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War on Easter?

Three months ago, we were hearing again about the war on Christmas, including outrage about non-religious greating such as Happy Holidays.  Now we are leading up to the Easter season.  No similar problem?

This occurred to me today in church.  I haven’t heard any complaints about a war on easter.  Why?

I think it is because Easter hasn’t been turned into such a commercial opportunity, while trying to maintain it as a spiritual holiday as well.

Christmas is the key to many profits of many businesses.  Black Friday is crucial to being in the black.  That is certainly true for Christian business people.  But there is schizophrenia about this.

People want to use the holiday for their commercial purposes, but still insist on keeping it as a religious observation.  The first objective doesn’t go well with the second.  People want to use the holdiay to bring both believer and non-belivers into their businesses by bringing non-Christians into Chrismas.  It doesn’t work to draw the non-believer into your religious holiday for secular purposes  and then fault the need to show those non-believers some deference by recognizing their not sharing your faith.

I think if Chistians want to not have greeting like Happy Holidays, then they needed to Christmas like easter – a holiday for Christians only, not a commercial opportunity.

My Dad

My dad has been dead for 3 months.  He and I were close and I miss him, but I’m glad his suffering of the last few years is over.

One thing I wanted to do for him was his obituary.  My attempt at that was used back in December with some editing by others. 

I wanted to post the original version that I wrote somewhere, so I’m doing so here.

Jesus called Robert Terrell True home on November 27, 2015.

Bob True was a provider in every sense.  He provided for his country, and family in so many ways.  He provided not just things to live, but a reason to live for all those who loved him, and that made him a hero more than any Hollywood leading man.

He was born in Bentonville, AK on October 19, 1919, to Minnie and Thomas True.   With his parents at age 5 he traveled in the back of a model -T Ford across the Rocky Mountains to southern Idaho, then Washington and finally Sunny Slope Idaho.  He developed a fascination with machinery, their maintenance, and use in agriculture that would be his life’s work, and source amusement too

As a youth he worked on his parent’s farm and attended elementary school   at Sunny Slope, near Caldwell, Idaho.   He attended and graduated from Caldwell High, and when students needed a way to school in Caldwell he set up a private bus service to Caldwell High.  He provided friendship that would go on to last a lifetime as well and was lauded as “ready when others are not”.  He went on to study agriculture at the University of Idaho in 1939.

He was a passionate patriot, and after Pearl Harbor in 1941, beginning in February 1942 he served his country for almost 4 long years.  The country boy:  journeyed with other young men from across the US and lived on two continents under spartan conditions; tested weapons in the Galapagos; drove trucks for a convoy across the famous Burma road into western China; flew back into India at the end of the war in unpressurized plane (over the Himalayas) and with other members of his greatest generation provided the peace and security that has continued for the US since that time.  He took the greatest pride in his service and his honorable discharge is on the wall of his home to this day.

After the war, he returned to complete his bachelor’s degree as a University of Idaho Vandal.  He worked at the same time as a foodservice employee for his fellow Vandals.  With his degree, he returned to farming on the property, the true family had worked for decades on Sunny Slope.  True lane adjacent to the True farm is named for the family.

In 1953 he married Mary Alice Norris, and their marriage lasted 50 years.  Bob and Mary had a marriage filled love and some of the usual conflict.  With Mary’s help, Bob provided for his family not luxuriously but richly and well with things with true value.  He provided a comfortable and loving home for Mary and his two children Bruce and Helen with plenty of food on table and a solid roof over everyone’s head (despite a small explosion in the furnace one winter evening).  He often did the grocery shopping and always returned with some little treat for everyone as well as the basic staples.  His daughter once made a Styrofoam hostess cake to hang from his pick-up’s mirror to indicate his fondness for these simple (if not healthy snacks).  Perhaps sharing some his passions with his family was how he provided for them best.

