Schrodinger’s or Pandora’s?

There are two unique boxes in the world as we know it. The one in which lives (or doesn’t live) a little cat and one in which resides that which we don’t want to ever see.

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In this health care debate I see both boxes as in play. We’ve already opened Pandora’s at the urging of Nancy Pelosi; we’ve passed it to see what’s in it and now we are all trying to figure out how to get parts of ACA back into the box while allowing the rest to roam free. Unfortunately, we are right now in a strange debate that sounds quite a bit like Edwin Schrodinger’s theory. But it doesn’t work with ACA no matter how hard people try.

During the Government Shutdown mess–no need to lay blame since it rests with both parties–we were reminded time and again by those of the left side of the aisle that Obamacare is “law” and that those on the right side of the aisle should accept the “law” and should “fund the law.” I’ll agree that it is a law and that the Republicans should have handled their grievances differently; all laws have a right to be repealed and that’s the process by which those righty’s should have gone. However, since it is a law, and since my civics classes taught me that only Congress can pass and change laws, I fear that we are entering into a Schrodinger’s dilemna. A dilemna what will lead us to opening another Pandora’s box. As the President continues to make changes at his discretion–he’s just delayed the individual mandate penalty by nine months and other Democrats are pushing for other extensions as the elections near–including various waivers for groups and corporations, there seems to be a pall that has fallen over the left. If this is a law, then what right does the President have to change things as he is? ACA can’t be a cat in a scientific box; it either is or it isn’t a law. The President either respects that it is a law, or behaves as though it isn’t and then we can’t be upset with the hostage holding that the Republicans attempted during the Shutdown. If it isn’t a law, as the President would appear to be saying with his behavior, then where did the Republicans go wrong. Congress is the keeper of the purse; they can fun and defund what they will. And there she is, Pandora, all tempting with her box.

I’m going to side with the Democrats on this one. ACA is a law. ACA should be treated as such. If the Republicans want to do away with it, win the next set of elections and vote it out like we did with slavery, alcohol and voting right’s issues. We’ve had bad laws before, assuming that ACA is one of these, and we’ve ridded ourselves of their burdens before. And since it is a law, I thing what we are missing in all of this–as we argue amongst ourselves over who is and isn’t really getting letters from their insurance companies saying that they are being dropped from their programs–is that the President is, once again, extending his powers beyond that which is allowed by law.

Obama has compared himself with Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan. Granted none of these were true comparisons based on accomplishments, but it is frightening that he looks to three presidents who did their best to ignore the Constitution and the duties specified to the various Federal offices. One has to wonder what “executive privilages” have been written into the heft that is the sum of ACA. And this is where things get frightening: We are in the midst of watching a president continue a horribly destructive pattern of illicit and illegal presidential expansion of powers and no one seems to be noticing. Instead, the media has us all bickering over the petty minutia of Obamacare while the obvious is running rampant before us and we don’t seem to care.

I can hear Pandora’s box opening and inside it we might actually find ourselves a dead little cat.

Sect. of State Kerry took the “stupid” option

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As if there wasn’t enough rancor in the realm of politics, our new Secretary of State, John Kerry, stood at a clearly divergent path and had the opportunity to close the chasm. Instead, he opted for the cliff and dove head long, like a political lemur, into the abyss.

In one of his first public statements as the newly appointed Secretary of State, Kerry addressed a gathered audience of German students and said,

“The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In America you have a right to be stupid – if you want to be. And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.”

Unfortunately, the following statement went mostly unheard by both the German students, who were laughing–either at the statement, or, more likely, at the U.S.–and by Americans.

“And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for. The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view.”

Sadly, there is no tolerance.

Google “Christianity is a mental illness” and you get 2,420,000 hits. That’s the tolerance that Kerry insists we have? Read the comments following the articles (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/26/us-usa-kerry-liberties-idUSBRE91P0HJ20130226 or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/26/john-kerry-right-to-be-stupid_n_2764973.html). I suppose that’s tolerance? Blaming Democrats for the Obama re-election because of “stupidity”? Blaming Republican “stupidity” for eight years of George Bush?

