Friday, January 06, 2012

"Chicago" - DMTC - More From Wednesday Night Rehearsal

If I Ran For President, I'd Make This Kind Of Error All The Time

Bunny Balloons

on the rabbit midway.

Employment Recessions Are Getting Progressively Harder And Harder To Climb Out Of

I suppose a simplistic model of an economic recession would feature an abrupt collapse, followed by a very rapid recovery, as economic assets are instantaneously reshuffled for maximum utility.

In the real world, however, economic assets are not reshuffled so fast. There is always hysteresis and delay built into the system. There are any number of circuit breakers built into the system to slow the process down in order to minimize disruption: legislative remedies, tariffs, tax benefits, government subsidies, loan guarantees, bailouts, unemployment insurance, etc. There's a price, of course: the more circuit breakers you have, the slower the recovery. We keep adding new circuit breakers all the time, in order to partially-escape from the brutal business cycle. Everyone hates the creative chaos of capitalism, and capitalists hate the chaos most of all.

The fact that recovery keeps getting longer and longer is partly the price we pay for minimizing the chaos. The most recent recession, starting in 2008, could have been far worse than the collapse of 1929, had it not been for circuit breakers like TARP.

But part of the process too is technological change. Economies progress and advance and become more efficient, and thus need fewer people to make them function. In the 20th-Century, some fields, like agriculture, have lost virtually their entire work forces. Technological change, particularly regarding assembly-line automation, was a big contributor to the Great Depression, and work-saving innovations from the Internet are a big contributor to our problems today.

Today Is New Mexico's Centennial!

Happy Birthday New Mexico!

Gabe sends this from his Library Listserv:
I was planning to send you a “Happy Birthday, New Mexico!” message earlier this morning after I read about that milestone on the Smithsonian Libraries website. IMHO, President William Howard Taft deserves credit for three great achievements – signing into law the 1912 Post Office Appropriation Act that provided funding for road improvements and therefore paved the way for a greater federal role in that area; becoming the first president to throw a ceremonial “first pitch” at a major league baseball game (in 1910 here in DC); and – drum roll, please – signing the proclamation that made the territory of New Mexico our 47th state. And, with due respect to Maryland’s Baltimore Oriole, New Mexico has the most awesome state bird of them all – the world-famous roadrunner!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Stark Contradictions

The Fresno Bee is running an interesting feature regarding illegal immigration. The contradictions are stark.

But in many ways, nothing has changed: it's always been like this in California, at least in my lifetime. I don't believe the statistic below that "in 1989, only 7% of U.S. farmworkers were illegal immigrants". It's always been higher than that, at least in California. The reason things started getting out-of-control in the 80's was that the Mexican Baby Boom of the 1960's was coming of age. Things are likely to slowly get better in decades ahead, because the birth rate in Mexico is now much lower.

Our illegal immigration "system" works well in its own crazy way, which is why it stay with us forever:
One out of 11 workers in California is an illegal immigrant, with most coming from Mexico, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

...In 1989, only 7% of U.S. farmworkers were illegal immigrants, a U.S. Labor Department survey found. Estimates today range from half to two-thirds.

...Illegal immigrants and the businesses that depend on them play a big game: Workers pretend to be legal, and employers pretend to believe them. Valley farmers say they want a legal work force, but only about 2% use a federal database that quickly checks an employee's legal status. And while California and federal politicians condemn illegal immigration, they won't pass laws requiring all employers to use the database.

...The federal agency charged with stopping the flow of illegal immigrants, under pressure from employers, has been reluctant to launch an all-out assault. Aggressive crackdowns have backfired.

...Studies show that illegal immigrants — who usually pay less in taxes than they use in government services — are a burden on local governments because of their low incomes, not because they won't work. Also, they often compete directly for low-wage jobs with some American workers, although businesses and consumers benefit from the cheap labor.

Farmers say that without illegal immigrants, their businesses — and the Valley's economy — would collapse. But some experts say farmers could survive without illegal workers if they were willing to pay more or invest in new technologies.

...While most California residents believe illegal immigrants hurt the state, and most approve of Arizona's strict immigration enforcement law, a majority also believes that illegal immigrants should be allowed to keep their jobs and apply for legal status.

Some experts predict that the system will always be broken because too many people don't want change — even if they say they do. Farmers get cheap labor, illegal immigrants get jobs, consumers pay less for services. No one wants to make difficult reforms that would disrupt this balance.Said Howard Rosenberg, an agriculture labor management specialist at the University of California at Berkeley: "This works for too many people."

Why Wait?

Time waits for no one:
Art student Andrzej Sobiepan didn't want to wait decades for his work to appear in museums. So he took matters in his own hands, covertly hanging one of his paintings in a major Polish gallery.

..."I decided that I will not wait 30 or 40 years for my works to appear at a place like this," Sobiepan told TVN24. "I want to benefit from them in the here and now."

Sobiepan, a Wroclaw Fine Arts Academy student whose last name means "his own master," said he was inspired by the elusive British graffiti artist known only as Banksy. His own painting is small, white and green, and partly uses swine leather to show a drooping acacia leaf.

On December 10, Sobiepan put it up in a room with contemporary Polish art when a guard at the museum was looking the other way. Museum officials didn't notice the new painting for three days.

Museum director Mariusz Hermansdorfer told TVN24 that the action revealed some security breaches, but that he also considered it a "witty artistic happening."

"It has shown that the young generation of artists, unlike their predecessors, wants to see their works in museums," Hermansdorfer said.

Strangest Winter I've Ever Seen

It's so damn-flam warm in California, and dry too, that the FNMOC NOGAPS model is suggesting that a tropical storm will generate between Hawaii and the mainland in about a week, and perhaps approach California after that. In the winter. In January. Of all months!

Now, I don't think that tropical storm will happen: the NOGAPS model is always a bit too sensitive, and nucleates tropical storms far too easily. Still, just the fact that it's warm enough to even think of such a thing shows just what a screwed-up winter it really is!

The snowpack is at 19% of normal.

New Year's Day With The Hendersons

Alec Henderson

Duncan MacMartin