Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dear One,

Jeanie and I have come to some pretty important conclusions as we've made our way through the tough parts of life. We've been scared and we've been unsure. We've been on a couple of brinks, but there have been ropes and anchors that kept us safe. Not that we knew what we were doing or that we planned ahead, but there were angels posing as parents, grandparents, sons, daughters, and friends who led us here to what we now regard as heaven on earth.

Heaven was brought to Jeanie and me by a thoughtful and compassionate creator. We thank our maker every day at least three times, but I know that's not nearly enough. We owe everything to someone else and we try to be grateful as much as we can.

Your parents have an angel in you. I've concluded you (and we) are not here to just be background characters in someone else's story, but instead we're main characters who have had an impact on everyone we've ever met (and they on everyone they have ever met). Everyone you have ever spoken to would be different without you. We're all connected in some way, and we are better because of you. Of course, your parents are better because of you, too. They're so fortunate. Just like us. Thank you for being an influence in our lives.

We pray that your tests and medical interventions bring you relief and good health. I believe the creator of the universe also created the answer to every question, the solution to every problem, and the cure for every affliction. Your cure has already been created. Although we will never be capable of understanding the details of creation, I believe our mission should be to start the search for answers and solutions and cures and never give up. Hoping and searching and never giving up are blessings, not burdens.

Love from Ed and Jean

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Answer to Every Question

You're going to want to write this answer on the palm of your hand so you won't forget it. It's the answer to every question. It's the answer you've suspected for a long time, but you were not sure. I'll help you to understand and have confidence you know for sure the one answer to every question.
In order to understand this, let's ask the right first question.
William, did you create the Universe?
“No, sir”
A very good answer. Bold, direct, believable. Let's ask someone else.
Cecil, did you create the Universe?
“No. Certainly not me. God did.”
Now, we're getting someplace. We have a handle on two people who claim they did not create the Universe, and we have a clue as to who did. Good answer, Cecil. Thank you.
Melody, do you agree with Cecil? Do you believe him when he says there's no way he himself created the Universe, but he's pretty sure God did it?
“Yes, I agree with Cecil. He looks like he has an honest face. And, I think everyone in this place will agree that a power bigger than any of us created the Universe.
Thank you, Melody, Cecil, William. Now, I want you to try this: God created the Universe and every thing. I brought this grain of sand from a beach I was recently walking on. This grain of sand probably was something larger some time ago; maybe it was in a rock or part of a mountain. Maybe its elements (like silicon and oxygen) came from some other kind of thing, like a planet or a meteor. How was this grain of sand created? You already know.
I have a piece of paper here with a question written on it. It says “What is the square root of 15,129? You'll be able to find the answer. Many people have found it before, and it's right there in your smart phone. But you can't claim to have created the answer. You just found it. Remember, today I'm trying to figure out if the answer to every question has already been created. I think the answers to all the questions have already been created although humans haven't found all of them yet.
I know all of this seems to be almost meaningless, but it's not. Here's why: The answer to every question has already been created, the solution to every problem has already been created, and the cure for every ailment has already been created. If you and your spouse are on the brink of divorce and you have concluded there's no solution, no resolution, no going back, I have news that you may or may not like. The solution is just hidden from you, but it exists. Yes, your solution exists. Others have found theirs and you can too.
If your loved one is suffering with a terminal disease, there is a cure. The cure for every disease has already been created, but we haven't had the ability to discover each and every one. Not yet.
Peaceful solutions to every conflict have already been created, but some conflicts will erupt into wars anyhow because the right people haven't discovered or chosen to apply the solutions.
It's because of you and me. We're frail and we're incompetent. We're busy with ourselves, not others. We have our heads down looking at our own feet and thinking about that grain of sand inside one of our shoes that's causing discomfort. At least I am. God created the solution for the discomfort and in a minute or two I'll put that solution into action.
Some solutions can be found in history, where the've been discovered before by people confronted by the same problems we have. Reading and understanding history would make me less incompetent. Some solutions are also time sensitive. Here's a question you probably can't answer today, but you'll be able to answer it someday when you no longer need to do so. Does anybody know what the Power Ball numbers will be for next Wednesday? If so, shout them out. We could argue as to whether God has created those specific numbers already, or whether He'll wait to create them Wednesday night. All in His time.
Accepting the idea that God has already created every thing and that every answer is available for us to discover gives me hope that we actually can do it given enough time.
There's been a lot written about hope. The Apostle Paul clarified to the Christian Church in Rome where one source of hope can be found. He told them hope comes from the good character qualities of men and women, people who patiently and persistently work to find answers.
Write this on your hand: never give up. The answer is there, guaranteed, because God never fails.

