Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Been Forever

Finally, I have found a blog client that I can live with.

Since I last wrote much has happened.

Health Care reform was passed. Government shutdowns were averted. We won the Iraq war and got kicked out of Iraq by our 'allies'. We got kicked out of Pakistan. We got kicked out of Afghanistan. Egypt got a new government. Libya got a new government.

Did anyone see any of that coming? I didn't. Even health care reform didn't look to me like it could get done.

Is any of that good news, though? What is the most pressing issue in the US right now? I would have to say that it is the state of the economy. In 2008 the US produced mostly houses for speculators to buy from one another, all of the products that are required to sustain that marketplace, and paper. The paper that we were producing was based on the homes that were being bought and sold. Banks sold that paper to one another just like the speculators were doing with the houses. The only difference being that the paper was a lot easier to create. The only limit to how much paper could be created was the amount of underlying debt that they were based on. So much profit was being made on this paper that a huge demand grew for debt. The only way to create more paper to sell was to lower the standards for making the loans that it was based upon. The rising tide floated all boats--until it didn't.

Now our economy doesn't create houses any more. There are too many. Now we don't need to build them, furnish them, buy or sell them. All of those people that were busy making, selling, and living in all of those homes don't do that any more. All of the industry that supported housing is idle. All of the financiers that packaged and housing debt don't. All of the realtors and bankers that worked in real estate don't any more.

In addition to that, now, because tax revenues have fallen due to falling state sales tax revenues, states are cutting their payrolls across the nation. The Federal government is cutting its payrolls and many other expenditures. All of this money that is being 'saved' is now not flowing into the system. More idle workers. Less money to buy with. The pool of money is quickly drying up.

Why would any business that relies on sales for it's sustenance create more or add more employees before there is a market for the products? Where is the increased demand to come from? With every source of money shrinking there is no one to sell to. Everyone that produces must cut back without a consumer.

Where does it end? If this sounds like a familiar story, that is because it is. In 1929 this happened. When it did, the government didn't respond with bailouts. Unemployment insurance didn't exist. They cut taxes and they cut government spending. This was going to raise 'confidence' in the market. For four years they tried this approach. After that time, the situation was so bad that there were tent cities springing up all over the country. Hoovervilles, they were called. Federal troops were called out to take them down and disperse the people in them.

So now, we are relearning the lessons of the thirties. It remains to be seen if the changes that must occur in government policy can be accomplished at the ballot box or whether it will take something more like the Arab Spring to get the job done. I don't see any example in history though where something like the depression that we are in was ever successfully combatted with government actions like those we are witnessing now.

What do you write about

There is a blank sheet of paper. There are words hidden inside it, and as my mind connects to my fingers, they slowly emerge from the white. So far, nothing interesting

Trying Out Blogsy on the IPad 2

How does this work? I am trying out a new Ipad Blogging Client. Blogsy. Cost was 5 dollars and it seems pretty full featured to me. I will test out a few of the features and write a review.

Installation was typical Ipad magic. Bought on the app store and now it's on all of my I devices already. In the settings menu, which is accessed via a gear icon in the lower right corner of the screen, there are links to videos showing how to set up your blogging and content accounts. There is support for Wordpress, which is what I use. I had the Wordpress client on my Ipad, but I have deleted it in favor of Blogsy.

One thing that they did not cover in any of the tutorials is how to actually enter text. If they did then I missed that section of the instructions. I entered a blog title and then could not get the cursor into the lower section of the display to begin typing text. What I am trying now is after flipping to the right with one finger on the display I am in the second section, where you can enter HTML code for your blog. On this side I can enter text.

Is that how it's supposed to work? Dont know yet. I guess that the other display is for putting in content like photos and videos. Hmmm.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Just got MacJournal for blogging on the go...

MacJournal is a program I have been using for five years, but only occasionally. Now that I have my IPad I should be able to blog when the thought arises instead of only when I remember that terrific thought.

Welcome to MacJournal!


To get started, create a new entry by clicking on “New Entry” in the toolbar or choosing “New Entry” from the File menu. You can also drag files from the Finder in to the Sidebar or the Entries list to import them as an entry. Show the Inspector from the View menu to see settings for the current entry, journal, and document.

What's new in version 5?