Since his childhood, he had loved the outdoors hiking much of the Jump Creek canyon.  Through the years, the True family enjoyed the beauty of Idaho both in deserts in Owyhee county and forests of Cascade, and Stanley area.  On these trips, Bob provided the best tasting pancakes, eggs and bacon at breakfast under the blue Idaho sky one could ever hope for.  On afternoon trips the Trues discovered everything from rattle snakes to an unexploded box of dynamite one day.  Once, the Trues did venture “overseas” visiting Canada in the 1970’s.  Bob kept his family safe while providing fun and memorable trips. 

Trips to these locations were filled with discussions about if other drivers looked like celebrities of the time (Glenn Campbell for example) and other silliness.  He had a great sense of humor and shared it with his family.  Some winter afternoons were filled with collectively writing silly stories, accompanied by chalk drawing by his gifted daughter Helen.  Over the years the Trues also enjoyed a double exposure that appeared to show Bob putting his head in his son’s birthday cake.   He taught his kids that life can be hard, but you can laugh or you cry at hard times and the latter hurts a lot less.

Bob taught life skills.  His life-long love of tools provided for his family.  Bob built and repaired some of his own farm machinery.  Hanging out in his shop you could learn a lot about how to use tools safely and successfully and a little basic chemistry as well.  He was a wizard at repairing broken toys and sometimes improving devices from their original design.  He revived his daughter Helen’s broken sewing machine, but even his formidable skills met their match in repairing a Tonka Toy run over by a tractor.  He had a keen sense of the value of a dollar like other depression era children and passed that on, along with a love for hard work and self-sufficiency.  He also taught courage and a willingness to take chances to get things done.  His son Bruce felt that that these lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s Walk like a man would apply to his dad:

               I’ll walk like a man

And I’ll keep on walkin’

 

As in his military service, Bob was a patriotic family man.  He voted in all elections, and shared a passion about politics with family and children.  He retained this passion about news and politics for his entire life, and was a devotee of Fox News.

Finally, Bob provided for his children in good and bad times.  He saw to it that both had the opportunity for higher education.  He helped out in bad times too, including one long-term illness and a life-threatening car accident in the 1970’s.   The most important thing he and Mary provided for his kids was the sense that there was never any doubt that they were loved no matter what.

Later in life, Bob and Mary enjoyed some extensive travel in an RV.  They went as far as Death Valley and several times visited their son while he lived in California.  In his 80’s he developed a passable familiarity with computers and internet that allowed him to stay in  touch with far-flung family.  He was good at assembling and using audio visual equipment as well.

Bob enjoyed three grandchildren and two great-grandsons.  His daughter Helen and son-in-law Duane Noe had:  Graham Robert Noe and Jenette Annabelle Noe.  His son Bruce and daughter-in-law Christine Watson True had:  Angelica True.  His grandson Graham and his wife Irma Winterholler had Bob’s first great-grandson Miles Robert Noe in 2012 and a second Connor Elliot Noe in 2015.  Bob is survived by all his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. 

Bob and Mary’s time together only ended with Mary’s death in 2004 following Bob being able to keep her in the home she loved until almost the very last weeks of her life.  Finally following Mary’s death in 2004 he moved to Wilder Idaho.

Thank you for being the man, the patriot, soldier, lover, and father you were.  The apostle Paul wrote:

I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.

The same could be said of you, Robert Terrell True; you finished the race.  We’ll never forget you and can never fully repay what you provided us with.   Such Great Love.

 

 

The Bottle Opener

This was an interesting piece, about how racism and xenophobia have been more openly expressed since Trump’s presidential campaign came to occupy the headlines.   It is mostly based on personal anecdotes, but I suspect it is pretty accurate.  I think it is not the full story though.

Trump is just the bottle opener that has released pressure that has been building for the last 7 years.  President Obama has been elected twice, and I think has the support of the majority  of Americans.  Like most presidents though, he is less esteemed by a minority of the country.

Unlike past Presidents, though I think he is viewed by a significant minority as an actual material  threat to their well being, their freedom, if not their lives.  Being the first African president has to be a big part of this.  Especially, in many red states, you can live your life and generally not have to interact with anyone who isn’t white for  long.  You certainly don’t often have an African, or other non-white in authority over you.

