Sunday, July 30, 2006

The right time for a cease fire?

Israel should consider a cease fire the second Nasrallah of Hezbollah publicly pleads for one,


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Has it gotten quiet?

The reporting out of Iraq has gone almost silent. Either the fighting is over or all the press has left. Hmmmm.....

Take a short breather guys, the fighters have no one to play too so they will probably sit back and wait. Done with the break....time for a quiet push...

I support our troops and their efforts, whether or not the camera is on.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

War is hell

People have been complaining about the heat is 30 degrees hotter in Iraq and Afghanistan and our troops carry packs and body armor. Quit complaining.

Did you know people die in war? NO? It happens. Every day unfortunately. Most of the time, it is the bad people, and sometimes a few of the good people, but too often, it is the people trying to get out of the way. It is not right, not good, not nice. But war is hell and as long as people give aid by allowing bad guys to hide among them...well, more people than ought are going to get hurt.

Now, I am not saying that every time a fighter runs into a residence the people are aiding them, but you do have to wonder how many times an IED goes off on the same section of street before someone quietly turns in the house where aid is really give.

I hope it happens more than I hear. It does appear to be happening more. Apparently, the Sunnis that have been calling for insurrection and terror against our troops for the last 3 years have gotten the message that when you keep the lion's cage in your bedroom, it is not safe to dangle your feet off the bed....

I support our troops and hope they soon can get out of hell....because sooner than you can imagine, it is going to be freezing there again...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sacrifice and honor

It will come as no surprise that our troops serve every day with honor. With very few exceptions, I have refrained from any discussion of situations where a or a couple of soldiers did not do so. I acknowledge that a few of OUR soldiers have violated the law, on the battlefield and off and have done so with dishonor. They have and will be punished as it appropriate. I have refrained because those that do not honor our troops use every such opportunity to smear our troops and I do not wish to give them any ground to stand on.

For the few times it has occurred, I would remind my 3 readers(!) that the sacrifice and honor of our troops is NOT diminished by such acts, but reinforced by the willingness to air the issue and adjudicate appropriately. The other side of this conflict has no such honor or willingness, instead proclaiming their vile acts as something worthy of praise.

I prefer to praise the sacrifice and honor of our soldiers and do so daily.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Our war

I do not want to get overly caught up in what is going on with Israel right now. It is absolutely part of the war on terror, but for now, it is not our fight. If Syria and/or Iran get overtly involved (IMO they are covertly involved now) then it is a different story. For now, I want to concentration on our battles, our piece of the global war.

I support our troops and their efforts.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The United States in Bankruptcy?

Although I am very interested in economics and intended this blog to cover certain economic issues, I have not written very much on the topic. This morning, a Google alert informed me that the Federal Reserve announced that the United States was headed for bankruptcy. Now everyone knows I have a soft spot for bankruptcy, so I read with interest the story. First, the story indicates that the headline comes from a paper written by a researcher from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Although the paper does not indicate any association by the author with any Federal Reserve Bank. Be that as it may, the initial story points to the paper here and off I went.

Laurence Kotlikoff is a Professor of Economics at Boston University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Kotlikoff makes the following issue a central premise to his findings:

"..whether or not technology will continue to advance is an open question."

His scenario/model:

The amount of corn produced is determined by the labor and capital available. Capital is determined as the amount of corn that can replanted for future harvests. Of course, a certain amount of corn is necessary to feed the aging population that no longer contributes to the labor required to produce the corn.

By restricting productivity increases, only labor changes are going to have an impact on his two cycle process. The need for more people to increase production is a long term failure as at some point the number of people that have aged out of the production cycle will grow well beyond the ability to obtain more people to feed the labor pool. This is of course analogous to the retiring baby-boom generation that he seeks to model. The simplicity of the model is consistent with his need to constrain almost all the variables except the ones he is most interested in:
labor productivity and capital.

These limitations doom the 'society' he seeks to model. Such a restricted model is not capable of mimicking even the most basic issues facing our economy and government. Any model seeking to deal with labor must include some way to deal with technology issues. Kotlikoff's initial premise clearly defines both his bias and his failure.

Kotlikoff understands the issue, but refuses to consider it: "The point at which a country goes bankrupt depends, in general, on its technology and preferences as well as it's openness to international trade."

