Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fake Feminists, Hollywood Hypocrites, and the NoBodyCares (NBC) About Democratic Sex Scandals Network

In an EMERGENCY meeting yesterday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences kicked out one of their most famous and successful movie producers. Harvey Weinstein is accused, by three dozen women, of unwanted "casting couch" sexual advances over decades. This is a case where, apparently "EVERYBODY" in Hollywood knew, and even joked about it at award ceremonies, revealing themselves as Fake Feminists and Hollywood Hypocrites.
Good for Rachel Maddow! She conducted a very timely interview of Ronan Farrow. He broke the Weinstein sexual harassment story at the New Yorker, after Maddow's colleagues and management at the NBC network killed his story. 
Lets call it the NoBodyCares about Democratic sex scandals NBC network from now on.
Ronan Farrow, once a full-time MSNBC host and NBC News correspondent, got the story and had multiple witnesses statements and videos, as well as a 2015 NYPD audio tape of Weinstein's misconduct, but NBC management killed the story. Apparently, at NBC, NoBodyCares about Democratic sex scandals!  

Rachel Maddow deserves credit for breaking ranks with her NBC colleagues and interviewing Farrow on her program in a timely manner.

NBC is the network that had the Billy Bush "Access Hollywood" tape of Donald Trump, in 2005,  making extremely lewd remarks about his treatment of women. However, that was in 2005, when Trump was registered as a DEMOCRAT in his native New York City, and  the tape was securely locked away.

It was not until 2016, when Trump became the REPUBLICAN nominee for President, that the devastating tape finally saw the light of day. Further proof that NBC is the NoBodyCares about Democratic sex scandals network. They were right to release the tape because Trump is a public  figure, but why did they protect him when he was a Democrat?

Ira Glickstein

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Coyote Chorus - Another View of the NFL Controversy


[From Bill Lifka. Graphic by Ira.]

Group Yip Howl

Coyotes vocalize more than any other of the canids, which include wolves, foxes and dogs. Like wolves and foxes, coyotes enjoy eating those dogs and cats which are sufficiently small for them to attack successfully.

For three nights now, a coyote family group has sung its chorus probably no more than 50 yards beyond our fence. The song is one of 11 – 13 melodic compositions identified by an expert, each having a distinctive meaning. It’s a chorus because this particular tune requires at least two of the animals, but usually more. In our case, it’s the alpha male, his alpha female mate and their three beta offspring.

Their composition is called the Group Yip Howl. The alpha male howls, the alpha female “screams, gargles and laughs” and the beta coyotes yip randomly. The purpose of all this noise is to note their separating for individual hunts or their coming together after these hunts. The racket can be heard for two miles and notifies other coyote packs how many are in this pack. In this manner, coyote packs space themselves for optimum hunting territories. Also, in the mysterious ways of nature, coyote litters become smaller when the territories are crowded and larger when territories are less densely populated.

NFL Controversy

The first time I heard this Group Yip Howl, it reminded me of any news program on CNN or the other leftist TV channels as they spew out their hatred over President Trump’s “stealing” the election from Hillary. Currently, it’s the flap over NFL players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem before football games. The president commented on this disrespectful behavior in his usual colorful fashion to afford the media another opportunity to label him as a racist.

As every Progressive knows, being a racist is much worse than having a traitorous discussion with Russians and all discussions with Russians must be traitorous, according to their current dogma. Before the purpose of “taking the knee” morphed into any number of imaginary grievances, it signified opposition to the “practice” of police officers shooting Black males in increasing numbers. It made no difference that actual data shows exactly opposite results.

But President Trump’s remarks gave the Progressive Media Moguls a tangible target, or so they thought.  I must have heard/seen Trump’s remarks two dozen times or more. It was unavoidable if I turned on the TV. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t understand the racist charges. Beyond that, all who know Trump regard him to be color blind. On the other hand, Trump is an insulter, but he’s an equal opportunity insulter.

Trump is also not as dumb as the Media Mavens pretend. He defined “taking the knee” as a direct insult to the military personnel fighting and dying in Afghanistan. In that interpretation, it’s not easy to sympathize with the kneelers. Despite wanting to pacify their Black players, some NFL teams just didn’t show up on field until after the playing of the anthem. Some stood and linked arms as a sign of “solidarity”. Some continued to allow those who wanted to kneel do so regardless of many fans’ opposition. 

Tune in any CNN news program involving a panel and see a human Group Yip Howl of which a coyote pack would be proud. The alpha male howls. The alpha female screams, gargles and laughs. The beta panelists yip and yip and yip. Their purpose is to rip and tear apart America.
 
I was kneeling in church on Sunday, thinking about how poorly designed are the kneelers in the pews of every Catholic Church in my experience. (In the beginning, churches had no kneelers; in fact there were no seats, either.) If the pew designers would move the kneelers just four inches more from the seat backs immediately in front they’d calibrate with the kneeling human form more comfortably. (Perhaps a little bit of torture is intended.)

Are We Misjudging NFL Players?

[Sarcasm warning] And then, it struck me that we may be misjudging the NFL players who “take the knee”. Since the time of Alexander the Great, the person who knelt before another was demonstrating reverence or submission. Also, Christians and Muslims kneel in prayer. Perhaps some of the NFL players knelt for those reasons. I imagined what I might be thinking (or praying) if I were a player of that mind.

Dear God (or Uncle Sam), I am eternally grateful for all the blessings which have come my way as a citizen of this great country. If not through chance, I’d be a native of an African country with terrible housing, food, sanitation and health care. The government would be hopelessly corrupt. Unknown plagues would ravage my family and countrymen regularly. Just as regularly, hordes of neighboring tribesmen would attack without warning and carry off my sisters and my wife after killing me and my male friends because we hadn’t adequate weapons to defend us and our loved ones. At best, I’d be captured and sold into slavery in some remote part of the world. 


Of course, that’s what happened to my distant ancestors with the good fortune to be transported to America and the bad fortune it was in irons in the hold of a slave ship. Some were treated very badly and others somewhat better but all had to work hard for a white man’s gain and all had no freedom, which was the worst aspect of their situation. Nevertheless, they were alive and they sired descendants who came to be free and equal citizens. The real blessing was the Constitution that enabled this freedom and opportunity to become prosperous but it might not have been as promised if not for the deaths of 600,000 white men as the price of my freedom and the $ trillions spent in an intent to restore what slavery had lost. 


I’m thankful I grew strong and fast to qualify for this sport. I’m not a good student as are some of my race.  However, I’ve been idolized through high school and college for playing this game and, except for a few hard knocks on the field, I’ve had a fantastic life so far. My coaches kept me on the straight and narrow path to avoid the fate of my childhood friends: early death or jail. I was lucky to tire of all the partying and find the cheerleader of my choice had home management skills beyond wiggling her butt. I think what I’m paid to play this game is ridiculous; all because these White folks pay to see me play. The brothers kneeling besides me are paid an average salary in one year that equals what’s paid to two soldiers who stay on active duty for thirty years, if they avoid having their legs blown off by an IED. They need better agents.  
What it comes down to is I’m the luckiest son of a bitch in this stadium and it’s time I started thinking of payback beyond taking my lumps today and dealing out a few myself. I can make an effort to show some of the young brothers on the street there’s a life beyond dope and killing. I’ll give it more than a try, I promise. I owe it to America.


Is it possible one of the kneeling players could be thinking that way? I’d like to think there are more than one. But it only takes one. Only one started the whole sorry thing.

Bill Lifka


                       

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Beyond Communism - the Emergence of a Newly Prosperous and Increasingly Capitalist CHINA!