Never give up.

Why Aren't Robots Boosting Economic Productivity?

Evan Horowitz has succeeded in usurping the spotlight of fame by making it to the front page (the entire page, not shared) of the May 7th 2017 Boston Globe's Business Section. Leslie Becker gets credit for graphics, depicting a conveyor line throwing products and workers to a heap of trash.

Every new industrial robot costs between 3 and 6 human jobs, says the MIT, Yale alum report. I get it. I'd better believe that industrial robots are not good for America, stunting economic growth and stranding six workers per robot in under employment situations. However, there are assumptions, conclusions, and facts. Let's see how they match up.

Contention 1: ...robots are failing to boost output or make the economy more productive.
The author has leapt over the devious chasm of cause and effect. There are hundreds of causes of low and cyclic output, the most basic cause being supply and demand. Manufacturers don't produce widgets they can't sell. The effect of robots on the American economy cannot be measured except by taking millions of factors into account.

Contention 2: ...when an auto manufacturer installs cutting edge robotic arms...the company is supposed to become more efficient allowing consumers everywhere to reap the benefit of less-expensive, robot-welded cars.
Industrial robots almost always make the car making process more efficient. Auto manufacturers serve their shareholders by increasing company value. Manufacturers make a choice whether to (a) reduce prices and sell higher quantities of cars or (b) keep prices the same and sell the same number of cars, reaping more per-unit profit. Company value goes up either way, but consumers benefit from lower prices only if the price of cars goes down (a). Shareholder equity goes up in both (a) and (b).

Contention 3: ...while they might lay off some assembly line workers, in theory those workers could move into high-demand jobs in other fields, like health care.
Without a myriad of other factors, the theory works. But, other factors are dominant, like the cost of re- education and who pays, the temptation to stay at home collecting unemployment benefits, a scarcity of jobs readily available with hourly rates of $45/hour and 12 weeks paid vacation, family leave provisions, retirement contributions, medical insurance, proximity of home to work, sick pay, etc. These factors count as reasons not to scramble to quickly get a new job after being laid off. If high-demand jobs like health care were easy, tempting, and available, workers would have jumped the assembly line ship already.

Contention 4: ...our increasingly robot-driven world isn't living up to the great techno-utopian promise, namely when machines do the work, humans will reap the rewards.
Ask any CEO: would you invest shareholders' equity in robots if someone could not reap the rewards? He'd laugh at you. Of course someone reaps the rewards. Rewards go to the bold and the hard working citizens always trying to do better and be better. Otherwise an enterprise would simply be a charity.

Contention 5: ...recent economic research suggests the harm robots are causing human workers is real...nobody in the local community really gains from the arrival of robots: not managers, not college grads, not even those with advanced degrees.
There's someone who is not being harmed: the shareholder investors and the company maintenance technicians who service the robots.

Hook, line, and sinker: MIT economist Daron Acemoglu and Yale collegue Pascual Restrepo packed chicken and noodle theories and over cooked assumptions into this Boston Globe takedown of corporate America without telling the rest of the story. The rest of the story is that corporate America is not made up of buffoons. Everything affects everything else in a free market economy. Using some survey statistics and stifling others unbalances any conclusions toward the leanings of the authors, who have shown themselves to be agenda driven. So, what can we do? (from Apricot Pie that first bite, 2014) ...listen to every voice and consider how every lesson can increase the quality of your life. Hopefully, your goals will ratchet upward in tune with every need to adapt to the world as it changes (and change is inevitable.)


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Review The Coming Aristocracy by Oliver DeMille

Aristocracies rule according to one basic principle: they establish two sets of rules, one for themselves and another for everyone else. An aristocracy is only an aristocracy when it operates above the law.

DeMille observes that the founders created the senate so aristocrats would have a place to practice their high status, but the founders limited (enumerated) senate powers. As a result, senators could expend their mighty energies debating each other, while the people (in the form of the House of Representatives) had the real clout. Whether the founders pre-conceived this knot-tying distinction, I'm not sure, but I think it's great.

Lots of us are trapped into thinking that government is the solution to economic problems and every economic crisis. In fact, freedom is the solution.

DeMille reminds us that a clear distinction between education and training is important. Education is a broad understanding of many fields, but training is a depth of skills and expertise in a narrow field. In class structures, broadly educated people comprise the aristocracy and trained people do the work, depending on a job for survival. Think nineteenth century and earlier. Think third world. But, freedom depends on educated masses who have shared values, DeMille says.

