At a meeting of the Federal Reserve, in 2008, Chairman Ben Bernanke pointed out that: “… this financial crisis is now in its eighth month, and the economic outlook has worsened quite significantly.” At that same meeting of economic scholars and prognosticators, today’s head of the Fed (Janet Yellen) added that: “The downward trajectory of economic data has been hair raising.” They could as well have been speaking today.
For three generations, respected economists have similarly wrung their hands, and hinted at national disaster. They’re at it still; their actions today are just as ineffective as they always have been. The economy remains on a downward spiral, on which it will remain until, if ever, the simple-to-state, underlying cause is openly and effectively recognized, addressed, and eliminated [i.e., No nation can long exist if it routinely buys more from other nations than it sells to them.] We have been violating that economic law for decades, and are continuing to do so today. In 2012, we imported $2.3 trillion in goods, which was 1.5 times what we exported; there was little change in that destructive trend in 2013.
Our government’s (i.e., the Fed’s) relevant action has been essentially limited to throwing money at the problem. They have repeatedly lowered interest rates until they are, incredibly, near zero today. They also use risky government programs (e.g., unemployment payments; raised minimum wage; free health care; free meals in school; low interest college loans; politically-inspired business loans; etc.) to inject trillions of increasingly worthless dollars into the already dangerously inflated economy. The only result of such profligate spending is a fleeting softening of continuing economic bad news.
Our life-threatening economic problem is caused by, and is based upon, our spending more than we earn. It’s difficult to justify a Ph.D in economics, if one subscribes to such a simple explanation of why our economy is on the skids, which is likely why experts on the economy don’t publicly recognize that unarguable and obvious fact, and then take effective action to correct the destructive situation.
No nation, nor even a primitive tribe somewhere, can long exist if it continually violates that basic law of economics. Let’s look at a region of undeveloped, theoretical “nations.” One specializes in raising cattle; a second tribe is agrarian, producing corn and wheat; another group lives atop a salt mine. The Salties (as we’ll call the residents of that latter remote tribe) essentially use blocks of salt as money, with which to purchase such as needed and desired vegetables and meat from other “nations.” When the sale of salt is brisk, and its value high, things are good for the salt miners: their economy booms, and they are not only able to buy food items, but perhaps some perfume and gold jewelry as well. But if the Salties become spoiled by their wealth, and tire of labor in the salt pans, so that they produce less and less salt, they must charge more for their product, so that they can continue importing in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed. But their customers now shop elsewhere, for less expensive salt, so the Saltie’s income steadily decreases, even as their spending on imports stays the same. Eventually, their credit runs out, so, after selling their gold, perfumes, and silks, they’ll turn to eating desert rats and cacti – all because their economy was “inexplicably” destroyed. It’s appropriate to here re-state our basic economic rule: If a nation imports more than it exports (in comparable units, such as dollars, dinars, or blocks of salt), it will go broke, and wither or die. And that is what we’re doing right now.
Back in the golden age following the Second World War (c. 1946) we produced just about everything we needed (except for a few rare minerals), and had enough left over to sell around the World, strengthening and growing our economy in the process. We had traditionally worked hard, saved for a rainy day, and lived frugally, but happily and securely. Then, prosperity, coupled with a desire to put the demanding, depressing war years behind us, led to mass flight from hard jobs, such as in ship yards, steel mills, coal mines, assembly lines, and corn fields. We not only wanted two cars in every garage, but wanted one to be a Mercedes instead of a Chevy. We demanded French perfume, Italian cheese, English tea, Egyptian cotton, Chinese silk, along with Soviet vodka and caviar. Our then-spoiled children weren’t going to have to build railroads, tractors, or radios: nor would they plant fields of corn or wheat, produce oil and petroleum products, or dig for coal or copper. They would, instead, study for clean, prestigious careers, such as financial analysts, business managers, cosmeticians, fashion designers, historians, television personalities, psychiatrists, or (cover the children’s ears) lawyers. As though that wasn’t bad enough by itself, thoughtless, inept business managers allowed selfish, greedy labor unions to drive up the price of just about everything we produced, thereby slamming the door on foreign sales of everything from shoes to ships and sealing wax. As just one, significant example, consider that, in 1945 we produced more steam ships than any other nation on Earth, but because we carelessly paid shipyard workers more than their labor was worth on the world market, our ships became overpriced, so the market for them collapsed; today we produce almost none; most of what we import, or export, travels in ships made elsewhere.
As those good times of the ‘40s and ‘50s rolled on optimistically, we spent more and more of our increasingly disposable income on nonessentials, such as dining out, or various forms of entertainment, which spurred the growth of services industries, at the expense of production. With increasing spare time, we also became interested in popular social projects, such as cleaning up the environment. The prime targets for environmentalists were those evil, smoke belching plants, so they forced them to shut down, still further reducing vital production. It was inevitable that, as production facilities closed, and as workers turned from production to services jobs, we produced less and less to fill our own growing needs, so we had to place more and more orders with other nations. While the bill from foreign vendors grew exponentially, we sold them less and less, because our production rate was in a nose dive. That road to economic ruin continues to be the one most traveled today; like the nation of Salt, that trend will inevitably lead to “eating rats and cactus”
There is one, and only one, way to save our nation from looming economic destruction. We, all of us from the President on down, must join together to promote, encourage, even coerce, a return to a nation of producers, rather than one of spoiled, relatively lethargic, consumers and servers. Economic incentives should be offered to families that guide their children into productive fields, such as mining, agriculture, science, and engineering, while avoiding such as the 11 unproductive educations recently featured in advertisements by a state university (e.g., Culinary Apprenticeship, Social Media Marketing, Basic Office Technology, and Android APP Development). Instead of thoughtless (politically motivated?) raises to the minimum wage, we should make it possible for persons working in productive jobs to earn more than others, such as professional athletes, or (cover those young ears again) lawyers, which not only don’t contribute to the nation’s economic strength, but actually sap it.
At the same time, we need to become more rational and realistic about this “green” fad. Now, no one wants water we can’t drink, nor air we can’t breathe, but we can keep a clean environment in mind, while still permitting production facilities, of various types to be built and operated in and around large cities, such as Atlanta, which now has almost none. Such factories, with easy access via public transportation, would have major additional benefit in providing real, useful jobs for hundreds of thousands (many of which now live on government handouts).
