Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Freeloading Unloaders
So Canada benefits from the US nuclear umbrella (and gets to reduce its defense expenditures because of it). Canadian citizens benefit from lower drug costs due to price caps (leaving their Southern neighbors to pick up the tab for prescription drugs). Canadian citizens who are stuck on waiting lists to have medical procedures performed often avoid the wait by visiting American doctors instead (thereby disguising the extent of the crisis of Canadian health care). Now the freeloaders to the north are dumping their garbage in America. Apparently, environmental and political sensibilities make it especially difficult to try and push through proposals to construct added landfills. (This in a country the second largest on the planet). An estimated 10% of Canadian produced trash arrives in Michigan points of entry each year for final disposal in the US.

Canada is like the drunken neighbor who still owns lawn darts and on some days botches his throws, sending some darts over the fence...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Wisdom from the Past
Walt Whitman wrote this during the US Civil War, but it remains pertinent today:

"Looking over my scraps, I find I wrote the following during 1864, or the latter part of '63:
The happening to our America, abroad as well as at home, these years, is indeed most strange. The Democratic Republic has paid her to-day the terrible and resplendent compliment of the united wish of all the nations of the world that her Union should be broken, her future out off, and that she should be compell'd to descend to the level of kingdoms and empires ordinarily great! There is certainly not one government in Europe but is now watching the war in this country, with the ardent prayer that the United States may be effectually split, crippled, and dismember'd by it. There is not one but would help toward that dismemberment, if it dared. I say such is the ardent wish to-day of England and of France, as governments, and of all the nations of Europe, as governments. I think indeed it is to-day the real, heartfelt wish of all the nations of the world, with the single exception of Mexico -- Mexico, the only one to whom we have ever really done wrong, and now the only one who prays for us and for our triumph, with genuine prayer.

Is it not indeed strange? America, made up of all, cheerfully from the beginning opening her arms to all, the result and justifier of all, of Britain, Germany, France and Spain -- all here -- the accepter, the friend, hope, last resource and general house of all -- she who has harm'd none, but been bounteous to so many, to millions, the mother of strangers and exiles, all nations -- should now I say be paid this dread compliment of general governmental fear and hatred?.......Are we indignant? alarm'd? Do we feel wrong'd? jeopardized? No; help'd, braced, concentrated, rather. We are all too prone to wander from ourselves, to affect Europe, and watch her frowns and smiles. We need this hot lesson of general hatred, and henceforth must never forget it. Never again will we trust the moral sense nor abstract friendliness of a single government of the old world. "

-from Memoranda During the War (c. 1875)

Sadly for Whitman and for ourselves, we keep trying to appeal to that moral sense and abstract friendliness of those governments, hoping to find that those things are indeed present. Perhaps we should listen and heed the advice of Whitman.

Don't Believe the Hype
Some interesting information to counter the claim that Bush's campaign contributors were the ones who profited from the Iraqi reconstruction contracts. As you can see from the tables, the top 4 Bush campaign donors who are also involved in reconstruction work were awarded many of the smallest contracts. For example, GE contributed close to $9 mil in campaign donations, yet received almost $6 mil in contracts. On the otherhand, Parsons Corp (at #10 on the list of companies in Iraq) contributed about $1.5 mil in donations and was awarded $89 mil in contracts.

On another front, Bechtel states on their website that, "As of October 31, Bechtel has awarded 111 subcontracts to 96 different Iraqi companies, out of a total of 151 subcontracts."

Here's a list of the various companies involved in Iraqi reconstruction efforts. Also visit the USAid website which details information on reconstruction efforts. Rather than listen to the doubletalk blatherings of Michael Moore, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, why not go straight to the sources?

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Red and Blue: Just Follow the Money
Fascinating map that details by county which political party has gained the majority of campaign countributions from each county. The Red State/Blue State divide is largely in evidence, but there are some surprises (Idaho shows up as contributing more to Democrats than Republicans at this stage of the political season). There are also individual maps you can click to that detail geographically where each Democrat presidential candidate is getting their cash from. This one for Al Sharpton is interesting.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Iraqi Bloggers
Want to gain some perspective and avoid the filters of the New York Times, CNN, Howard Dean, et. al? Read the posts from these Iraqi bloggers:
Healing Iraq
Iraq At A Glance

Panning for Gold
In a pathetic attempt to strike it rich, I picked up a piece of McDonald's trash that I happened to cross paths with while out for a lunchbreak walk. It was a supersized drink cup and it had a "Monopoly" gamepiece intact and still attached to it. So for a fleeting moment I was certain that such extraordinary circumstances would rightly produce for me the $1mil winning gamepiece.

Guess again...

Thursday, November 06, 2003

One of the big refrains you hear come from the Democrat candidates is how Bush's economic policies have resulted in manufacturing job losses. Or that globalization is causing our manufacturing jobs to go overseas (implying a net gain of manufacturing jobs in places such as Mexico and China). What is interesting, and not mentioned by any of these critics, is that manufacturing jobs are declining worldwide. For perspective, between 1995 and 2002 China lost 16 million manufacturing jobs (15% decline) while the US lost 2 million manufacturing jobs (11% decline) in the same period. Important to note, global output rose 30 percent. Its not tax cuts, or Texas cronyism, or whatever charge these candidates pounce on to explain why this is happening. Its just the way the evolution of work is going in the 21st century, as more technology and automation is employed in the process of making things.

Update: Whoops. Maybe I should have checked Kreblog before I posted. He repeats the same information. Damn that well dressed man!

Supersized Sell-outs
The $200m bequest, given by Joan Kroc (the widow of McDonalds founder Ray Kroc) to National Public Radio is rich with irony. How will this action square with NPR's overt criticism of multinational corporations? Furthermore, will the anti-globo crowd tune in as loyally, now that their news outlet is tainted from the enemy's donation? As this satirical piece mockingly suggests, will PETA organize a listener boycott of NPR?

For NPR, its like biting into a tasty McDonalds apple pie and having the hot filling burn your mouth and fall into your lap.