OUR CHINA TRIP - An Overview

LEFT: At Shanghai China Disney World, my "Chairman Mao"  hat attracted a software engineer who works for Alibaba (Chinese version of Amazon) for an interesting discussion. MIDDLE: At Disney with three of my favorite  women, my Wife Vi, Daughter Lisa, and Granddaughter Michaela. RIGHT: Brooklyn T-Shirt atop the Great Wall of China
Vi and I visited China in September 2017, starting with a standard professionally-guided tour of Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. We added a self-directed visit to Suzhou where our Granddaughter Michaela, a Hospitality major at Purdue University, was in the midst of a six month internship at a hotel. We also visited Shanghai Disney World, along with our daughter Lisa (Michaela's mother) who was on a separate tour of China, and Anna, a fellow intern with Michaela. We are indebted to each of them (Lisa, Michaela, and Anna) for guiding and helping two elder travelers during these off-tour activities. The Chinese people we met, including those being paid to serve us as well as total volunteers with little or no knowledge of English, were uniformly helpful and kind.

A visit of fewer than a dozen days to four popular business and tourist areas in China certainly does not make me any kind of expert on this topic. Therefore, please accept this posting as the questionable opinions of a rather casual observer. Like the "Pussy cat" in the well-known ditty*, I have well-worn interests and biases. *Pussy cat, pussy cat,, where have you been? I've been to London to visit the Queen. Pussy cat, pussy cat, what saw you there? I saw a little mouse under a chair. Yes, the cat missed all the finery and luxury of the Queen's palace in favor of that lowly mouse under the chair! Perhaps we all miss some majestic sights as we are drawn to the familiar?

Vi in Tiananmen Square where Chairman Mao's portrait hangs prominently. His visage appears on Chinese currency. 
We found China to be surprisingly modern and prosperous, with open, helpful, and accepting people who seemed genuinely happy to have us visit, anxious to try out their often limited (but sometimes quite good) English. They are in the midst of revolutionary changes in their economic and political systems. The situation may be very different in other areas of China, particularly some less developed "autonomous regions" such as those with substantial non-Han Chinese populations.

No More "True Believer" Marxists in the World?

Both Russia and China are far more "Capitalistic" than you might expect, and are rapidly moving in that positive direction.

Our experiences in "Communist" China confirmed our experiences from a brief visit to "Communist" St. Petersburg, Russia, a few years ago, . There are no longer any really "true believer" Marxists left in the World (except for a few Professors teaching at Universities in the US and other Western countries :^)

The core ideal at the heart of Marxist Socialism "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs" is certainly heart-warming, but does not stand up to any serous analysis. It flies in opposition to basic human  nature! Most of us will not voluntarily work to the maximum of our abilities unless we are rewarded for doing so, or punished if we fail to do so. Furthermore, most of  us will consume far more resources than we actually need unless we must personally bear the associated costs.

Thus, all attempts to implement Marxist ideals on a large scale, such as those of "Red" China and "Communist" Russia, as well as other extreme Socialist countries such as Venezuela, have resulted in either an Authoritarian police-state society, or, in the best case, Extreme Bureaucracy, general poverty, and pervasive scarcity. As Milton Friedman, one of my special heroes, quipped: "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand."

The only realistic and humane alternative is a market-oriented competitive Capitalistic system, with visible rewards for those who work to the limits of their abilities. Of course, to be truly humane, the system must provide necessary welfare protections for those who absolutely cannot find gainful employment.

George Orwell's Animal Farm

In George Orwell's 1945 classic Animal Farm, the Pigs [Communists] lead a revolt of their fellow animals [Proletariat] against the Man [Capitalist] who owns the farm. Their motto, “All animals are equal" is soon transformed to "All animals are equal, but some animals [the Pigs-Communists] are more equal than others.”

At the end, when the Pig-Communists move into the farmhouse, adopt the manners and lifestyle of humans, and align themselves with human society external to the Farm,  “The creatures outside [the farmhouse] looked from pig [Communist] to man [Capitalist], and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Capitalistic China

Our first impressions of China were of Beijing airport, which, other than the crowds of Chinese people and signage, could have been any airport in the US or Europe. The taxi ride to our hotel plunged us into heavy traffic. Our driver (who spoke no English) showed his expertise in beeping and angling the taxi to prevent other cars from pulling in ahead of us. He had an uncanny ability to scoot from lane to lane and around other cars. He could have given cab-driver lessons in our native Brooklyn, NY!

Our Novotel Peace Hotel was modern and comfortable, with spectacular views from our 28th floor window, despite the somewhat smoggy air. The only negative surprise was the poorly-designed tub-shower that had a glass wall that blocked access to the water controls. You had to get fully into the tub to turn on the water. That meant you'd get splashed by the initially cold water. Furthermore, the tub, although not particularly deep, was way above the level of  the floor, a significant slipping hazard when getting out.

Our tour director, Lee, spoke excellent English, and shared well-received stories of his family life, including the hazards of the 1960's and 1970s "cultural revolution" and of his mother-in-law. In Xian we had a second leader, Peter, an expert who has worked on restoring the terracotta warriors. He too shared personal stories. He told us to look for him on a PBS documentary scheduled for release around the new year 2018.

Our bus comfortably accommodated the 26 members of our group. We soon became friendly with several of our tour-mates, including those from Bulgaria (now living in South Africa), Canada, England, and various  states in the US.

Flying and Touring Routine

The travel and tour was physically and mentally demanding, especially considering our ages, 75 and 78. We traveled by taxi from home to the Villages Transportation terminal at Spanish Springs, their Van to the Orlando FL airport, changing planes at Los Angeles CA, and again at Hong Kong for the flight to Beijing. That all took over 36 hours from home to hotel. We were exactly 12 hours off from our home time, so the "jetlag" was significant. The tour day usually started with a 7AM hotel  breakfast and an 8AM departure for sightseeing. There was a lot of walking, particularly the first few days at Tiananmen Square ("Temple of Peace"), the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall.

After the touring day, I usually ventured out alone, or at times with Vi, to walk the streets in the hotel vicinity, seeking a convenience store, supermarket, American fast-food, and so on. The streets were teeming with aggressive vendors and lined with small food shops, restaurants, and other stores. All, as far as I could tell, were strictly privately-owned and operated. I was impressed by large, multi-level and very modern shopping centers, featuring intentionally known brand names.

Scooters and bicycles, along with crowds of Chinese people, flowed along the sidewalks. I was continually surprised that no one ever seemed to get pushed or run over.

Crossing the street was an adventure! A plethora of people, cars, trucks, buses, scooters and bicycles seemingly regarded the traffic lanes and lights as mere decoration. I followed the advice of our tour leader and adopted a "sticky rice" strategy of embedding myself in a crowd of Chinese people and going with the flow.

After the organized tour, we had the opportunity to use taxis and public transportation, under the very able tutorship of Michaela and Anna. Both are excellent and inexpensive.

Bottled Water

Throughout our trip we were required  to use bottled water, and were told not to use tap water at the hotel for drinking or brushing our teeth. Drinking fountains were not generally available anywhere. The hotels provided two or four free small bottles that we usually put into the refrigerator. Additional water was an expense.

At airports, safe water was available for free, but it was either a choice between "hot" and "warm". I brought empty plastic water bottles through airport security and filled them with the "warm" water. Chilled water in bottles was available but cost around $2 each. I  noticed that some Chinese people had bottles with tea leaves in them, and they would use the "hot" water to make tea. The tea was weak and almost colorless since the tea leaves were used multiple times. At Disney they had safe water fountains, but that was an exception.

Internet Blocking in China

We had very good free Wi-Fi internet availability at Chinese airports (Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai) and at our fine hotels in those cities as well as in Suzhou. However, throughout our time in China, I could not gain access to my Google Groups or Google BlogSpot accounts. Facebook, however, continued to work OK. Our granddaughter (in the midst of her internship at a hotel in Suzhou) had suggested that I could use n app called "ExpressVPN", which, for a fee, would give us access to at least some of the blocked sites. However, the front desk agent who signed us in at our first hotel told me that ExpressVPN was not legal in China, and, since I had access to other internet features, I id not try to use ExpressVPN.

