Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A couple of questions about Jackie

For those who have been in a media blackout for the last few weeks, Rolling Stone magazine (one of the guiding lights of my adolescence), screwed up and published an unreliable account of a gruesome frat-house rape at the University Of Virginia. 

A young lady named "Jackie" was supposedly gang-raped by seven guys.  For three hours.  During a party.  On a floor covered with shattered glass.  And she refused medical treatment.  And the guy she claims to have gone with might not exist.  And etc., etc., etc.... 

Rolling Stone printed every word of it.  The University prez shut down the entire Greek/Frat system.  No judge, no jury. 

A few media groups are now picking apart the story, but they're concerned about not doing violence to the "larger truth" - that there is a culture of rape in America. 

Horse hockey. 

Considering that Jackie's behavior didn't take place in a vacuum, here are two types of questions that real journalists would be asking:

1)  What classes has "Jackie" been taking?  Victimology 101?  Intro to Grievance Studies?  The Western Canon As A Metaphor For Rape?  Advanced Privilege-Checking?

Has "Jackie" been exposed to classroom instruction that taught her that unless she is oppressed, then she is part of the problem? 

I would love to know.  Considering that a frat house has been vandalized, picketed, shut down and otherwise defamed, and that some guys could've gone to prison, I think we all have a right to know the crap that the University Of Virginia has possibly been pumping into that young lady's head. 

2)  The culture of rape schtick has apparently gone from bug to feature, and I'm wondering what all-female universities do with their evenings (without white straight males to fear, protest against, and warn each other about). 

Does anyone else think that Jackie might have been to one to many of the Rape Culture Seminars?  Did she go to any Take Back The Night marches? 

Did some variety of Victim Envy cause her to do this?  There are no effects without causes, and this fable had some causes. 


It's looking more and more like Jackie made up the entire story.  I'm just curious about why she did it, and I wish that more journalists were. 


Friday, December 12, 2014

The group that killed Eric Garner is protesting against the group that killed Eric Garner

Sometime yesterday, Congressional staffers (government employees) walked out on their jobs to the front steps of the House of Representatives to protest the laws (written by themselves) that led to the death (at the hands of other government employees) who were enforcing the will of government employees. Instead of meaningless symbolic gestures, why don't they protest by making it legal to sell "loosies" without a punitive tax that pays their own (government employee) salaries? Lord have mercy, what a pack of doofuses....


Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Go here. 

Trust me, just hit that link.  I'll be here when you get back. 

(As long as you do it within 24 months, or to be exact, within 630 days, or 15,120 hours of December 10th, 2014.)  We'll all be past the tipping point after that. 

Here's the link again.  I know how you folks are about hitting links. 

If we've passed that horrific date (December of 2016) without taking significant action on Climate Change, we will have passed yet another Tipping Point.

It will be too late to recycle.  It will be too late to stop flying, or to continue sorting through our garbage like raccoons.  It will be waaaay to late to send Al Gore's Kleiner-Perkins Investment Group any money for carbon offsets. 

It will be too late to begin stumbling around in the dark all night like a pack of aboriginal tribesmen just recently down from the trees. 

By December something of 2016, it will be too late to tax the carbon emitters who have made your world an unimaginable paradise (if your grandparents could see you now). 

It will be too late to make governments more powerful. 

I hope you've hit that link by now....

Have you had your giggle?  (I love the sound that Tipping Point deadlines make when we go flying past them.) 

This is like the U.N.'s threat that we'll have fifty million climate refugees by 2010

It's like Al Gore's fake concern that the polar ice caps will be gone by 2013

It will be like all of the other failed climate predictions, and there are a lot of them. 

The climate prediction business (and it's nothing but a business) is much like all the predictions for the return of Christ.  You can be wrong all you want, then just re-arrange the scriptures, come up with a new date, and still not lose very many followers.  And if you drop out altogether, the business will continue without you. 

