Thursday, August 21, 2014

Officer Darren Wilson deserves justice too

The violence, media frenzy, statements by public officials, and involvement of federal officials following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014 by Officer Darren Wilson is creating an environment in which Officer Wilson’s right to due process and equal protection under the law may be jeopardized.

The shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson must be thoroughly and fairly investigated.   Every American has an interest in ensuring that police use appropriate force when executing their duties.  In cases where the use of force is fatal that requirement for scrutiny goes up.  When the victim is unarmed the standard is even higher in determining justifiable or unjustifiable homicide.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Climate change thoughts

Like so many issues today climate change has been politicized.   A movement more akin to a religion blames every calamity on climate change and questioning of their conclusions is treated as heresy. Those in opposition reject any evidence of warming with cynicism rather than healthy skepticism.  It is hard for a citizen to form a solid opinion on such an important topic.

A serious effort to better understand the issue through a review of related literature makes it clear that the science is not as open and shut as some believe.   That does not mean there is not climate change, or that we should not act to address it, but there are too many failed predictions and unanswered questions to conclude the “science is settled.”  For example, the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of 1990 predicted temperature and sea level rise that has not come to fruition.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports in the “The Sun and Climate” report that the Earth has warmed .99° F since 1860, and about half of this could be due to increased solar radiation.  However, .648° F of the .99 F° increase occurred from 1970 – 2000.  Solar radiation change can only account for .198° F of the .648° F increase; “the rest could be due to greenhouse warming or some other cause.”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Crippling our children with debt

The U.S. must address deficit spending and the national debt in a rational manner in the near term or face a reckoning in highly unpopular but unavoidable and debilitating reduced benefits, increased taxes, or a combination of the two.  A looming rise in interest rates to historically normal levels will exacerbate the situation.   A divided nation must debate fundamental philosophical positions about the size and role of government and find an acceptable path forward before circumstance forces bad choices.

The national debt is made up of two components 1) debt held by the public (foreign an d domestic) in the form of Treasury securities and 2) IOUs held by the federal government that are owed to other federal government accounts such as Social Security.  The principal on debt held by the public is about $13 trillion and the annual interest payment is $218 billion.  The principle on IOUs held by the federal government is about $5 trillion and the annual interest payment is $146 billion.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The unholy alliance of concentrated power

Concentrated political and economic power in the federal government and very large corporations is a threat to liberty and opportunity.  Further, political leaders have formed a relationship with corporate and other special interests whereby support flows from one to the other resulting in distorted access, policy, law, and regulation.

Political leaders of both parties seek financial support for election and personal enrichment.  It is about them – not the American people.   The combination of concentrated power in government and corporations, and the alignment of interests between the two are a significant danger.

The expanding mass of government in its physical bureaucracies and the body of laws and regulations it propagates, increasing centralization to the federal level,  and growing power within the executive are clear threats to liberty.  Corporate consolidation through mergers and acquisitions has created behemoths of economic power and political and social influence that also threaten liberty in a manner that often goes unnoticed by the public.

Following the Great Recession of 2008 there was an outcry about banks that were “too big to fail.”   It was expected that the issue would be addressed through legislation commonly called Dodd-Frank, but today more assets are held by fewer banks.  The too big to fail banks are in fact bigger today.  The five largest U.S. banks (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs) have assets in excess of $11 trillion.   Five banks hold 56% of all banking assets in the United States.