Cable TV Access in China

At each of the our hotels, we had access to many TV channels, in each case including several in English. All hotels had Bloomberg. Two had CNN, and some had the BBC, CNBC, and HBO, as well as an English-language Chinese station. However, I  never saw Fox News or Fox Business, nor did I see MSNBC. I don't know if this situation was due to blocking by the government or simply a matter of cost control by the hotels.

Some Highlights of Our China Tour

Please note that I generally do not take photos of the sights and scenery since better, professionally-taken photos are generally available online. Therefore, most of my photos feature images of family, friends, and me.

Beijing Area

Novotel Peace Hotel. The tour included: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Rickshaw Tour, Home Lunch, Foot Massage, Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
Courtyard of private Chinese home where we enjoyed a wonderful meal with our tour group..
Note yellow bike on right is one of tens of thousands all over the city streets that can be unlocked by cellphone code and borrowed for a fee. 

Our Rickshaw Driver allowed me to sit in the driver's seat and pretend to pedal Vi around tte town.
Great Wall of China Panorama. TOP: Note Vi in blue sitting. BOTTOM: View looking upward as Wall rises steeply.

Xian ("She Ann") Area

Sheraton North City. The tour included: Elementary School Visit, Terracotta Warriors, Xian Old Market Area.
At an Elementary school in Xian. My student is Pang Zi Han, who wrote her name in Chinese and copied some English words for me. Vi sits with her student behind me. They asked for a volunteer to teach the class some English. I was the first. I drew the Earth, pointed out North, South, East and West, located China and USA, then I sketched a separate map of the United States noting New York where my wife and I were born and educated and worked, Florida where we retired, and California from where we flew to China.

Vi and I view the famous Terracotta Warriors. At the right is a "warrior" who looks a lot like me :^)


Shanghai Area

Hilton Jing'an. The tour included: Bund, Waterfront, Old Shanghai, Acrobats Variety Show.
Vi at Shanghai waterfront skyline. Vi on the Shanghai Bund takes the bull by the horn. 


Shanghai Disney World (on our own with Lisa, Michaela, and Anna).


Suzhou ("Sue Joe") Area

Jingi Lake Grand Hotel (where Michaela and Anna are interning).

Michaela and Anna arranged a walk and a golf-cart tour around the lush forested grounds and lake. Vi relaxed as Michaela and I used their impressive and humongous swimming pool and hot tubs.

Michaela and Anna took me, by taxi, to the old town area, intending to visit the museum. It turned out the museum happened to be closed, which was fortunate! We walked along narrow a narrow alley with shops on both sides, along their canals (reminiscent of Venice), took a woman-powered canal boat tour (and she sang!). We consumed a freshly-made waffle cones with ice cream and jelly balls.
In the lobby of the Suzhou Jingi Lake Grand Hotel where our Granddaughter Michaela, a Hospitality major at Purdue University, is interning. 

Suzhou. China - we went to museum by taxi but it was closed. turned out great because we walked down narrow lanes, dodging scooters and bikes. We walked along the canals and got to ride a canal boat


Suzhou China - fantastic pool and hot tub complex in hotel where Michaela is interning.

She is a competitive swimmer and treated Vi and me to dinner at her hotel using two awards

earned by winning swimming races against other hotel personnel.

Suzhou China - freshly made waffle cone after wonderful singing woman-powered canal boat

Journey with Michaela and Anna. ZOOM IN TO SEE WAFFLE COME!
Early Evening Suzhou Lake View - TOP: Note Ira and Michaela near right edge. BOTTOM: Chinese family enjoys life. 

Shanghai Pudong Airport Area

Ramada Plaza Pudong Airport Hotel. Our 5th-floor room overlooked the airport. We could see the terminal and the planes. We had dinner and breakfast at  the hotel.

We took the hotel courtesy van to the Shanghai Pudong Airport, changing planes at Hong Kong, changing again to San Francisco CA, changing again to Charlotte NC, and getting off the plane then on again to Orlando FL for the Villages Transportation van and taxi home. Again over 36 hours with a 12-hour time difference. We each had a bit of digestive upset and health issues, but they were mostly remedied by the medications Vi thoughtfully brought along.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Google Software Engineer Who WROTE "not Wisely but Too Well"

James Damore, a Google software engineer, was fired on August 7, 2017 for writing an internal email memo that went viral. It has been characterized as an "Anti-Diversity Screed" and an "anti-diversity manifesto". Read the memo here: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber. If you have not personally read it through, you are, IMHO, not entitled to an opinion on this issue.

Having read it, along with comments and arguments from all sides, including Google management, I think it was unwise for Damore to have written the memo in these "politically correct" times. Although you and I may disagree with some of the points he makes, his memo is, if anything, too well-written!

Damore wrote "not wisely but too well" (paraphrasing Shakespeare).
Othello Act 5, scene 2, 340–346
Damore, along with my wife and myself, are members of a group that is way-over-represented in High-Tech and Science (as well as virtually all professions requiring high levels of intelligence and creativity), namely Jewish-Americans!

Though constituting only a small percentage of the US population, Jewish-Americans make up an order of magnitude higher proportion of the student body at the best universities. Naturally, this carries over into employment in High-Tech jobs, like those at Google. (We have this in common with Asian-Americans.)

[Sarcasm ON] In the name of "diversity" should we institute an "affirmative action" program for non-Jewish Caucasians? [Sarcasm OFF]

(Do a Google on "over representation of Jews" and you will see such suggestions, and worse, from self-described "White Identity" racists.)

My wife and I had long, successful careers in High Tech, she as a Lead Software Engineer and I as a Senior System Engineer, both for IBM (and Lockheed-Martin) in Owego, NY. At that time, the imbalance between male and female employees in High Tech was greater than it is now. My wife and I have worked with highly qualified women in High Tech jobs, women who were at least as good as our male colleagues. My wife was well-recognized as one of the very best Lead Software Engineers by her fellow engineers, management, and customers!

Despite a strong "diversity" commitment by Google leaders over an extended period of time, male employees in Google High Tech jobs outnumber females about 80% to 20%. That is an over-representation factor of two compared to their percentage of the population. In non-High-Tech jobs at Google, the percentages of males and females are about equal.

As I read Damore's memo, he clearly has had a positive impression of his female colleagues. As far as has been reported, over the five years he has been employed at Google, he has not been charged with any sort of "sexism" or other bad conduct on the job.

His main point is that females, on average, have different strengths and weaknesses compared to their male colleagues, and that much of that difference has to do with basic biology. The Wikipedia account is here: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.

Damore writes, in part:
Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech
​At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.

On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:
  • They’re universal across human cultures
  • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
  • Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify  and act like males
  • The underlying traits are highly heritable
  • They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective
Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.
To take a non-controversial example (not mentioned by Damore) males are about two standard deviations taller than females (on the "Normal" Curve). Thus, the average American male (5'9") is about 5" taller than the average American female (5'4"), which is less than 8% of the height of the average person (5'6.5"). A woman in the top 12% of all women would be taller than most men, and a man in the bottom 12% of all men would be shorter than most women. So the overlap is quite substantial.

However, if you were to set a minimum height of six feet (say for competitive basketball), fifty times as many men would qualify.  On the other hand,  if you were to set a maximum height of five feet four inches (say for competitive gymnastics), twice as many women would qualify. A mere 8% difference on average, could cause an over-representation factor several times greater.

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[Added  17 Aug 2017] The inimitable Walter Williams has an amazing, deliciously dry and witty take on this issue, https://https://www.creators.com/read/walter-williams.

Some excerpts here:
Google fired software engineer James Damore for writing a 10-page memo critical of the company's diversity policy. The memo violated the company's code of conduct by "advancing harmful gender stereotypes" by suggesting that biological factors were part of the cause for the male/female gap in the tech industry.  
I shall make the case that Google's actions were totally justified.  