Then also, government must help by controlling both labor and management, so that they work together to ensure the best possible working conditions for employees, while keeping manufacturing costs down to a point where our products are competitively priced on the world market.
The media also could make a useful contribution (for a change) to our possible salvation, by featuring television shows, and movies, glorifying the producers (farmers, assembly line workers, miners, engineers, scientists [excluding pseudo types, such as “political,” or “social” scientists], machinists, masons, carpenters, etc.). Think – in which television series do the stars have jobs in production? It seems to me that the last such show involved a couple of young women working in a brewery in Milwaukee. In which century was that?
Many reading this message, will be angered by inferences that one or more of their spoiled offspring have essentially worthless college degrees, and are employed in jobs (e.g. lawyers) that do nothing to help our threatened economy. Sorry ‘bout dat! Facts are facts, and your daughter’s nonproductive, B.A. in communications (i.e., how to be a talking head on television)) is water over the dam. You can rant indignantly about a suggestion that a coal miner is far more valuable to our economy than may be any lawyer, or others of non-productive ilk, but if you are interested in the future of the nation and that of your future descendents, then bite the bullet, and join with others in returning our economically hemorrhaging nation to a healthy, productive one. We must work primarily in production of goods (not services) that we need, and can sell to other nations. Once we’ve, at the very least, balanced our foreign trade, we can consider careers painting toe nails, playing ball games, or suing restaurants for serving hot coffee.
I can’t wind this up without assuring you that I well recognize the need for non-productive workers (e.g., physicians, police, military, store clerks, cooks, waitresses, and dog walkers, etc.), but such “services” should make up only about 30% of the workforce; today, they are more nearly 70%. That is upside down, and simply must be turned around — if we are to survive exploding inflation and eventual bankruptcy.
There’s a long, winding, rough road ahead, but it’s the only one to survival. We must produce, or, as our nation goes broke, we’ll perish! Will we recognize that fact, and rise to the challenge? It doesn’t appear likely.
This opinionated journalist has written several times about the way many of us change the names of jobs, ethnic groups, individuals, and things more often than we change underwear–and with even less thought given to the act. Such knee-jerk, thoughtless, careless activity almost never achieves the desired end (i.e., immediate improvement of one’s own social position, stature, power, or standing), but seemingly always causes confusion in communication, and consequently makes social interaction worse, rather than better.
Of course we are all too familiar with the continuing nonsense involved in renaming racial groups and ethnicities, so as to, supposedly, make members of one or another of them feel better about themselves, or to facilitate use of a single label for a diverse group. “Latin American” is an appropriate example. Linguistically, Europe has been categorized as either Latin or Anglo (depending upon whether a nation’s language was Latin or English influenced. Thanks to Spanish conquerors, the Latin group had the greatest influence over the Mongoloid people native to South and Central America, so the indigenous people became “Latinos,” in spite of having no ethnic, cultural, historic, nor racial connection to Europe. The various peoples of today’s “Latin America” are, in fact, only about 5% of even partial European descent; the rest are Mongoloid Asians (including Pacific Islanders), along with a few Negroid Africans. If “Latin American” literally means anyone residing in the Americas, whom speaks a Latin-influenced language, then Canada’s Quebecois, which primarily speak French, are literally “Latin Americans.” Does that seem sensible to you? Then also, there are the two dozen nations in South and Central America (e.g., Barbados, Netherlands Antilles, Belize, etc.) where a Latin-based language is not used; so, are those peoples also Latinos? If not, what? Do you see the problem that careless. thoughtless application of names can cause? “Latin American” may have a nice ring to it, but it both fails to adequately identify an ethnicity or culture, while making attempts to do so avoidably difficult.
“Hispanic” and “African American” are similar, inaccurate and confusing inventions by political activist opportunists; we won’t, at this time, again discuss why that is so.
Names of persons, places, and things seem to be changing at an ever faster rate; which seems to me to be a result of a similarly rapid change in human social structures. It wasn’t, for example, so very long ago that children were proud to be named after parents, honored ancestors, or great men and women of ages gone by: today, when elders are more ridiculed and dishonored than respected, the “with it” group wants names that don’t suggest any connection with the “stogy, out-of-touch, prior generation. Solid, respected names, such as John, Mary, and George have been largely replaced with various versions of cool, new tags, like Shane, Kayla, Gabatta, Chance, or Carribbe. When a 2nd grade teacher calls on a “Shawn” or a “Meggan,” half the class usually responds. By attempting to assert their individuality and independence, parents giving little thought to use of faddish names are actually showing a pack mentality.
And then there’s that nonsense about job titles: waiters have become “servers”; janitors morphed to “custodians”; firemen magically became “fire fighters”; and garbage collectors turned into “sanitary engineers.” What next? Will “women” become “wopersons,” and “humanity” change to “hupersonity”? I’ve already heard “personkind” used in place of “mankind.” Homosexuals have demanded to be referred to as “gay” or “lesbian”; what, can anyone explain, is gay about a homosexual life? Will such asinine, thoughtless behavior never end?
I thought that I’d about seen it all, when I recently visited a new housing development, where I was surprised to learn that “master bedrooms” had now become “owner’s suites”; “family rooms” had become “gathering rooms”; “mud rooms” were now “drop zones”; and “dens” renamed as “flex rooms.” Apparently the word “master” (as in “master and slave”) is socially offensive, but one wonders if a renter can sleep in the “owner’s suite”? And “family” is apparently discriminatory, because many occupying a home, in these “progressive” times, do not compose a classic “family.” Trouble there is that the substituted “gathering” room suggests either an Amish community hall, or a place in which to collect the sheaves or sheep. And I think of paratroopers, rather than children coming in from play or school, when I hear “drop zone” used in place of “mud room.” Give us a break–please!
