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Tidbits Political Quotations
To Accompany the September 14, 2017 edition of Tidbits          
Bob Jensen at
Trinity University

USA Debt Clock --- ubl

How Your Federal Tax Dollars are Spent ---

To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the booked obligation of $20+ trillion) ---
The US Debt Clock in Real Time --- 
Remember the Jane Fonda Movie called "Rollover" ---
One worry is that nations holding trillions of dollars invested in USA debt are dependent upon sales of oil and gas to sustain those investments.

To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the unbooked obligation of $100 trillion and unknown more in contracted entitlements) ---
The biggest worry of the entitlements obligations is enormous obligation for the future under the Medicare and Medicaid programs that are now deemed totally unsustainable ---

How Americans Get Health Insurance ---


Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side because it's been fertilized with more bullshit.


Shoot for the space in between, because that's where the real mystery lies.
Vera Rubin


Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T.S. Eliot

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Margaret Wheatley
Even conversations that are not politically correct.

Why, we grow rusty and you catch us at the very point of decadence --- by this time tomorrow we may have forgotten everything we ever knew. That's a thought isn't it? We'd be back to where we started --- improvising.
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Act I)

It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.

Babe Ruth, Historic Home Run Hitter
What's sad is to witness what Syria has become because nobody will give up.

And "because they're nonstate actors, it's hard for us to get the satisfaction of [Gen.] MacArthur and the [Japanese] Emperor [Hirohito] meeting and the war officially being over," Obama observed, referencing the end of World War II. 
President Barack Obama when asked if the USA of the future will be perpetually engaged in war.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. 
Joseph Campbell

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking. 
George S. Patton

If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.
Yogi Berra

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.
Henry David Thoreau

Chicago had 14,000 more votes than voters in 2016 general election (even if all voters voted) ---
Try finding a mainstream media report on this one.

A Gift to Trump That Will Keep on Giving
Washington Post:  Black-clad antifa attack peaceful right wing demonstrators in Berkeley ---

Dershowitz: Far-left bigots want to 'tear down America' ---

A California Catholic school is facing a backlash from parents after officials took down some religious statues -- including one of Mary and baby Jesus -- over concerns that they were “alienating” prospective students ---

This year’s wheat crop of 45.7 million acres (18.49 million hectares) is the smallest since 1919 and it comes after a 2016 crop that was the least profitable in 30 years ---

The Wheat Disease Threatening Asia's Food Supply ---

The IRS Scandal, Day 1574: Why Are Trump’s Justice Department Appointees Protecting The IRS? ---

After years of pushing bachelor's degree, the USA needs more skilled tradespeople
Matt Krupnick, PBS ---
Jensen Comment
In nations like Germany and Finland, where college is free, less than half the Tier 2 graduates are even allowed to go to college. Many studying the trades are funded with corporate apprenticeships.

Bernie Sanders Lambasts Democrats ---
Jensen Comment
Senator Sanders now claims to be an independent not affiliated with the Democratic or Republican parties.

Women's March Wants Harvey Donations to Go to Non-Whites

The Atlantic:  Lawyers Literally Chasing Ambulances in Houston
The Legal Crises to Follow in Hurricane Harvey's Wake ---

An Example of How to Mislead With Statistics
Harvard:  Research Shows Unionized Workers Are Less Happy, but Why? ---

Fake DHS agents ordering victims to evacuate so their homes can get robbed, feds warn ---

The Atlantic on China's Fear:  Even without ICBMs, the Kim regime can menace its immediate neighborhood—or sell nuclear material to rogue states --- 
Think dirty bombs

The biggest threat to the majority of retirees will be outliving their nest egg. As life expectancies continue to climb, managing longevity risk will be a key input in the portfolio management and planning for the 10,000 or so baby boomers retiring every day for the next 19 years or so.
Jensen Comment
Compounding the problem is that lifetime annuities like those from TIAA that were a good deal when when I retired in a time of high savings rates are no longer a good deal in the post-2008 crash in savings rates.
Further compounding the problem is the unfunded longevity risk to Medicare and Medicaid that will be burdensome on younger taxpayers.
Once again I recommend reading the short story entitled "The Lotus Eater" by Somerset Maugham ---

