Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

DOS Question Again

I had a smaller hard drive, which I replaced a few months ago.  I would be happy to learn that it is possible to copy all the relevant files from the old drive to restore my DOS settings.

Turkey: Final Version?

Here is the final draft (I believe) of my lecture.  First of all, I want to thank all of you who made suggestions and corrections.  I very much appreciate that sort of help.

Further suggestions, of course, are welcome.


Political Economy for the 21st Century: Marx

Here is the Marx section.  Again, this is quick, so any help would be appreciated.


Norman Borlaug’s Death

Lou Proyect did a nice piece on Borlaug’s legacy.

In January 1975, I was invited to debate Norman Borlaug at Santa Barbara Community College.  Because of his fame, it was scheduled for a very large auditorium.  For some reason, he did not or could not show up, but participated via some video hookup on a movie screen.

I attacked the Green Revolution on several points: Water equity, pesticides, credit dependency, the Rockefeller interests in seeing greater consumption of petrochemicals, displacement of small farmers, etc.

He was condescending, but because it was California in the 1970s, I think that the majority was with me.  But then, as we aging basketball players say, “the older get, the better I was.”

Political Economy for the 21st Century

I was asked to give an opening talk to a conference in Turkey.  Michael Lebowitz, of 21st Century Socialism, will be attending, so I hope that he will appreciate the title assigned to me. I have dashed off the beginnings, before I get to Marx.  I would appreciate any comments that you might have.


Request for Computer Assistance

This is something different — not economics- but I need assistance.

I have a computer problem, but I don’t even know how to search for help on the web.

I write with a 30 year old DOS program.  Yes, but it is the best writing tool I know.  Something happened, so that the non-alphanumeric characters almost all appear as a little box.  Look at the one near entry 735.  This does not happen with the DOS screen is maximized.

In any case, the little boxes replace characters I need to recognize, besides the line feed/carriage return that the 735 box represents.

Can I fix this in the registry; can I repair the whole program?

Any help would be appreciated.  Even if you can’t help, maybe you can tell me how search for help.  I tried Google, but nothing I entered was remotely useful.


DOS problem

Why Japanese Health Care is Bad

Harden, Blaine. 2009. “Health Care in Japan: Low-Cost, for Now: Aging Population Could Strain System.” Washington Post. (7 September).

“Half a world away from the U.S. health-care debate, Japan has a system that costs half as much and often achieves better medical outcomes than its American counterpart. It does so by banning insurance company profits, limiting doctor fees and accepting shortcomings in care that many well-insured Americans would find intolerable.”

“But many health-care economists say Japan’s low-cost system is probably not sustainable without significant change. Japan already has the world’s oldest population; by 2050, 40 percent will be 65 or older. The disease mix is becoming more expensive to treat.”

So, public intervention of the medical system is obviously bad. The problem is that the Japanese health system makes the mistake of failing to let enough people die.  The article does admit that a healthy lifestyle is also a factor, but let’s hope that the US does not follow Japan.

The Futility of Financial Regulation: Lessons from Science and Professional Football

The Wall Street Journal does not make the connection explicit, the editors must realize that the sophisticated investors, who own luxury boxes (or even professional football teams), will get the message: financial regulation is futile. The offense has a scientific advantage over the defense. No matter what strategy the defense uses, the offense can find a way to overpower it.  The Journal even gives scientific analysis to make this point.  Of course, the possibility remains, of moving from a competitive capitalistic game to a more cooperative system will eliminate the need for offenses and defenses. Notice the similarity between the analysis of football and neoclassical descriptions of the economy.

Futterman, Matthew. 2009. “Behind the NFL’s Touchdown Binge As Scoring Soars, One Professor Sees Parallels in Nature: The ‘River Basin’ Theory.” Wall Street Journal (10 September).

“The NFL has become so fast and efficient that last season, teams each scored 22.03 points per game, the highest since 1967, while all the league’s 32 teams combined for 11,279 points — the most in NFL history.”

“Some football thinkers believe these numbers speak to a temporary period of offensive dominance in the NFL — just one more high point in an endlessly fluctuating historical curve. But if you venture a bit beyond the particulars of football, to the principles of science, there’s another argument to be made: that the NFL’s high-speed, high-scoring offenses are a reflection of one of the laws of nature—the tendency of all things to evolve toward efficiency. ” Continue reading

A Different Environmental Threat: Peak Rare Minerals, China, and Green Technology

One of the keys to Green Technology may be buried in China. It has only recently begun to appear in the media, but for very different reasons.  A couple of years ago, the New Scientist published a piece about the risks of the scarcity of rare minerals.

Cohen, David. 2007. “Earth’s Natural Wealth: An Audit.” New Scientist Issue 2605 (23 May): pp. 35-41.

Three facts are bringing this looming shortage to the attention of mainstream media.  First, the US is dependent on exports of these minerals, while China is the main exporter.  Second, these minerals are crucial for high technology, including both military and so-called Green Technologies.

My next encounter with the rare earth problem came in David Cay Johnston’s wonderful book.  Here are my notes:

Johnston, David Cay. 2007. Free Lunch: How The Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You With The Bill) (New York: Portfolio).

37: “In 1982, competing groups of scientists around the world found a way to combine iron and boron with a somewhat rare earth called neodymium to make extremely powerful and lightweight magnets. These magnets quickly found a market in computer hard drives, high-quality microphones and speakers, automobile starter motors, and the guidance systems of smart bombs.”

38: “General Motors created a division to manufacture these magnets, calling it Magnequench ….  Then in 1995 the automaker decided to sell the division. Because the deal was for only $70 million it attracted little attention. The buyer was a consortium of three firms …. but the real parties behind the purchase were a pair of Chinese companies — San Huan New Material High-Tech Inc. and China National Nonferrous Metals. Both firms were partly owned by the Chinese government.  The heads of these two Chinese companies are the husbands of the first and second daughters of Deng Xiaoping, then the paramount leader.”

38: At the time, GM was trying to get a toehold in China.  One of the Goddard’s was at the time vice minister of the Chinese State Science and Technology Commission, which had the responsibility for acquiring military technology by any means.

39: The Clinton administration agreed the sale under the condition that the new owners keep the production and technology in the United States.  The new owners began to buy factories in the United States including GA Powders, an Idaho firm that used government money to develop a monopoly on the production powerful methods.  Then the Chinese company shut down American production and moved everything to China.

The reference to Deng is interesting, as you will see in a moment.

Continue reading

Poetical Economics

Pocock, Thomas Love. 1825. “Pan in Town.” In The works of Thomas Love Peacock: including his novels, poems (London: R. Bentley and Son, 1875): pp. 222-27, p. 222.

“The country Banks are breaking:
The London banks are shaking:
E’en quakers now are quaking:
Experience seems to settle,
That paper is not metal,
And promises of payment
Are neither food nor raiment.”