If anyone really wonders, and I mean with sincere curiosity, as to why we have faced a fiscal cliff and now face sequestration, all they need to do is look at how each side of the political aisle views one another. To steal a line from Mrs. Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Right now, Republicans are stupid, Democrats are idiots. Congress is an insane asylum, and the inmates are running the institution. The idea that there is any way that for civil discussion is remote simply because neither party is willing to concede that the other has even the slightest mental faculties. This is a top down issue. Obama commented recently,

“Maybe they couldn’t understand the whole thing [his jobs bill] at once,” the president said to laughter. “We’re going to break it up into bite-sized pieces, so they –they can take a thoughtful approach…We’re going to give members of Congress another chance to step up to the plate and do the right thing.”

There is something inherently wrong when the President is pandering the his political base by calling the other side too dumb to understand a complex proposal. It is sad that the audience found humor in this. Worse yet, no one in the main stream has called him out. And for every example one can find for Democrats debasing the Republican party, you can find just as many the other way.

Meanwhile, our new Secretary of State announces to Europe that Americans have the right to be stupid. I wonder which “Americans” he is referring to? Is this another attempt to pander to Democrats during the sequestration boondoggle? If so, then John Kerry took the stupid option. If not, all Mr. Kerry did was add fuel to a tire fire called American politics. I suppose we’re all just stupid since we have an opinion that stands contrary to those of others. Welcome to American tolerance. Thank you Mr. Kerry for finally clarifying what some of us in the middle already knew.

Flashback Friday: Too Big To Fail

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No doubt I am an airline/airplane aficionado. I listen to air traffic control while writing, plane spot as air traffic maneuvers over my house for approach to Denver (DIA/KDEN), can tell if it is an Airbus or Boeing on approach just by engine noise (that distinct whine of the Rolls Royce engines gets me every time), and get restless before flights like a child trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. I rue the fact that I do not have the money to be on the inaugural Boeing 787 United Airlines flight from DIA to Narita, Tokyo.

I fondly remember traversing through international airports, boarding gleaming white and red TWA L1011s for the long trip over the Atlantic. In the terminals, I looked with awe at the 747s of KLM, British Airways, and Pan Am as they were prepped for flights. I remember dressing up for trips, TWA flight attendants in their smart, crisp, blue suits and ties, and captains who greeted passengers at the door with a smile and wings for the kids. And I still have my collection of little plastic wings.

And then the airlines started to crumble.

The largest of these was America’s carrier–Pan Am.

Two oil crises (1970s and 90s), mismanagement, a terrorist attack, and competition along it’s once impenetrable foreign routes eventually brought Pan Am down in 1991.

Once America’s principal international carrier and undisputed largest air travel provider, Pan Am fell by the wayside along with other carriers like Eastern and PSA.

But how could such an iconic airline be allowed to fail?

After all, Pan Am was the airline that inaugurated the era of wide-body air travel when they introduced the world to the 747. Pan Am was at the forefront of supersonic air travel; they were one of few airlines that signed options for the Concorde (though they didn’t take delivery) and for the Boeing 2707, though they didn’t receive their fifteen ordered after Congress voted against additional SST funding in 1971. Pan Am was one of the first to use a computerized system to aid bookings in hotels and travel (the PANAMAC computer was so large that it occupied the entire fourth floor of what is now the Met Life building in New York). For many people, Pan Am is known as the airline that brought The Beatles to New York in 1964 (Pan Am B707-321, Clipper Defiance).

So, why did the government allow Pan Am to fail? Where was the support for Pan Am as it failed? Shouldn’t Pan Am have been “too big to fail”? Pan Am had once flown to every continent on the planet except Antarctica.

Ultimately, Pan Am collapsed because that’s just the nature of things. It’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics–Entropy. All things flow from order to chaos. Look at it this way: You can clean your kid’s room, but eventually it will become a mess again. No matter how hard CEOs or Governing Boards work to maintain structure and order within a company, eventually it is doomed. Either due to mismanagement, competition, or the fact that a different, better product/service has come available. Pan Am was doomed the first day it’s planes flew around Panama in the 1920s.

All businesses need to understand that fact of nature. Some, like the Packard Motor Company, Studebaker Motor Company, and Atari, Inc. learned this the hard way. Companies like Playboy, Inc. struggle to reinvent themselves as technology passes them by. And current industry giants like GM, Ford, BofA, and Citigroup try hard to ignore this facet of nature.

It doesn’t serve us any good to continually prop up dinosaurs. They either evolve or they die. Pan Am died. The airline industry moved on (though, some with the help of the government post 9/11). With the FDIC protecting customers, some banks should be allowed to move into chaos. GM? Maybe it is time to see it move to the Studebaker list of automakers.