When someone is first under the authority of a person not of their race, any latent racism tend to rise, even if only in the back of one’s mind.  Most of us have racist tendencies to  one degree or another.  Usually, these kind of feelings don’t last, as one becomes more comfortable with a new situation.  This adjustment is taken a while in most of Red America.  At the same time this  angst has been bottle up to a degree.  While most of us are racists, we know  you can’t generally express that feeling.  For many, this angst has been bottled up.

Mr. Trump in seeming to make it OK to  express these feelings has just popped the top of the bottle and released the pressure that has been building.

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/09/new-york-comic-con-2015-the-amazing-economics-of-star-trek-httpnycc15mapyourshowcom6_0sessionssession-details.html

 

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/09/new-york-comic-con-2015-the-amazing-economics-of-star-trek-httpnycc15mapyourshowcom6_0sessionssession-details.html

The Controversial Clerk

I disagree with this:

image

Jail for someone, failing to do their job seems in appropriate in a free society to me.  Jail is, or should be reserved for a small set of grievous acts against others.  Not doing your job generally doesn’t reach this level.

Make no mistake, she’s not doing her job.  The best parallel I can think of is a tank driver, or bomber pilot refusing to fire on the enemy, perhaps at a crucial time because they are opposed to violence because of their religious beliefs.  You can support, or at least respect their dedication.  You can’t leave them in the tanks and planes.  You take them out  of  battle as a conscientious objector.

Normally, if you can’t or won’t do a job, you should quite.  Its wrong to take the position if you won’t do the work, and that’s what going on here.  In short, I think she should quite, not stay in here position but refuse  to do the job.  Failing that she should be  removed from office however necessary.

Those who oppose her views should also be aware that putting her  in jail, will almost certainly make here a marauder.  Is that what they want?

The Lump of Jobs

I  saw this on Facebook:

image

It’s from Reason magazine, and I was thinking about the “lump of Jobs fallacy”.    Here’s a reference.

It seems to me that this kind of thinking is really either a lack of creativity, or a lack of faith in human creativity.

The lump of Jobs fallacy assumes that there are only a fixed number of jobs that can be done.  Jobs are scare, and workers are allocated to those jobs.  If new laborers appear in the form of immigrants, than incumbent workers will be displaced from their jobs.  If jobs are automated then some workers again will pushed out of their scarce jobs.  In both cases the take home pay in total is reduced, and society is worse off.  Here’s bit from Reason on the scale of destruction of current jobs:

In 2013, the Oxford University futurists Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne warned that 47 percent of all jobs in the U.S. are at risk of being automated over the next 20 years. Sounds frightening—until you consider what percentage of jobs has been automated away in the recent past. Jobs in manufacturing and agriculture, which accounted for 33 percent of American employment in 1950, are now down to 12 percent. The number of U.S. manufacturing jobs peaked at just below 20 million in 1979 and has fallen to under 12 million today. Many went offshore, but many more were automated away.

This flies in the face of an economists perspective.  Here, jobs aren’t scarce, labor is.  In fact there are a boundless stock of tasks that need to be done.  New workers or machines to do work expand the range of output that society can produce and consume.  Both immigration and automation make society better off.

image

I find it interesting that both the right and left tend to fall into the lump of labor fallacy, but emphasize different aspects of it.   Right wingers seem, at least lately, to fear influxes of new workers, and oppose immigration.   The left seems to fear anything that increases productivity, including trade and automation.

But both think that the jobs to do are limited mostly to those available today.  If new workers come they’ll force some current workers into unemployment.  Making workers less productive will create jobs to produce the same outputs.  The same output!

There’s the problem.  In fact, we all live with scarcity, scarcity of:

  • time
  • medical care
  • education
  • and more

If people pushed out of existing jobs don’t find something else to do that says, we’re uncreative and can’t allocate the displaced workers to new tasks, or the new tasks while making society as whole better off reward those workers less and they choose unemployment over a pay cut. 