Other than differences in certain physical attributes such as genitalia, capacity to give birth and the presence of functional mammary glands, males and females are identical in every other respect. Any remaining male/female differences are a direct result of oppression, discrimination and victimization by the larger society. To examine just one aspect of female victimization, let's examine the majors of female college students compared to their male counterparts.  
According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there are significant sex differences in college majors. For example, though women and men are equally represented in the population at large, women make up only 17 percent of engineering degrees conferred compared to 83 percent conferred to men. How can such a gross disparity be explained? I recommend an investigation to discover whether colleges are steering women away from higher-paying fields such as engineering and into lower-paying fields such as education and social sciences. Seventy-seven percent of education majors are women and so are 64 percent of social sciences majors. 
One wonders how such a disparity among equals can exist. I have personally visited George Mason Univeristy's Volgenau School of Engineering. There are no signs forbidding women from becoming an engineering major. But just because there are no visible prohibitions doesn't mean there is no evil plot against women. A number of years ago, I took a tour of UC Berkeley College of Engineering. Not only did I observe a paucity of women but also, because of the racial appearances of the students in some of the classes, I could have easily been in Asia. 
Colleges have the power to ensure that there are just as many female as male engineering majors. They can mandate that fewer female freshmen major in social sciences and education and instead major in engineering. To balance this all out they can disallow large numbers of men from majoring in engineering and instead force them to major in education or the social sciences. 
Although Damore's memo was seen by Google as "advancing harmful gender stereotypes," at least he didn't make any suggestion of male/female IQ differences. Doing so would have led not only to his firing but being ordered to leave the state of California. ...  
You say, "Are you serious, Williams? Or are you making light of the Google firing of James Damore?" My vision is that Damore has the right to say whatever he wishes about the company's racist and sexist diversity policy, and Google has the right to fire him for saying it. [Emphasis mine]
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Please use the Comment feature to share your views. advTHANKSance!

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, August 12, 2017

How Climate Science Has Gone Astray

Here is a great August 2017 YouTube video interview of Judith Curry, PhD. She explains how Climate Science got mixed up with Politics and went astray - AND - how she was "thrown out of the tribe" for expressing her expert, but contrary, views. I generally agree with Curry.

For more information, see the World's Most Viewed Global Warming and Climate Website.
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/08/11/dr-judith-curry-explains-the-reality-of-bad-climate-science-and-bad-politics/

I happen to be a Guest Contributor at that website: https://wattsupwiththat.com/author/iraglickstein/

Ira Glickstein

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Undressing The Post Modern Reality Game.


The singular goal of post modernism has been to shake the chains of reality. Aristotle’s Law of Identity (A is A—Things are what they are)  is too confining for those who wish to reorder society. An alternative to things "are what they are" is "things are what they are not." Bizarre? Illogical? Silly gibberish? Certainly to those who do not delve into the mechanics of philosophy, but it is the front line of battle for the progressive post modern. It is their cosmic bunny hole. A place where the impossible, the illogical, becomes “respected” thinking. It is the place where reality is believed to conform to the contents of one’s mind. The place where other worldly budgets are believed to be sustainable, where treaties with criminal nations are accepted as realistic, where theft is perfectly reasonable if it helps to sustain the needy. This is the place where anything is possible — providing that it is packaged as a “greater good."

While an overwhelming number of people hold strong opinions on matters that affect them, almost none of them consciously deal with them in philosophical terms. They are however, unconsciously dealing with these very same matters in philosophical terms. They absorb its principles from the cultural atmosphere around them—from schools, colleges, books, newspapers, movies, the internet and television. Who sets the tone of a culture? A small handful of men: the philosophers. Others follow their lead, either by conviction or by default.

Post modernism has its roots in the Age of Enlightenment, but it took the Frankfurt School, between the two world wars, to bring it out of the closet. They did so with a vengeance using Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle as their lever. It "proved" that since both position and momentum of particles can't be determined at the same time (by observation and measurement), that particles do not possess a unique position and momentum at a given time.  Two young scientists in Denmark have just exploded their world…



Smart atomic cloud solves Heisenberg's observation problem

Nature - July 13, 2017

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have developed a hands-on answer to a challenge linked to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. The researchers used laser light to link caesium atoms and a vibrating membrane. The research, the first of its kind, points to sensors capable of measuring movement with unseen precision.

When measuring atom structures or light emissions at the quantum level by means of advanced microscopes or other forms of special equipment, things are complicated due to a problem which, during the 1920s, had the full attention of Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. And this problem, dealing with inaccuracies that taint certain measurements conducted at quantum level, is described in Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which states that complementary variables of a particle, such as velocity and position, can never be simultaneously known.

In a scientific report published in this week's issue of Nature, NBI researchers demonstrate that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle can be neutralized to some degree. This has never been shown before, and the results may spark development of new measuring equipment, and new and better sensors.

Professor Eugene Polzik, head of the Quantum Optics (QUANTOP) at the Niels Bohr Institute, led the research, which involved the construction of a vibrating membrane and an advanced atomic cloud locked up in a minute glass cage.

Light 'kicks' object
The Uncertainty Principle emerges in observations conducted via a microscope operating with laser light, which inevitably will lead to the object being kicked by photons. As a result of those kicks, the object begins to move in a random way. This phenomenon is known as quantum back action (QBA), and these random movements put a limit to the accuracy with which measurements can be carried out at quantum level. To conduct the experiments at NBI, professor Polzik and his collaborators used a tailor-made membrane as the object observed at quantum level.

In recent decades, scientists have tried to find ways of 'fooling' Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Eugene Polzik and his colleagues came up with the idea of implementing the advanced atomic cloud a few years ago. It consists of 100 million caesium atoms locked in a hermetically closed glass cell, explains the professor:
"The cell is just one centimeter long, 1/3 of a millimeter high and 1/3 of a millimeter wide, and in order to make the atoms work as intended, the inner cell walls have been coated with paraffin. The membrane, whose movements we observed at quantum level, measures 0.5 millimeters, which actually is a considerable size from a quantum perspective."

The idea behind the glass cell is to deliberately send the laser light used to study the membrane movements through the encapsulated atomic cloud before the light reaches the membrane, explains Eugene Polzik: "This results in the laser light-photons 'kicking' the object—i.e. the membrane—as well as the atomic cloud, and these 'kicks,' so to speak, cancel out. This means that there is no longer any quantum back action—and therefore no limitations as to how accurately measurements can be carried out at quantum level."

How can this be utilized?
"For instance, when developing new and much more advanced types of sensors for analyses of movements,", says professor Eugene Polzik. "Generally speaking, sensors operating at quantum level are receiving a lot of attention these days. One example is the Quantum Technologies Flagship, an extensive EU program which also supports this type of research."

The fact that it is, indeed, possible to 'fool' Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle may also prove significant in relation to better understanding gravitational waves—waves in space moving at the speed of light. In September of 2015, the American LIGO experiment published the first direct registrations and measurements of gravitational waves stemming from a collision between two very large black holes. However, the equipment used by LIGO is influenced by quantum back action, and the new research from NBI may prove capable of eliminating that problem, says Polzik.

Explore further: Quantum teleportation between atomic systems over long distances
More information: Quantum back-action-evading measurement of motion in a negative mass reference frame, Nature (2017). [PAYWALLED]http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v547/n7662/full/nature22980.html?foxtrotcallback=true


Frank Schulwolf


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stoicism 1 - A Critique


[From Frank Schulwolf] On Friday, July 7th, at The Villages (FL) Philosophy Club, we were offered up the philosophy of stoicism. By contemporary standards stoicism is perhaps not seen as a major philosophical movement—it is none the less deserving of a more thorough examination than the one presented.




A philosophy should deliver a good deal more than a disconnected set of floating bromides, clichés
or homilies. Philosophy studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. Philosophy’s
task is providing man with a comprehensive view of life, which in turn provides a comprehensive
reference for all his action—mental or physical, psychological or existential.

