14:47:30Z 2020-01-11T14:47:30Z …into that server!

Joe Biden gave coal miners facing possible unemployment some advice:  .

In reality, of course, programming/coding is a skill that can exist on multiple levels.  Someone writing a simple spreadsheet model for some kind of repetitive tracking problem is working at a different level from someone writing a well-defined module within a large system for a bank, who is in turn working at a different level from someone writing interrupt-level hardware drivers for an operating system, or for someone creating the idea and user interface, as well as the code, for a new consumer-facing product.  Some of these tasks will usually pay less than what a skilled coal miner is paid, some of them will pay considerably more.

And also, programming is not an infinite reservoir of job demand. Much work that previously required considerable high-skill programming has now been largely automated by software tools and/or by complete application systems, and considerable programming work is being offshored–see my post telemigration.

Biden also asserted that:  “Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake!”

Ignoring the inherent ridiculousness of this claim as a factual assertion…does Biden actually think that manual stoking of coal furnaces is a thing in today’s economy?  Does the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a large count of people employed as stokers?

In reality, the mechanical stoker was invented well over a century ago.  They were common in high-horsepower steam locomotives by 1900, and were and are used in coal-fired power plants.  I doubt if there was much manual stoking going on by 1940, except on steamships…and coal as a fuel for ships was rapidly on its way out by that point, as it was being displaced by oil

Plus, Biden was talking about coal miners.  Does he think that there are coal-fired furnaces in coal mines?  If there were, you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 would likely get a massive explosion from igniting of any gas in the mine.

Biden clearly understands as little about the software industry as he does about the energy industry.

This is the man who says he was Obama’s point man on a “jobs of the future” initiative.

Can you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 imagine what these people would do to the economy if they ever achieved the degree of power that they so avidly seek?



Sgt. Mom <![CDATA[When Doom Comes a’ Calling]]> https:///?p=61493 2020-01-11T18:25:33Z 2020-01-10T22:17:24Z (I started this post last weekend – but real life and a new book project intervened. Consider this a footnote to Trent T.’s post, here.)

Well, it certainly came a’calling for Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani last week, Middle Eastern time. Nothing left but bits of scrap metal and meat, and a bruised hand with a large ring on it. Kind of fitting for the guy who perfected the fine art of IEDs, and brought so much business to the developers of artificial limbs for those survivors of that deadly art. As the satirist Tom Leher noted, so many decades ago, and in a slightly different context,

“Some have harsh words for this man of renown,
But some think our attitude
Should be one of gratitude,
Like the widows and cripples in old London town
Who owe their large pensions to Werner von Braun.”

So it seems that the late General Soleimani will not be missed … not missed much by an assortment of parties in Iran, the Middle East, Israel, and US State Department employees across the world, some of whom posted their congratulations in the first blog reports that I saw first thing. The Daughter Unit reports that most of the veteran social media participants were absolutely fizzing with glee, as were apparently Iranian anti-mullacracy exile communities across the world. Considering that the late General S. had a hand in nearly four decades of Islamic violence (violence which racked up casualties in the thousands, and which did include American troops), across the Middle East and was about to take a hand in fomenting some more in Iraq last week, he will definitely not be missed.

The remote pilot of the drone which dropped our final farewell gift upon him didn’t miss, either, although to read the Twitter caterwauling laments of Hollywood idiots like Rose McWhatserface is nearly enough to make one upchuck. The trauma of being sexually molested by a creep like Harvey Weinstein obviously blotted from what remains of her tiny mind the reality of things like … umm, Iran’s forty-year jihad against the US, beginning with overrunning our embassy in Teheran and keeping staff, employees and casual American visitors to said embassy captive for more than a year? In the old days, an attack on a foreign embassy counted as declaring war. It fries me no end that the Teheran embassy thing happened so long ago that I was in my first Air Force enlistment, and my daughter was born a couple of months later. That’s how long we’ve been waiting for anything like an appropriate response.