Once Kotlikoff makes his case that the increasing non-working population dooms society, he addresses the only issue left to him: capital. I found the leap he makes to be very unsatisfying. First, he considers the elderly population to be the 'creditors' in his scenario. He takes his formerly open economy allowing trade and credit flows and closes it. This little slight of hand includes the change of creditors from inside the economy to outside it. Now we have foreign creditors and his model restricts their ability to fund our economy. He supports this by asserting that foreign creditors will have no incentive to lend to the government because it has already proven its inability to produce sufficient for its own growing needs.

Of course, his original creditors subsist on the production and they have an interest in its continued existence. Failure is not an option, they can not just cut their losses and move to greener pastures. Conceptually, Kotlikoff can not allow the continued expansion of capital in his model if he seeks the conclusion he first set out to prove. The creditors have no alternatives to his 'economy'. By moving the creditors outside the closed economy, he can allow them the freedom of choice his original creditors (the non-working elderly population) do not have.

Kotlikoff further complicates matters by assuming the government will have been told by it's constituents (the soon to be or already elderly) to set their cut of production as high as possible. There is no feedback on this position, nor limits. While I might agree our social security system has certain similarities to Kotlikoff's model on this issue, it does not consider that some elderly will have hoarded some of their earlier production and have an alternative source in their non-working years. As the non-working population grows and demands an ever increasing cut of production, younger workers rebel, cease working, capital can not be borrowed and the system fails, bankruptcy.

He uses Argentina as an example of a country at or near bankruptcy for almost a century. He makes no attempt to address any systemic differences between the US and Argentina over the last 100 years. An analysis that would probably render the comparison useless and might even call into question the structure of his model.

In his first note, Kotlikoff uses the phrase "steady-state". This caught my attention because it indicates he is aware of attractors and non-linear/chaotic behavior in economic systems. He further acknowledges that the initial conditions determine whether the system will establish a steady state or crash. Only the elderly's cut of production determines the results of his model and only an increasing or very high cut produces the result his is concerned with.

The next section of Kotlikoff's paper concerns debt as a benchmark. He objects. It is the future production burdens that concern him. But in his original model, it was the elderly and their production burden as creditors he waves out of existence in favor of creditors with claim on production in the form of debt. As long as the debt is being serviced, investors will continue to lend. Consider that my opinion, but the billions lent to the US economy over the last 20 years would seem to give me some support.

Kotlikoff finally exposes himself:

"unfortunately the focus on government debt has no more scientific basis than reading tea leaves or examining entrails. To see this, let us return to our small open and entirely bankrupt Country X, which,when we left it, was setting h [cut of production] at the maximally expropriating value (1+r)w/r. Can we use Country X's debt to discern its insolvency?

"Good question, particularly because the word "debt" wasn't used at all in describing Country X's fiscal affairs. Neither, for that matter, were the words "taxes" or "transfer payments". This, by itself, indicates that the value of "debt" as a precursor or cursor of bankruptcy, namely zero."

This is simply amazing. Because he didn't use the word debt in his analysis, debt has no meaning to it.

Kotlikoff stated early in his paper that "government must further limit what it can pay it's creditors." I am unsure what Kotlikoff would classify as "pay it's creditors" other than as a debt. Whether it is in the form of usury or a cut of production, a demand upon the production of a country is a debt owed. Using a number to keep score is actually more consistent in these days of digital notes and agreements than it might have been, say in Mesopotamia.

Kotlikoff opens his paper with a paraphrase definition of bankruptcy from the Oxford English Dictionary: "is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors?"

The answer is of course no. The paper could have ended in the first paragraph, but that is not what and Kotlikoff has determined. Kotlikoff believes countries can go bankrupt, but debt is not a factor, only the burden on production can determine a country's bankruptcy state.

I have addressed only the initial premise of Kotlikoff's paper and it would take many more pages to do so to the rest, but let me leave you with the following quote and some final comments:

"...the proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy."

Kotlikoff does not address insolvency and the United States. His concern is unfunded obligations and their increasing size. I and a great number of conservatives share his concern but his claim of bankruptcy while ignoring every facet of its definition prevent any serious consideration of his recommendations to 'solve' the problem. (And I agree with two of the three he makes.) Is the United States bankrupt is a catchy headline and would surely scare some, but after 16 pages, Kotlikoff failed not only to answer the question but to even address it.