In closing, I’d like to cite just one example of how this air-headed changing of names causes real problems. In a recent news broadcast seen on television, an announcer was speaking about the trouble with crime in and around RSA’s Capetown. At one point, he wanted to refer to the Negroid communities surrounding the predominately Caucasoid city center; he began, “In the nearby African Amer—-,” when he realized that he was about to refer to South Africa’s Negroid population as “African American.” After stumbling vocally for a few more l-o-n-g seconds, the hapless young speaker came up with “black” for his term to describe Negroes: trouble is, there are many black-skinned persons in South Africa that are not Negroid, and it is necessary, and proper, to make a distinction between those races. The scientific, but politically unacceptable, term “Negroid” would have served well. Will we ever grow up?
And so it goes–when we carelessly, unnecessarily, and opportunistically play liberal games with our embattled language, all that is usually accomplished is to decrease our ability to adequately communicate thoughts and ideas. Even with careful use of language, if what we write and say can be misunderstood, it will be. A recent news report referred to the firearm, used by an heroic woman in defending her home and family against an intruder, as an “automatic revolver.” It is right to wonder: which did the woman use? No handgun can be both an automatic and a revolver.
Finally, consider how time and careless popular use, in America, have seemingly altered the meaning of what my much-admired, British friends sometimes say in parting from friends: “Keep your pecker up!” Indeed!
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
I enjoy cooking (e.g., authentic risotto con scampi, pizza Margherita, Adana kebabs, and spanokopita), and I relish gourmet meals prepared by friends, associates, and talented chefs, but I’ve had it up to here – no, higher than that – with the rapidly spreading trend of using as many strange and confusing names as possible for menu offerings, and/or for ingredients in recipes featured in newspaper food sections.
I’m not at all sure as to how it got started, but we’re now immersed in an era where all persons with jobs as cooks are called “chefs,” whom, in working to be featured on tv, use as many unfamiliar, impressive, attention grabbing names and ingredients in their cooking as may be possible. Even home cooks seem to enjoy tossing out often meaningless, or misused, names, such as “risotto, shrimp scampi, cay, balsamic, quinoa,” and far too many more. Did you know, for example, that “scampi” is not a method of cooking or serving shrimp: it is, instead, simply, and only, the Italian term for shrimp. So if you order shrimp scampi, you’ve actually asked for “shrimp shrimp.”
Yes, we’ve gone overboard in vain attempt to seem to be more knowledgeable than the next person when discussing food. This morning, for example, my paper reported on a restaurant featuring “Skirt Steak Pimenton,” which was built around a very inexpensive (and sinewy) cut of beef, served with exotic sounding sauces and sides. “Skirt Steak” may seem attractive (I like “skirts”), but that defined cut of beef is one of the toughest on the steer, and is usually relegated to inexpensive dishes (e.g., Tex-Mex), where it is ground up and highly seasoned, to make it both edible and tasty. And what is “pimenton”? Like many other words used primarily to impress others, “pimenton” is just the Spanish term for common “paprika,” which is produced just about everywhere except in the Arctic (the best comes from Hungary, not Spain). Some believe that there is a discernible smoky flavor to paprika from Spain, but I can’t agree – besides, Spanish paprika is seldom available here anyway. So, our fancy Skirt Steak Pimenton is inexpensive beef, flavored with paprika; is there more to it than just that? Yes, but not much of substance.
The particular entree’s recipe also calls for: nduja, chimichurri, and roasted sun chokes. You know what those ingredients are, and where to get them – right? Well, if you need a bit of help, here it is. Nduja is a little used name for a hard-to-find, sort of spreadable, Italian salami, which is similar to the French/Cajun andouille that is relatively available in supermarket sausage sections. Don’t waste time looking for nduja (or even try to pronounce it), except in recipes written to impress and astound, rather than to inform.
“Chimichurri” sounds like a popular tex-mex fast food item, but it’s actually a name for a generic sauce with dozens of very different recipes. It’s similar to the bottled pesto available in the ethnic foods section (parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, and olive oil), but may also contain such as bay leaf, cilantro, lemon, basil, tomato, and red pepper). So, “chimichurri” is essentially meaningless – just another “gee whiz” term, designed and used to impress the ignorant masses. Use plain old pesto instead.
Of course, you’ve noticed the bin of “sun chokes” in the produce section of your market? Perhaps they were labeled as “Jerusalem artichokes,” or even “earth apples.” But they’re not artichokes, apples, nor from Jerusalem. In fact, they are root tubers of a sunflower (of the daisy family), which have a high sugar content, and, in this cook’s opinion, aren’t all that different from a less expensive yam.
Well, there you have it: If you want to impress a client or potential investor, take ‘em where you can use names and words they’ve never before heard, to order a plate of sinewy beef slabs, sprinkled with paprika, and hidden under a vineragry pesto sauce, with sides of roasted sunflower tubers and spreadable Cajun sausage But my idea of a great meal is a classic, medium-rare, rib roast of tender beef, accompanied perfectly with puffy Yorkshire pudding, brushed with carefully saved beef juices, along with a side of al-dente, fresh steamed asparagus with garlic butter and toasted almond sauce. You may have my share of nduja, chimmichurri, sun chokes, and pimenton skirt steaks. You’re welcome!
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[N.B. We will herein use the scientifically correct terms, "Negroes," or Negroid," because "African American" is a confusing, thoughtlessly inappropriate, misleading and inaccurate term for that race; "Black" is no better, because two basic human races (Negroid and Australoid) are black skinned.]
I’ve had it up to here — no, even higher than that! Not a day passes in which the liberal press doesn’t feature a story about inequality and discrimination involving race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or other human differences; and they do that in the warm embrace of an “enlightened” age, wherein we all hold hands and sing “kumbaya.” Of course, such narcotic sedated, liberal idealism serves only to further divide our population, creating additional, avoidable, serious problems for our increasingly troubled nation.
Think–has a day gone by that your newspaper, or some boob-tube broadcast, didn’t feature a tear-jerking, misleading, emotional report about how one group of humans, or another, is being exploited, or otherwise held back, by others (usually “white males”)? According to the misguided, mindless, naive liberals, it is, for example, intolerable and unjust that women don’t make up at least 51% of elected/appointed government officials, CEOs of major businesses, combat soldiers, and trash collectors. The reason, Hillary, why women are not represented, in some occupations, in relation to their percentage of the general population, is because, and only because, men are better suited for those jobs. Live with it!