Life Magazine:  Nancy Pelosi: Miss Lube Rack 1955 ---

Research Mistakes in the Biased Ivory Tower ---
One could have polled the entire American Political Science Association and the Organization of American Historians in 2016 and found very few who would have predicted a Trump victory -

Stop Faking Service Dogs:  Loving your pet too much is putting people with real disabilities at risk ---

Voters in 11 battleground states key to controlling the Senate in 2018 and presidency in 2020 overwhelming support the administration's effort to end so-called "sanctuary" policies for illegal immigrant criminals in over 300 cities, according to a new poll on the explosive issue. Even more significantly, over 83 percent of Hispanics want the sanctuaries to obey federal demands to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and turn over illegals sought for deportation, according to the survey from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

“CNN failed in its duty to enlighten the public,” said Edward Wasserman, the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. “Instead, it muddied the waters to correct something and we don’t know what it’s correcting.” Mr. Trump quickly seized on the resignations. He posted on Twitter the next morning, “Wow, CNN had to retract big story on ‘Russia,’ with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!’’
The New York Times:  At CNN, Retracted Story Leaves an Elite Reporting Team Bruised
Jensen Comment
This appears to be one time when the media paid a bigger price for reporting unprofessionalism than President Trump, but the President's unprofessionalism will probably return to haunt him as well.
Having said this, to me it is heartening that in this era of hate professionalism still is honored in the biased media (bias on both sides).

Four Radical Plans to Save Civilization from Climate Change ---
Jensen Comment
Aside from unrealistic costs there are immense dangers when fooling with Mother Nature.

“I had more trouble coming out as a conservative than I did with my race or orientation or any other minority status.”
Shashi Ramchandani, who works for Google, tells Bloomberg how difficult it is to admit one’s right-leaning political preferences in Silicon Valley.

Time Magazine:  'Free Speech Week' Is Coming to Berkeley. Things Could Get Heated Again ---

Steve Bannon says the far-right hates Trump's DACA decision ---

At a time in the sun's cycle when space weather experts expect less solar activity, our star is going bonkers with solar flares and coronal mass ejections. What effects will Earth feel?

The World is Facing a Global Sand Crisis ---

Why More Grandparents are Raising Their Grandchildren ---

De Blasio:  The NYC mayor flat out does not believe in the right to private property.---
Jensen Comment
If his actions catch on across the USA does this change how we account for and value private property?

In her speech about reforming sexual-assault policy, Betsy DeVos offered a way forward that should appeal to fair-minded people across political and cultural divides.
Christina Hoff Sommers, Chronicle of Higher education

Union-Run Schools Dump Struggling Kids on Charters ---

Lawyer: Warrantless Blood Draw Stopped by Utah Nurse Was Legal in Another Reality The facts and the law are on Alex Wubbels' side ---

Auditors had identified material weaknesses in financial reporting at about 30 percent of the companies that later disclosed accounting problems. Chief executives were named in 111 of the 127 fraud cases, and chief financial officers were identified in 108 of the cases ---
|New York Times:  Sarbanes-Oxley, Bemoaned as a Burden, Is an Investor’s Ally ---

Florida State University opened up its parking garages during Hurricane Irma — and a local Infiniti dealership parked its entire inventory there ---

France, Germany, Italy, Spain seek tax on digital giants' revenues ---
Jensen Comment
Revenue tax (read that sales tax) is extremely regressive --- which means poor people bear a relatively larger proportion of the tax than they do with income taxes. Between the sales tax and a business income tax there's a business VAT tax that's also regressive in terms of raising the prices that consumers pay. How much business taxes stifle economic growth depends a lot on the amount of the taxes themselves. If sales and VAT taxes vary between states it can lead to a lot of cheating. Exhibit A is the way residents of Vermont literally flock to New Hampshire to avoid sales taxes on big ticket items like computers, TVs, furniture, tires appliances, lumber, etc. Wal-Mart does not build stores in Vermont. Rather it builds stores in New Hampshire close to the borders of Vermont and Massachusetts. Keep in mind that there are no border checkpoints between USA states or between European nations such that nothing prevents going to low sales tax states to spend a lot of money.