And Jimmy Carter was such a clueless, limp-d*cked, Saudi-loving, anti-Semitic wimp that he couldn’t even countenance the appropriate response, which should rightfully have been along the lines of – “Release our people and vacate our embassy (and clean up the mess as you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 go) or various essential real estate of you500vip彩票安卓下载官网rs will become slightly radioactive glass. Counting down… three … two…” THAT response would have spared us all – especially in the Middle East – decades of trouble, but morons like failed novelist Ben Rhodes certainly wouldn’t grasp that point, being twenty something, or perhaps older now, and still dealing with equally educated idiots. And as for ostensibly American news media painting, certain celebs and politicians painting the late General in romantic shades of “able soldier, handsome charismatic leader, an inspiration to his troops, austere poet, snappy dresser and all-around-good-fellow…” People, do you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 have any comprehension of how that makes you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 appear to the rest of us? It’s as of you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 are lamenting and condemning the death of , who was also cultured, handsome, a charismatic leader, et cetera, et cetera – and every bit as much a murderous a**hole as Qasem Soleimani. Is this truly what you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 wish to embrace, and to appear to the rest of us as a sympathizer of? Discuss as you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 wish, and add any insights.

Jonathan http:// <![CDATA[]]> https:///?p=61485 2020-01-13T05:14:06Z 2020-01-08T18:48:07Z
screwed.. . or electrified

No metaphors were harmed in the creation of this post.

David Foster http:// <![CDATA[What Future for the Global Auto Industry? Discussion Post]]> https:///?p=61482 2020-01-07T14:58:20Z 2020-01-07T14:58:20Z In December, I announced an upcoming discussion of the future of the auto industry and, in particular, of the role and impact of electric cars.  In that post, I included a number of links to worthwhile reading on the subject.  Let’s do the discussion this week, in comments to this post.  I have a few thoughts to get things going:

–It is true, as points out in his essay, that electric cars are much simpler than conventional cars…but I would qualify this statement as mechanically simpler than conventional  cars.  They are significantly more complex electrically and especially in terms of the electrochemistry of the battery…a hidden kind of complexity, but important nonetheless. From what I have read, there seems to be considerable uncertainty about the expected lifespan of new lithium-ion battery models..which lifespan, of course, has a major impact on the overall economics of electric cars.

EVs are expected to have lower maintenance costs and requirements than conventional vehicles, based on their relative mechanical simplicity.  This is probably true, in general, although a lot of the problems with cars these days seem to be with systems other than the engine and drivetrain..airbag sensors, seat actuator motors, various sensors, etc.

–Range limitations and “range anxiety” have been significant inhibitors to EV sales.  Vitaliy K makes the excellent point that it is much easier to set up an electric-vehicle charging station than a conventional gas station, with its underground tanks and consequent regulatory complexities, and he believes we will see tremendous growth in the number of such charging stations and consequent reductions in EV range anxiety.

It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to fully charge an EV (using Tesla as a model and assuming a high-power charger such as Tesla’s “Supercharger’), which implies that people are going to need something else to do while their vehicles are charging, away from 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 or the office.  Restaurants and shopping centers become obvious venues for charging; however, this leads to another issue, that the driver may wind up being away from the car for a couple of hours or more, tying up the charger for that whole interval: this issue would need to be reflected in the pricing of the charging facility.

Also, while it is true that setting up EV charging is simpler than opening a gas station, it is not necessarily trivial if one is setting up multiple high-capacity chargers.  A Tesla supercharger draws 150KW, so putting 30 of them in a parking lot would result in an incremental peak demand of up to 4.5 megawatts.  I doubt if the electrical systems feeding many restaurants, or even shopping centers, could accommodate 4.5MW of additional demand without some work by the utility supplying the power.

–Efficiency:  It is true that the conversion of stored energy into motion is much more efficient in an EV than an internal-combustion-engine vehicle; this is mainly a matter of the engine thermodynamics.  BUT, if the charging electricity comes from a natural gas plant of a coal plant, you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 are looking at best at a 60% fuel-to-electricity conversion efficiency, and there will also be losses in power transmission and distribution.  If the electricity comes from solar or wind, then..depending on the time of day and weather conditions of the charging..you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 may be faced with a double battery storage situation, where energy is stored in a utility or 500vip彩票安卓下载官网 battery until needed for charging, and then stored again in the vehicle’s battery.  That double-storage situation carries both efficiency losses and, more significantly, additional capital costs.