  • All new interface, built for Mac OS X Leopard.
  • Add any kind of content, not just text. Drag PDFs, QuickTime movies, images, and more into the Sidebar to create an entry with anything on your computer.
  • Open more than one MacJournal document at a time and save them wherever you want, or just use the default document and never worry about saving.
  • Create Smart Journals from searches you perform.
  • Create aliases to entries that you can store in other journals.
  • Assign each entry a rating, status, and priority, and sort any journal by those values.
  • Record video from your iSight and attach it to any entry.
  • Performance enhancements for working with large numbers of entries.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Delivering Health

Insurance corporations are not evil. They are not the enemy. The only legitimate job of a health insurance company is to earn a profit. They are thus called "For-Profit" corporations. When they deny someone life-extending health care, they are losing. Profit. They have a mission to deliver money in the form of profit to their stock holders. It is their only mission. Their business plan has nothing in it about being fair, or honorable, or generous. If they were generous they would lose a stockholder lawsuit that demanded more profit and less honor.

No insurance company will ever voluntarily do the right thing for the health of America. They must be compelled to by law, so that their competition has the same size and weight of burden as them, to remove the competitive burden that honor and fairness would be. When the government forced the auto makers to put seat belts in the cars, it did so to all of them. If it had not done so, we would not have belts in every car in America. Auto makers are not in the life saving business.

There does not have to be a public insurance plan in order to make the system fair, but it would make the system cheaper. A public plan would not have to make profit. A public plan would have a public servant for a CEO, and he would not have to make tens of millions of dollars. Chances are that he would not make more than the President, who doesn't earn even one million dollars. If we were going to provide insurance for the poor, the near poor, and everyone else that decided they wanted it, the public option would save the government money. It would cost the insurance companies nothing, because the people in the public option would not ever be their customers in the current system.

The health care market is a similar kind of market to the electricity market. You need it when you need it. You cant wait and buy it when it is cheaper to do so, it can't be stored. You can't shop for it, because you are tied to the provider of the moment. The markets differ because the electricity market is regulated. The electric company has approved rates that it can charge, and the provider makes a little something, but he cannot make whatever the market will bear. But that is not how the health care industry operates. If we paid for electricity like we pay for our health care, we would buy electricity insurance. The electric companies would charge more every year than the insurance companies would pay, and next year the rates would go up to cover some of the difference. It would have nothing to do with what it costs to provide electricity, it would just reflect what the market would bear. The cost of electricity would go up a couple of times faster than the rate of inflation for the rest of the economy. They would claim that it is because of all the new pollution controls that they have to put in, or some other excuse for the increases. The Health Industry always claims its the cost of new wiz-bang technology that the 'customer' demands, or the cost of indigent health care that they have to provide. The actual difference between the two markets, however, is that the electricity industry actually has to prove to the government, in a 'rate case', that their expenses have gone up. they have to show real expenses. They must ASK PERMISSION to raise prices. They get denied. Does it REALLY cost a hospital twenty five dollars for a couple of tylenol? Who do they have to prove it to?

The only entity that can reign in the health care industry is the government. They have the power that the 'market' does not have to make a for-profit company, like an auto maker or electric company, do the right thing. Left to the market, these companies have no power to change their incentives. It is not their fault, it is how they are designed. If you want to see what our health care system will look like about ten years after we take control of the incentives for the system, without taking control of any other aspect of the system, look to Switzerland. They went from our system to their system in 1994. We don't need a public option, but we do need public controls.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thinking about energy

I work at a coal plant. We generate tons of waste from burning about 135 railroad cars of coal per day. There is waste that flies up with the waste gases, this is called 'flyash'. There is waste too heavy, that falls to the bottom of the boiler, this is called 'bottomash'. What happened in Tennessee involved bottomash. There are also waste gases that cause acid rain and global warming.

The real viable alternative is nuclear power. I have worked at a nuclear plant, too. The one I worked at had been in operation for ten years and every bit of it's radioactive waste was housed at the plant. One years worth of waste from a coal plant would bury the plant. There is a lot less waste from a nuke plant. In my experience they are also a lot cleaner to work at, and alot more safely ran than the coal plants. Thank Federal regulation for that. Anyway, rethink your opposition to nuclear energy, if you want clean and plentiful energy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I never thought I would say this...

I agree with Andrew Sullivan. I really thought I would never say those words in this lifetime. When I first started reading blogs and the best ones were only '' and 'Whiskey Bar' Andrew Sullivan was the opposite of these writers. He was pro-war, he was right wing conservative, he was WRONG. He didnt know it yet, but he does now.

Over the past couple of years he has thought about this thoughts and he has learned from experience. He hasn't wasted a lot of time in that time trying to think of ways that he was right.