Finally, please consider me a complete idiot. Trillions of dollars is big numbers so let me use smaller ones. If my annual income was $12,000 a year and I had $33,000 in assets, how much in future obligations would be ruinous. Not current obligations, but future ones. If I had $6,000 in current debt, could I add $500 in debt per year? According to Mr. Kotlikoff I am bankrupt. I am sure Todd Zywicki would be interested.


Disproportionate response? Sorry, I am all for overwhelming destruction to rain down upon the heads of those STUPID enough to stick a sleeping bear with a stick with the INTENTION of pissing it off.

When what's his name got dumped on with a 500 lb bomb, some here said that was overkill....frankly, I wondered why they didn't use 1000 lbs. Shock and stick a beehive and you will not get a couple of bees chasing you, it is the whole hive.

Fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq have learned that it is much safer to set a bomb and run than stand and fight. Hezzbollah is learning the same lesson.

Overwhelming force. Anything less is toying with a defeated animal....put it out of it's misery.

Thank you to our troops and for your service.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Our daughter was playing with neighbor kids, they were shooting each other with those heavy duty squirt guns that carry....a gallon?! It is very hot and a good way for them to cool off. I stepped out onto our deck to watch them for a moment when my daughter dropped her depleted gun and was continued to be drenched. She called for the mom of the other kid to get her kid to stop. I yelled at her not to complain. We talked a little later and I said, if you are going to play the game, then when you start losing, you need to surrender, not complain to a higher authority! Teach them Uncle and surrender when you are beaten. She didn't like the prospect of having to surrender but I reminded her, she wants to play the game, she has to accept the consequences.

Hezzbollah has a bunch of 'friends' that are complaining. Hezzbollah started the game, they have to accept the consequences. Frankly, if Israel wants to turn southern lebannon into a waste land, I have no problem with it.

Our troops understand that the game has consequences, I haven't heard a peep out of any of the soldier bloggers complain about the unfairness of IEDs or their positions. I also don't expect anyone to cry uncle.

My support is 100%.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Our troops and the glare

The glare of the anti press is off our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the moment, it is on Lebannon and Israel. Hopefully, while the press is occupied, the fighters in Iraq will get a more intense look at the dark end of our barrels: don't worry, won't be dark for long...

I support our troops and their efforts. Despite the lack of press, our attention is not diverted from your efforts.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Not our troops, but it is our fight

They sneaked over the border, killed a bunch of soldiers, took two as hostage. They might not have been our troops, but they are fighting the same fight.

I doubt they will live, but if Gaza is any indication, Hezzbollah is about to get a world of hurt on them.

Leave no man behind. Honor demands nothing less.

I support our troops, and I support Israel's right to honor.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Supporting our troops

Can it be that less than 4 in 10 of us really support our troops? I know it should matter, but the reality is that like any sports team, our military only gets support when they are 'winning'. And that is why I am only a little surprised: we are winning! Yes, some of our troops are dying, but almost NONE from combat. IEDs do most of the damage, the most common other death not related to accidents is sniper shots. Almost every single time our troops meet head on with gun toting fighters (insurgents, terrorists, jihadists, mufsid) it is a clear rout. Our side: 2 wounded; their side: 12 dead.

I do not object to the other side using IED's or 'guerilla tactics'. However, I do object to someone claiming hiding in hospitals, mosques and behind children and in residences constitute 'guerrilla tactics'. Those are the acts of cowards.

When that happens and innocents are hurt, our troops feel more pain than if they were wounded physically. I don't agree they should feel that pain, but I understand it. I support our troops, unconditionally.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Your support of our troops

Some have accused me of using cheap talk in supporting our troops, that anyone can SAY they support the troops, but to actually do it requires more.

First, those that are complaining the loudest, seem to be those that in fact do NOT support the troops.

Second, actions do speak louder than words, however I make two points: one, what my family does to support troops is more than just posting here. We contribute to groups sending supplies and materials to troops; we have sent toilettries and phone cards through other groups and we remain in contact with troops directly in the field.

But the issue that I want to address is the purpose of these posts: to speak out and proclaim our support of the troops. These posts, while scarcely noticed in the world, are in fact tangible evidence of our vocal support. Telling some 'safe company' friends that you support the troops is nice, but saying it when those that disagree have the opportunity to voice their distain takes it to a slightly different level.

I support the troops. I am not a lone voice, but our troops need to hear from the chorus loud and clear. Add your voice so that at least in a small way, they KNOW people are not just paying lip service to their sacrifice.

