Collapse of bogus fund leaves PR opening for Arabs and various digressions

The arab world has some extremes that are not dissimilar to the west, in terms of the spread between rich and poor.  Those at the rich end are often at the extreme end of riches.
 
Recently a number of jewish charities went under with that $50 billion Ponzi scheme, a lot of them medium size things with a few million dollars capital, but with sufficient presence to grab headline attention.
 
Looks like a great opportunity for somebody to score enormous PR points by restoring some of these charities to former glory with donations.  For public relations I think that has the biggest bang for the buck right now, especially for anybody that is perceived to be anti-jewish. 
 
Meanwhile of course the jews in Isreal are busy hanging themselves again.  One Isreali gets killed so they bomb Gaza indiscriminately.  Why is it that Iran gets called a terrorist state for supposedly covertly supporting terrorists, for which no proof is presented, while Isreal indiscriminately murders civilians and usually gets full public backing by the United States for its overt terrorism, not just state backed but actually carried out by the state on the record.   I think if and when Isreal is finally destroyed, even jewish moderates will be giving a standing ovation.  Until there is a settlement with the Palestinians freely entered into by the bulk of Palestinians, the Palestinians have the moral high ground and the Isrealis are in possession of stolen property.  If that means that the Isrealis have to maintain self control while absorbing the odd rocket attack, so be it- if that is all that they suffer they will have gotten off exceedingly lightly.   Domestically in the US, what do you do when a group of people engage in a common criminal venture and innocents get killed in the process?  You put them all away for life.  I see no objective reason for a moral distinction in the case of Isreal.   It is now impractical that the state of Isreal be dissolved but that does not change the fact that they have a moral duty to make a settlement with those that they have wronged.  If they don’t, Isreal will eventually be destroyed by somebody and they cannot count on the backing of corrupt US politicians indefinitely.
 
I would add that the United States destroys its international credibility by backing the worst terrorist nation in its’ terrorist activities.   Taking the position that terrorism is only wrong if you are on the wrong side is unsaleable.   If you are going to denounce a tactic you have to be rigorously consistent and cast out anybody that uses those tactics or you don’t have any credibility.
 
A disproportionate number of the greatest minds are jewish and I shouldn’t be understood to be anti-jewish.  Quite the contrary.  Every race and culture and religion creates saints and villians.  The difference seems to be more in the degree of spread, with the jewish culture tending to the extremes and protestant culture unimaginatively clustered in the middle with few people capable of either great good or great evil. 
 
The trick is to get the good guys in each culture working together for the common good.  You can never get everybody of even your own race or culture to agree to a common purpose, so don’t get hung up about it if you can’t get everybody from another race on a common program.  You only need enough to make a stable peace.  Figure out who you can work with and then try to make their job of staying in control of their faction easy by not doing anything stupid or provocative.  I think of this as the "divide and concur" approach.   Look for where you can find agreement.
 
To that purpose, gestures of goodwill can be important, which is where the idea with the jewish charities above comes from.   The bad guys in each culture, that in a manner of speaking will work together for the common purpose of getting everybody killing everybody else, will try to turn what they see as the cultural or racial enemy in to some uniform, faceless caricature.  It is very important for those seeking to escape the caricature to take highly visible, radical steps that are inconsistent with the caricature.   Supporting what you would not be expected to support such as a charity of the conflicting group could be a jarring inconsistency. 
 
 
 
 
 

New Developments in Alzheimers meet my prediction on Alzheimers

A while back I wrote that Alzheimers might be triggered by something missing and that scientists should be looking for the absence of something.  It turns out that it may be that low glucose in the brain leads to altzheimers, according to recent research:
 
 
I’ll try not to be cocky.
 
Of course, I didn’t pick glucose as the thing that was missing.   That would have been psychic.

Credit- deferred non-spending

Some of the attempts to battle the financial crisis are based on a fundamental misunderstanding.
 
There are two different kinds of roles credit, at least, in the economy. 
 
Money advanced on credit is paid later, and the money that the credit represents is then not available to be used for something else later.  Spending occurs now rather than later when credit is used, and the impact on spending later will be greater than the amount spent in the present. 
 
From a long term economic standpoint, credit can be dangerous because it tends to bunch up periods of spending and non-spending and can be expected to increase the volitility of the market place over the long term.  
 