Let’s establish, right up front, that: In a free economy (which we still have, sort of, in spite of destructive actions of the present Administration), successful managers of businesses try hard to hire the best available persons to fill any available job. Negroes make up about 12% of the population, but represent a reported 78% of the National Basketball Association’s obscenely overpaid players, and nearly 70% of the millionaire football professionals. There are no women in those jobs, nearly no “Asians” or “Latinos,” and only a handful of Caucasoid (i.e., “white”) males. Where’s the outrage over those imbalances? Of course, there should be no “outrage,” because sports businesses are simply hiring the best qualified applicants for the work involved. It is fair to wonder why we seem to be unable to apply that logic in other instances of alleged discrimination in the workplace.
Let’s get the hard, inarguable, fact right out in front: there are significant differences between races, ethnicities, and sexes; and those differences often determine the jobs we will hold. In the extreme, consider that males do not give birth, nor suckle the young: is that discrimination? Of course not! And females are unarguably weaker physically than males, so should they be found in equal numbers with males in work requiring significant upper body strength? Again–Of course not!
More than just physical strength and skeletal construction separate races and sexes. That’s no surprise to intelligent, thoughtful, educated persons, who’ve long recognized that there are many significant differences between the sexes, which determine how each will live and work. Normal women may be expected to react differently to a given situation than do men. Women often allow emotions to override logic and common sense; and women are more likely than men to be unavailable for work when needed. When women went to work on assembly lines, during the Second World War, it was discovered that they periodically had what were sometimes called “poisoned hands.” That is, when they handled metals with their hands, corroded fingerprints soon appeared thereon. And recent studies even seem to prove that females see colors differently than do males. Isn’t it understandable that prospective employers consider such facts when hiring?
Wake up Nancy: there are very significant differences between men and women, which place necessary and predictable limits on the suitability of women for many jobs–including that of CEOs. Agreed: females with confused hormones can appear to perform adequately as head of a major corporation, as a football linebacker, or as a bayonet-thrusting soldier; and a perfectly normal handful (e.g., Britain’s Margaret Thatcher) can perform superbly in high-pressure management positions; but those few are far from the norm for the female sex. Let’s stop this nonsense of suggesting otherwise. That advice is especially appropriate for such as Sheryl Sandberg (author of a recent book aimed at inspiring women to assert themselves in competing with men for top managerial jobs). Sheryl, for whatever reasons, you’ve made it to the top of the corporate ladder; live with that, and kindly cease attempting to convince other women that they can, and should, do the same–at the expense of families, the nation, and the world.
The free market place is doing a reasonably good job of placing workers where their particular skills and abilities are most productive. Except as in the rare case of such as a particular religion’s business, job applicants are almost always selected because they’re the best available–irregardless of sex, race, or religion. Negroes, for example, can and do find employment in just about every walk of life — from executive mansions to football fields. Race alone seldom closes doors to anyone: a lack of qualifications, and/or the way one appears, or behaves when being interviewed, can, however, be deciding factors.
Face it, there are many differences between sexes, races, and ethnicities; some are superficial, but others are, unavoidably, significant. Clearly, Negroes are favored as professional athletes in several major sports; men are selected as combat soldiers and construction workers; so-called “Latinos,” while currently only 12% of the population of the U.S., make up about 32% of the professional baseball players; women are favored in dozens of occupations. Oh yes — they also make far better mothers (mankind’s most important and demanding job) than do men. Kumbaya!
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Relevant comments may be sent to him at email@example.com.
It seems unavoidable: sometime in the near future, we will be struck down as a nation; not by an act of nature, a comet striking earth, or some incurable virulent new disease; instead by the sudden failure of the infrastructure required for computers everywhere to work together. When the Internet fails, and it will, banks, stock exchanges, and other financial institutions will cease to operate; businesses will be unable to take orders or to bill customers; pensions and salary checks will not be automatically deposited; medical facilities will have no records of patient’s histories; trains and planes will cease to operate; gasoline pumps fail to work, and traffic will be jammed tight as stop lights freeze on red; grocery stores become unable to check out the food you need; and, God forbid, electronic gossip (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will end.
As I think back on this too-terrible-to-consider prediction, I first noticed an indication of that future, during a stop to pick up a burger at a fast-food joint, just off I-95, somewhere in Georgia, way back in the 1960s. I had placed an order to go, and it had just arrived at checkout, when the lights went out, killing the newly automated cash register system. The counter clerk went into clearly visible shock: wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and physically frozen; barely able to mumble that, “It gunna beez ok – jezz wait, jezz wait.” His newfangled, computerized cash register had keys marked with icons for each item available for sale; when punched, they showed the amount due from the customer; after which the amount tendered was keyed in, and the display showed the amount to be returned to the customer, if any. No thought, by the clerk, was required to check out customers; now that the system was down, business was seemingly impossible. I suggested that the prices for what I had ordered were posted on the wall, so we could add six percent sales tax, and I could give him the exact amount, so that I could get back on the road with my lunch. The shocked attendant just rolled his enlarged eyes, and mindlessly repeated his “Gunna bees ok” mantra. I left without the burger.
Since that time, computerized business has become the norm, and the interconnection of computers has become fundamental to the operation of just about every facet of our lives. Not long ago, I was checking out of a typical grocery store, when the power went off. Their emergency plan was to mark each in-use shopping cart with the name and phone number of the customer, then wheel them back for temporary storage in a walk-in chiller room. On that occasion, the power was only out for a few hours, but what if, because of lack of electricity, or some other cause, the store’s computers were down for months, or years?
Compared to the production and distribution of electricity, the interconnection of computers is a very complex and fragile structure. We know that electricity has failed, sometimes on large and wide scales, for days at a time; sometimes for no apparent reason. If you’re over 40, you can likely recall hearing a recorded message that “Telephone lines are temporarily unavailable due to unusually heavy use,” Even the do-everything cell phones have recently suffered periods of unavailability due to overloaded circuits. Computer interconnections can, and will fail, possibly for months, or decades.
