Someone said that my articles, whether you agreed with them or not, were well supported.
In this case, I am just going to note some half-baked thoughts or questions that have been in the back of my mind to prompt (I hope!) debate.
IT and Science
- There should be a way to incorporate data analytics into drafting bills and regulations.
- The new book Shattered makes me wonder why we are using data analytics to run for office . . . but NOT to govern.
- I think, however, when you start getting anecdotal indications your analytic model is NOT working, you HAVE to examine: 1) what you are measuring; and how you are measuring it.
- It seems like at one time, Ayn Rand and Justice Douglas would have agreed on the value of privacy. However, the very concept of privacy appears to evanesce in a Reality TV/Social Media world.
- It seems as if progress in most sciences has slowed. The exceptions are in computer science; data science; telecommunications; molecular biology and genetics; and in certain technologies that have been in the pipeline for a long time ("Fracking").
- If this is true, is it a function of the fact that we have gone about as far as we can in the natural sciences or is it due to cultural factors (inhibiting laws or regulations or liability risk)?
- It seems like the next big technological breakthrough that HAS to come is the development of "hot" fusion technology (or a less likely equivalent, like "cold" fusion or Zero-point energy applications). It strikes me that civilizations not developing this technology and being forced to rely on always declining supplies of fossil fuels might be the proximate cause for the Fermi Paradox.
- Given the laws of physics as we currently understand them, to facilitate what Stephen Hawking has suggested for the survival of the human species, we should try to send our genome or AIs based on human minds to distant planets, rather than individual humans.
- We need less regulation and more market forces in Healthcare if we are to improve quality and expand access.
- The current fight over repealing the almost completely dysfunctional Affordable Care Act, indicates we may lack the reason and the political will to make the decisions required to do that.
- India, where Health Care is almost entirely paid for out of pocket, with minimal use of insurance and minimal government intervention, seems like the best existing 21st Century model for what we need to move towards.
- To get there, I think you need to start with non-employer-based groups, a "Bismarck System for the Gig Economy," if you will.
- Thus, "the road to India leads through France."
- It strikes me that health insurance markets work better as group, rather than individual, ones.
- The VA furnishes an example of why socialized systems (either ones involving delivery systems or insurance) are not optimal.
- In places like upstate NY, where there are enough veterans for there to be sufficient facilities and providers, the system works quite well. However, it works poorly in places where the population density does not support sufficient facilities or providers. It also works poorly where there are large numbers of veterans and the system in overwhelmed, infamously in Arizona.
- Since the VA system is a cost-center, and not a profit center, the increase in census does not create an increase in the number of physicians and institutional providers, as where the providers and facilities are profit centers.
- There is almost unlimited demands for medical services. We could conceivably spend every dollar in our GDP on Health Care and still have unsatisfied demand.
- Because of this, being able to legitimately say "no" is a critical component of any functioning system.
- I don't think, after OIF I and the Katrina response and the ACA and the failure to avoid the rise of the Islamic State ("IS"), that our Federal Government has the legitimacy to say no, but it CAN still acquire enough money to waste a fortune on funding medical nemesis.
- "End of Life" decisions both are and should be economic ones.
Economics and Regulation
- Until the advent of modern data analytics, most mathematically-based economic theories were not rigorous, but had the unfortunate illusion of rigor. (A point often raised by Nassim Nicholas Taleb . . . and most people trained in Engineering.)
- It is impossible to accurately predict the future. There are too many variables and it is almost impossible to give some of them an accurate weight prospectively.
- It is, however, possible to predict the future with enough accuracy to be able to hedge with varying degrees of utility. This is especially true in relatively closed systems, like stock and bond markets and, possibly, legal cases and transactions.
- The major constraint to economic growth is good ideas or, more accurately, their lack.
- Part of the problem is a failure to see the second order effects of previous good ideas prospectively. (Another idea suggested by Taleb.)
- Most people don't think even a few moves ahead. For that reason, people who do often confuse people who don't, meaning that their foresight lacks influence (the "Cassandra Effect").
- That you foresee a problem does not, necessarily, mean you have a viable solution.
- A good example of this is Brookesley Born, who famously opposed the "deregulation" (more correctly the continued relative lack of regulation) of the OTC Commodities Futures Market. Born correctly saw that "swaps" and other emerging derivative instruments were expanding in use and could be problematic.
- However, regulation or lack of regulation was not the issue in 2008. The issue was (as with the S&L Crisis of the late 1980s) that sales forces of unrelated entities were selling speculative instruments to financial institutions as being investment grade.
- At the time, such representations were not categorically known to be false and, hence, fraudulent.
- More regulations would not have avoided the Crisis of 2008.
- Taking the Boards of financial institutions out of the ambit of the Business Judgment Rule might have.
- Because of the fact that there is a lot of information available at the user level that is not available to regulators, detailed regulations may be less useful than legal structures that clearly "pin the rose" on someone when things go wrong. To do that fairly, you have to analyze prior similar events to figure out who has what tort lawyers call "last clear chance."
- "It's all about the 'L Word' (not that one, 'Legitimacy')." (Hat tip to John Robb and Joshua Cooper Ramo.)
- The USG, after OIF I, Katrina, ACA and the lack of response to the emergence of IS, seems to be hemorrhaging Legitimacy at an alarming rate.
- The best alternative seems to be a return to the Federalism enshrined in the Constitution, a fractal distribution of power between: the Federal Government (a government of limited ambit but supreme within that ambit);, the states and local governments; and the people.
- However, that concept is being blocked by the Democratic Party (and the Left generally), who seem to equate this to "States Rights" as part of "Massive Resistance" to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
- If the US is to continue to exist in its present form, the 21st Century must become the "Century of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments" as much as the 20th was the "Century of the Civil War Amendments."
- That this is being blocked makes me question if the US CAN or WILL continue in its present form.
- The problem is less alternative facts and more alternative relative values assigned to these facts.
- On one hand we have massive, unaccountable bureaucracies, on the other we have citizen legislators who do not have the technical knowledge to govern. Is the key part of this issue that government, especially the Federal Government, is doing too much?
- More people need to become involved in the political process. The French election illustrates this point. After 1200 years of "Le Belle France," is the best they can do REALLY a Gallic Tim Geithner versus a modern Madame Defarg?
Foreign Policy and Defense
- The Obama Administration was not wrong in trying to back down from being a great power. The Trump Administration is not wrong in trying to improve relations with Putin's Russia.
- However, managing decline is an art. The best recent example is Great Britain after 1947 (with some exceptions like Suez).
- Most nations do not escape the "Thucydides Trap."
- South America is very dysfunctional. It is also a natural sphere of influence for the US as a second tier power, as is the Pacific beyond the Second Island Chain.
- Working with the US, Brazil might finally become the country of the future.
- We need to reduce the size of the Army; slightly increase the size of the Marine Corps and reduce the Navy, based on it no longer having a global role and due to AirSea Battle Doctrine.
- The National Debt is the single biggest national security issue.
- The New Silk Road/One Belt One Road means we are being voted off Mackinder's World Island.
- I think Trump's one virtue as President is that he is more likely to agree with Satan in Paradise Lost, "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven" or, in this case, "Better to be a great power in the Americas and out to the Second Island Chain, than to be irrelevant in a world system dominated by the PRC and Putin's Russia," than with Achilles in The Odyssey, “I’d rather be a slave on earth for another man--/some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive--/than rule down here over all the breathless dead.”
Some Things to Read
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Incerto, https://medium.com/incerto
- John Robb, Global Guerrillas, http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/
"Enough or too much." Willian Blake, Proverbs of Hell