And, just so you know. I can hear an Airbus A319 or 320 on final approach to DIA’s runway 7 right now.

Trickle-Down is Just a Trickle

Romney

Romney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

Greedy Beings

Are people naturally greedy? Is there an inherent desire for selfishness imbedded within our DNA? Are we rapaciously, covetous creatures?

Curiously, when I approached the all-mighty, all-knowing internet with this question, I was given an answer I didn’t expect: No.

Cultural anthropologists say that if humans had been greedy at the onset of mankind, we would not have survived. The simple argument is that had we been greedy, there is no way we would have allowed our hard-earned hunt to be shared by the tribe. As I am no anthropologist, I’ll let that argument go, but I might be willing to explain it as survival instincts. I need my tribe to be healthy for my own protection, and my need to continue my gene pool; in other words, selfish greed. Other more modern arguments urge that it is only with the advent of capitalism that humanity adopted greed as a part of its nature. However, there is an issue here. The perpetrators of this argument swing from the left side of the plate. If we aren’t inherently greedy, then why shouldn’t Mitt Romney’s tax plan be successful? I’m going to aid the lefties, and remind them that greed and kindness aren’t linked, and that mankind is, in fact, greedy bastards

Let’s debunk the myth that capitalism created greed. There are ten generally accepted rules to live by. Of those ten, three deal directly with the concept of greed (a fourth can be modernly interpreted as such). Think about this for a moment. One “thou shalt not kill” and three “thou shalt not covet”. [Commit adultery, and steal are the other two]. Last time I checked, the early Israelites didn’t practice capitalism. In my Mum Monday post, Matt Wuerker presented an image dealing with feudalism. Middle Age Europe was as far from capitalism that any society could be. Yet, the monarchs of feudal Europe practiced the most intense from of greed that had been seen until that time. Not discounting the avarice of the Catholic Church at the time (hence the fourth “thou shalt not have graven images” as greed… Can you say plenary indulgences?)

Surplus Wealth as a Sacred Trust

William Jennings Bryan, 1860-1925

William Jennings Bryan, 1860-1925 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1896, Democratic hopeful, and eventual Populist leader, William Jennings Bryan criticized the previous twenty years in American economics saying, “There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.” This is one of the first instances where the notion of trickle-down economics is clearly stated. All one had to do was look around at the Rockefellers, Carnegies, DuPonts, Morgans, and other captains of industry to see that the money wasn’t flowing downhill. In the case of Carnegie, his workers weren’t even paid in real currency, rather they were paid in company scrip.

Yes, Carnegie also wrote The Gospel of Wealth in which he said, “Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.” Carnegie would establish libraries around the nation, build a college, and donate twenty million dollars to the Philippines so they could buy their independence. Carnegie argued that since the wealthy had reached the pinnacle of society, they were inherently the ones who should dispense wealth and build a better society. Not government. Not charitable organization. Not family. Carnegie saw these groups as squanderers too ill-equipped to manage vast fortunes.

And there it is.

Carnegie said it himself. People were squanderers. They’d spend money on themselves. Greed. Sure Carnegie said to do good for society, but how many followed his lead?
Did The Gospel of Wealth promote a better society? In a small way, yes. Did the worker’s lives improve? No. That would take government intervention in the 1910s.

The current incarnation of The Gospel of Wealth is “The Giving Pledge“. To date, not a single member of Congress residing in the top twenty wealthiest have signed.

Romney’s Tax Plan

If Romney plans to continue tax breaks for the wealthy, I ask why? I’d like to know exactly what jobs Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex., est. net worth $294.21 mil) or Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass., est. net worth $193.07 mil) have created. Sure, The Giving Pledge billionaires have donated untold millions to charitable organizations, it still isn’t quite job creation. So, does trickle-down work? Hasn’t quite yet. And I would argue that most of that reason has to do with greed; the “I-earned-it-I-keep-it” philosophy. Despite what anthropologists and left-leaning economics would argue, human creatures are greedy beings.

Sources:

http://liberatemind.com/main/2011/11/22/we-are-in-fact-not-naturally-greedy-beings/
http://election.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×5482451
http://www.workers.org/2006/us/greedy-0223/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/20/human-nature-politics-left-right