I feel safe in saying that every major, technologically advanced, nation has been, and is, developing plans for the intentional interruption, and/or destruction, of computer systems in other nations. Think, for example, about the recent, relatively limited, example of such, when someone denied Iran use of operational computers vital to production of weapons-grade fissionable materials. The command and control of military and emergency forces depends upon computers, the Internet, and, especially, on vulnerable, communications satellites. One of the first acts in any major world conflict will be attempts to shut down the opponent’s electronic communications and computer capabilities. Such an event would result in widespread panic, riots, and primitive acts of self-preservation, as individuals fight over food and water. We have made that unthinkable scenario all too real, by our mindless rush to embrace every new gimmick, such as cell phones that control our very lives. We use the ubiquitous devices to shop; pay bills; in place of traditional, paper road maps; do simple arithmetic; make and share obscene self photos; gossip; unlock our home’s doors; turn on lights; set home climate controls; replace diaries or journals; as appointment calendars; locate restaurants, hospitals, and other businesses; as risky replacements for the traditional family photo album; and to shout into incessantly while in public places. Life without them seems unimaginable—but it is apparently inevitable.
Our central government is part and parcel of the growing threat. For example, when they tried to implement a relatively simple, Internet-dependent program for nation-wide health care, it failed. There were supposed to be paper and human backup systems ready, but they also failed. Do you need further evidence that we’re rushing headlong towards national catastrophe—especially if such is aided by intentional assault from outside?
Will that shocked face of the useless fast-food counter clerk, seen 50 years ago, soon become the face of the nation? Unless we wake up, and put the brakes on the risky rush to control our world from electronic glasses we wear, from our wrist watches or our telephones, you, and/or your children, may well be living, and dieing, in a widespread version of primitive “hunger games.”
Over-dependence on computers, the Internet, communications satellites, and the now popular “cloud” (where everything is stored) is a sure recipe for unthinkable disaster. Computers die without warning; the Internet can crash by being overloaded or jammed; satellites can be electronically and/or physically destroyed or deactivated; and “clouds” are, at best wispy and short-lived. We need a national policy on Surviving Without Computers. We need that far more than we need such as the poorly designed, constructed, and operated Affordable Care Act.
There are four fundamental types of warfare: Strategic, Tactical, Psychological, and Economic. The first and last types (strategic and economic) are those we should now be very worried about, and working hard to prevent, or, at least, minimize.
Irregular military units (e.g., rabid followers of Mohammed) may, on rare occasion, use an opportunity to engage in tactical (i.e., conventional) ground warfare (such as is now seen in places such as Syria, Afghanistan, and various African nations), but, in general those rag-tag armies rely on psychological and economic attacks. Terrorism (e.g., the wanton, random, barbaric slaying and maiming of humans, of all types and ages) is most often accomplished by such as horrific bombings in supposedly safe public places (e.g., in Iraq today). Terrorists hope that, by such inhumane acts, they can destroy a population’s will to resist, opening the gates for the arrival of occupying, and ruling, paramilitary forces. Terrorism usually has a side benefit in that it indirectly attacks a nation’s economy, such as in these United States of America, where, in 2001, for an investment of a few thousand dollars and a handful of lives of the dangerously misguided faithful, terrorists destroyed buildings and equipment worth billions, slaughtered thousands of random civilians, and caused the creation of a monstrous, costly ($7.5 billion/year), and only slightly effective, government institution (TSA).
While the significant resources now wasted on such as the inconvenient and intrusive airport security measures are continuously damaging the nation, there now is evidence of a much greater threat to our economy, and our way of life: one for which we have little or no defense, and may not be reasonably able to create in time to thwart the attack. I refer to destruction of our electrical power grid, which would, both strategically and economically, bring us to our knees.
Electricity is generated at huge plants, which convert energy found in burning fossil fuels, controlled nuclear reactions, water-powered turbines, or the wind and sun. That electricity is then spread across the nation, into homes and businesses, thru a “grid,” which is made up of transmission lines (wires) strung on poles and towers or buried in the ground, along with associated transformer and switching stations. We are so dependent on that supply of electricity, that its extended interruption would destroy our nation. Frighteningly, most of that infrastructure is either unprotected, or only lightly so. Chain-link fences around transformer stations may keep itinerant drunks from wandering into high voltage equipment, but they do nothing to protect the exposed and vulnerable transformers themselves from easy attack by a lone man with a rifle. That, in fact has already happened (April 2013, in California), but that very serious incident was intentionally played down, due, apparently, to reasonable fear that it might precipitate copycat acts. That person was never apprehended; we don’t know why he attacked the substation. Could it have been an early test of a widespread event, yet to come?
A few rounds from a large caliber rifle can take out a transformer. When that is a random act, and only a few transformers are shut down, switching stations react and re-route electricity from other sources, minimizing the negative effects of the attack (as was done in 2013, in California). But, when enough attacks take place in a short time period, it is possible to cause the system to break down, and cease sending electricity to a wide area, or to the entire nation.
Without electricity, computers and cell phones will cease to operate, grocery stores can’t check out customers, banks can’t cash checks, gasoline can’t be pumped, traffic control lights go dark, potable water ceases to flow, factories cease to produce, and homes go dark and cold. If the blackout lasts long enough, panic, crime, and riots will spread like wildfire; a nation, such as ours, will then self-destruct.
Protecting against such an attack seems nearly impossible, but we’d damned well better try! As it now stands, a cadre of a few dozen trained and coordinated saboteurs (remember, only a dozen or so carried out the very successful, September 11th attack), could cause disastrous, total, or nearly so, blackout of the nation. Burying transmission lines, encasing transformers with armored shields, providing armed guards and watch towers with searchlights at transformer stations, and aerial surveillance of power lines are possible, but incredibly expensive, measures, which, by themselves, well serve the attacker’s objective of further expanding economic destruction. Besides, if readily available rifles aren’t adequate to penetrate armored shields, the attackers can easily, and inexpensively upgrade to more powerful, but easily portable weaponry, such as rocket propelled grenades (the mismanaged and misused Department of Justice might even provide such, if asked politely—think DOJ’s “Fast and Furious,” gun giveaway scandal).