EVs do have the ability to capture much of the energy that would otherwise be lost in braking, and this is especially valuable in start-stop driving situations, as with local delivery operations, and probably extends the lifetime of the mechanical brakes.

–Performance…EVs have excellent acceleration capability (when adequately powered) due to the torque characteristics of electric motors.  They may be able to achieve very good handling if battery installation provides for a very low center of gravity.

–Climate…not speaking here about ‘climate change’, but about climate in its ordinary meaning.  In a conventional car, heating is basically free, using rejected heat from the engine (ignoring the energy used to power the fan, but that’s a small part of the picture), whereas in an electric car, heat must be generated using electricity from the battery, which of course has a negative impact on range.  Also, the battery itself will have lesser performance in cold weather.  (And the regenerative braking feature is also limited in very cold weather.)

–Relative Costs…a high % of EVs today are either sold with subsidies by national/local governments, are built and sold in response to government edicts, or are bought in significant part for status purposes by individuals and organizations. Can EVs compete on cost head-to-head with IC vehicles on a nonsubsidized, free-choice basis?  This would seem to be largely a matter of how successfully battery costs are further driven down and how long battery lifespans turn out to be in actual service.

It should be noted that …down 44%…since the government reduced most subsidies at the end of June.  What would be the ‘true’ demand in the US without consumer incentives and mix requirement on the manufacturers?


–Software and Self-Driving.  Tesla includes a number of snazzy software-based features…Vitaliy K mentions keyless entry, iPad-style controls, built-in videogames, and software-based enablement of previously-unnanounced features–and Tesla and other EV-makers are putting great emphasis on self-driving and on partially-self-driving autopilot features.  I’d note, though, that there is no inherent connection between these things and the type of power used by the car.  (Whether existing car manufacturers can do them well or not is another question: the climate control interface in my BMW is terrible and I’ve heard similar remarks about the various interfaces in many kinds of cars.)

–Industry Structure and Supply Chains.  A significant technological breakpoint often disadvantages incumbent providers relative to new providers:  the companies with large legacy business focus too much on how to fit their existing product designs, their existing manufacturing processes, and their existing distribution channels into the new paradigm, even when these things don’t fit very well.  VK mentions the examples of Nokia versus Apple in the smartphone space, but he also mentions the example of Samsung, which has been able to navigate the transition to smartphones successfully.

The supply chains of electric vehicles versus IC vehicles are significantly different; however, there are substantial overlaps, including for example tires and mechanical brakes.  Perhaps the biggest supply-chain shifts are in the post-sales world:  IC vehicles almost use gasoline or diesel fuel, whereas electric vehicles use electricity (duh!), which can in principle be supplied by many alternative sources, but in practice will be supplied largely by either coal plants or natural gas plants.  So to the extent that EVs become a major factor, one might expect natural gas demand to further increase relative to oil demand.  The impact on capital investment requirements and on the capital efficiency of electric utilities will be highly dependent on when the charging tends to be done–peak or near-peak demand times, or off-peak demand times?

Based on what I know now, I think that in the US at least, EVs will be a niche product achieving no more than, say, 10-20% of the overall market, unless there are major breakthroughs in battery technology. They will be particularly attractive in local delivery and taxi/ridesharing services where regenerative braking has a good payoff and range is not so much of an issue.  Lower maintenance will be an attractive feature for many, especially for busy people who don’t have much time for service appointments.  And the coolness and status factors should not be underrated.

On the other hand, range continues to be a factor, especially for those who take long trips.  Even if you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 can always find a high-capacity charger, it may not be convenient to stop for 45 minutes in East Nowhere, Nebraska, when you500vip彩票安卓下载官网 have places to be and things to do. EVs are going to be less-attractive in places that have very cold seasons, and also in places that get very hot, with consequent high air-conditioning demand and battery load.  EV growth could be limited by battery-materials supply constraints…see my post here…and political pressure for ‘renewables’ in electrical generation could drive electricity costs much higher, with consequences for the electricity vs gas/diesel cost comparison.

The degree of EV success or lack of same has big implications throughout the economy and for investments of many types.  What are you500vip彩票安卓下载官网r thoughts on this matter?