Another One

We were finally able to have a plumber come to our house today – we’ve had one┬átoilet out-of-commission for quite some time, but as we have two others, we’ve just locked that door and let it be. Since the settings in the floor were glued in and cracked, my husband decided it best to call a plumber b/c we don’t have the tools to fix such a problem.

I called a plumber who was highly recommended. He was kind and seemed to really know his stuff – answered questions and didn’t do anything unnecessary. In the course of conversation, he mentioned he is not married anymore to the mother of his two children, ages 17 and 19, who live with him … b/c their mom, who lives about ten minutes away, is not involved in their lives.

I didn’t ask anymore questions; he didn’t give anymore information. In my mind I thought, “Another family destroyed by a woman who left … wants to do her own thing … needs to find herself … or whatever she wants to call it.


Denninger’s Questions to Obama

regarding the President’s upcoming State of the Union address:

Can you explain how, when entitlements are 56% of the budget and we currently borrow about 43% of the budget, how you intend to be “learner and smarter” and get rid of the deficit – when you have to pay interest charges – without cutting those entitlements?

There are no Unicorns Barry.

There are only facts.

Those questions are appropriate for all Americans. Not just for Obama. It’s long past time that we faced the truth for what it is: our present debt situation exists because Americans have voted for it.

You can try to argue, “Americans don’t support that debt!” But alas, they have.

The last President–whatever his faults–tried Social Security reform. He tried a partial-privatization plan that only involved 4%–in other words, if Social Security went completely Tango Uniform, you’d still keep 4% of what you have, which is more than you would keep right now–and he couldn’t even sell it to his own GOP leaders!!!

Perhaps our biggest budget buster is Medicare. Try–JUST TRY—talking about cutting that, and Americans would shoot you out of the sky.

And the Warfare State? Talk of what spending cuts would mean, and you will find that Americans don’t want those cuts. They want the jobs created at those Lockheed-Martin plants, those Northrop-Grumman plants, those Boeing plants, and related subcontractors.

Go tell the people of Georgia that you want to eliminate Robins AFB, which is the largest employer in the state. Go tell the folks in Titusville that you are cutting the NASA budget in half. You might as well be farting into the microphone at a church sermon.

Even the culture of regulation is hardly easy game. Try cutting the Department of Education, and you will see what I am talking about. The GOP tried in 1995 to increase funding to states for school lunches–in the form of block grants, while eliminating the DoE control–and Americans turned against them as soon as Al Gore gave his “they are taking food out of the mouths of babes” speech.

We can talk all day about “bringing our troops home”, but that expense doesn’t come close to eliminating our budget gap.

The GOP is going to fail for the same reasons that Obama and the DNC are failing now, and for the same reasons that Bush and the GOP failed before them: everyone wants spending cuts, but very few really want them when they realize the impact those cuts will have.

Unfortunately, the choice is between choosing to endure the pain now, versus having it inflicted on you–or your children–even worse later.

Right now, even Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)–the two most realistic champions of frugality in Congress–have not done a good job articulating that stark choice. The rest of Congress is either totally clueless or totally dishonest.

But make no mistake: Americans love that big debt. They just want leaders who can make it work.

Just like a certain leader who “made the trains run on time”. . .

Is Science “Self-Correcting”?

On Vox Day’s blog space, he is engaged in a trialogue with two scientists–one a physicist and the other a biochemist–over the validity of the premise that science is self-correcting. I’ve been following from a distance. It is a very good discussion.

The physicist recently had this to say:

However, the the character of the corrections in accounting and science are somewhat different. The rules of accounting are set by accountants, lawyers, and legislators. Errors and corrections happen within that known framework, which can itself be adjusted. In science the framework is the laws of nature, which are not known a priori and can’t be adjusted. (Citigroup can rewrite accounting law, Virgin Galactic can’t rewrite gravity.) So sure, you could say accounting is self-correcting. That description might not be as useful as it is for the scientific study of natural laws, but it wouldn’t be wrong.

While the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) can (and does) indeed revise Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), there are some differences in the comparison that the physicist provides:

(1) If a non-accountant questions the integrity of the changes, he or she is not dismissed for not being a CPA. This is because accounting, among other things, involves assessing the integrity of the operations of an economic entity. And almost anyone–due to disclosure laws–can do this.

If you can read a 10-K, which includes a balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, and retained earnings statement (in addition to material disclosures in footnotes), you can make an educated assessment for the condition of a business, irrespective of (a) the marketing efforts and (b) the GAAP rules.

(2) For that reason, if FASB redefines or reclassifies certain items–or, as they have recently done, change rules to allow banks to improperly value their assets–it does not change the nature of what is being done. People who denounce that tactic–such as Denninger–are not likely to be dismissed for not being CPAs.

Instead, their ideas are allowed to be tested in the free market. Denninger has made truth claims, as has Vox Day. (For the record, I agree with them most of the time.)

If their truth claims don’t come to pass, then they have to answer for this in the free market of ideas.

For scientists, the rules are somewhat different. They have made truth claims which include bald assertions, misrepresentation of data (sometimes intentional), doomsday predictions for the world and for civilization, and proclamations of fact that were based on known fraudulent “research”.

And yet (a) the very system that ought to be holding them accountable does not do this–largely because they are comprised of fellow scientists who are dependent on government largesse for their career paths, and (b) they attack critics–who point out obvious errors that call their very hypotheses into question–for “not being scientists”.

This is not to say that all scientists are so intellectually dishonest; the problem, however, is that the system itself is one that economically encourages–and in some fields requires–such.

The larger question is how to reform the scientific community to ensure that they are more vigilant about the integrity of the scientific method.

I would submit that breaking the government-academic complex will go a long way toward that end.

This is because without the gravy train–which foments the existing paradigm of obfuscation and demonization of critics who recognize the naked emperor–there will be no economic incentive for the naked to go unclothed.

Vox Day and the Student Loan Racket

Vox has followed up his link from Saturday with this column today. It is concise, and to the point.

To call the student loan racket a “scam” is probably a charitable assessment. Payday lenders–attacked by the government for “predatory” lending–are Eagle Scouts compared to the student loan racket. Hell, La Cosa Nostra looks like Mother Teresa next to those bastards.

Making matters worse, the student loan racket has government protection.

In other words, it’s only a scam if the government isn’t getting a cut. Otherwise, it’s “federally guaranteed” and marketed as a “benefit”. The logical question is why the taxpayer continues to support this.

The conservative often rails about the left-wing ideologues who dominate academia, and yet very few conservatives have called for an end of the academic-financial complex that benefits universities and government at the expense of taxpayers while eroding the value of a college degree.

(Rather than fight the ideological battle, the more prescient approach would be to bring freer markets into the fray: kill the student loan dragon, end the federal gravy train for universities, and force the debts into the open. Many universities will be forced into financial exigency–resulting in massive layoffs, even of “tenured” professors, and elimination of bogus degree programs. Many universities will even be forced to close their doors.)

At this point, the student loan bubble is at nearly a trillion dollars. This is at the same level as the housing bubble–the bust of which handed us our current ongoing economic crash.

Anyone wanna bet this bubble is going to end well?