Yes, the problem is real, seriously threatening, and with us now. What we can or should do isn’t at all clear, but we’d damned well better get started working on a defense, before there’s nothing to defend. As politically and socially unacceptable as it may seem, a very significant step to save our nation would be in not only accepting, but openly supporting, racial and ethnic profiling as a security measure: had that been done in early 2001, when men fitting Al-Qaeda’s fanatical profile were enrolling in U.S. schools to learn how to fly, but not land, modern transport aircraft, and had men with that same profile been especially well screened before boarding aircraft on September 11th, thousands of lives, and billions of dollars could have been saved. There are ways to try to protect ourselves from the next wave of sneak attacks by those determined to destroy us, by whatever means; if we want to survive, we’d better give serious consideration to using them.
What, you may well ask, is our leader (President Barrack Hussein Obama) doing about this looming national threat? Well, as that feckless Harvard lawyer promised in his recent national address, he’s using his reckless pen (instead of his head) to issue executive orders, thus exercising his arrogant dictatorial prowess, while evading the democratic process. Shockingly appropriate to the subject we’ve been discussing, one of his first, thus-misguided actions was to further loosen immigration policies, so that those with a record of having aided and abetted terrorists are welcomed with open arms. It must be true: it was in an AP report, printed on the front page of this morning’s paper (Feb 10th, 2014).
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a few weeks now, news media have featured reporting on the Air Force’s rapidly spreading problem with what, at best, can only be called “unprofessional conduct,” by officers charged with the heavy responsibility of controlling nuclear missiles that could, if launched, signal the end of mankind. Specifically, 14% of the Air Force cadre of 500 missile launch control officers have been removed from duty, because of willful violation of nuclear safety rules and other relevant directives, along with widespread, immoral behavior, such as cheating on vital tests, or the use of drugs. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be; but you darned well should be deeply concerned.
The current worrisome reports of serious weaknesses in our nuclear deterrent forces, are attributable to two factors: traditionally incompetent leadership (military and civilian), and widespread deterioration and destruction of our general society’s vital, moral codes.
Nearly all of the generals and admirals (especially those with more than one star) are self-focused, egotistical, dictatorial, personally ambitious, politically motivated and controlled, unfit to lead, unconcerned with mission, and incompetent managers. Their civilian bosses are all too often just politically controlled, career government employees. What, for example, qualifies Deborah James to be Secretary of the Air Force? She has no applicable military experience or training. It is unfit persons, such as she, that have made possible serious flaws in our military services — including the present scandal about amoral officers controlling nuclear weapons. Could she be just another Obama appointment designed to please irrational female voters, and the good of the nation be damned?
It is those dangerously unfit and unsuited persons that are primarily responsible for the present scandal involving missile launch control officers, and who, in fact, made possible a nuclear control system so flawed that it is only by God’s grace that the trigger hasn’t already been pulled by some nut case, such as those that now play violent video games and then act them out in theater, school, workplace, or shopping center.
The Minuteman missile force was conceived, developed, and commanded by the same sort of disinterested, incompetent, career-oriented senior officers and civilians that have seemingly always existed. Those arrogant, ambitious officials were in charge of the creation of an unimaginably complex, nuclear weapons system, which required its launch officers to work extraordinarily stress-filled jobs, during minimal 70-hour work weeks, wherein the simplest error or oversight resulted in severe punishment (e.g. forced out of the service in disgrace), and where a normal “workday” was 24 hours without a moment’s rest or relief; on occasion, crews at Malmstrom, in the early ’60s, were forced to stay awake, and in control of 10 nuclear-tipped missiles, for as long as 72 hours. Some couldn’t perform that superhuman task, but all, in those days, tried their damndest to do their duty. The divorce and commission resignation rates were then the highest that the Air Force has ever experienced: due primarily to uncaring, incompetent leadership, and mismanagement at the highest levels.
That brings us to the second factor in the recent degradation of nuclear deterrent and/or safety. The officers, chosen to become launch control officers at Malmstrom AFB in the 1960s, still had the moral code that made this nation great. They never gave thought to following only the orders, regulations, and procedures of which they personally approved, nor to cheating on nuclear safety or relevant command and control tests. Their families frequently broke under the strain placed on the officers, and many resigned their commissions rather than continue to suffer the literally impossible conditions placed upon them. However, as an example of the incompetent, uncaring leadership then exercised by top generals: one came to Malmstrom to deliver a message from the four-star general in charge of the Strategic Air Command. To the hastily assembled, exhausted men, he scolded, “The Chief wants you babies to know that he wishes he could make it tougher on you.” Tougher than an average work week of 70 hours, with some “days” lasting for 72 hours, without sleep?
Yes, we have, and long have had, a problem in our armed forces; it is a result of a promotion system that ensures the advancement to highest office by the least suitable. The unavoidable results of incompetent leadership and management are aided and abetted by a population of young men (and women) that no longer have the moral fiber needed to do the right thing, in spite of unfit and uncaring leadership at the top. The military’s incestuous promotion system (i.e., whom you know, and successfully boot-lick, is more important than what you do on the job) has been with us so long that it is fair to wonder if it can ever be corrected, but the destruction of societal morals is relatively new, and perhaps it’s not too late to turn that around. Perhaps?
Sleep tight America, your “burned out,” liberal, free-thinking, pleasure-oriented, nuclear warriors are on alert, and they’re watched over by incompetent generals and civilians, who care far more about selfish ambitions, than about sworn oaths to defend this nation.
– 30 –
Of Cabbages and kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Pertinent comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
Texting [you know, that way one types a very brief, misspelled, ungrammatical, unnecessary and uninformative message on a cell phone, and then "sends" it to the unfortunate recipient] has, seemingly, taken the World by storm. Is this good for mankind, or is it another step down on the ladder of human progression?
I have previously asked readers to tell me what there is about texting that benefits mankind. About the best any respondent could do was to point out that texting is more immediate–more “with it”–than is such as “your grandfather’s” e-mail; a few, more honest, commentors stated simply that “Hey, it’s new, ‘in,’ and fun.” There wasn’t even one logical reason offered for the existence of texting; on the other hand, there was a bag full of mail as to why it’s a threat to civilization.