They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings.
Steal a little and they throw you in jail,
Steal a lot and they make you king.
There's only one step down from here, baby,
It's called the land of permanent bliss. 
What's a sweetheart like you doin' in a dump like this?

Bob Dylan

Well, the rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time ’til night comes steppin’ in

Bob Dylan

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son
And what did you see, my darling young one
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Bob Dylan

Hear Bob Dylan’s Newly-Released Nobel Lecture: A Meditation on Music, Literature & Lyrics ---

Patti Smith Sings Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rains Gonna Fall” at Nobel Prize Ceremony & Gets a Case of the Nerves ---

Who Pays USA Taxes?

USA Debt Clock --- ubl


PEW Research Center: State of the News Media Social ---


More than 5,000 out-of-state voters may have tipped New Hampshire against Trump ---
Jensen Comments
Governor Maggie Hassan resisted all attempts to prevent voting fraud in New Hampshire, including her vetoing of a change in the same-day voter registration law. Now she's Senator Maggie Hassan having won by a mere 1,017 votes. Go Figure! Immediately after the election there were reports of biased poll officials accepting out-of-state drivers licenses in an effort to help her win. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Guess what I had to have to get a drivers license in New Hampshire. One was an original birth certificate showing that I was born in the USA (my passport alone was not acceptable). The second requirement seemed to me like a joke. I had to show a copy of a bill (like a telephone bill) with a New Hampshire address. I could have merely rented a cottage on a NH lake for two months to get such a bill.

 My point is that even people with a NH drivers license could be residents of Massachusetts or any other part of the world. Now that elections are so close in this evenly split state I think election NH voting fraud is rampant --- far greater than the 5,000 number mentioned in the above article..

Also some people who moved away are still eligible to vote in New Hampshire. Our German friend (Renate) who lived in Sugar Hill briefly 30 years ago happened to visit in Sugar Hill during the 2016 election. So she proudly told us that she voted for Hillary Trump and Maggie Hassan even though her home has been in Germany for the last 30+ years. By the way she does renew her NH drivers license online so she doesn't have to be in New Hampshire or take an eye test. She also votes in Germany (her mountain home is near Kempten) and has a German driving license.

Photographs Taken By Renate Near Her Home in Germany

Set 01 ---


Brics ---

The Mixed Fortunes of the Brics Countries, Five Facts ---

A BRIC nation at the moment is a nation that has vast resources and virtually no entitlement obligations that drag down economic growth ---

In economics, BRIC (typically rendered as "the BRICs" or "the BRIC countries") is an acronym that refers to the fast-growing developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The acronym was first coined and prominently used by Goldman Sachs in 2001. According to a paper published in 2005, Mexico and South Korea are the only other countries comparable to the BRICs, but their economies were excluded initially because they were considered already more developed. Goldman Sachs argued that, since they are developing rapidly, by 2050 the combined economies of the BRICs could eclipse the combined economies of the current richest countries of the world. The four countries, combined, currently account for more than a quarter of the world's land area and more than 40% of the world's population.