I picked some of the plumpest fruits in The Coming Aristocracy. Here they are:

  • Freedom is taught in the classic books of history. The books are no longer on the shelves.
  • Freedom flourishes when the people are independent, free, and self-sufficient as possible.
  • We must accept the responsibilities that come with freedom.
  • Significant numbers of citizens must become owners.
  • In a free society, anyone can build and operate a mini-factory.
  • Liberals believe in the state, conservatives believe in the market.
  • The hallmark of freedom is the individual who ignores limits and lives his or her dream.
  • There are two camps, those of public debate and due process versus those of celebrity, populism, emotion, and swaying the masses. Those are the conservatives and the liberals.
  • Liberals sponsor “repetition makes it true” and “perception is reality.”
  • Liberals challenged with the truth invoke denial, charges of conspiracy theories, and “everybody does it.”
  • Liberals label patriotism and religion as “quaint.”
  • Aristocracy is where elites tell the government what to do and the government taxes the middle classes to pay for it.
  • Power as a purpose has a limit. Freedom as a purpose does not.
I'd suggest you jump onto this author and his books like a squirrel onto a truckload of nuts.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Review Freedom Shift by Oliver DeMille

Oliver DeMille has found a gemstone way down inside the sand and gravel pit of opinion on American freedom's history, and he has brilliantly envisioned a cure that could resurrect America's heritage from a lesson on the history of human greatness, where the 3%-97% rule applies. The author latched onto a golden quote from his long time mentor (Cleon Skousen) “...during the American founding era a mere three percent of the population made most of the sacrifices, did most of the work, and made most of the decisions which established America as the most free and prosperous nation in history.” I'm giving the author an A for making this high value conclusion.
Other conclusions I really like:
  • (There are producers and there are dependents). “...only a society of producers can maintain freedom.”
  • The only hope for a new generation of producers is to promote freedom.”
  • ...a thankful society naturally obtains a prosperous economy.”
P.217: A Return to Tribal Education (chapter 20) is a reminder that role models are a crucial element in family development, and hence individual development. Elijah's story (with an apprentice) adds credence to the author's opinion about setting an example for our descendents.
I was scared halfway to a “oh, no, not social justice” conclusion when I read (p.245) Mr. DeMille's contention that Social Justice is one of eight essential traditions of freedom. Luckily, his explanation was soothing, though. His definition of social justice is not central control of wealth redistribution, but one demanding that all seven other enumerated freedoms be made available to all people, not a limited group of privileged people. Whew!
If you have the privilege of reading Mr. DeMille's 262 pages, give special attention to his descriptions of “the Scarcity Party and the Abundance Party” It's an insightful way to see our current political parties and a way to envision a better choice.

The author gives credit for our sea of freedom to the 3 percent, our patriot founders. There is one chapter missing, though. It's the chapter I'd call “What Made the Founders Think They Could Succeed?” There would be a clear answer: it's the support of the same force that created the Universe: A God who never ever fails.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Psychological Impact of Identity

Who do you think you are? Know it or not, you have an internal picture of yourself, and you regard this personalized picture as your identity. You feel good (and validated) when you live out your identity. In short, if you have the identity of “host” you maximize your utility (to put it economically) by serving drinks and pretzels. And if you have the identity of “life of the party,” you maximize your utility by entertaining the crowd.

You act according to your identity or you pay a cost in utility. The life of the party doesn't feel good about just serving drinks and pretzels to party-goers.

The stronger the identity, the higher the cost of acting contrary to it. For example, once the Army builds into recruits the identity of combat soldier, any soldier refusing to charge a machine gun nest would pay a dear price in identity –- in fact, a cost dear enough to outweigh the physical danger of charging.

The Psychological impact of Identity may provide a window to understanding why high school graduates make decisions. If we try to use the identity concept like a mathematical tool, solving for n variables, there's a chance a solution might pop up. Here are some identities high schoolers might be aspiring to:
  • Sports hero
  • Knight in shining armor character
  • Academic dean's list ace
  • Be like dad (or role model)
  • Robin Hood character
  • Man of power and glory
  • Miss America
  • Wealthy beyond belief
  • Mother Teresa character
There may be some high schoolers who believe their identities are of limited fame or fortune, like:
  • Worker
  • Team member
  • Home maker
  • Park ranger
  • Truck driver
And, others may think their identities are stuck with descriptions of victim, unworthy, failure, etc.

Act according to your identity or pay a cost in utility. It might become psychologically or economically rational to act according to this identity rather than paying an identity cost for abstaining. Consider how you can change your picture of yourself or adapt to fit an identity you'd like to aspire to.

Inspiration from Garth Sundem
Image Elinor Joseph (pinterest)
Edited by Ed Slater

Friday, February 17, 2017

Open Immigration

Does open immigration have a negative effect on a country’s standard of living?