Sometime after December 2016, the proprietors of the 100 Months And Counting website will look around at the ice caps, the snow, and the rest of the typical wintertime weather, and they'll shut down their Tipping Point Apocalypse website. 

Then they'll move on to the next gimmick and the next marketing/scaremongering stunt, never doubting the righteousness of their cause.  There's a sucker born every minute. 


Monday, December 8, 2014

On Firing Drunk Temps

The City Of Fort Worth's Human Relations Commission sent me a letter a few days ago.

It marked the end of a long, tiresome, wasteful process that hit on employment law, civil rights, racism, ageism, skinism, alcoholism, paternalism, bureaucracies, and whether or not I should have the right to purchase the labor of whoever I dang well please. 

It also touches on whether I should be able to stop purchasing someone's labor when it suits me.

I've clipped (and redacted) various parts of the letter so as to protect the guilty. 

Here's the cast of characters:

1)  The Charging Party - an employee that a temp service sent us back in freakin' June.  He showed up around 8:00 a.m., and we sent him back before 9:00 a.m.  (It's not unusual for me to send temps back to Their Mother Ship before their shift has ended, BTW.  We're nice about it, we're apologetic, and we wish them best of luck in all future endeavors.  But there's a good reason that some of those folks don't work for NASA or the Nobel Prize Committee.)  The Charging Party is the guy who sued us for discrimination. 

2)  The Temp Service - many employers now use temp or personnel services to screen their potential employees for 3 months before hiring them.  The temp services generally charge twice what the employee gets paid.  Yeah, twice.  But it's worth it to avoid paying Unemployment Compensation, or risk paying big bucks in an Unlawful Discharge lawsuit.  Some temps don't last but a few days, and there's a huge paperwork cost associated with bringing on a new employee, so after 3 months you have a better idea if the employee will work out or not.  Until three months have passed, the temp employee works for the Temp Service, and not for the facility where he is actually doing work. 

3)  Randy Morales - he doesn't exist. 

4)  The White Trainer who was supposedly drunk - he doesn't exist either, despite your sneaking suspicion that he is me. 

5)  The Respondent - my employer, Jukt Micronics.  The organization that had to respond to, deal with, and be burdened by this mess. 

6)  The Assistant Human Resources Director - the lady who is our Assistant Human Resources Director. 

Another group was kept busy determining our percentages of Black, Latino, Asian and White employees.  Then they had to calculate our ratio of employees older and younger than 54.  Try doing that with 700 people.  More on that later....

That's all you need to know to enjoy the following.    Here's part of the letter. 

Sorry for blacking out a lot of the pertinent case numbers, but I don't want the emissions people, the water inspectors, OSHA, or the noise abatement teams of Fort Worth to start swarming me because I picked on one of their bureaucracies. 

Please note that this process started on June 5th, and we got the resolution letter on December 2nd. 
God help the USA if other nations ever discover free market economics.

I gotta make a correction to that 2nd paragraph.  "The Charging Party" wasn't accused of just drinking on the job.  He was freakin' hammered.  Gapped.  Faced.  Blotto.  Some of our notorious alcoholics, guys who spend their weekends with faint traces of blood in their alcohol, they were asking us to send this guy away. 

At this point, if you've been paying attention, you're wondering why I'm involved in this at all, right?  The guy didn't even work for me !!! 

It seems that if you hire a temp employee, then send him away, he can still claim discrimination against you based on "his Race, Black, and his Age", to use the awkward phrase of the City Of Fort Worth's Human Relations Division.  I didn't know that until June. 

The letter refers to a White man who was drinking but was not disciplined or discharged.  It wasn't me.  Swear to God, it wasn't me. 

Back to the letter....

Ok, here's how this thing went down.  Ordinarily when a temp isn't working out, I just tell him that we don't need his services any more, and that he can clock out and go home.  Then I call the temp service and tell them to never, ever send that guy back to us. 