Brazil, Russia, India and China, (the BRICs) sometimes lumped together as BRIC to represent fast-growing developing economies, are selling off their U.S. Treasury Bond holdings. Russia announced earlier this month it will sell U.S. Treasury Bonds, while China and Brazil have announced plans to cut the amount of U.S. Treasury Bonds in their foreign currency reserves and buy bonds issued by the International Monetary Fund instead. The BRICs are also soliciting public support for a "super currency" capable of replacing what they see as the ailing U.S. dollar. The four countries account for 22 percent of the global economy, and their defection could deal a severe blow to the greenback. If the BRICs sell their U.S. Treasury Bond holdings, the price will drop and yields rise, and that could prompt the central banks of other countries to start selling their holdings to avoid losses too. A sell-off on a grand scale could trigger a collapse in the value of the dollar, ending the appeal of both dollars and bonds as safe-haven assets. The moves are a challenge to the power of the dollar in international financial markets. Goldman Sachs economist Alberto Ramos in an interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday said the decision by the BRICs to buy IMF bonds should not be seen simply as a desire to diversify their foreign currency portfolios but as a show of muscle.
"BRICs Launch Assault on Dollar's Global Status," The Chosun IIbo, June 14, 2009 ---

Their report, "Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050," predicted that within 40 years, the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China - the BRICs - would be larger than the US, Germany, Japan, Britain, France and Italy combined. China would overtake the US as the world's largest economy and India would be third, outpacing all other industrialised nations. 
"Out of the shadows," Sydney Morning Herald, February 5, 2005 --- 

The first economist, an early  Nobel Prize Winning economist, to raise the alarm of entitlements in my head was Milton Friedman.  He has written extensively about the lurking dangers of entitlements.  I highly recommend his fantastic "Free to Choose" series of PBS videos where his "Welfare of Entitlements" warning becomes his principle concern for the future of the Untied States 25 years ago --- 

How Labor Scholars Missed the Trump Revolt::We thought we knew the white working class. Then 2016 happened ---

When the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008, many in and out of the academy were quick to wag a finger at economists and ask, "Why didn’t you guys see this coming?" Economists responded that the "science" of economics is not of the predictive kind — nor, for that matter, are a lot of the sciences. The economy might have been in unanticipated chaos, but the discipline of economics was still sound.

Others argued that the problem was in the methodology itself — the assumptions and premises that blind practitioners to even the possibility of crisis. The eight American and European scholars who wrote the "Dahlem report," a 2009 analysis of the economics profession, found it "obvious, even to the casual observer that these models fail to account for the actual evolution of the real-world economy." As a result, "in our hour of greatest need," we must fumble in darkness with no explanation, no theory, and no scholarly discipline prepared to answer the simple question: How did we get here?

I am a labor historian — or at least one in recovery. When my colleagues and I saw the financial crisis, our predominant response was something like an exhausted, cynical shrug: "Of course — what did you expect in an age of rampant deregulation and absurd economic inequality?" Yet when the next systemic paroxysm hit our nation — the wave of white, blue-collar rage that helped elect Donald Trump — my field seemed as ill-equipped to explain the "actual evolution of the real-world" situation as the science of economics had been to explain the crash in 2008. One could have polled the entire American Political Science Association and the Organization of American Historians in 2016 and found very few who would have predicted a Trump victory — unless Michael Moore (who nearly alone, in no uncertain terms, predicted a "Rust Belt Brexit," the last stand of the common white guy) happens to be an accidental member of one of those professional organizations.

Richard Hofstadter, the old grandmaster of American political history, laid clear the burdens of being a historian: "The urgency of our national problems seems to demand, more than ever, that the historian have something to say that will help us." The need for salient historical explanation seems more important now than ever, yet a lot of us are coming up empty. Most of what we seemed to know about how class works suddenly seems dated, or simply wrong. As with the economists of the past decade, we may have been blinded by the bedrock assumptions of our own field.

Most labor historians, one way or another, and whether or not they concede it, remain children of the "new labor history." The field emerged in the 1960s and ’70s from several sources: the political vision of the New Left, civil rights, and women’s movements; the rejection of the narrow trade-union economism of the "old" labor history; and, perhaps most important, the 1963 publication of E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class. Thompson famously rejected an analysis that addressed class as a "thing," arguing instead for a new analysis that approaches class as a "happening." Smashing icons across the intellectual spectrum, his book began a new age of rich and adventurous writing about the history of working people. He sent historians on a mission to figure out how class worked — without indulging the condescending, instrumental, or teleological traps of previous intellectual models.