If you seek to forbid open immigration on the grounds that it lowers your standard of living, remember, it's only true if immigrants harm you through theft or injury. That's a matter for law enforcement. Otherwise, you can't make the standard of living claim unless your taxes are redistributed to the immigrants, diluting services due you.

If you believe legal immigrants increase the pool of competition, thereby disadvantaging America, you're wrong. Open competition in a free market culture is necessary and fair. If you don't want open competition or a free market, find your way to Havana for a wake-up.

Inspired by Ayn Rand's comments on open immigration

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Culture Blindness

Are we Americans one culture or many? Are we objectively seeking to consolidate or to maintain a segregated social-scape? Let's look at neighborhoods. We'll define a “non-American” culture as one that chooses not to adapt (but simply to cherry pick) American language and law.

We'll have to make a distinction between citizens whose civic behaviors fit within the boundaries of the Federal Regulations, State laws, and Municipal ordinances, and those who don't.

Is it possible for a subset of immigrants from Italy to create “Little Italy” on one side of an American city and install the culture of Sorrento? Of course, if the behaviors of those Italian-Americans don't break American laws. What about language? How will the immigrants understand American law? That's the answer to the requirement for all to understand the English language.

Can 1500 immigrants from the Middle East, followers of Hezbollah, define a local cultural zone in Detroit, Michigan and adapt as American newcomers? Can they qualify for citizenship and carry on lives honoring their Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S.? Can 20,000 Vietnamese immigrants settle in a locality and adapt? Can Somalians? Of course. The test has to be based on law abiding behaviors.

Cuisine and religion don't matter unless they are in conflict with American law. Homesteads and other dwelling places don't matter so long as they conform to local codes of health and safety. In all of these caveats, though, language matters, because an understanding of American law matters.

Sharia Law conflicts with state and local laws in every jurisdiction in America. Common law in some other cultures (punishment, child abuse, women's rights, confiscation of property, etc) is at odds with American law. Immigrants must understand American law, and they must understand that enforcement is a societal imperative. Dual systems of law cannot exist in America.

Some regulations extend certain privileges to citizens while they are in their own homes or on their own property, but these privileges are not sweeping, they are specific (like the castle doctrine). The certain privileges do not include abuse or honor killing. They do not include injury, theft, or sedition.

We send people to represent us because we believe we can be accurately and effectively represented. We put enforcement strategies to work so our rules can be monitored and honored, and so lawlessness can be prevented or confronted. We agree that enforcement of the rule of law is a good way to maintain our peace loving existence.

So our laws must be laws of the people, and they must be enforced. We live in a country where there is one culture that applies to every man, woman, and child. It is the American law and order culture. It must sweep through every town and it must be absorbed by every person within our borders. It must be practiced as accurately and precisely as each person can do. In little Italy and in Detroit and in every geographic place in America, the American law and order culture must be upheld and honored by every person, every family, and every community.

How will we help every recent arrival to the United States learn and understand his or her responsibility to live within the American law and order culture from day one? How will we create the understanding essential to meet this cultural imperative from the first second spent and the first step taken by a guest on American soil?

E. Slater


Monday, August 22, 2016

Human Worth, Economic Value, Poverty, and Education

I'm offering my opinion to David H. Freedman's The War on Stupid, where he makes the case that education and poverty are related and in his view, poverty seems to be winning. He finds what and who we should blame for this situation, and he suggests some solutions. I believe he has set up a straw man scenario that he says can only be solved with huge transfers of money. I'm in general disagreement with his socialist-leaning advocacy essay.

I want to clarify my point of view about human worth and personal value.

In our Western culture, we want to maintain that human life has worth equal to every other human life and every life is sacred.

We believe every human deserves to be treated as though he/she has equal worth.

Human worth applies to every human as an intrinsic characteristic, not as a value assigned by judgmental people.

Every human has an economic value as a producer and as a consumer.

Human economic value is set through interactions by the person (or his/her broker) and the marketplace.

Human economic value is necessarily a judgment made by people being judgmental.

Human worth and human economic value are completely unrelated concepts.

As a person who has been accused, tried, convicted, and sentenced for being the most judgmental man in the world, I'm particularly sensitive to writers who confuse human worth with economic value. So, The War on Stupid People struck me as being an essay confusing these two concepts. Mr. Freedman starts by borrowing phraseology lifted from concepts in The Myth of Neurosis by Garth Wood, 1986.

*  Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so.
*  ...we maintain open season on the nonsmart.
*  ...degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.
*  ...this gleeful derision seems especially cruel...(to)...the less intellectually gifted.
*  Rather than looking for ways to give the less intelligent a break, the successful and influential seem more determined than ever to freeze them out.