Stoicism as presented was bereft of intellectual content. We learned nothing of its structural workings
as a system. No raison d'être. We are instead given selected chestnuts of wisdom (I paraphrase) “Stoics do not respond to anger with anger." Perhaps a useful tool when backed by rationale. Unanchored it is without value.

If we set aside the lighter than air presentation, we find that Stoicism holds specific views on the
nature of the universe and mans place within it. A number of these are problematic positions—
many of which if verbalized in presentation would not be likely to attract adherents. Some so repugnant, all but the numbest would head for the exits.

Stoicism is a by design/determinist philosophy, with all that implies. The philosophical equivalent of
(the movie) Ground Hog Day. In the Stoic universe, all has happened before. Because the universe
is eternal it will happen endlessly again and again. It is therefore futile and a waste of time
bemoaning ones fate. Realize instead, an unlimited acceptance of “reality” because it was all
meant to happen. That in turn means emotions are irrelevant because it was supposed to happen.
So, why not be good boys and girls, follow the rules and control your emotions. They are worse
than useless. They are irrational and therefore counter productive. Such a simplistic proposition
disregards the nature of emotions.

Emotions are the product of man’s premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly. Man’s emotional mechanism is very important component of the computer, which his mind has to program—and the programming consists of the values his mind chooses. Its main function being the integration of ideas.

If you consign your emotions to the dustbin, your disciplined emotional repression will deny your conscious mind the tools necessary to reach firm convictions. It is your conscious mind that programs the computer. If you default, if you cannot reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance—and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. A rational man knows—or makes it a point to discover—the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no need to repress them.

Interestingly, while the Greeks idealized man, The Stoics degraded him by calling for the suppression
of emotion.

The philosophy of Stoicism produces the antithesis of what our founding fathers had in mind—the
individual pursuing his happiness. Determinism recognizes no individuals. A position antithetical to
our Bill of Rights. What is more, determinisms flaws lead to nightmarish ethical issues.* This from
a philosophy which proudly proclaims its dedication to reason.


Frank Schulwolf


* See Ivan’s argument in The Brothers Karamazov

Friday, June 23, 2017

My Thought On Latest Health Care Bill


Scroll down for animated version
of what I call O-Trauma Care!
See Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution who seems to have coined "O-Trauma-Care" on 4 March 2014, before I independently came up with that term.


Ira Glickstein

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Case for a Universal Basic Income

[From John Griffin - Edited narrative from a PowerPoint presentation given to various discussion clubs in The Villages, Florida]

Welcome to “The Case for a Universal Basic Income”.  I have prepared a handout that is appended to the end of this post, and I will reference it at various points during this presentation.  And since most of you do not know me, I will give some of my background information.  Before I get to that, however, I would like to start in a fairly unconventional manner by going straight to the conclusion of this presentation.  The evidence to support that conclusion will come later.  The conclusion has two parts.
 
Part 1: A statement of “The Problem”

      Automation, computerization, corporate mergers, and globalization have eliminated so many jobs that we no longer have enough worthwhile jobs for all who need and want them.
      Those same processes will continue (and probably accelerate), and the job shortage will only get worse.
Part 2: The Proposed Solution

      Provide a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to all citizens over the age of 18 regardless of their income or employment status.
      The UBI will be enough to cover basic necessities – food, shelter and clothing.
      The UBI will not be taxable unless total income is well in excess of the UBI.   This is necessary so as not to create a disincentive to finding or creating a job whenever that is possible.
      Medical care is a separate issue and will not be covered by the UBI.
 
In earlier versions of this presentation I waited until I was about ¾ finished before I even mentioned the Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a possible solution to “The Problem”.  And the phrase “Universal Basic Income” was certainly not in the title.  I think I was afraid of being immediately labeled as just another bleeding heart Socialist intent on taking money from hard working people and giving it to freeloaders.  I was afraid that once the Socialist labeled was applied, many people would feel justified in just rolling their eyes and tuning me out.  Two things have happened to make me more bold:  1. I have become even more convinced that a UBI is not only a viable solution, but may well be the best solution, to “The Problem”; 2. Discussion of the UBI is increasing in the news media – giving me a feeling of safety in numbers.

 Much of this presentation is based on material appearing in the following two books:
      Rise of the Robots: Technology and the threat of a jobless future  (Martin Ford - 2015)
      Raising the Floor: How a universal basic income can renew our economy and rebuild the American Dream (Andy Stern – 2016) 

Martin Ford has over 25 years experience as a software developer and computer designer in that area of Northern California that has come to be known as Silicon Valley.  He also wrote an earlier book titled “The Lights in the Tunnel” (2009) discussing the issue of technological unemployment. 

From 1996 to 2010 Andy Stern was president of the Service Employees International Union, the largest private union in the country.  He left that position because he felt he needed to find a better way to advance the interests of his constituents.  Subsequently, he has been speaking and writing on the subject of the Universal Basic Income.

Some quotes used in this presentation and attributed to notable individuals are found in the above books.

My Background 

First a confession – I have no formal training in economics.  I have, however, had a long-time interest in reading about economies and how they work and often do not work.

I do have a BS in Computer Science and Mathematics from Michigan State University. 

I spent my career writing software and designing computer hardware in Silicon Valley – an interesting parallel to Martin Ford’s career.  As far as I know we never met. 

I have had a lifelong interest in Machine Intelligence (aka: AI or Artificial Intelligence), and I believe I have a good feel for what is required in automating various jobs in our economy.

My personal beliefs 

Why do I mention my personal beliefs?  I do that so you will better understand my motives during the remainder of this presentation.

1. I am a big fan of our capitalist economic system and believe that such a system is the most efficient way to bring products and services to the people.  I am not a fan of Socialist economies.  I feel that we only need to look at examples such as the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and the basket case that Venezuela is today to see the many ways that Socialism can fail.

2. I believe that entrepreneurs and capitalists should be celebrated and encouraged.  They should own and administer the means of production, and produce and distribute their goods in whatever way maximizes their profits.  I do not believe that the word “profit” should be a swear word.

3. I believe that the best way to encourage capitalism is to allow risk takers to keep the lion’s share of what they create. 

However, I also believe that our economy has evolved (and continues to evolve) toward a winner-take-all system that fails to meet the needs of an ever-increasing percentage of our population.  The people, as voters, will not allow such a system to persist. 

That is why I have chosen to subtitle this presentation as:  “Saving Capitalism in the Age of Automation“. 

At this point I will make one additional attempt to convince any remaining doubters that a Universal Basic Income is not a Socialist program.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Socialism as:

1. any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2. a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
3. a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state 

A UBI leads to none of the above.  When a government nationalizes your company, that is Socialism.  When a government levies reasonable taxes and fees for a legitimate purpose, that is just a cost of doing business.

This presentation will explore two questions:

1. What is the evidence that “The Problem” actually exists?

2. What are the reasons for believing that a Universal Basic Income is a good solution to The Problem, and what might result if we do provide it? 

Question 1: Does “The Problem” really exist? 

In other words: Is it true that automation, computerization, consolidation and globalization have caused an employment crisis?

This same question can also be asked in a form that has come to be known as “The Machinery Question.”  It is typically expressed as follows: “Hasn’t technological advancement always resulted, eventually, in the creation of more and higher paying jobs than are destroyed?”

We will start examining the evidence for this question with the following diagram which shows the distribution of our labor force by economic sector from 1840 to 2010.
 
Economists often divide our economy into three sectors: Agriculture (which includes hunting, fishing, forestry and farming), Industry (which includes construction, mining and manufacturing) and Services which is conveniently defined to include everything else.  That is nice since it makes the percentages on this chart add to 100 percent.

We see that in 1840 nearly 70% of our labor force was involved in Agriculture.  Since that time, due to automation and the consolidation of small farms into larger ones, the Agriculture labor force has declined to where it is less than 2% of our overall labor force today.  And yet we have all of the food we need and a nice surplus for export.  Clearly, automation has not created more and better paying jobs in the Agriculture sector than it destroyed.  But, no one claimed that automation would create new jobs in the same sector in which they were destroyed.  And, in fact, we see that the percentage of our labor force in the Industrial sector increased steadily from 1840 to 1950 with a short timeout for the Great Depression.  But then in 1950 the percentage in the Industrial sector also began to decline – largely due to automation.  All the while, the percentage in the Services sector continued to rise. 