Extending credit further to keep spending going can be myopic if it is not seen that all credit spending goes with a corollary and larger non-spending later, representing the principal and interest. 
 
Credit also has the additional function of allowing people to buy big-ticket items like homes and cars, and to continue to own them.  Lines of credit can also be important to ensure cash flow is available for businesses, that they can be advanced products to sell, that containers can be released from docks to go to the marketplace, etc. 
 
In the latter cases credit is necessary and can be used to smooth out economic ups and downs.  
 
If on the other hand a bubble of expenditures on credit is allowed to form, that means that there has been a trade-off of present spending for future non-spending. 
 
In the absence of hyperinflation or debt forgiveness there isn’t any way to get around the non-spending consequence.   You can free up lines of credit for businesses and the like to keep doors open, but the debt in the United States and other western democracies represents non-spending that will come in the future regardless of policy choices.  This non-spending in sufficient quantities will lead to recessionary features or even economic depression. 
 
Stimulus packages that are based on further debt may provide cash but are themselves on credit, representing further future non-spending.  Of course it is cheaper for the government to get that money on credit and spread it around than it is for the consumers.  We do need to be aware though that compounding the non-spending later in order to defer the problem to a later date may make the recession/depression worse and last longer. 
 
The price of deferred non-spending is greater than the interest cost.  On a mass scale it slows the economy, costs jobs and has a snowballing effect due to lack of spending money.  From a purely economic standpoint (not considering economic effects on the environment etc.), the most efficient systems would use as little credit as possible. 
 
 

Time for that Canadian Coalition

Canada’s political parties haven’t really been that exciting since Prime Minister Jean Chretien stepped down.   By the time he stepped down I was ready to vote for him.   He ran things smoothly, kept the books balanced and kept the government to a low profile, which is what it should be generally. 
 
The qualities of the ideal canadian Prime Minister are different than the qualities of the ideal american President.  A Prime Minister has to be able to manage a bureaucracy that is proportionately larger effectively, and manage the elected representatives as a no-confidence vote can bring down the government, but will never have to face a Cuban missile crisis.   A canadian Prime Minister is mostly a head administrator and headstrong leadership in Canada tends to throw the country in to conflict and crisis, as happened with Prime Ministers Trudeau and Mulroney.   An effective Prime Minister will be boring and it will be difficult to measure the success of a Prime Minister without pouring over statistical data. 
 
I haven’t really got much of an opinion on the skills of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.   He did apparently come from the Reform Party when that party entered in to a blend- or coalition- with the Conservative Party.    I don’t particularly trust the new Conservative Party because it includes the old Conservative Party.  The last time the Conservative Party was in power before Harper, with Brian Mulroney, their conduct was completely disgraceful and frequently criminal.  The Reform Party as it originally was, was what might be called the honest right wing. 
 
I never really liked the Liberal Party either, which has generally been interested in only two of the ten provinces, Ontario and Quebec, represents monolithic bureaucracy, and has been the dominant party in canadian politics since the birth of Canada due to shameless pandering to french canadians.   It takes a Chretien to make the Liberal Party palatable. 
 
With Chretien gone Canada doesn’t have any political giants left.  Canadian politics has become like midget wrestling.   That’s probably the only way that we could elect an uncharismatic leader like Harper who looks like a vampire.
 
Harper was only ever Prime Minister because the center and left parties lacked discipline.  He hasn’t had a majority government yet and that is because the majority of Canadians don’t support him. 
 
If the Liberal Party, NDP and Parti Quebecois had banded together earlier they would have represented over 50% of the voters and in my view have had a strong mandate.   Why they ever let a mutual enemy take the Prime Ministership when they had the votes to block this at any time, is a complete mystery to me, because the Prime Minister has executive authority he can do things such as nominate senators and take other steps, not all of which can be blocked by Parliament.  It isn’t good enough to have the clout to block legislation. 
 
Now the opposition parties have woken up and are cooperating, and it is Mr. Harper’s position that it is undemocratic for a group with the support of over half the population and over half the seats in Parliament to take control of the country.  That is Orwellian doublespeak. 
 
When Mr. Harper’s government was to be brought down in early December with the next sitting of parliament, Mr. Harper cancelled the next sitting of parliament and put it over until at least January.  
 
Mr. Harper has essentially pulled a coup over his country.  Faced with democratic dismissal, he stopped parliament from sitting.  That shows a dangerous contempt for democracy. 
 