But when the temp is drunker than the Quality Control department at Jack Daniels?  We call the temp service manager in to deal with it. 

When they're that drunk, we let THEM send the dude home.  The Temp Service Manager came in, told the guy he couldn't work drunk, and sent him home. 

Regarding the last sentence in the letter, the one about Randy Morales....  there is no one in our company named Randy Morales.  We've never had a foreman named Randy Morales.  But if anyone named Randy Morales had been around, he would've smelled alcohol on this guy. 

So it was the trainer who smelled of alcohol, but just in case it was the temp smelled of alcohol it was because of his mouthwash and toothpaste.  Lordy. 

Here's a quick summary. 

The drunk temp demanded that the Personnel Service give him a drug and alcohol test.  They refused.  So he went to JPS (John Peter Smith Hospital) in Fort Worth and asked them to give him an alcohol test. 

John Peter Smith is our county hospital.  They treat a lot of low-income, indigent patients, and do a great job of it. 
But you can go in there with an amputated arm and you will still wait for a long, long time before getting treatment. 
This guy got sent home by the temp service, was denied a drug/alcohol test, drove to JPS, waited long enough for small mammals to evolve, and was still feeling a "Buzz".   It had to be hours and hours later!!

To paraphrase Meg Ryan, "I'll have what he's drinking". 

Here comes the part that should make you angry:

Here's why I hope you're angry. 

1)  Yeah, we hire lots of older people.  And we hire Black, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, El Salvadoran, Laotian, and Mississippi Rednecks.  My shop looks like the United Freakin' Nations.  180 people from...Earth. 
But our office employees had to drop everything else and do some racist nose-counting, just like we were separating the Hutus from the Tutsis, and report our racial makeup to the Fort Worth Freakin' Human Relations Commission. 

2)  The guy doesn't even work for me. 

3)  The process took 6 months. 

4)  We're paying the government to investigate this stuff. 
If you get tired of purchasing burgers from McDonald's and decide to purchase burgers from Wendy's, you don't have to do a verbal warning, a written warning, a 3-day suspension, and then formally terminate McDonald's.  You can just switch.  For reasons that I'll never understand, labor doesn't work that way, and most of us live diminished lives because of it. 

Our employers are expected to withhold and pay our taxes, provide our healthcare, take care of child support payments, our retirement, and our 40 acres and our mule.   Employment Law creates a huge burden for companies, increases the cost of goods without providing a benefit, and creates massive HR Departments which cost a fortune, but that add no value to the products the companies were founded to produce.

Think of how much easier it would be for you to go work someplace else if it weren't so much like changing plantations in 1845.   

5)  Finally, this process, designed to ensure racial fairness, often creates racists. 

Yeah.  It creates racists. 

I employ people from all over the world.  Most of them are awesome, personally and professionally. 

But will I now hesitate to hire someone who is of a different race, or of an advanced age?  Someone who could sue me if it doesn't work out? 

You tell me. 

Oh yeah, here's the end of the letter.  We weren't guilty of anything. 

There are days when I want to resign and turn the whole thing over to Randy Morales. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Selling Loosies vs Stealing Swisher Sweets

About 4 years ago, I advocated something called "The Neighbor In A Cage Test" for new laws. 
In short, would you be willing to put your neighbor in a cage if he refused to obey (or fund) your proposed law?  Because that's exactly what happens when your neighbors don't obey laws, no matter how stupid the laws, no matter how few people voted for them, no matter how corrupt their origins.

We've had two good cases for this in the last few weeks.  Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 

We don't often think of Government this way, but....

1)  Government is force. 
2)  Government also writes laws. 
3)  Government uses force to ensure compliance with all of its laws, including the bad ones.   
4)  If you don't agree to obey the laws, or fund them, you will be locked up....
5)  In a cage. 