Monday, July 10, 2006


First you claim it can't happen,
when it does, you claim we deserved it,
when some question you, you question our surprise,
when that simmers long enough, you argue our complicity,
and finally, when few, the unaware, are listening,
you teach it never happened...

First it was the holocaust, now it is 9/11.

The left's hand wringing continues apace....

Of course we are...

In a conversation on rights the other night in a chat room, I was confronted with the old saw about Nazi's coming for first the communists and no one complaining, etc...

So, while sitting in church yesterday contemplating yesterday, today and tomorrow, I recalled the conversation and offer this in response:

First the illegal immigrants came
and the left demanded their right to work
and the right was called racist for disagreeing,

then the hate preachers came
and the left demanded their right to freedom of speech
and the right was called bigoted for disagreeing,

then the jihadists came
and the left demanded their right to freedom of religion
and the right was called intolerant for disagreeing,

then the hijackers came and killed thousands
and the left demanded their right to protest
and the right was called oppressors for complaining.

Is there any reason why the world should not believe we are a
nation of illegal, hate preaching, religious warmongers?

In support of all the troops

It appears from re-reading the posts that I am giving short-shrift to the troops that service with American soldiers and I want to be clear:

I support the actions, efforts and sacrifices of all the troops, from all our coalition partners AND the Iraqi and Afghani troops.

Iraqi and Afghani troops face not just the daily danger of their duties, but the threats to their families. They have earned my respect and the respect of our troops.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A perfect day

Today was perfect. Warm, sunny, summer. We went to church under a cloudless sky.

Today was the last day for some. I did not think of them until I sat to write this. Their family will get the news in the next day or so and on that day, it will be the worst day of their lives. Their son, or daughter, their father or mother served knowing that today was possible.

Very few people woke up expecting to die today. But it happened. I hope they looked up and saw that it was a perfect day too, because if it had to happen, they could at least enjoy today for a moment.

My sympathies and condolences.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Stand tall

I saw some sailors on leave over the weekend. They looked, young! But they did not stoop, they stood tall. They looked like men of purpose.

My pride is boundless towards them. What they have choosen to do, how they have choosen to serve.

Thank you.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The shifting battlefield

One year ago, a battlefield opened far from the troops fighting the war. Two things happened: first, even those not trained to fight, stepped up; and second, those that are losing the war, abandoned the field and struck blindly.

I say blindly because had they opened their eyes and seen, they would have known their acts would not result in the terror they hoped, but in the resolve they strenghtened.

Britain and the US (and others) know where the honor is, know where the 'right' is. Those that are against us, failed when they started.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Millions of people are watching a game. Many of our troops are joining them. But when the game is over, those people will go on with ordinary lives. Our troops will face extraordinary threats. But for a time, both will feel the same thrill.

I hope the next time that competition is played, both groups will retire to the same ordinary lives.

In support and admiration of our troops, PLAY BALL!

(oh, you thought I meant something else?!)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

There is work still to be done...

Killers lurk, murderers plot, terrorists scheme. Our troops know they are out there, and know those that fight them do not care about civilians, innocents.

How many troops when struck down, if possible, quickly ask, "how soon?"

How soon can they get back to their squads, to their buddies?

For many, soon enough. For others, never.

For all of them, our thanks.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Fourth of July

I love fireworks. I love this country. I can think of no country on Earth I would rather live in or be a citizen of.

Today we celebrate an event from 230 years ago that still reverberates strongly throughout the world, our independence. Our freedom.

That we sometimes take it for granted, or abuse it, does not diminish it's greatness, or it shouldn't.

When I served, this day held a special place in a service members heart. I do not think it has changed. No soldier stands at attention when the Colors are raised and lowered and fails to feel the pride that their service instills in them.

It is well deserved, and with equal pride, I say thank you. Keep up the good work.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Our 'soldiers'

are not some faceless robots. They are our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers, our neighbors and our friends. They live and breathe, feel pain and sorrow. Calling them soldiers should not make them faceless, it should acknowledge their willingness to be something MORE than just our fellows.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

"There is no greater gift...

than a man should give his life for another"

Who said that? Am I quoting accurately? I don't know. I do know that the sacrifice given by our troops can not be paid back in money, or honors, or accolades. It can only be repaid by the lives lived by those that use the freedom paid for by the blood of our soldiers.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Unwavering support

Regardless of the reporting, yes, regardless, I support our troops unconditionally. Do I support illegal behavior, no. But I will not budge an inch in my support of our troops.