Unions vs. RTW

At RealClearPolicy Christos Makridis articulates the case for “right to work” laws:

I found that adoption of adoption of right to work laws is associated with increases in both life satisfaction and economic sentiment. In fact, the increase in life satisfaction is 14.2 percent of that experienced with the attainment of a college degree — remarkable given that college attainment is associated with a wide array of other benefits, like higher earnings potential.

Playing devil’s advocate, isn’t it possible that union dues prevent things from getting worse for unionized workers? Or that there are other unrelated factors that produce the “increases in both life satisfaction and economic sentiment”?

At any rate I think that evidence and reasoned consideration are preferable to threats of violence so you might want to take a look at the piece. I should add that I wish that unions would focus more on working conditions than on wages.


Why Do They Hate American Workers?

In their latest editorial the editors of the Washington Post call, as they have for years, for increased immigration:

The Census Bureau’s latest report on the state of the U.S. population reminds us of this in dramatic fashion. “The year 2030 marks a demographic turning point for the United States,” the report notes. “Beginning that year, all baby boomers will be older than 65.” That is, 21 percent of the entire population will be on Medicare, Social Security or, in most cases, both. Just five years thereafter, in 2035, the number of 65-and-overs will surpass the number of Americans under 18 for the first time in the nation’s history.

In short, the dependency ratio — the percentage of non-working members of society who depend on the working members — is rapidly growing and will exceed 70 percent from 2030 on. Unlike in the last period in which the ratio was that high, 1960 to 1980, however, the majority of dependents will be elderly adults, not children. The Census Bureau doesn’t say so, but we couldn’t help noticing that the onset of these all-but-inevitable developments coincides with two other events that the Social Security and Medicare trustees recently forecast: the exhaustion of the Medicare trust fund in 2029 and the insolvency of the Social Security trust fund in 2034.


Without immigration, U.S. birthrates will not be sufficient to avoid even more rapid aging of the population and an even higher dependency ratio than the ones the Census Bureau forecasts. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump campaigned on a promise not to touch Social Security and Medicare, and without presidential leadership, not even a Republican Congress is likely to move on that issue.

The evidence that we have the problems of which the editors warn now is meager to non-existent. Very slow wage growth suggests that supply and demand in labor, other than in certain very narrow specialties, are in rough equilibrium. Increasing the number of legal immigrants now would have the effect of depressing wage growth for today’s workers, a consummation devoutly to be wished by American employers who’d just as soon pay less for the work they’re receiving.

As to how to ensure that there are enough American workers twenty years hence, there are ways of accomplishing that using tools that you probably have around the house. What we actually need are psychological, social, and economic incentives for people having larger families. The most important of these is hope.


Breaking News from 2015

At USA Today Christian Schneider offers a column, “Democrats, it’s time for you to dump Hillary Clinton”. That’s timely advice for 2015. The 2016 presidential election pitted two candidates, each with the highest negatives in history, against one another. A better Democratic candidate, of whom there were many from which to select, could have made the difference. Here’s his analysis of Ms. Clinton’s latest jibes against a major segment of the American people:

At a recent conference in Mumbai, India, Clinton further cast aside her presidential façade and told the world what she really thought of “middle America.” She boasted that she had won “the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic,” and “moving-forward,” and noted she did best in “places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product.”

She suggested President Donald Trump’s appeal was mostly to white men who “didn’t like black people getting rights,” who disapproved of “women getting jobs,” and who begrudged Indian-Americans for their success. As a final ingredient to her toxic bouillabaisse, Clinton added that white women often voted for Trump because of “ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

If there were a Hall of Fame for irony, Clinton would have it named after her. In accusing weak-minded white women of blindly voting the way men told them to, she was proving exactly why white women were wise not to vote for her. It is a significant reason she has now had to play the role of failed presidential candidate twice.

I hope that people have the wit to recognize that “Hillary Clinton” is a synecdoche for the entire corrupt web of faux technocrats who, by virtue of their notional credentials, are cross-ruffing government and the private sector, particularly the financial sector, into wealth and power for themselves and ruin for the rest of us.

Judging by the incessant robo-calls I’m receiving in anticipation of the Illinois primary elections tomorrow, they don’t. The leading candidates for practically all races are those who represent that very group.


Exchange in a Checkout Line

As I was in the checkout line picking up an item at my nearby Whole Foods store I had this exchange with the young woman who was the cashier while listening to the music on the PA:

Me: Interesting choice of workplace music.

She: I like it. It’s got a good, lively beat.

Me (singing): “I don’t wanna work, I just want to bang on the drums all day.”

She: Are those the words? Even better!