In place of institutions and economics, the new breed of scholars put culture, consciousness, community, agency, and resistance at the center of their analyses. In rushed two generations of engaged scholarship, freeing workers from prisons of party, union, and state. No longer intellectual pawns, the working class could have its own voice and reveal its own rich complexity. Liberated history, so the assumption went, would lead to liberated workers. And liberation became the project of the new labor history.

But this paradigm never quite escaped its origins in the political romanticism of the New Left that gave birth to it. At its best, it opened up wide vistas of understanding of the entirety of American history; at its worst, it looked like a cultural whirlpool of radicals writing radical history for a radical audience


. . .


Historians need to reconcile their intellectual frameworks with a "real-world" America that is a messy stew of populist, communitarian, reactionary, progressive, racist, patriarchal, and nativist ingredients. Any historical era has its own mix of these elements, which play in different ways. We should embrace Thompson’s admonition to understand class as a continuing, sometimes volatile happening, and not be blinded by our love affair with dissent as a left-wing movement. Trump voters are dissenters, after all.

My generation’s historiographical compass is left spinning. North is gone. But the white working class is out there. And we still really need to understand it.

Jefferson Cowie is a professor of history at Vanderbilt University. His most recent book is The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics (Princeton University Press, 2016).

Jensen Comment
Academic engineering professors and medical science professors/researchers are good at diving into the cesspools of the real world. This is not the case of academic accountants who keep their brains and even their toes out of real world cesspools. The Pathways Commission found that the practicing accounting profession virtually ignores the academic literature of accounting ---

Exhibit A is the messy real world of interest rate swaps and other forward derivatives contracts where the SEC in the 1990s discovered trillions of dollars of risky contracting not even being disclosed let alone measured in business financial statements. The SEC ordered the FASB to quickly issue a new standard, SFAS 133, to correct this problem. The FASB found that the academic accounting literature contributed zero toward helping with SFAS 133 messy contracting in the real world of interest rate swaps and other forward contracts used for speculation and hedging. Finance professors, on the other hand, helped a lot with explaining derivatives markets to the FASB. Since SFAS 133 went into effect at the beginning of the 21st Century professors of accounting are still having a tough time even understanding SFAS 133 for their classrooms. SFAS 133 is too deep into the messy real world of over 1,000 types of contracts for hedging ---
The FASB did develop a Derivative Implementation Group (DIG) to help practicing accountants implement SFAS 133 in terminology that still confuses accounting professors trying to read the DIGs ---
You can imagine that most accounting graduates know very little about SFAS 133 until they encounter it later on in their jobs.

In other words academic professors in ivory towers, unlike engineering professors, stay aloof of real world problems that that comprise a messy cesspool of contingencies and uncertainties too difficult to feed into their analytical models and academic empirical regression equations. Practicing accountants, in turn, avoid the esoteric and irrelevant academic accounting research? Yeah I know I'm exaggerating when I write "irrelevant," but I'm not exaggerating when I write that practicing accountants ignore the esoteric research of academic (accountics science) professors. As a result accounting professors miss a lot of things that their brains might otherwise help sort out for the real world. It's just too stinky to leave the comfortable campus and swim in real world accounting cesspools ---

If you blinked you probably did not see the minimum wage increase come and then go away in St. Louis ---

The U.S. Asian population is growing faster than any other U.S. racial or ethnic group, climbing 72 percent between 2000 and 2015 according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. Asians Americans are projected to eclipse Hispanic Americans in 2055 to become the largest immigrant group in the country.
Pew Research Center ---

Jensen Comment
When reading the article below keep in mind the racial mix of the USA population---

72.4% White Only
12.6% Black or African American
  4.8% Asian
  0.9% Native American of Alaskan Natives
  0.2% Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders
  2.9% Two of More races
  6.2% Some Other Race
 16.3% Hispanic and Latino Americans (of any race): 16.3%

Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago
The New York Times, AUG. 24, 2017

. . .

