On Morning Joe this morning Bryan Williams was lamenting the imminent demise of newspapers. Several of the big papers, including the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, and a lot of the smaller ones are on the verge of bankruptcy. He said that this will cause people to rely more on internet news and opinion sites, and he is worried that the people running the internet sites and providing the reporting won't be "classically trained" as journalists.
I wonder what he thinks the people now working for the newspapers will do after their employers close their doors. I would think they will just turn to the internet. In fact, a lot of them already have. Most all newspapers of any size already publish most or all of their content on the web. Some of them require subscriptions for access but most offer free access and rely on advertising for revenue. The New York Times switched to free access a year or two ago.
Yes, there are a lot of web sites out there putting out unreliable news and opinion (like this one?), but there are also a lot of printed "rags" out there too.
The cost of publishing and distributing print versions is huge. Without this cost some of them might survive by turning exclusively to the internet.
I wonder what Williams thinks the institutions that "classically train" jounalists and publishers will do after the newspapers go away. I would think they will start training them to operate on the internet.
Apparently he thinks we can't adapt to significant change. Perhaps he's still puzzled about how we managed to move from horse-drawn vehicles to cars and trucks.
Fox News reports that Caroline Kennedy failed to vote in a number of elections since registering in New York City in 1988. Her reaction:
I was really surprised and dismayed by my voting record. I'm glad it's been brought to my attention.
Oh, was I expected to actually vote before being given a seat in the Senate? Why did everyone wait until now to tell me?
Actually this is encouraging news. It's obvious that a Democrat is going to be appointed to Hillary's seat, so having someone in there who can't be bothered to vote could be a good thing. She might not even show up to vote "present."
President Bush just announced that the government will lend GM and Chrysler over $17 billion to help them stave off bankruptcy. A better plan would be to allow each taxpayer to decide how much he or she believes the car makers need to be saved by sending them money directly. Oh, that's right. We already have such a plan in place. It's called buying stock. And apparently there aren't many people who believe the car makers are a good investment.
So Bush rides to the rescue of companies that the people have already decided aren't worth saving. Or, more accurately, he rides to the rescue of unions that the people have already decided aren't worth saving. We have several car companies that are operating at a profit without the help of the UAW. But we have only one UAW and the government is afraid that it will collapse without a bailout.
Propping up failing companies will work in the long-term about as well as the practice of promoting students to the next higher grade despite their inability to perform at that level. Come to think of it, perhaps the government and industry are now being run by people who received social promotions in grade school. Perhaps they are contributing to our current economic woes.
One thing is certain. Our economy will collapse completely if we establish the policy that no aspect of the economy is allowed to fail. Preserving the inefficient, the unneeded and the unwanted, will harm the efficient, the needed and the wanted. Can you imagine where we would be today if we had refused to let the horse-drawn industries disappear? What about typewriters? Would you buy one if retailers still stocked a wide selection? How about at a government-subsidized low price?
While researching the past and present Kennedys in Congress I came across this from a 1998 Washington Post article about Joseph P. Kennedy II leaving Congress:
He also eventually made a mark as a legislator through his initiatives to end housing discrimination against minorities. Because of his efforts, banks now have to disclose racial statistics on mortgage borrowers, a tool the Clinton administration has used to enhance services in minority neighborhoods.
So, "because of his efforts" (and lots of others since then) the housing and financial markets have collapsed. Clinton "enhanced services in minority neighborhoods" by forcing financial institutions to lend to people who didn't otherwise qualify for a loan. It looks like Joe II didn't quit soon enough.
There are still two Kennedys in Congress, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and his son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.). We don't need to add Caroline to the mix. We already have enough wealthy Northeasterners who think we common people can't survive without their help, and who are too dumb to realize that their efforts usually turn out to be more harmful than helpful.
Some think that Ted is about to croak, so adding Caroline will just maintain the status quo. I say forget the status quo. One Kennedy is a lot better than two Kennedys.
Some say that she lacks the experience to be a Senator. I say perhaps not, but the fact that she is a Kennedy is reason enough for the New York governor not to appoint her to fill Hillary's seat.
The AP and NASA report that more than 2 trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003. They say that this has raised global sea levels about one-fifth of an inch in the past five years. Holy Shmoly! Grab the kids and run for higher ground!
Actually this is disappointing news. I had hoped that my children might get to enjoy my "waterfront" property in a few years. It is now about 20 miles from and 200 feet above the Gulf of Mexico. At the rate given above it will take about 60,000 years for the gulf to reach my property. Sorry about that kids. (Well, they probably won't mind since all their homes would be underwater long before my property becomes waterfront.)
Why is Obama staffing his administration with so many Clinton people? Is it because he wants to move toward the center as some of the talking heads have said? No, it's because there are no Obama people, other than a few crooks and fringe elements. Remember that he was a little known Illinois legislator just four years ago. He is a phenomenon without much substance. He has no executive experience and no great following.
I'm not saying that he's dumb. He's smart enough to name a few conservatives to his national security team. He's smart enough to know if he selected all liberals he would have a national insecurity team.
He has picked some good financial people too. But I don't know about Hillary at the State Department.
I hope he does govern from the center, but I tend to feel that Charles Krauthammer is right in saying that the stage is set for Obama to transform America:
With the country clamoring for action and with all psychological barriers to government intervention obliterated (by the conservative party, no less), the stage is set for a young, ambitious, supremely confident president -- who sees himself as a world-historical figure before even having been sworn in -- to begin a restructuring of the American economy and the forging of a new relationship between government and people.