Here's how it works in theory.  This is from noted Yale Law Professor Stephen Carter:

On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.
I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t. Whatever your view on the refusal of a New York City grand jury to indict the police officer whose chokehold apparently led to the death of Eric Garner, it’s useful to remember the crime that Garner is alleged to have committed: He was selling individual cigarettes, or loosies, in violation of New York law…..
The problem is actually broader. It’s not just cigarette tax laws that can lead to the death of those the police seek to arrest. It’s every law. Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right. I often tell my students that there will never be a perfect technology of law enforcement, and therefore it is unavoidable that there will be situations where police err on the side of too much violence rather than too little. Better training won’t lead to perfection. But fewer laws would mean fewer opportunities for official violence to get out of hand.
BTW, a "loosie" is a single cigarette.  The New York Police Department had an "opportunity for official violence to get out of hand" (in Professor Carter's words), and supposedly choked Eric Garner to death.

Garner had been selling loosies.  (The rationale for selling these single cigarettes is that retailers have to charge an ungodly tax on packs of cigarettes.  Those who are willing to sell individual cigs usually don't send additional inflated cut to the IRS.  Hence the illegality, even though the tax was already paid by the first purchaser of the "broken" pack.) 

But that's the theoretical part of it.  Here's an interview with a NYC police officer, explaining the difficulty of enforcing bullshit laws:

What do you think about all this? I mean, honestly — that video. Eric Garner looked so scared.
Well, Garner was in bad health, and Pantaleo said it wasn’t a chokehold; he was just trying to take him down so they could arrest him. The thing that nobody hears about in the media is that Garner had been arrested for this before. The store owners, they had been … saying he was taking away their business. These people pay their taxes; they pay for tobacco licenses. They wanted him gone.

Right, but he wasn’t fighting the cops. He was just standing there with his hands up.
Yeah, but he’s a big guy. He could have been holding up his hands, or he could have been threatening them. All I’m saying is that cop needed to arrest him. Once that was decided on, they had to take him in one way or the other, and he didn’t want to go … but maybe there was excessive force used. I won’t say there wasn’t.

So you don’t think this is a race thing?
No, it’s not a race thing. It’s a Ray Kelly thing. (Ray Kelly was a veteran NYC Police Commissioner.)  That man singlehandedly ruined this department. When I came up as a rookie, you were assigned an older cop who had been around and knew what they were doing. We were taught that you catch more flies with honey. Basically, if you let the small things go — like the guy selling loosies or weed or whatever on the corner — then when the big shit happens, like homicide or burglary, those are the same guys who will tell you all about it. If they hate you, they won’t tell you shit.

But this is happening everywhere. I mean, Ferguson — there have been so many of these cases for so long.
All I know is New York City. Nowadays, since Kelly’s Operation Impact, rookies are taught one thing: Write tickets, do searches, make money. They’ll have a quota they have to fill. They’re not supposed to, but they do. They come up not knowing their asses from their elbows. These rookies don’t understand how to let the small stuff go. They'll be on your back for a bag of grass.  So when things happen they overreact.   
There you have it....
The theoretical problem from Yale's Stephen Carter. 
The practical problem from a NYC cop. 
Which leaves the rest of us with a problem. 
Would you be willing to have someone strangled to death for selling loosies?  If not, then don't ask someone else to do your dirty work.

How would that work out?  Where does one draw the line? 

Well, take the case of Michael Brown. 

(If you've been living under a rock, Michael Brown, a black teenager, supposedly did a strong-arm robbery of a convenience store, walked out with some Swisher Sweets, was stopped by a white cop, then something happened that we'll never, ever, ever figure out, and Michael Brown got shot.  Dead.) 

Here's a video supposedly showing some of the last moments of Brown's life.  If you're in a hurry, the last 20 seconds are the key moments. 

Would I be willing to shoot someone to keep Swisher Sweets from being stolen?  I don't know, and I hope I never have to find out. 

Would I be willing to outsource that job? 