Blacks and Hispanics remain underrepresented at other top universities, even as the share of white students at many of these schools has dropped, in some cases below 50 percent. The largest growth has often been among Asian students.

Continued in article

Guaranteed (Universal) Minimum Income ---
Milton Friedman called it a negative income tax. Conservatives are often supportive of the negative income tax if other forms of safety nets such as welfare, food stamps, housing subsidies, and unemployment benefits are eliminated.
Liberals are sometimes opposed because when given discretionary support in place of other benefits (like food stamps) the money may be wasted on booze, drugs, entertainment, gambling, and other diversions from needy children and elderly dependents.
The experimental amounts Europe are usually quite modest to date  such as in Finland ($580 per month) where only 2,000 citizens remained additionally on other forms of public assistance due to unemployment.

From MIT

A study from the Roosevelt Institute has concluded exactly that. It suggests that a government handout to every American of $12,000 a year, no strings attached, would boost the U.S. economy to the tune of 12.5-13% over eight years.
 The report also says it would create more jobs. Unsurprisingly, this view is highly controversial, as are guaranteed incomes as a whole. For more, check out our in-depth analysis of the idea -

The New York Times:  Why Finland’s Basic Income Experiment Isn’t Working ---

Jensen Comment
Decades ago I was supportive (in theory) of the negative income tax minimum level of income. In theory it sounded great because of efficiencies that reduced the bureaucracy cost and fraud in the safety nets of welfare, food stamps, public housing, etc.

But to the extent that parents (think drug addicts and alcoholics) will waste discretionary funds while depriving their children of basics like food, shoes, medicine, and education perhaps the paternalistic safety nets are more likely to benefit needy children and elderly dependents. Keeping all the safety nets plus giving something like $12,000 per year minimum income is probably too burdensome for taxpayers. There's also the problem of inflation. What's to keep landlords from raising rents if tenants each have $1,000 more per month?

Plus there's the problem of incentives.
Cuba's great experiment with free housing, free education, free health care, free transportation and relatively generous free ration books was eventually viewed by Castro as not working for various reasons, the main one being that it destroyed incentives to work when combined with a rather stingy maximum wage of $20 per day. Why slave as a hotel maid or farm worker when all basic needs are provided free without working? What happened was that an underground economy emerged to pay workers above the maximum wage in order to get work done.

"Report: Castro says Cuban model doesn't work," by Paul Haven. Associated Press, Yahoo News, September 8, 2010 ---

Fidel Castro told a visiting American journalist that Cuba's communist economic model doesn't work, a rare comment on domestic affairs from a man who has conspicuously steered clear of local issues since stepping down four years ago.

The fact that things are not working efficiently on this cash-strapped Caribbean island is hardly news. Fidel's brother Raul, the country's president, has said the same thing repeatedly. But the blunt assessment by the father of Cuba's 1959 revolution is sure to raise eyebrows.

Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked if Cuba's economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore" Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.

He said Castro made the comment casually over lunch following a long talk about the Middle East, and did not elaborate. The Cuban government had no immediate comment on Goldberg's account.

Since stepping down from power in 2006, the ex-president has focused almost entirely on international affairs and said very little about Cuba and its politics, perhaps to limit the perception he is stepping on his brother's toes.

Goldberg, who traveled to Cuba at Castro's invitation last week to discuss a recent Atlantic article he wrote about Iran's nuclear program, also reported on Tuesday that Castro questioned his own actions during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, including his recommendation to Soviet leaders that they use nuclear weapons against the United States.

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has clung to its communist system.

The state controls well over 90 percent of the economy, paying workers salaries of about $20 a month in return for free health care and education, and nearly free transportation and housing. At least a portion of every citizen's food needs are sold to them through ration books at heavily subsidized prices.