So – some sectors lose employment, and some sectors (namely the Services sector) gain employment.  And since the unemployment rate is currently under five percent, everything is fine – right?
Well, no.  Our most recent recession (the so-called Great Recession) officially began in December, 2007 and ended in June, 2009.  So after just 18 months the economy was growing again and would soon be back to record levels of output.  However, the unemployment rate remained stubbornly high.  In a very real sense this was a jobless recovery.  Output was rising, but employment was lagging.  The Federal Reserve responded to this unprecedented situation with the unprecedented measure of lowering interest rates to nearly zero and holding them there to this day.  And when zero interest rates weren’t enough, the Federal Reserve invented a new strategy called quantitative easing, and flooded the economy with cash to stimulate demand and production.  After nearly eight years of this extreme strategy, the economy finally recovered the jobs that were lost in that 18-month recession. 

But even then, the unemployment rate is only part of the picture.  The unemployment rate is that percentage of workers who are actively looking for work but are still unemployed.  It does not count those who have become discouraged and have dropped out of the labor force altogether.  Those dropouts are accounted for in the following diagram which shows the “labor force participation rate”. 

This diagram shows the percentage of the working age population currently working or actively looking for work.  That percentage increased from 1965 to the year 2000, but then it declined sharply and today is at a 38-year low.  But you may think that since it increased in the past, maybe it will go up again.  This next diagram shows why that is unlikely to happen. 


Here we see that the participation rate for Men has actually been declining steadily since at least 1950 – from 87% to under 70%.  So what happened when the primary family wage earner was having increasing trouble finding and holding a worthwhile job?  The women stepped in to help support the family.  Their labor participation rate rose from 33%  in 1950 to 60% in 2000.  But now we see that the participation rate for women has been declining since then, and the result is the 38-year low. 

So - The unemployment rate is relatively low, but only because of unprecedented stimulus, and because it ignores the decline in the participation rate.  But the situation is seen to be even worse when we consider the underemployment rate.

The Underemployment rate is equal to the unemployment rate plus the percentage of workers who have part time work but would like full time work.  In November of 2015, the U.S. underemployment rate was 14.6 percent, so nearly ten percent of our employed workers wanted full time work but could not find it. 

But wait – it is even worse than that!

In addition to the underemployed workers, there are full time workers who are earning less than they did in a previous job.  A good example would be laid off factory workers who used to earn $25 or more per hour but are now earning little more than minimum wage manning a cash register at Wal-Mart or in some department store.

And other workers have never found employment that pays at a level commensurate with their education level, their experience or their skills.  A good number of recent college graduates are in that category. 

We will call them the underpaid workers. 

It is difficult to find data specifically for underpaid workers because it is difficult to establish the level at which a given worker is considered to be underpaid, but we can get a good general idea of what is happening from this next diagram. 


This diagram shows two trend lines.  The one labeled “major sector productivity” rises steadily from the late 1940s to approximately 2010.  The second trend line, labeled “real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) wages of goods-producing workers” tracks the first trend line from the late 1940s until the early 1970s.  During that time increasing productivity and production resulted in increasing real wages.  Labor shared in the increasing prosperity.  Then the wages trend line stopped rising and remained essentially flat to this day in a phenomenon that some economists refer to as “The Great Decoupling”. 

But why?  Why have real hourly wages been stagnant for over 40 years while productivity continues to rise?

There is a simple answer: supply and demand.

The demand for workers declines when there are other less expensive ways to produce the output.  When  demand goes down, pay goes down - or, in this case, goes flat for 40 years. 

But what are these other less expensive ways to get a job done?

The first way is Automation and the second is Foreign Labor.  We could spend quite some time debating the relative contributions of these two factors.  Instead I will direct your attention to the article titled “Why robots, not trade, are behind so many factory job losses” at the top of the Appendix.  That article claims that the vast majority of job losses are due to automation rather than foreign labor.

It can also be noted that the percentage of the labor force in the Industrial sector in China, the proverbial land of cheap labor, has started to decline.  China also recently surpassed the U.S. and Japan in the number of industrial robots installed.  So even the Chinese are looking to replace workers with automation. 

A second look at the Productivity vs Real Wages diagram (above) can further aid our understanding when we consider that productivity is defined as that output produced by a given input of labor and capital.  For “capital” you can substitute “labor saving machinery”.  When the increased productivity is due to machines, there is little incentive or reason to pay more to labor. 

This brings us to the point where we can attempt to answer “The Machinery Question”.
Once again, that question is often asked in the following form:
“Hasn’t automation, in the long run, always created more (and better paying) jobs than it destroys?”
Since the beginning of the Industrial Age, the answer to this question has consistently been “Yes”.  Machines have taken over much of physical labor and freed workers to do the better paid “brain work” of design, planning and supervision. 

But then, starting in the 60s and 70s, computers became less expensive and more common and brain work was no longer limited to humans.

Over time, automation chased us out of the Agricultural sector, and into the Industrial and Services sectors.  Then it chased us out of the Industrial sector as well.  Now it is invading the Services sector and workers have “nowhere else to hide”.

In summary we can safely say “This time it really is different”.  Automation is destroying more jobs than it is creating. 

But why are employers trying so hard to replace us with machines?

The only problem we have in answering this question is where to start.
      Machines can increase productivity – often substantially.
      Machines can work 24/7.
      Machines don’t make careless mistakes.
      Machines won’t call in sick.
      Machines won’t form a union and strike for higher wages.
      Machines won’t leave to take another job.
      Machines won’t steal from their employers.
      Machines don’t need pensions and Social Security.
      Machines do need maintenance, but that is insignificant compared to human health care costs.
      Machines don’t sue their employers or get their employers sued because of careless mistakes.
      A working machine design can be readily copied, but each human worker must be individually trained. 

I created this list in about fifteen minutes.  In another fifteen minutes I could add several more items.  However, the bottom line is obvious.  Human workers are a pain in the neck.  Can we really blame employers for wanting to replace us with machines?
So, wages are stagnant, our employers would rather do without us, and computers are pushing us out of the job market.  What can we do? 

Perhaps more education would make us more valuable and enable us to remain employed.
      In 1970 8.2% of women and 14.1% of men had four or more years of college.
      By 2014 those numbers had risen steadily to 32% and 31.9% respectively. 

And yet – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 260,000 Americans with bachelor’s degrees were earning the federal minimum wage or less in 2013.  And that is more than double the number in the same situation in 2005.

At this point I will direct your attention to the short article near the end of the Appendix which is titled “Millennials Are Falling Behind Their Boomer Parents”.  This is in spite of the fact that Millennials are better educated than their Boomer parents.
Why is this happening? 

I offer the following quote from page 252 of Martin Ford’s book as a partial answer to this question: 

“We are running up against a fundamental limit both in terms of the capabilities of the people being herded into colleges and the number of high-skill jobs that will be available for them if they manage to graduate.”
“The problem is that the skills ladder is not really a ladder at all: it is a pyramid, and there is only so much room at the top.” 

In other words, what will we do when we only have jobs for “rocket scientists” and most people simply are not capable of doing those jobs?  And even if they were capable, we would not have enough such jobs at the top of the pyramid for all who need them. 

At this point I will direct your attention to near the middle of the Appendix to an excerpt from chapter 4 of Andy Stern’s book which is titled “The New Landscape of Work”.  It tells of a poignant encounter with a 28-year-old woman facing the real prospect of having to move back in with her parents – even after earning a college degree and trying her best to find worthwhile work. 

This brings us to the second question being examined in this presentation: 

Question 2: What are the reasons for believing that a Universal Basic Income is a good solution to “The Problem”? 