Constitutionally Incapable

I missed this when it was first issued two weeks ago but it’s of sufficient importance that I think it bears highlighting. A technology audit by the Office of the Inspector General of the computer and software systems operated by the Department of Homeland Security found them woefully inadequate. From the report:

Specifically, since the Department’s inception in 2003, components have not effectively managed and secured their information systems. Components have continued to operate systems without ATOs [ed. Authority to Operate], used unsupported operating systems that expose DHS data to unnecessary risks, ineffectively managed the POA&M [ed. plan of action and milestones] to mitigate identified security weaknesses, and failed to apply security patches timely. Such repeated deficiencies are contrary to the President’s Cybersecurity Executive Order and clear indicators that departmental oversight of the enterprise-wide information security program needs to be strengthened. Until DHS overcomes challenges to addressing its systemic information security weaknesses, it will remain unable to ensure that its information systems adequately protect the sensitive data they store and process.

Translation: the department responsible for the country’s security is unwilling or unable to look after its own. This is not insignificant and IMO the federal government is incapable as structured to maintain adequate levels of cybersecurity. Funding mechanisms and levels are inadequate to enable departments to upgrade their systems on a timely basis or maintain them to bring them up to an adequate level of security. There are far too many homegrown experts and when outside resources are used there is insufficient ability or willingness to give them sufficient oversight.

The IG made five recommendations:

Recommendation #1: Pursue with the Under Secretary for Management alternate strategies for ensuring that components accomplish planned actions to address deficiencies in areas such as security authorization, weakness remediation, and continuous monitoring that have consistently lagged behind in key performance metrics on the monthly information

Recommendation #2: Enforce the requirements for components to obtain authority to operate, test contingency plans, and apply sufficient resources to mitigate security weakness for national security systems according to applicable policies.

Recommendation #3: Revise the information systems continuous monitoring strategy to include an up-to-date inventory of software assets and licenses used within the Department.

Recommendation #4: Implement controls and perform quality reviews to validate that information security data input to DHS’ enterprise management systems is complete and accurate.

Recommendation #5: Expedite the process for discontinuing the use of unsupported operating systems within the Department.

These are incredibly basic. Taken severally or corporately they do not constitute a plan for securing DHS. They’re recommendations that DHS formulate a plan. A decade from now some future IG audit will find the same deficiencies in the systems that replace the systems presently in use.

IMO there are only two courses of action that would render DHS secure. They could decomputerize; the present DHS is incapable of maintaining the pace and accountability required to maintain a proper level of security. That would be met with enormous resistance, not just from the DHS itself but from Congress and the electorate.

Alternatively, they could decentralize, increasing the number of targets while decreasing the target size, and diversify their information technology ecosystem. That would meet an even greater level of resistance and would be very expensive in dollars, time, and management attention.

What will actually happen is that very little will change and DHS will remain insecure. Make your plans accordingly.

Keep in mind that the Pentagon can’t keep itself secure and the military has the ability to order its personnel to do things and throw them in jail if they don’t comply, an alternative not available to the civilian branches.


Futile Gestures

There’s a manifesto of sorts from an organization called the “Information Technology & Innovation Foundation” intended to allow the U. S. to address Chinese “innovation mercantilism”. In my opinion even if all of its prescriptions were adopted in toto they would have little effect on what is an actual problem.

I only have two remarks. First, Chinese “innovation mercantilism” is not new. Informed individuals were aware of it decades ago. When the company for which I worked wanted me to go to China as the chief technical officer of their forming operations there, as I turned them down I made them aware of three things, each of which seemed to come as a bolt from the blue:

  • They would be required to take a Chinese partner.
  • The Chinese wanted to and would raid their technology.
  • Since the Chinese currency was not convertible they would never be able to get their money out of the country.

Second, there are a number of ways we could respond to Chinese mercantilism. We could just tolerate it as our economy is hollowed out, one sector at a time. That is by far the most likely. We could stop trading with China. That could be accomplished in a variety of ways, the easiest being to impose tariffs that would make goods manufactured in China uncompetitive.

If we were really sincere about the idea of “intellectual property”, we would reciprocate for Chinese non-enforcement of theft of American intellectual property by China by not enforcing the taking of Chinese real property by Americans. Just a thought. Some 15 years ago when U. S. trade with China was significantly smaller than it is now, the value of Chinese appropriation of American intellectual property was thought to be roughly equivalent to our trade deficit with China.

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As of last Thursday I had been operating The Glittering Eye for 14 years. I’ve outlived dozens of the blogs I read when I started; a number of the bloggers of 14 years ago are now writing columns for newspapers. Some have moved from blog to column and back to blog (or even tweet!) again. The Glittering Eye is and will remain completely non-commercial; I accept no advertising and support it completely from my own purse.

I plan to continue blogging as long as I have the energy to do so.

On the occasion of the 12th anniversary I collected a number of links to old posts of mine I liked and if you’re interested you can find them here.