Now he has gone and said EXACTLY WHAT I HAVE BEEN THINKING. In his recent post that I have tracked back to, he has put his finger on what it is that we all love about Obama. He has identified how Hillary and McCain are two sides of the same coin. Have you ever wondered how a good Democrat like H. Clinton could start running negative ads and start covert whispering campaigns against another good Democrat, just to win the nomination? It is because that campaign doesn't see anthing wrong with adopting the dark tactics of the enemy? For years we have known that the Right Wing will stoop as low as necessary to get the job done. It's all they have, since reality 'has a liberal bias'. Ordinarily the Left Wing need not do this, but for some reason this campaign thinks that winning is far more important than doing what is right and proper. I think that the Obama campaign will never have to stoop to these tactics, because they know that the future must be a clean break from the sins of the recent past.

One of the things I liked about Bill Clinton's campaign was that when the Right started their baloney, he didnt quit. He kept on talking about the issues, about how he had answers, and they had rumors. He was right. He didnt need to stoop to their tricks. Obama is right. Obama is not afraid of politics as usual. Obama deserves to be President.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sam Graves wrote me a letter...

I recieved a bulk email from the office of Rep. Sam Graves today concerning raising the federal tax on a gallon of gasoline by fifty cents. Opposition to this tax is understandable, with gasoline at record prices it is hard to see the benefit of increasing that price by seventeen percent (current prices). The Congressman says that we need to work on reducing the price of gasoline...

“We need to be working to reduce the price of gas, not increase it.”

If only the Congress would do something to reduce the price of gasoline, but it seems that the only law that control gasoline prices is the ‘law’ of supply and demand. Funny how the demand for a product like soda-pop is constantly going up, but the price is relatively unchanged in the past several years. Maybe it’s because the soda-pop prices are not being set by the manufacturers. I am willing to bet that if the Congress decided to make the gasoline makers prove how much it costs them to make their product and set the price accordingly, like they do electricity prices all over America, that the price of gasoline would drop OVERNIGHT the second the first Congressional hearings started.

The Congressman tells me “We do not need more taxes; we need an energy policy that addresses our growing energy costs.  To combat rising energy prices, we need to increase American sources of energy. This includes increasing production of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel.  It also includes tapping into the sources of energy we have and are not using in this country. Millions of barrels of oil exist in Artic National Wildlife Refuge and off the costal shelf, but are not currently being used. By going after the energy we have in our own backyard, we can reduce the prices we pay.”

It is correct that what we need is an energy policy--a strategy. However I dont think that ethanol or biodiesel can be the foundation of that plan. What America needs is to reduce our dependence on hydrocarbons, period. Things like raising the mandatory miles/gallon of new vehicles is a step in the right direction. Our plan should also find a way to reduce the amount of miles driven per person per year. In that way, increasing the cost of gasoline would help. If the tax revenue created would lower the miles driven per year it would be helpful. It would be doubly helpful if the revenue were used to bolster ways that Americans might travel more efficiently, like by rail.

In the book "Collapse" by Jared Diamond, there is a long discussion about the energy used to create civilizations, and how, when that energy source is exhausted, the civilization quickly collapses. Our sources of energy are all far away from us, with the exception of coal and nuclear energy. Anything that disrupts our access to cheap oil would devastate our ability to support three hundred million citizens in the manner that we are accustomed to being supported. Any disruption includes interruption at the source or along the trade routes between us, since our supplies are half way around the world. Currently our suppliers are already beginning to show signs of not being able to produce oil at the worldwide rate that it is being used. Ethanol can never make up for the loss of oil as the basis of our economy. We can't feed our cars and trucks from the same fields that feed our people and livestock. The piddling amount of oil in Alaska likewise will never make up for the loss of oil.

I also like the way he supposes that if we give an oil company access to local oil that it will somehow allow “us” to lower the price of gasoline. The amount of oil being pumped out of the ground has grown every year of my life, and every year of my life the price of gasoline has went up. I dont see how the Congressman jumps to the conclusion that one will suddenly track down if the other tracks up...

He is right, though, we do need a strategy. If he has any productive ideas besides the ones you indicated in your letter I would like to hear them, since this letter included nothing that looked helpful to me.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

New Tool--MacJournal

I have a new tool available to me to make blogging a little bit easier. Macjournal has been on this computer since the beginning, but I never set this feature up. I have so much trouble getting through the google password process (since I dont write as often as I should) that I decided to give this a go and let it do the rememberizing for me.