After all as more current mundane jobs are displaced, then shouldn’t we be able to allocate people to what they are passionate about, not just what needs to be done to keep body and soul together?  The main reason we don’t spend most of our time acquiring food by hunting or farming, is that productivity has freed up most people to first make manufactured goods, and now more so services.  If we can’t find new jobs making new things we’re uncreative. 

As more mundane jobs are automated, then perhaps more  young people may go into something they are passionate about.  Think how many people once aspire to some artistic or creative profession, and automation over time will perhaps direct more to follow their passion – the star below.

image

Reason said it pretty well:

Perhaps more chefs will prepare fine meals in the homes of clients, dramatists devise elaborate virtual environments as entertainment, tailors create one-of-kind bespoke garments. Who the hell knows?

It seems that for many thought their alternative  employment may pay less., though society  as whole will have their new services and whatever they were making before.

I suspect we do have both problems.  How else to explain the persistence of the lump of labor fallacy?  Of the two the problem of new jobs but less well paying is more serious.  It means that while society benefits from automation and immigration, some workers are worse off.

A Little Perspective

 

As recently as a few months ago, doctors were held in high esteem and educated people believed that medicine could be useful. All that changed, of course, with the medical profession’s stunning failure to prevent or even predict the breakout of ebola in West Africa. Worse yet, many doctors to this very day cling to their old ways of thinking, writing prescriptions, setting broken bones, and performing surgery in bull-headed defiance of the urgent need to jettison everything we know about medical practice and start over from scratch.

Nobody, of course, writes such nonsense about medicine. Why, then, do so many write equivalent nonsense about economics?

Most economists failed to predict the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession for pretty much the same reason most doctors failed to predict the 2014 ebola epidemic — their attention was, quite reasonably, directed elsewhere. It’s easy to say in hindsight that if economists had paid more attention to the shadow banking system, they’d have seen what was coming. But attention is finite, and if economists had paid more attention to the shadow banking system, they’d have paid less attention to something else.

For a little perspective, have a look at this chart showing U.S.~per capita income in fixed (2005) dollars:

That little downward blip you see near the top is the recent crisis. The somewhat bigger downward blip in the 1930s is the Great Depression. The moral is that in the overall scheme of things, recessions don’t matter very much. At the trough of the Great Depression, people lived at a level of material comfort that would have seemed unimaginably luxurious to their grandparents. Today, while Paul Krugman continues to lament “the mess we’re in”, Americans at every income level live far better than Americans of, say, 1980. If you doubt that, you surely don’t remember what life was like in 1980. Here’s how to fix that: Pick a movie from 1980 — pretty much any movie will do — and count the “insurmountable” problems that the protagonist could have solved in an instant with the technology of 2014. Or reread any of the old posts on this page.

If you care about human well-being, recession-fighting is small potatoes. It’s that long-term upward trend that matters. And economists, fortunately, understand a lot about what it takes to nourish that trend — things like well-enforced property rights, the rule of law, free trade, sound money, limited regulation and low marginal tax rates. Even more fortunately, economists have managed, however imperfectly and with fits and starts, to impress that understanding on the minds of policymakers. As a result (and going back, at least, to the repeal of the Corn Laws), we’ve had better policies and greater prosperity.

To throw out all that hard-won knowledge because we failed to prevent a financial crisis would be like closing all the hospitals because doctors failed to prevent an epidemic.

Moreover, it’s entirely possible that some of the best policies for fighting recessions are inimical to long-term growth. It could easily follow that even if you knew exactly how to fight recessions, you might prefer not to.

It’s a very good thing that some economists are trying to understand recessions, and a very good thing that they’re accounting for the lessons of the past few years. It’s also a very good thing that most economists are working in the myriad of other areas where we’re capable of doing good. Another very good thing is historical perspective. The current so-called “mess” that economists have (partly) gotten us into is not just the most prosperous era in human history; it is prosperous beyond the wildest imaginings of your parents’ generation. And yes, economists helped get us here.

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A Little Perspective
Steve Landsburg
Mon, 06 Oct 2014 06:01:23 GMT