President Raul Castro and others have instituted a series of limited economic reforms, and have warned Cubans that they need to start working harder and expecting less from the government. But the president has also made it clear he has no desire to depart from Cuba's socialist system or embrace capitalism.

Fidel Castro stepped down temporarily in July 2006 due to a serious illness that nearly killed him.

He resigned permanently two years later, but remains head of the Communist Party (until he died). After staying almost entirely out of the spotlight for four years, he re-emerged in July and now speaks frequently about international affairs. He has been warning for weeks of the threat of a nuclear war over Iran.

Castro's interview with Goldberg is the only one he has given to an American journalist since he left office.

Added Jensen Comment

In the 21st Century we're seeing a combination of robots taking away jobs combined with weakened job protection powers of labor unions. We can expect increasing unemployment in almost every economic sector and income level. This will increase the clamor for minimum basic income or it's equivalent in increasingly expensive safety nets such as suspension of mortgage payments, property tax payment relief, suspension of rent payments, suspension of car lease payments, and free food and training between jobs.

More research is needed, and we should definitely track the existing experiments in Europe ---


Why don't I find this surprising?
‘Easy money’ made selling Army weapons stolen by US soldiers ---

Jensen Comment
On second thought I surprised that this tip of the iceberg got detected at all.

Drug Research ---

How to Mislead With Statistics
Freakonomics:  Bad Medicine, Part 2: (Drug) Trials and Tribulations --

How do so many ineffective and even dangerous drugs make it to market? One reason is that clinical trials are often run on “dream patients” who aren’t representative of a larger population. On the other hand, sometimes the only thing worse than being excluded from a drug trial is being included. Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post. And you’ll find credits for the music in the episode noted within the transcript.

Jensen Comment
As Jagdish Gangolly pointed out to me Big Pharma does not conduct its own drug and medical device testing trials (at least not in the USA). These are mostly conducted by medical schools and independent research labs. Hence many flaws in clinical testing can be traced back to either faulty medical school research or medical schools that did not act independently regarding inadequate funding or failure to be completely independent of restrictions placed by Big Pharma on those test. Approval of new medicines is the responsibility of government.

Faulty drug and medical device tests are common in other nations. Exhibit A is Thalidomide that led to many deformed babies in Germany but not the USA. Of course the most unethical testing is done in poor nations where Big Pharma is known to sometimes conduct tests to either save money or submit patients to dangers not permitted in the USA and/'or some states within the USA. Hollywood frequently makes villains out of big pharmaceutical companies. Some stories are based on fact, others are pure fiction.

The classical ethical dilemma is that of sacrificing a few to save many. The classic ethics paradox is called the Trolley Problem ---

At the suggestion of Dan Stone, I'm now reading the book
Why They Did It:  Inside the Mind of the White Collar Criminal
by Harvard's Eugene Soltes, 2016

Professor Soltes refers to the Trolley Problem on Page 16. There' not much controversy about diverting the wayward trolley to sacrifice one person to save five persons.

With little hesitation, the vast majority of people --- almost 90% in one large survey --- say ""yes.," they would flip the switch. To most, saving five people, and the expense of killing one, seems quite sensible.

But consider your judgment in another scenario. Suppose you're the surgeon and five patients are acutely in need on one organ each. Tow patients need a lung, two need a kidney, and one requires a heart. Allfive will die today if they do not get these organs, but there's little chance that matching donor organs can be found int time. Coincidentally, your nurse calls to say that another patient has arrived at your clinic for his routine annual checkup. The nurse's preliminary examination shows that he's a perfect donor. (I think you see how the scenario proceeds with almost zero percent of people surveyed willing to make such a sacrifice.) 

Helen Mirren stars in similar film entitled "Eye in the Sky: where a top official must make a decision of whether to sacrifice an innocent child with a bomb that will also destroy suicide terrorists about to kill nearly 100 innocent people in a Kenyan shopping mall ---

. . .

