Within a few months of the model's introduction in 1926, Tri-Motors were used to provide coast-to-coast air service...which was actually a rail/air hybrid, with passengers flying during the day but taking the train for the night legs of the journey.
At least one of these airplanes was still flying in scheduled airline service in the early 1970s.
America was conceived as an experiment in creating a land run for amateurs. The Founding Fathers appear to have taken the view that the Towers of Power would always be with us, but attempted to keep them low. They tried craft a society in which the power of elites would limited, with no established religions; no runaway central authority; hedged with prohibitions on government. It was an attempt to enshrine amateurism as a means of pre-empting the establishment of Byzantine structures that would eventually encrust the majority will with their own agendas. One of the reasons for the reaction against President Obama’s agenda is the perception that the elites are about to succeed, perhaps forever; that the experiment of July 4, 1776 is at an end.
Friday, August 27, 2010 MALINVESTMENT AND THE HIGHER-ED BUBBLE
Workers with specialized skills like electricians, carpenters and welders are in critically short supply in many large economies, a shortfall that marks another obstacle to the global economic recovery, according to a research paper by Manpower Inc. The study mentions an Ohio shipbuilder that had to bring in experienced workers from Mexico and Croatia and a French metal-parts maker that hired Manpower to find welders in Poland.
The paper blames the shortage in part on the "social stigma" assigned to skilled blue-collar work, and cites a poll finding that only one in 10 American teenagers see themselves in a blue-collar job as adults. (The proportion was even lower in Japan.)
The EPA has drafted a new set of regulations for emissions from industrial boilers, via imposition of "Maximum Achievable Control Technology." The National Association of Manufacturers has raised serious concerns about the advisability of imposing these regulations, particularly at this point in time: a very detailed analysis is here
Industrial boiler regulation may sound like a pretty esoteric topic, but actually I think it is an important one, both in terms of tangible impact on the economy and in terms of what it symbolizes about the way we are heading as a society.
View from the Right observes that "political correctness," aka the "progressive" war on common sense, has inhibited rational thinking about the crimes of Maj Nidal Hasan and the actions necessary to prevent similar future events (via Maggie's Farm)
A horrifying animated map showing the growth of unemployment in the US since March 2007, using data which goes down to the county level
1)Obama has stated that the US and Iran have a "mutual interest" in fighting the Taliban, and that Iran "could be a constructive partner" with the US in creating a stable Afghanistan.
Reality: A State Department report, issued the day after Obama's expression of his fantasy:
Iran’s Qods Force provided training to the Taliban in Afghanistan on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons. Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments to select Taliban members, including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives.
How much of America's economic output and growth potential is being wasted on politically-driven but economically-irrational subsidies of one kind or another? The number would be hard to calculate, but it is surely large, and certainly growing very rapidly.
Monday, August 16, 2010 THE HIGHER-ED BUBBLE, CONTINUED
Much concern has recently been raised, and appropriately so, about the sleazy practices engaged in by many for-profit colleges...practices that often leave students with large student-loan balances that will never be paid, and training whose value is highly questionable. A study cited in this post indicates that only 36% of the for-profit graduates actually repay their loans. (What does "repay" mean in this context? Repay in full, or does some level of partial repayment count?) But the repayment rates at conventional colleges are nothing to brag about, either--54% for public colleges and 56% for private nonprofits...and many conventional colleges graduate an alarmingly low percentage of their students in four, five, or even six years.
Most people who follow business are generally aware that a high proportion of job creation is due to relatively small companies and specifically to startups. This post offers some interesting data demonstrating just how powerful this effect really is.
Obama, a man who knows absolutely nothing about any economically-productive form of activity, demonstrates again and again his willingness to visit confusion and destruction on the American economy in order to replace it with his own ungrounded fantasies.
The phrase "dam busters" originally applied to RAF flyers who attacked German hydroelectric dams during WWII. Now, the term is being applied to individuals who advocate the destruction of American dams, for what they claim are environmental reasons.
I was aware that there was much hostility toward dams among the "progressives"...see my post frankly my dear, I do need a dam...however, Ed Driscoll's post yesterday makes it clear what levels this hostility has now reached. In a 2007 WSJ article that Ed quotes, the author observes that anti-dam forces are seeking the destruction of the Klamath River dams, the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley, the Elwha River dam in Washington state, and the Matilija Dam in Southern California. (See this post by Bookworm about the lobbying to destroy the Hetch Hetchy dam, which provides San Francisco with about 85% of its water.) And I'm sure it doesn't end there.