In English style democracies the test for remaining the Prime Minister- or becoming one in the first place- is that you are able to command the confidence of a majority of parliament.    It seems that there is something defective in the Canadian process where Mr. Harper has never been required to do that, although he plainly has not commanded a majority of parliament at any time.    In any event there is historical precedent that whoever can command the majority has an absolute right to the Prime Minister position from the Governor General and there is no need for that to be the party with the most seats. 
 
A preferable system would involve Parliament meeting immediately to vote for the new Prime Minister with some form of runoff balloting, with the eventual winner to be presented to the Governor General. 
 
Harper was beaten fair and square in the general election by his combined opponents.  Considering that his Conservative Party is itself a coalition, his objections to a coalition government are ridiculous.   Preventing parliament from meeting to keep his job is banana republic stuff.   His protestations that his opponent’s actions are undemocratic are absurd.   If the better system that I’m suggesting had been followed in the first place he would have never been Prime Minister and somebody more representative would have that position- he only had the job due to a loophole and lack of diligence by his opponents. 
 
Regardless of policy issues, Harper has shown his colours as an autocrat and he can never be trusted with a five year mandate with a majority government. 
 
That isn’t to say that I’m thrilled with the alternatives.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Auto makers should learn from computer makers

Automobiles are bigger than computers, but are they a whole lot more complex?
 
Computer manufacturers have to be able to bring products to market in six months.  Anybody that can’t do that is going to go under. 
 
Auto manufacturers have had the luxury of sometimes being five years to market and bringing out what are generally me-too products with often little distinction between competitors. 
 
In a world with unstable markets, you need to be able to bring a product to market in six months.  You can’t assume that the conditions that hold now are going to hold five years from now.  You need to adapt factories with tools that are flexible enough that they can convert to another mode of production or another line of production rapidly.  That is likely an issue with the car manufacturers. 
 
Oil and gas prices will go up again.  The US isn’t the only action for these markets.  The developing world is developing rapidly and the US will diminish in relative importance rapidly over the next century. 
 
There will be competition for resources over the next century, with the most important resource being food.  Food stocks, especially fish stocks, are being damaged by environmental damage and global warming may damage many food growing areas which may become parched. 
 
This increased competition is likely to spark military conflicts.  If things become heated in a military way, it is important to have a large and flexible manufacturing sector on our own soil, one that can convert from civilian lines to military lines without a whole lot of lead time or down time.  I see a healthy -and flexible- manufacturing sector as a national security issue. 
 
If there were to be, for example, a conflict with China, we wouldn’t want to be depending on them for critical manufacturing.  We wouldn’t want to have to build it up from scratch either.   When I say this I’m not most concerned with the present regime.  In the event that the present regime is overthrown an imperialistic democracy would be a far greater threat, and democracies are usually imperialistic.  
 
While I’m somewhat antagonistic to the military, I think that we have to be realistic about the degree to which it plays a necessary role, including in the promotion of peace.   To be a sitting duck invites aggression.
 
I do not see the banking sector as the same kind of issue as the manufacturing sector.   If there were a major war we wouldn’t be burying our enemies in paper. 
 
I think that something has to be done to preserve the manufacturing sector in the US and Canada, but it has to go far beyond what is suggested by the car makers.  They want to carry on business as usual and I don’t see that cutting it.   If Detriot is saved by handouts without any change in vision, we can look forward to at least five years of handouts, while they downsize and close assembly lines, at the end of which they might have muddled their way through.   That being said, the money that they are asking for is peanuts compared with what has been thrown at financial institutions, and they represent the real economy, the economy where things are made, not the paper shufflers that are parasitic on that economy.
 
A change is needed in american business philosophy.  The light has gone out.  The old view, that we will make things and the consumers will buy them because the only other choice is another megacorporation that thinks the same way, doesn’t cut it any more.  Japanese cars have been notoriously better than american cars for 25 years now.  If US corporations aren’t hungry enough to build what the market wants, somebody else will be.  In a market where the US debt is such that exports will become increasingly important, foreigners aren’t going to buy out of patriotism.  Quality has to start to mean something.  In a market where people will be looking to save on gas and use alternative fuels, the car makers have to be able to respond to that- not in five years, but now. 
 
Best place to start? Start raiding personnel from business sectors that have to respond at lightning speed rather than with the traditional glacial slowness of Detriot.