Almost all of the many negatives being mentioned about texting can be put in one of 3 categories: (1) physically dangerous; (2) socially destructive; and (3) easily misunderstood. Let’s look briefly at each of those.
There is today a large, and relatively successful, campaign to limit or eliminate driving under the influence (of narcotic drugs and/or alcohol; which is a good thing, but is far less important than fighting to control accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving. There are reports of 5,000 persons killed each year. in this one nation, as a result of distracted driving; the distraction most often listed is “talking on a cell phone,” or, especially, “texting.” Scientific tests have shown that, an average passenger car (such as my Buick), when traveling 70 mph on a freeway or interstate, requires about 150 feet to stop; in an estimated 5 seconds during which a driver’s attention is focused on texting, and not on the road ahead. his vehicle would have traveled twice the length of a football field, in which could be a pedestrian, animal, stopped vehicle, a large, heavy object that fell from a truck, or perhaps a gaping pot hole. Statistics reportedly show that operating (i.e., speaking over) a cell phone, increases the risk of accident 400%: texting while driving increases it 2,300%. Texting drivers don’t kill or maim just themselves: they are a real and serious threat to all of us. About two years ago, I was stopped at a traffic light, when a texting pickup truck driver, approaching me from the rear, failed to notice the stop light and my car until almost on top of me, at which point he “woke up,” slammed on the brakes, jerked the wheel to the right, and, only 6 feet from my car, jumped the curb, crossed a pedestrian sidewalk, knocked over a fire hydrant, and crashed into an unoccupied car parked in a lot by a drug store. The texting driver was just 20 years old, whom, as was later learned, had confidently told his concerned father that “I can text without taking my eyes off the road.”
It is demonstrated that even completely automated use of a cell phone (wherein the driver is never require to divert his attention from the risky task at hand) increases chances of an accident — if only slightly. I would, anyway, agree to such use of a telephone, as long as the conversations are necessary to some degree, and are not only the mindless telephonic gossip one sees being carried on by shoppers in supermarkets. On the other hand, texting while driving, is so unarguably dangerous, killing thousands each year, that we should work, long and hard, to eliminate it.
The unchallenged, single most effective, means of human communication is found only in face-to-face discussion. In such, we notice informative changes in a speaker’s voice; see significant alteration of facial expressions; observe telling body language, especially the hands and arms; and possibly “read” something else, which isn’t yet understood. Electronic voice communications (e.g., telephone or radio) remove all of those many, informative visual signals available when speaking in person, and, consequently, unavoidably make full understanding of the still-spoken words more difficult, and prone to misunderstanding. Written communications (e.g., handwritten letters, or e-mail) are another large step away from effective communications; even when well and thoughtfully composed–which is all too rare these days. I don’t know who first said it (perhaps it was I), but it is true that “If a written thought can be misinterpreted, it will be.” Texting is the worst imaginable form of written communication; its routine use of unconventional abbreviations, coupled with a near lack of rules of grammar or spelling, ensures failure to communicate. A text message may suffice for ordering an insane terrorists to “PUSH THE BUTTON,” but it fails totally, for example, as a means of expressing one’s love for his wife ["ILY" is no substitute for "I love you!"]. Misunderstood text messages have led to suicides by youngsters.
It appears that a major attraction to texting (along with the simple-minded enjoyment of playing with a new toy), is in that it seems to make life easier. There’s no need to get out paper and pen, or even warm up a computer, when sending Uncle Richman a ‘thank you note” for his generous birthday present. One simply taps the cell phone a few times, sending the old man: “Hi Uncl! tnx frdgrn.BFNshawn.” No need to “face” the old man on the telephone, and put up with his questions and other ramblings; and the whole damned thing only wasted a minute of your increasingly busy and valuable time. By the very act of choosing to text, rather than even to send a quick and easy e-mail, the sender is signaling that the recipient is really quite unimportant. Texting is essentially rude, thoughtless, and prone to misunderstanding; it also is dumbing down an entire generation or more. There are no rules of grammar or spelling involved in texting, and an uncontrolled and undisciplined use of randomly generated abbreviations cheapens our language, and degrades our ability to communicate effectively and socially [how about ROTFLMAO (rolling on the floor laughing my ass off). or even the obscene, WTF (what the f___)?].
There is no redeeming value to texting — none whatsoever! It does, on the other hand, endanger life and limb, degrade our ability to communicate, and abrade already frayed, but vital, social bonds.
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Pertinent comments may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Note well: Primarily because it contains the scientific terms "Negroid" and "Negro," this column was not acceptable to any of the print outlets that regularly feature my opinion pieces; your only opportunity to read it is, therefore, in this blog. I well understand, and am sympathetic with, the reasons why those editors and publishers were afraid to run the piece: selfish, mindless, irrational economic censorship by ambitious, special-interest groups, shapes and censors "all the news (and opinion) that is 'fit to print.'"]
Our abilities to communicate effectively, through use of words, whether written or spoken, have been seriously degraded by successful efforts of narrow-minded, selfish, ambitious, careless, special interest groups and individuals. For example: “illegal immigrants” have become “undocumented” residents: naturally unhappy “homosexual persons” have, curiously, morfed to become carefree “gays”; supposedly human “chairmen” are now 4-legged, inanimate “chairs”; and “human sexual identity” is just a grammatical term (“gender”) — do we now “gender” puppies when born, rather than “sexing’ them? But the most distressing , and troublesome of such careless play, with our embattled language, concerns racial terms.
Scientifically, and historically, there have been, and are, four basic racial groups: Australoid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. But in these “enlightened” times, official forms, and other places where racial terms appear, list racial choices as such curious things as: white, black, brown, Asian, hispanic, Pacific Islander, or , even, other. The result, unavoidably, is that no one, any longer, understands what race–or combination thereof– a person is. For example, of which race is a very dark-skinned Caucasoid in Algeria (that’s in Africa, Hillary)? Factually, literally, and statistically, he’s probably a Caucasian, but in the now-confused language of these United States of Whatever”, he’s a “black.” How does he thus show up, in scientific/cultural/sociological/legal/medical documents to be different, in any way (which he is) from Negroids, coming from other African nations, such as Ghana?