We have come a long way from the days when the liberals and leftists viewed the TVA as a major national accomplishment and celebrated the Columbia River dams with Woody Guthrie's song:
Roll on, Columbia, roll on Roll on, Columbia, roll on Your power is turning our darkness to dawn So roll on, Columbia, roll on
While 1930s liberalism/leftism was a child of the Enlightenment...often a bastard child...today's "progressivism" has a distinct reactionary, counter-Enlightenment flavor.
I'm reminded, as I often am, of a post by a now-defunct Italian blogger who called herself Joy of Knitting:
Cupio dissolvi...These words have been going through my mind for quite a long time now. It's Latin. They mean "I (deeply) wish to be annihilated/to annihilate myself", the passive form signifying that the action can be carried out both by an external agent or by the subject himself...Cupio dissolvi... Through all the screaming and the shouting and the wailing and the waving of the rainbow cloth by those who invoke peace but want appeasement, I hear these terrible words ringing in my ears. These people have had this precious gift, this civilization, and they have got bored with it. They take all the advantages it offers them for granted, and despise the ideals that have powered it. They wish for annihilation, the next new thing, as if it was a wonderful party. Won't it be great, dancing on the ruins?
The rare earths are a collection of 17 elements in the periodic table: lanthanum, cerium, and erbium, to name a few. These materials play an important and increasing role in electrical and electronic devices, including batteries and magnets (which are used in electric motors and geherators.) Considerable concern has been raised lately about the concentration of rare-earths production in Chinese hands: see for example today's Business Insider post, which deals with the Chinese government's push for consolidation of that country's rare-earths industry into a smaller number of companies. See also this post regarding dependency of key U.S. military systems on rare earths.
I'm interested in discussing rare earths from two standpoints: overall U.S. economic and security policy, and investment opportunities/risks.
Back in January I reviewed Sebastian Haffner's memoir, Defying Hitler. Haffner grew up in Germany between the wars, and the book is the best analysis I've seen of how that country became a pack of hunting hounds directed against humans.
Neo-Neocon linked the review yesterday, sparking considerable discussion in the comments.
The review is here...again, I urge everyone to read Haffner's thoughtful, vivid, and deeply-moving book.
Salim Mansur: Talking with ordinary Palestinians. "..when they insist on hearing my views I remind them gently of the verse from the Qur’an that God does not change the condition of people unless they change what is in their hearts."
"It is so outrageous, so disturbing, that this is coming from a U.S. congressman's office," said opponent Mike Grimm, a retired FBI agent who served in the Marines, told FoxNews.com. "It's just so offensive to me -- I spent most of my adult life fighting for this country to eradicate this behavior."
In an effort to distance himself from the resulting uproar, McMahon has fired the communications director, whose name is Jennifer Nelson. It's not clear, however, that Nelson was the only campaign official involved in this: she has said that the campaign's finance director was the one who compiled the list. Politico observes that is is unlikely that the "Jewish money" analysis was the brainchild of either the finance director or the communications director, and goes on to note that "McMahon aides wouldn't answer questions about who else knew about the list, or who ordered it up."
2)A pretty disturbing report about Dr Donald Berwick, who has been appointed by Obama to a key postion in health care policy. According to this article, Berwick has contributed thousands of dollars to something called Physicians for Human Rights, which has repeatedly denounced Israel and has even given an award to a Gaza activist who justified homicide bombings.
It could be argued that off-the-wall views on foreign policy should not automatically disqualify one for a domestic policy position...this appointment, though, is one more piece of evidence demonstrating Obama's high comfort level with strident opponents of Israel and excuse-makers for its enemies.
3)America's ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, seems to have one special priority: lobby Barack Obama to put heavy pressure on Israel to agree to a UN probe of its May raid on a Turkish-sponsored flotilla. No serious person, of course, has any illusion that such a probe would be objective. As the Commentary article (at the link) notes, such a probe would legitimize the UN’s insane obsession with Israel. Or maybe I should say "will legitimize," because Israel has now been beaten into submission and agreed to the probe.
Richard Landes argues that Obama's pressure against Israel may well be making war in the region more likely.
Also see this article on The Democratic Party's Anti-Semitism Problem. Note that this was written in 2004--things have definitely not gotten better, with regard to anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party, since the article was written...in fact, they have gotten much worse.
Monday, August 02, 2010 INCREASING ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Inc Magazine asserts that a dramatic increase in the number of start-ups is key to economic recovery, and proposes a 16-point plan to accomplish exactly that. I agree with the premise--start-ups are indeed key to the economy--but find quite a few flaws and omissions in the plan, along with some good ideas.
Read the article first, then come back, read my commentary, and join the discussion if you feel so inclined.