Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quote of the day: “free market” and government

Comment to Paul Krugman's "Progressive Family Values"

Brice C. Showell, Philadephia

To ask why we need government to manage a "free market" is like asking why we need referees, rules and managers in sport.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Paul Krugman's use of "free marketer"

I'm surprised the economist Paul Krugman is using "free market" as loosely as the so-called "free marketers" do.  "Free market" too often means fewer and fewer sellers doing whatever they please.  A true free market has many buyers and sellers, both buyers and sellers are free to enter and leave the market, both buyers and sellers have all the information they need to make a decision, and all costs are paid for in the transaction.

How many independent pharmacies are there is our cities? You can probably count on one hand the corporate pharmacies.

How many situations like Epipen where the buyers are not really free to leave the market?

As to full information how much do the sellers know about you while fighting with dozens of lobbyists to hide information about their products. GMOs?

Externalities? These "free marketers" don't want the government to regulate worker safety and don't want government to regulate the pollutants from their smokestacks, farms, and mines going downwind or downstream.

Posted at

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What corporate efficiency?

“Free marketers” laud the efficiency of corporations over the inefficiency of government.  I think there is no difference between the forms.  What it depends on is management.  A good mayor or governor can get some great things done.  A lousy CEO or low-level corporate manager can make a real mess of things, such a mess as to cause death or injury.

What follows are my notes in trying to navigate to find a report that I was told today was available.

Vanguard site navigation

You sent me email that I had a report for Vanguard High-Yield Corporate Fund Admiral Shares Report, but you provide no direct link to it.  I finally reread the message and find that there is a link to Fund Reports.

I clicked on that but did not find Vanguard High-Yield Corporate Fund Admiral Shares listed!

Oh, there is a little drop-down box in the upper right corner that toggles between regular and admiral shares.

I toggle to admiral and then I get "Please wait".  I waited!  I went downstairs to get a snack!  I came back!  The "Please wait" box was still present.  I did something or another and got a page that asked me to log in.  But I already had a page up that had me logged in!  I am using that page, without logging in again, to send this message.

Off to try to get back to where I was ten or fifteen minutes ago.

Comment in satisfaction form

Recd msg today, 2016-09-20 of fund report for High Yield Corp Admiral.  No link given in msg.  Finally found my way to page with list of reports.  Latest report is 2016-07-xx!?!?

Also added in another part of satisfaction request: hire some good human interface people.

Follow up after signing off ins satisfaction.

Downloaded report, but Vanguard was unhappy with my Adobe Reader XI.  Report would not open, damaged.  Version is 11.0.17, undated.  Finder gives date modified as 2016Aug 5.  Checking for updates gives “Already up to date”.

End of notes.

Offers just for you?

Because I have signed on with  the AARP Advantage program, I am bombarded with email with titles like the above (without the question mark).

But if these offers are just for me, why do they contain offers from companies that I already use?  In this case Consumer Cellular, a cell phone service we use.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Islam prohibits music?

My wife has been visiting her sister outside Bradford, Ontario this past week.  They often gathered around the TV to watch the news.  But at home we don’t even have a TV, we get most of our news by reading three or more newspapers online.

I kidded her that every minute she watches TV news her IQ goes down one point.  It would take her three minutes of reading a newspaper to gain it back.  We went back and forth with text messages about what she found interesting and I countered with stories she probably wouldn’t see on TV.

To prove my point, I visited the Toronto Globe and Mail website to get a sample of news she probably wouldn’t see on TV.  One story that jumped out at me was “Mandatory music classes hit a bad note with some Muslim parents” by Colin Freeze and Mahnoor Yawar.  Strange, I didn’t know that Islam forbade music to its followers.  After all there is “Ey Iran”, a patriotic Iranian song.  And don’t most Islamic countries have military bands?


I emailed a Muslim friend about this article.  His response included that “music is not forbidden in Islam if the additional message (oral or video) in the music is not against any other principle of Islam.”

I looked up military bands and found that even the Saudis have one.  The Saudis promote a very rigid form of Islam called Wahhabism.  You would think if anybody would prohibit music, it would be the Saudis.  The Saudi military band played the “Star Spangled Banner” for President Obama as well as playing the Saudi national anthem.  I found a picture of Iranian military trombonists marching past then President Ahmadinejab.  If Islam prohibited music, you would think the Ayatollahs would prohibit a military band.

I searched Talal Itary’s translation of the Qu’ran and found no mention of music.

Ah ha! it must be in the Hadith: a collection of commentaries that followed the writing of the Qu’ran.  A Google search for “hadith" and “music” turned up some very strong admonitions about any music.  For example,  This article gives a very strong prohibition against music of any kind.

Other articles give a more generous interpretation of hadith:  Supposedly other hadith have Muhammad suggesting sending a singer to a wedding: “The Ansar are a people who love poetry. You should have sent along someone who would sing, ‘here we come, to you we come, greet us as we greet you.’”

To think that all hadith apply to all Muslims is like thinking that all the Pope’s encyclicals or all the doctrines of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod apply to all Christians.

What should apply to all believers, Muslim or otherwise, is the equivalent of “...and you should forgive and overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.” _ Qur’an (Surah 24, “The Light”, v. 22)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Business prefers transit over parking?

Businesses in Toronto want to see parking money diverted to transit!

Think about it.  Would go downtown more frequently in any city if you could take a bus every twenty minutes rather than look for a parking place.  On the other hand, if the bus was every half-hour or even every hour, wouldn't it be easier to drive to "the mall".


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Jumping to conclusions can…

Lead one to fall flat on one’s face.


The problem is the usual one of ascribing more power to a person or an organization than if available i reality or law.

The generalization that frosts me the most is calling the President of the United States the “Leader of the free world”.  One, who elected him or her to such a position.  Certainly not people in England, France, Germany,…

The world is a complex place.  The President of the United States cannot even get his or her allies to agree to each and every U.S. position. if POTUS cannot get allies to jump through hoops, how can anybody assume that POTUS can get adversaries to agree even to a small portion of a U.S. position?

I keep thinking the best course for all the governments that want peace and prosperity for all should be working through the U.N. a lot more.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Politics as game show

Maybe our problem is that the "debates" are not real debates like Lincoln-Douglas but game shows. And Trump understands this, but serious politicians don't.

My comment to Frank Bruni's "Trump's Ideology of Applause".

Friday, September 09, 2016


Do you oldsters remember when Walt Kelly countered “I Like Ike” (Dwight D. Eisenhower’s slogan) with “I Go Pogo”.

Migosh, Eisenhower was a decent guy and the last decent Republican President.

I figure my only possible vote is for Hilary Clinton, even though I dislike dynasty politics and I figure there are many better possible candidates.

However, what if those of you who feel differently were to write in Pogo?  Would a couple hundred thousand votes for Pogo send a strong message to the politicians?  Remember that Pogo also said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Political sign thieves

My wife had put a lawn sign for Jennifer Schultz, our state representative.

I put out the lawn sign I mentioned in "Elections are not won!"

I modified it to be


And at my wife’s insistence, I added


Without that she thought I was encouraging people to not vote.

I ordered three in the expectation that either one would be stolen or somebody would ask for one.

Sure enough, about a week later my sign was gone.

And the next night the Schultz sign was stolen.

The Schultz campaign delivered another sign but they put it close to the house.

I haven’t put up a second sign yet, but I might do that next week.

If that one is stolen, then I’ll put the third up on election day.

The question is the sign thief doing it because he or she wants the sign or is the thief playing petty politics.