Mr. Freedman goes on to document reasons why human economic values matter in society and in the workplace, but his conclusion that an IQ gap diminishes a person's worth is illogical. He leaves no doubt that an IQ gap impacts a person's economic value, and I believe everyone would agree. After arguing correctly that low intelligence results in lower wage earning power for a majority of people, the author then tries to convince us that the strength of the link between poverty and struggling in school is as close to ironclad as social science gets. This is also correct for a large segment of the population. So what do we have? Education is less successful when students live in poverty. I agree this is often and needlessly true, but I contend that living in poverty and less successful educations are both effects of the same cause: individuals failing to take personal responsibility.

...our government and society are not seriously considering any initiatives capable of making a significant dent in the numbers or conditions of the poor. I agree, and that's why I'm interested in making a dent.

Mr. Freedman offers answers:
We must stop glorifying intelligence... This answer is illogical. I say we must continue to be ambassadors in pursuit of intelligence through superb education processes. We should strive for excellence, efficiency, and a spirit of continuous improvement in this pursuit.

...provide incentives to companies that resist automation, thereby preserving jobs for the less brainy. ...discourage hiring practices that arbitrarily and counterproductively weed out the less-well-IQ'ed. ...the less brainy are... more aware of their own biases, less anxiety-ridden, and less arrogant, and this is why the less-well-IQ'ed should be given special privileges in hiring).

Where would the incentive dollars come from? Obviously, from additional corporate and personal taxes. These answers are the ideologies of totalitarian control of an unfree population, where individual responsibility is usurped and suffocated by a Central Committee of the State. people should not be permitted to reshape society so as to instate giftedness as a universal yardstick of human worth. The author again confuses worth with economic value. I say the way free people should influence society is by being the best, most honest, smartest, and productive they can possibly be. The way to ensure freedom is for every individual to accept personal responsibility for improving and adapting their own lifestyles. Every adult should take personal responsibility for himself/herself, family, and for incapacitated citizens. Other people who can reasonably care for themselves are not your responsibility, and you skew the concepts of personal responsibility and economic value when you interfere in their reasonably capable lives.

There is a descriptive way to characterize Mr. Freedman's appeal to energize people whose feelings have been hurt, desperate to clutch for more esteem by opting for more free education money. He seems to advocate robbing the money from others who got theirs by following the rules of decency and fairness and who took personal responsibility to make the most of their educational opportunities despite their financial conditions.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why do American Jews vote Democrat?

For American Jews, being called racists would be their biggest shame. Only 41% of American Jews are practicing Jews. That leaves the 59% group identifying more with secularism than Judaism. Secular Jews don't regard the conservative teachings of the Torah to have influence over their un-Jewish lives. Over half of American Jews see their European roots as “the people who suffered the Holocaust,” and a great majority of Jews have very strong fears of being called “racist.” I'd say they've taken their Holocaust revulsion and made a solemn promise to “never act like a racist.”

Unfortunately, the Liberal machine has succeeded in convincing lots of voters that Republicans are gun nuts and racists. Of course, this is nonsense except for an uncountable small number of conservatives and Republicans. That's why lots of Jews vote against the Republicans who have been falsely characterized as Nazi-like racists.

Jews tend to harbor sympathy for the little guy. There's been overwhelming victimhood rampant in
American media stories. Jews cannot let go of the idea that big guys take advantage of little guys, and
Republicans have been painted as big guys (Wall Streeters, CEOs, wealthy, rich, successful). I think it's uncomplicated as to why Jews huddle with the little guy, since Jews have always been treated like little worthless people. American Jews have been repeatedly convinced that American racism disadvantages American Muslims, too. How can Jews vote against their sympathetic alliance with anti-racist Democrats?
Why can't Republicans shake the labels of “racist” and “bully?” It's because of a coordinated effective media message that comes from at least eleven seemingly solid news streams.
• WaPo
• Yahoo
• Obama administration news conferences
• Hollywood elite using a public spotlight to illuminate their scripted fights against the evil
Republican straw man.

Conservative points of view and honest unbiased reporting are routinely attacked. Outlets that dare to
expose the Lib 11 are assassinated (virtually) and demagogued by the 11. By the way, the shame of “being thought of as a racist” is also one of the biggest factors causing lots of non-Jewish Americans to vote anti-Republican, and I think this one factor was the most influential in electing Obama twice. Even Bernie's “free stuff” policy can't out attract the Democrat mainstream candidate, Hillary. Hillary is assumed by many to be anti-racist. I think she also has unadvertised assets that cannot be beaten in an otherwise fair election.