Seeking authorisation to execute the strike, Powell orders her risk-assessment officer to find parameters that will let him quote a lower 45% risk of civilian deaths. He re-evaluates the strike point and assesses the probability of Alia's death at 45–65%. She makes him confirm only the lower figure, and then reports this up the chain of command. The strike is authorised, and Watts fires a missile. The building is destroyed, with Alia injured but unconscious. However, Danford also survived. Watts is ordered to fire a second missile, which strikes the site just as Alia's parents reach her. Her parents suffer some injuries and rush Alia to a hospital, where she dies.

In the London situation room, the under-secretary tearfully berates Benson for killing from the safety of his chair. Benson counters that she watched while having coffee and biscuits, while he has been on the ground at five suicide bombings and adds: "Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war."

The end credits begin rolling back to the beginning of the movie, with Alia shown twirling her hula hoop.



How To Win A Nuclear Standoff ---

. . .

A typical Schellingian finding: Imagine you’re Trump or Kim Jong Un, essentially playing a game of chicken. You’re driving at high speed directly toward your opponent who’s also racing toward you. Neither of you wants to chicken out and veer away, but neither wants to die, either. Your best strategy? Rip off your steering wheel, make sure your opponent knows you’ve done so, and hit the gas.

. . .

These recent events are interesting — and challenging — to map out game theoretically precisely because of their uncertainty. “You can’t make good predictions about what the other side will do,” Fearon said. “If you could, there wouldn’t be a crisis.”

But Powell remained optimistic, if optimistic is the right word: “I think it’s much more likely than not that we’re not going to go to war and the world’s going to accommodate a nuclear-armed North Korea that has the capability to strike the territory the United States,” he said. “Despite all the threats.”

I won’t dare make a prediction, either. But I can report that, at press time, Trump had unleashed no fire and North Korea hadn’t bombed Guam.

Jensen Comment
Makes you wonder what happens if both opponents adopt same strategy at the same instant.

A major part of this article focuses upon why game theory cannot solve the dilemma as simply as stated above.

The two nations seem to be approaching a cold war standoff that could last for decades, but one worry is that the North Korean economy cannot withstand an all guns and no butter life for decades.

The scary other alternative is that Korea will very secretly sell dirty bomb material to rogue terrorists for hundreds of billions of dollars.

Kingston Trio:  The Merry Minuet ---


Bob Jensen's health care messaging ---

One of Obamacare's biggest nightmares is back ---

Optima — a Virginia-based health insurer — will exit a slew of Obamacare exchanges in the state for 2018, the company announced  Wednesday. 

The insurer said it would leave many rural areas of the state, following the exits of large insurers like Anthem from the same areas. The company cited the other insurer exits as well as "uncertainty in Washington" as reasons for the exit.

"The decisions we made were challenging ones given the recent changes and ambiguities in the marketplace," Optima CEO Michael Dudley said in a statement. "Our most recent filing with the state reflects these dynamic changes, as would be expected in these circumstances."

According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank, the exit will leave 63 counties in the state with no insurer. Just over 70,000 people enrolled in Obamacare exchange plans in 2017 in these counties, per Kaiser, leaving them at risk of having no coverage next year.

Optima's exit also brings back the possibility of empty coverage areas in 2018 after states like Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio found insurers to fill their potentially barren counties.

The possibility of counties going without an insurer has long been one of the biggest potential setbacks for the Obamacare exchanges, since there is no back up option for individuals in areas without an insurer.

Continued in article




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Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

·     With a Rejoinder from the 2010 Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR), Steven J. Kachelmeier

·     With Replies in Appendix 4 to Professor Kachemeier by Professors Jagdish Gangolly and Paul Williams

·     With Added Conjectures in Appendix 1 as to Why the Profession of Accountancy Ignores TAR

·     With Suggestions in Appendix 2 for Incorporating Accounting Research into Undergraduate Accounting Courses

Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave  ---
By Bob Jensen

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