The Founding Myth

It is no accident that the term “Founding Fathers” was first used in 1916 by, of all people, Warren G. Harding. The reason I say “of all people” is that of Harding’s writing H. L. Mencken said “He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered”, perhaps the mildest criticism he lodged of Harding. The reason I say “it is no accident” is that in 1916 the United States was beginning its transition from the Anglo-Saxon country it had been to something more diverse. We needed our founding myth more than ever to bind us together. Ties of blood and heritage would no longer suffice.

I don’t know whether Harding was aware of it but Plato had explained it nearly two millennia earlier. A polis needs a “noble lie” to bind it together and give it meaning. Our founding myth was that the framers of the Constitution were wise, noble, selfless men who in their learning and understanding of the human heart crafted the finest form of government known and that George Washington was the father of our country. That, of course, is an epitome. Beyond Washington the man the basis of democracy as we understand it is the willing relinquishment of power.

We are in the process of casting that founding myth aside. I do not know if we can survive as a nation without it or what would replace it.

In a piece at First Things, Patrick Deneen explicates our founding myth, continuing with remarks on more recent developments:

While elites may suffer self-inflicted blindness to the nature of their position, the rest of society clearly sees what they are doing. The uprising among the working classes across the developed West arises from a perception of illegitimacy—of a gap between claims of the ruling class and reality as experienced by those who are ruled. It is no coincidence that these rebellions come from the socialist left and authoritarian right, two positions that now share opposition to state capitalism, a managerial ruling class, the financialization of the economy, and globalization. These populist rebellions are a challenge to the liberal order itself.

Our ruling class is more blinkered than that of the ancien régime. Unlike the aristocrats of old, they insist that there are only egalitarians at their exclusive institutions. They loudly proclaim their virtue and redouble their commitment to diversity and inclusion. They cast bigoted rednecks as the great impediment to perfect equality—not the elite institutions from which they benefit. The institutions responsible for winnowing the social and economic winners from the losers are largely immune from questioning, and busy themselves with extensive public displays of their unceasing commitment to equality. Meritocratic ideology disguises the ruling class’s own role in perpetuating inequality from itself, and even fosters a broader social ecology in which those who are not among the ruling class suffer an array of social and economic pathologies that are increasingly the defining feature of ­America’s underclass. Facing up to reality would require hard questions about the agenda underlying commitments to “diversity and inclusion.” Our ­stated commitment to “critical thinking” demands no less, but such questions are likely to be put down—at times violently—on contemporary campuses.

The legitimacy of prior elites might have been derived from divine right or noblesse oblige. I would suggest that today’s elites will strive for authenticity rather than legitimacy, a quality even further beyond their reach. It takes the form of adopting the dress, speech, and mannerisms of races and classes other than their own, unable to differentiate between authenticity and pretense. Even more recently it has taken the form of claiming that self-chosen identity grants authenticity.

Authenticity does not convey legitimacy any more than pretense does authenticity. I don’t honestly know whom today’s elites are trying to fool. Themselves?


The Fifth Branch of Government?

I can’t decide whether Adam Serwer’s observations in his latest piece for Atlantic are poorly informed or mischievous:

Andrew McCabe, a former acting and deputy FBI director who had drawn the ire of President Trump, was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Friday evening, a decision that raises troubling questions about the independence of both the Justice Department and the FBI.

The post at Lawfare on McCabe’s dismissal summarizes the situation well. We don’t know whether it was justified or not. We’ll need to wait to determine that as more information emerges in the fullness of time.

The Department of Justice is not an independent branch of government. It is part of the Executive Branch and does the bidding of the president. You may not like that but it’s the structure of our government. For my entire adult life DoJ has been thoroughly political. When the president appoints his brother as Attorney General what else do you think it would be? Every succeeding AG has been the hatchet man for the administration he or she served. The present DoJ merely presents the illusion of independence because Trump didn’t dismiss and replace all of the appointees when he took office, in my view a neglectful error, foolish.

They’re not independent; they’re on the other side.


Trending at the Watcher’s Council Site

Watcher of Weasels

Ted Cruz Absolutely SHUTS DOWN CNN Chris Cuomo (video)

Parents were misled about National School Walkout.

Bookworm Beat 3/5/18 — the Second Amendment illustrated edition

Bookworm Beat 3/15/18 — still more Second Amendment illustrated edition

[VIDEO] Disowned for being Trump supporters? You’re not alone.


Bookworm Beat 3/13/18 — the “Hillary falls” illustrated edition Bookworm Beat 3/13/18 — the “Hillary falls” illustrated edition

Can we destroy America’s expanding security apparatus?

Can Republican Travis Allen become California’s next governor?

With school gun protests, Proggies make a mockery of civil disobedience

Forum : Is Europe Doomed?


At UC Davis, does “diversity” discriminate against straight, white males?

Dems Divulge Plan to Roll Back Tax Cuts, Implement Tax Hike After Mid-Term Elections.

Illegal immigration propaganda at LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art)