“Black” is not an adequately descriptive term for a race. Australoids (a clearly, and universally, recognized, basic racial group, found primarily in Australia, southern India, and southeastern Africa) are often “blacker” of skin than are many Negroes, so, in using “black” as race, we lump together two distinctly different racial groups?
“African American” (as used to mean Negroes residing in the USA) is similarly inappropriate and confusing. Is a Caucasoid Tunisian, living and working in Brazil, an “African American”? Tunisia is in Africa, and Brazil is in America (last time I checked). I’ve met many immigrants from Morocco, now living and working in these United States of America; they’re Caucasians, but they’re from Africa, so are they “African Americans?
“Asian” as a racial group, is just as confusing and misleading. India, for example, lies, so I believe anyway, on the Asian continent, yet Indians are a fascinating mix of all four basic races; is it therefore useful, or at all correct, to refer to all Indian’s as racial “Asians”? Of course not.
Race is important to caring, thinking humans, in attempting to understand mankind, and maximize its potential. Races differ, significantly, in both physical and physiological ways; the best way to minimize racial frictions, and to maximize the abilities of all, is to recognize those important differences, and learn to live, happily, and productively, with them. Let’s grow up, open our eyes and minds, and eschew the political nonsense of prohibiting use of the term “Negro,” along with doing away with misleading, inappropriate, confusing, and regressive terminology such as Hispanic, Latino, Native American, African American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, etc..
Wake up America!: careless, personally ambitious, alteration, or censorship, of language accomplishes little other than impoverishment of human existence.
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Pertinent comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
Our inexperienced, inadequately educated, and Socialistic President, Barrack Hussein Obama, has continually supported starting children in public schools prior to the traditional, and demonstrably adequate, kindergarten; he also supports having everyone obtain a college degree. Those are two of the most naïve, and potentially destructive, ideas to come out of that Harvard lawyer’s dangerously misdirected mind.
Easy credit and low-interest college loans, coupled with a widely accepted belief that everyone should go to college, has, according to a recent report (The Center for Affordability Reports) resulted in nearly half of our college educated citizens being employed in jobs that don’t require any college at all. For example, a quarter of retail sales workers have useless college degrees, and 16% of bartenders and baristas are also college grads. The single most pertinent reason why that is so, is in that far too many hopeful college students ignorantly, thoughtlessly, or lazily, choose majors for which there is little or no demand, so, for them, future lucrative employment opportunities (which were to provide six-figure salaries) are slim to none.
Law is a very popular course of study for a legion of immature hopefuls, inspired by: relatively easy studies; Hollywood’s glamorized images of the profession; the preponderance of lawyers in prominent political offices (e.g., the Prez hizzself); and the lure of easy, clean, work, with rich salaries. But there already is an overabundance of lawyers, so new lawyer grads drive taxis, wait tables, or grab a secure job with something such as a city fire department. Along with law, other highly popular, and easy, majors are in fields such as English, History, Communications (broadcast tv announcing), Sociology, and non-specific Management. Most of those recent graduates are broke, living back home with their parents (when they have such), while complaining mindlessly about an “unfair or “unjust” economy.”
The hard fact is that we are cranking out far more college graduates than for which there are applicable jobs. Graduates with degrees in hard sciences (i.e., not Political Science) are doing relatively well in finding applicable employment, but enrollment in courses required to earn such a desirable degree (e.g., Aeronautical, Marine, Mechanical, Electrical, or Chemical Engineering) is not highly popular: mainly, I believe, because today’s high school graduates generally can’t meet the tough standards to get accepted in engineering schools, and, even were that possible, who wants to volunteer for that 4-year grind? College, after all, is primarily for football games, binge drinking parties, and free sex (of all types) in “mixed living” dorms — isn’t it?
Let’s try to focus on reality and proven facts: we’re not all the same; all should not attempt to follow the same path as we make our way along the road through life; all should not expect to go to college; nor should all expect to earn the same wages for our work. That’s a good thing, because without financial incentives for excelling, or working harder than the other person, a nation can’t grow and prosper. Sameness, equality in all things, and Communism/Socialism are proven recipes for disaster. College should be for persons with clear vision of a reasonably certain, future job prospect, which requires extensive formal education beyond high school. Others may benefit from shorter, and less expensive training courses, such as are offered by technical schools, which prepare students for jobs that are in demand (e.g., masonry, carpentry, plumbing, welding, mining, agriculture, medicine, etc.). The remainder will do best by learning skills while on the job. I, for example, began a career, as a merchant seaman, by cleaning pots and pans in the galley, but ended it, four years later, as a highly respected officer, in the engineering section. No applicable formal training of any kind was involved in my success.
This nation today desperately needs workers that produce things that we must have (food, housing, transportation, etc.) and which we can sell to other nations, in fair and balanced payment for what we buy from them. On the other hand, we have no need for more lawyers, and little need for such as political scientists or sociologists. Concerned parents should guide and inspire their children to study hard and well while in public school, and to go directly on to college only when there is clear indication that the training contemplated is required for, and will lead to, employment, in that specified field, upon graduation.
If a child is undecided about his future work by the time he graduates from high school, then guide him to find entry level jobs, at little or no pay, in fields of work that seem to be possibilities. A few years spent maturing after high school, can open a child’s eyes and mind to better “see” what sort of further education, if any, he needs or wants. I graduated (barely, with a minimal academic record) from high school at age 16, and hadn’t a clue as to what I should do next, or wanted to accomplish: five years later, after driving a truck, ushering at a movie theater, and sailing the oceans to foreign places, I had essentially matured, enrolled in night school at Columbia University, and earned honest A’s in every pre-engineering subject studied. That academic record would later open the door to college degrees, and honors, earned at several other, prestigious universities.
Far too many man hours of available labor, and billions of dollars, are being wasted on useless years spent on college campuses. Our nation, and each of us individually, would be better off if those limited assets were used productively, in a coal mine, on a farm, a steel mill, or a shipyard. Depending on illegal immigrants to satisfy those vital labor requirements is not an option — neither is sending every child to college.