Reason #1 for providing a Universal Basic Income:

Because it simply may be the only effective solution to “The Problem”.

All conventional remedies are falling short.  These include:
      Extended economic stimulus (near-zero interest rates, business tax cuts, etc.)
      Increased levels of education
      Extended unemployment payments
      Job retraining assistance 

Reason #2 for providing a Universal Basic Income:

Because it gives each citizen the ability to purchase the goods and services created by the economy.  Without that demand the economy will not create the supply.  Our economic policy has long emphasized supply-side stimulus.  It may well be time to emphasize demand-side stimulus.

But isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with taking money from people who have earned it and giving it to people who haven’t earned it? 

Let’s take an example:

Mark Zuckerberg – founder of Facebook – age: 32 – net worth: $50+ billion

By all accounts, young Mr. Zuckerberg is a genius, and a hard working prodigy of business strategy and business management.  If anyone deserves to be a billionaire, one can easily make the case that he does.

At the same time, however, we should not forget that his company could not exist without:
      the Internet
      modern computer technology
      a population educated well enough to work for him or to use his product
      a legal system that keeps others from stealing his work
      a military strong enough to keep the peace (After all, it is difficult to run a company if foreign soldiers are marching up and down Main Street.) 

All of these things are part of the societal infrastructure without which Facebook and all other companies would be much less prosperous or even non-existent.  Neither Mr. Zuckerberg nor his company created that infrastructure.  We did!  We and our predecessors over the previous decades and centuries created the society that enables the prosperity of today’s enterprises.

Reason #3 for providing a Universal Basic Income:

This brings us to reason #3 for providing a UBI for people who haven’t “earned it”.  And that reason is: “Because all citizens, past and present, have earned the UBI by contributing to the creation of our current society”.

If you are bothered by the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy and their companies to pay for the UBI, then let me offer an alternative.  Don’t think of these levies as taxes.

Instead,
      think of the UBI as a dividend payable for those prior contributions,
      or, think of it as an inheritance received by current citizens from our predecessors (After all, most people have no problem leaving an inheritance to their heirs even though their heirs did not “earn it”.),
      or, think of it as a license fee payable by businesses for the use of our societal infrastructure.

Reason #4 for providing a Universal Basic Income:

Because we can afford it.  A UBI simply would not be possible in a poor country, and our country is not poor.  Our GDP for 2015 was 17.947 trillion dollars.  Our population at the end of 2015 was 321.57 million.  If we do the math, we see that our per capita GDP at the end of 2015 was $55,810.  That is nearly $56,000 per year for every man, woman and child in the United States.  If our per capita GDP is that high, you might ask, why do we need a UBI?  The answer, as we are all well aware, is that the GDP is not at all evenly distributed. 

How much should the UBI provide?  Andy Stern says approximately $1,000 per month for each citizen over the age of 18.  This will cost between 2 and 3 trillion dollars per year (between 11% and 17% of our GDP).  This level of expenditure will still leave over 80% of our GDP for other purposes, including providing the incentive for capitalists to do what they do so well.  After all, we don’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. 

Where will we get the money to pay the UBI?  The money already exists.
Approximately $1 trillion can be had by replacing all or some of the 126 current welfare programs (e.g. food stamps, housing assistance, EITC) and the expensive bureaucracies that manage them.  This should warm the hearts of conservatives who believe that smaller government is better government. 

Another $1+ trillion can be had by reducing or eliminating tax deductions that primarily benefit the wealthy.  These include:
      Accelerated Depreciation
      Preferential treatment of capital gains
      Investment expenses

Many of these deductions were created to provide extra money for business owners to invest and thereby create jobs.  In an automated world, however, business owners may simply use the money to purchase automated equipment and not create jobs.  In that case, it is legitimate to ask if these deductions are still valid. 

The rest (and more) can be had by implementing a value added tax (VAT), or a financial transaction tax, or even a wealth tax, etc.  If we fully pay for the UBI with the aforementioned methods then the UBI will not add anything at all to the national debt. 

Reason #5 for providing a Universal Basic Income:

Because it will eliminate poverty overnight, and will replace scores of existing programs and eliminate the bureaucracies behind them.

The poverty threshold in the U.S. is $12,000 per year for an individual.  The poverty threshold for a couple is $16,000 per year.  Therefore, a UBI of $1,000 per month per person would eliminate poverty immediately – by definition.

I direct your attention to near the end of the Appendix for two quotes from notable individuals from several years ago.  They both advocated for the elimination of poverty directly by means of a UBI.  This not a new idea.

Reason #6 for providing a Universal Basic Income:

Because it will save capitalism!

If no changes are made, our current economic system will trend toward ever fewer jobs and ever more income and wealth inequality.  Such a system is unsustainable.  The people, as voters, will simply take increasingly disruptive measures until their needs are met.  In the beginning they may be attracted to the rhetoric of populist demagogues.  They may even vote to put one in the White House.  Can it get worse than that?  Of course.  Just ask Louis XVI or Marie Antoinette.

I direct your attention to near the end of the Appendix for a recent press release from the World Economic Forum held in January of this year titled “World Economic Forum Says Capitalism Needs Urgent Change”.  This press release calls for changes to our capitalist system in order to defuse such citizen discontent. 

The following is a quote from Andrew Grove, co-founder of Intel Corporation, and a champion of our capitalist system:
“Our generation has seen the decisive victory of free market principles over planned economies.  So we stick with this belief largely oblivious to emerging evidence that while free markets beat planned economies, there may be room for a modification that is even better.” 

I would add that there is not only room for such a modification, but also a need.  

Are we going to vote for a UBI tomorrow?  No! – Not that soon.
       It will take more time for this idea to gain exposure and political momentum.
       It will take time for more people to realize that the promises of politicians to “bring back our jobs” are just hollow political rhetoric.
       It will take time for more people to realize that the fast food job they took to tide them over during their search for a real job, has become their new career. 

In conclusion: I believe that a Universal Basic Income should receive serious consideration as a solution to the growing problems of unemployment and income and wealth inequality.  I invite all interested parties to engage in a discussion of its merits and shortcomings.

I will start that process by offering short answers to some commonly asked questions.
1. How can we be sure that politicians won’t be tempted to buy votes by raising the UBI to an unsustainable percentage of GDP?
Answer: This is a legitimate concern.  If the UBI takes too much of GDP then incentives for producers will be insufficient to maintain production.  It may well be necessary to limit the UBI to a certain percentage of GDP by constitutional amendment. 

2. Should we provide some form of UBI for children under the age of 18?
Answer: While we don’t want children living in poverty, neither do we want people to have children simply because they will get more money.  Perhaps 0.8 of a UBI for the first child, 0.6 for the second, 0.4 for the third and nothing for subsequent children. 

3. Would the UBI be paid to foreign workers and students while they are in the US?
Answer: No.  Our UBI would be for US citizens only.  Other countries would need to provide for their citizens. 

END OF NARRATIVE



APPENDIX: HANDOUT TO ACCOMPANY THE NARRATIVE


Why robots, not trade, are behind so many factory job losses

By PAUL WISEMAN Associated Press - Nov. 2, 2016

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump blames Mexico and China for stealing millions of jobs from the United States.  He might want to bash the robots instead.