Open-source software (OSS) is a good example of what a free market can produce, even when the profit motive is not directly driving it. There are plenty of profit driven examples. Take shoes for one. There are reasonably priced shoes available for practically any use or taste. Can you imagine a government bureaucracy running all shoe design and production? How would it decide what the people need or want? Actually it would probably place very little emphasis on what the people want. There is no way it would produce hundreds of shoe styles.
Open-source roughly means that the software application is available at no direct cost and that the user has access to and the right to modify the source code in order to customize the behavior of the software. Widely used examples of OSS are the Linux operating system for personal computers, the OpenOffice productivity suite, the Firefox browser and the WordPress blogging platform. All of these were produced by people from around the world freely choosing to contribute their time, knowledge and skills to the effort. Generally they do it without pay but some do eventually profit indirectly from their association with the development project.
Some argue that the development of OSS is a socialistic enterprise, but I think it is more of a charitable effort. No government mandates what is developed or how it is developed.
OSS developers are subject to the same market forces as commercial software developers. Its success is determined by the consumers of software products. If they like it they will use it; if they don't they won't. If they prefer a commercial product to OSS they will use the commercial product. This is demonstrated by the fact that the number of users of the Microsoft Windows operating system far outstrip the number of users of the free open-source Linux operating system. Nevertheless Linux is a very successful product. But there are plenty of OSS products that never catch on.
I have direct experience with a government bureaucrat trying to manage the development of software. I used to develop and use software in my job with the US Department of Defense. Many years ago each branch of the military developed and used its own software for a particular common purpose, but coordinated closely with the other services. A manager decided that this apparent duplication was inefficient and that we should standardize the software across all military branches. He was right that the practice involved additional cost but he refused to give any weight to the benefits of competition between the services that was inherent in the existing practice or to the fact that the services' requirements were not identical. We argued that too much standardization can stifle innovation and damage suitability. He wanted to sacrifice effectiveness in order to save some money and exercise more stringent control. We were unable to convince him he was wrong, but were able to ignore his demands until he moved on to another job.
A free market will always produce more and better choices for the consumer, whether those choices come from commercial or charitable enterprises.
I heard a man (didn't catch his name) on television yesterday say that President-Elect Barack Obama is going to create thousands of jobs for people to "weatherize" houses. He didn't say how Obama would perform the magic of creating demand for house weatherizing that apparently does not exist now. Private businesses would be providing those services if the demand existed.
A real job is an activity that adds to the national wealth. That is, it produces something of real value, something people want and are willing to pay for out of their own pockets. A job "created" by the government obviously does not add that kind of value; it is just another form of public welfare. Apparently, what Obama has in mind is hiring hordes of people to knock on our doors and tell us that they can weatherize our houses for some heavily subsidized price, or perhaps for free.
He apparently believes that the only reason people aren't weatherizing their houses on their own is that they can't afford it. This is not necessarily true. For the most part, weatherizing a house means sealing air leaks to make it less expensive to heat or cool. There is a downside to living in an airtight house; it can cause health problems and possibly suffocation. Why make your house airtight and then have to open a window to get fresh air to breathe?
Consider your car. It is designed to transport four or more people in a relatively confined space. It is relatively airtight for reasons other than heating and cooling. So you often have to slightly open a window or two to get needed fresh air, or you use the provided settings on your car's HVAC system to allow fresh air to pass through your car.
Houses aren't as confined as cars but you probably spend more time in your house than in your car. My house isn't even close to being airtight -- I can see light shining through the cracks around my doors -- but it starts to feel stuffy after a few hours inside.
Guidelines for Obama and his minions: Breathing fresh air good; stuffy house bad. Free market good; central planning bad.
The AP reports that Obama has picked Robert Gibbs to be his press secretary. He was Obama's communications director during his campaign. This is not good news. When I saw Gibbs on television I was always left with a yucky feeling, kind of like when I see someone picking up poop behind their dog. From the article:
One critic called Gibbs "the bland face of brazenness" when he said Obama's decision to resign from his church amid the controversy over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was "a deeply personal decision, not a political decision."
To me he's a bit worse than bland but I agree that he's brazen. According to a former employer (former Rep. Glen Browder, D-AL) he's also special:
"Robert had a special quality even back then. In retrospect, it was clear Robert was destined to make his mark."
It takes someone really special to stand in front of America and say that Obama's decision to denounce his pastor of twenty years was not politically motivated. That the timing of his "deeply personal decision" just happened to occur when Wright was getting a lot of bad press and Obama was in the midst of his campaign. And the poor guy was not joking.
Gibbs reminds me of Billy Mays. They both are trying to sell us a load of crap. In fact I may have stumbled upon Gibbs' job description: Clean up the crap your boss leaves behind and then sell that crap to the public.
I just heard Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan say on Morning Joe that nine out of ten workers in the USA are employed by the auto industry. If that's true she has identified the problem with our economy. If 90 percent of our workers are building cars and six percent are unemployed how can we expect to produce all the other goods that we need with the remaining four percent -- like houses. But wait a minute! I thought the collapse of the housing market was caused by overbuilding.
One of the most dominant complaints lately has been that our economy has shifted too far from manufacturing toward service. I suppose we can stop worrying now that Senator Stabenow has spoken.
Obviously, though, the senator is wrong. What she probably meant to say is that nine of ten workers contribute, to some extent, to the auto industry. But I don't believe that either.
The biggest problem we have in this country is that too many demagogues like Stabenow are in leadership roles.
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- Let's Use Afghanistan as an Entitlement Testbed
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- I Can Plainly See
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- Truth, Lies and Character