Wednesday, March 8, 2017


  Actually, this has nothing to do with communal living, or at least very little. Just a gimmick to see if I could get readership up. We'll see.
This is going to be unrelated tidbits.
Reading List
My recent reading has been limited to "chewing gum for the eyes." Pap. Trivial stuff, just marginally entertaining. Then, Taryn recommended Kissinger's On China. Admittedly, she is quite a bit smarter than me, but I picked it up and it is terrific. The writing is superb, the observations immensely understandable and precise.
At the same time in the library, I picked up Ken Adelman's Reagan at Reykjavik and highly recommend it. The subtitle is "The 48 hours that Ended the Cold War." The year was 1986, Reagan was under attack for lack of results, being stupid, saying things that weren't verifiable and generally thought to be a great failure by the "experts," AKA the New York Times, et al. Does this sound anywhere near familiar?
He had just started his second term (elected despite the vicious attacks by the elite and Hollywood) and the biggest concern of most citizens was the Cold War. Well, getting bombed until you glow was right up there, but the whole thing circled back to the US-Russia conflict. But that was 30 years ago, and we know that politicians and the electorate have a hard time remembering what happened yesterday, let alone then.
One of the biggest factors in the meeting of Reagan and Gorbachev was SDI, the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars as it was dubbed by the skeptics. It was, as it turned out, pretty much a figment of Reagan's imagination. It didn't exist, wouldn't work and still doesn't...mostly. But it scared the bejeezus out of Gorby, and a lot of others.
Side bar: Our friend, Pam, said the 24-hour news cycle was the worst thing to happen to this country. It facilitates ridiculous "news" and the "fake news" we see so much of. Where are the crusty old editors with the cigar stuck in his mouth and a blue pencil in his hand? Non-existent, my friends.
I especially liked this book because he was there. Same with Kissinger's book--can you think of anyone more involved with diplomacy than him?
You've all heard me grouse about the nearly immediate deterioration of the Small Business Administration when the Obama administration took over. The bureaucrats ascended to what they believed to be their rightful position--in charge. They forgot what they were there to do.
The trucking industry has been one of my "specialties" in my business brokerage practice. To keep up, I take a lot of trade publications, and the word now is that the regulators are seeing a different landscape--they are trying to find a more reasoned approach. Take the 2013 provisions on driver hours. The restart provisions were investigated by the DOT and it was found there is no benefit. That comes from the same government that imposed the requirements. The "safety groups" dispute the facts.
The motto for the last eight years has been, "Push the regulations that damage the regulated to the utmost, let the review and court processes try to reverse the damages." Sort of a guilty until proven innocent attitude.
Another Book
I have not read this book, but Lee sent an interview with one of the authors, Charles Murray. The book was published more than 20 years ago, and its premise was that the gap between the "elites" and the bottom rungs of society were going to get wider and the plight of the citizens in the lower socio-economic levels of American society would get worse.
One of the factors that formed the basis for that conclusion was that residents in the lower parts of society have lower intelligence. That means the "upper quartile" of intelligence had a self-perpetuating advantage--they got into the better colleges and had better opportunities.
You can see this coming: "Test bias." "Racism." Shouted from the roof tops. Regardless, that's pretty much what has continued to happen over the last 20 years.
Communal Living
Yes, this deserves a comment or two. It is sort of like socialism--a terrific idea, but one that just doesn't work in practice. My theory, expressed here many times is that these types of concepts fail because they refuse to consider fundamental characteristics of humans. What most of us call "human nature."
We may not be as negative about the human condition as Chaucer's Parson (The Parson's Tale) or the medieval Church, but we need to recognize pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth as human qualities that exist, like it or not. Just like over-crowded rats, we tend to attack one another when pushed.
Jobs Report
In January 2017, the Jobs Report "crushed it" according to one source, with the economy adding 227,000 new jobs. February 2017 just reported, and it was an addition of 235,000 jobs (earlier posted as 298k in error, although I don't think I just made up that number?). There seems to be a new confidence among job creators. Apparently not listening to the mainstream news? That's in the neighborhood of a half million jobs in two months, should make a dent in the "unemployed but not counted" that has been the non-story of the press over the last 8 years.

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