Despite the Republican presidential nominee's charge that "we don't make anything anymore," manufacturing is still flourishing in America. Problem is, factories don't need as many people as they used to because machines now do so much of the work.
America has lost more than 7 million factory jobs since manufacturing employment peaked in 1979. Yet American factory production, minus raw materials and some other costs, more than doubled over the same span to $1.91 trillion last year, according to the Commerce Department, which uses 2009 dollars to adjust for inflation. That's a notch below the record set on the eve of the Great Recession in 2007. And it makes U.S. manufacturers No. 2 in the world behind China.
Trump and other critics are right that trade has claimed some American factory jobs, especially after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and gained easier access to the U.S. market. And industries that have relied heavily on labor -- like textile and furniture manufacturing -- have lost jobs and production to low-wage foreign competition. U.S. textile production, for instance, is down 46 percent since 2000. And over that time, the textile industry has shed 366,000, or 62 percent, of its jobs in the United States.
But research shows that the automation of U.S. factories is a much bigger factor than foreign trade in the loss of factory jobs. A study at Ball State University's Center for Business and Economic Research last year found that trade accounted for just 13 percent of America's lost factory jobs. The vast majority of the lost jobs -- 88 percent -- were taken by robots and other homegrown factors that reduce factories' need for human labor.
"We're making more with fewer people," says Howard Shatz, a senior economist at the Rand Corp. think tank.
General Motors, for instance, now employs barely a third of the 600,000 workers it had in the 1970s. Yet it churns out more cars and trucks than ever.

Or look at production of steel and other primary metals. Since 1997, the United States has lost 265,000 jobs in the production of primary metals -- a 42 percent plunge -- at a time when such production in the U.S. has surged 38 percent.  Allan Collard-Wexler of Duke University and Jan De Loecker of Princeton University found last year that America didn't lose most steel jobs to foreign competition or faltering sales. Steel jobs vanished because of the rise of a new technology: Super-efficient mini-mills that make steel largely from scrap metal.
The robot revolution is just beginning.  The Boston Consulting Group predicts that investment in industrial robots will grow 10 percent a year in the 25-biggest export nations through 2025, up from 2 or 3 percent growth in recent years.

The economics of robotics are hard to argue with. When products are replaced or updated, robots can be reprogrammed far faster and more easily than people can be retrained.  And the costs are dropping: Owning and operating a robotic spot welder cost an average $182,000 in 2005 and $133,000 in 2014 and will likely run $103,000 by 2025, Boston Consulting says. Robots will shrink labor costs 22 percent in the United States, 25 percent in Japan and 33 percent in South Korea, the firm estimates.
CEO Ronald De Feo is overseeing a turnaround at Kennametal, a Pittsburgh-based industrial materials company. The effort includes investing $200 million to $300 million to modernize Kennametal's factories while cutting 1,000 of 12,000 jobs. Automation is claiming some of those jobs and will claim more in the future, De Feo says.
"What we want to do is automate and let attrition" reduce the workforce, he says.
Visiting a Kennametal plant in Germany, De Feo found workers packing items by hand. He ordered $10 million in machinery to automate the process in Germany and North America.
That move, he says, will produce "better quality at lower cost" and "likely result in a combination of job cuts and reassignments."
But the rise of the machines offers an upside to some American workers: The increased use of robots — combined with higher labor costs in China and other developing countries — has reduced the incentive for companies to chase low-wage labor around the world.
Multinational companies are also rethinking how they spread production across the globe in the 1990s and 2000s, when they tended to manufacture components in different countries and then assemble a product at a plant in China or other low-wage country. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which disrupted shipments of auto parts, and the bankruptcy of the South Korean shipping line Hanjin Shipping, which stranded cargo in ports, exposed the risk of relying on far-flung supply lines.
"If your supply chain gets interrupted and your raw materials are coming from offshore, all of a sudden shelves are empty and you can't sell product," says Thomas Caudle, president of the North Carolina-based textile company Unifi.
So companies have been returning to the United States, capitalizing on the savings provided by robots, cheap energy and the chance to be closer to customers.
"They don't have all their eggs in that Asian basket anymore," Caudle says.
Over the past six years, Unifi has added about 200 jobs, bringing the total to over 1,100, at its automated factory in Yadkinville, North Carolina, where recycled plastic bottles are converted into Repreve yarn. Unmanned carts crisscross the factory floor, retrieving packages of yarn with mechanical arms — work once done by people.
In a survey by the consulting firm Deloitte, global manufacturing executives predicted that that the United States — now No. 2 — will overtake China as the most competitive country in manufacturing by 2020. (Competitiveness is measured by such factors as costs, productivity and the protection of intellectual property.)
The Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit that lobbies manufacturers to return jobs to the United States, says America was losing an average of 220,000 net jobs a year to other countries a decade ago. Now, the number being moved abroad is roughly offset by the number that are coming back or being created by foreign investment.
Harold Sirkin, senior partner at Boston Consulting, says the global scramble by companies for cheap labor is ending.
"When I hear that (foreigners) are taking all our jobs — the answer is, they're not," he says.
THE NEW LANDSCAPE OF WORK
(Excerpt from chapter 4 of “Raising the Floor” by Andy Stern)
“Ready for the flight from hell?” she said as she squeezed by me into the last empty seat on the plane.  I knew exactly what she meant.  We would be spending the next two hours traveling from New York to Detroit on no-frills Spirit Airlines – “Home of the Bare Fare.”

And yet this slightly unnerved, tall, and brunette young woman – her name was Kristina – turned out to be the perfect traveling companion for a guy writing a book about the future of work, because all she could talk about was how she couldn’t find any.
“I’m twenty-eight, with a degree in medical management and interdisciplinary health systems from Western Michigan,” she said.  “I thought I was going to save the world after I graduated.”  But after a frustrating few months working in data entry for a Medicaid contractor, Kristina took a ten-dollar-an-hour job “answering phones and fetching coffee” at an advertising firm in Birmingham, Michigan.  Over the next several months, she worked her way up to become an assistant producer of how-to videos.  “But”, she told me, “I think I set myself up for failure.  Because it was just this awesome work environment and this amazing office culture, and you don’t find that.  And then the firm lost a major client, and I was kind of downsized.”
And so Kristina moved to New York.  I asked her why.

“I needed a fresh start,” she said.  “And I heard ‘if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere’.”
“I’ve heard that same song,” I said.
“Yeah,” she laughed.  “Sinatra, right?”
But the fact was that Kristina hadn’t had a single interview after four months of looking for a job through LinkedIn, Craigslist, and other online networking sites.  “Producers with a lot more experience than me are a dime a dozen in New York.  And companies in the medical field are hiring people with PhDs for the type of work I’m qualified to do with my BA.”
Kristina was less than an hour from seeing her parents for the first time since she’d left Detroit, and she told me she was feeling like “a huge failure – like I’m just letting them down.”  Her father had come to the United States from Italy when he was her age – twenty-eight.  He only had $50 in his pocket, but he was a really good cabinet maker.  And he worked hard.  And he became a big success, with his own stores – the American Dream.”  His only goal, she said was for his children to go to college.  “Which I did.  And see where it’s gotten me!”
On a no-frills flight back to Detroit to face the very real prospect of moving back to live in her parent’s home.

Millennials Are Falling Behind Their Boomer Parents
Daily Sun – Associated Press – Jan 15, 2017

Millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated. 
Education does help boost incomes.  But the median college educated millennial with student debt is only earning slightly more than a baby boomer without a degree did in 1989.

 World Economic Forum Says Capitalism Needs Urgent Change
The Associated Press – London – Jan 12, 2017

Reforming the very nature of capitalism will be needed to combat the growing appeal of populist political movements around the world, the World Economic Forum said Wednesday.  Getting higher economic growth, it added, is necessary but insufficient to heal the fractures in society that were evident in the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
Notable Quotes
“There is no reason why in a free society government should not assure to all, protection against severe deprivation in the form of a minimum income, or floor below which nobody need descend.”
-- Nobel economist F. A. Hayek (a Reagan favorite)
“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”      – Martin Luther King, Jr. - 1967 

“For now, it’s just a handful of chess and Go and Jeopardy! champions who no longer feel needed and useful. But what happens to society when it’s tens of millions of us?”
--- Ken Jennings - 74-time Jeopardy! winner – March 15, 2016 – shortly after a world class Go player was defeated by a computer.  Such a defeat was not expected for at least another ten years.  Mr. Jennings lost a famous Jeopardy! match to the Watson computer system in 2011.

 
John Griffin