I can only answer with a very reluctant.... Yes. 

That's one of the Big 3 legitimate functions of the state.  (Protect the borders, provide a courts system, and protect property rights.)  Even if the property in question is a $40.00 box of cheap cigars. 

But would I willingly pay someone to shoot the people who sell loosies?  Heck no. 

Libertarianism in a nutshell is "Don't hit people and don't take their stuff."  Hitting people (except in defense) and taking their stuff is a job reserved for the state.  Michael Brown took a convenience store's stuff and hit the clerk. 

Eric Garner didn't take anyone's stuff, and it doesn't look like he hit anybody. 

Brown and Garner are both dead. 

Another Libertarian clutch-phrase is "If there is no victim, there was no crime". 

Who was the victim in these two cases?  Brown?  Garner?  The convenience store clerk?  The IRS? 

Please discuss. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Karl Rove, You Magnificent Bastard !!

For legal, personal, ethical, campaign finance, and ridicule-protection reasons, most 2016 presidential candidates are not yet saying that they are a 2016 presidential candidate. 

But political operatives are already producing attack videos cleverly designed to hurt the other side. 

The actor in this video is a guy named Jason Tobias.  Nobody knows who really did the singing, but it wasn't Tobias.  I don't know who had the idea to produce this thing.  I don't know who gathered the background shots.  Whoever did it was a genius. 

Republicans will be playing this thing at parties and rallies for decades.  Hell, I might start a Libertarian PAC to have it aired during the Super Bowl. 

She Whose Name Is Not Spoken will never, ever recover from this.  This is the dirtiest trick I've ever seen. 

Behold: The redneck, white trash, Ford F-150, bulldozer, soccer mom-country, flies on the baby, ticks on the dog, "Stand With Hillary" campaign video. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Best Libertarian Movies

One of the things that I like about being a "small l" libertarian and a "large L" Libertarian is the consistency of the belief system. 

It's almost like being Jewish.... an ethnicity and a religion, should one choose both. 

You can be a libertarian without ever voting Libertarian.  It's all the same package.  Mindset and political party, should you choose both. 

Our political platform changes very little, unlike those of the Rethuglicans or the Demoblicans.   Our message boils down to "Don't hit people and don't take their stuff".   Add a sprinkling of "Leave others alone just as you want to be left alone", and you've got it. 

Therefore, it's fairly easy to come up with great lists of libertarian books.  (More on these later.) 

And libertarian music.  (Ditto.) 

Just for grins and giggles sometime, Google the terms "Liberal Books" or "Democrat Books".  You'll come generally come up with volumes of Hero Worship rather than ideology or philosophy.  Hit this for a typical example.  Lots of stuff about Kennedys who you would never leave your daughter alone with. 

The Republican lists are a little better, but are generally laden with the bi-annual offerings of Fox News hosts, or they co-opt authors who could only be described as libertarian. 

I'll post more on the book lists later, though. 

The point of all this is movies.  If you go here, you can see the best Liberty movie list EVER. 

V For Vendetta,
Hunger Games
Thank You For Smoking
Wag The Dog

And a special category of my own for:

Idiocracy, and
Team America, World Police 

And a few dozen others that reward repeat viewing. 

Good stuff.  Here's the immortal "Chancellor's Speech" from "V For Vendetta", which I've probably posted a dozen times already.  Think of this every time you here a Political Beauty Contest Winner claim that we need a war, a stimulus, a healthcare plan, a retirement system, or increased regulations on something. 

Brilliant.  Go here for the link to all the movies
Go here to sign up for Netflix.  Start watching !!


Monday, December 1, 2014

On PHF's (Potentially Hazardous Foods)

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving! 
I know that I did....   6 parties/meals/events, and I gained about 5 pounds. 

Now it's time for a rant. 

My employer, Jukt Micronics, threw a Thanksgiving meal/party for the employees in each shop.  Several of the employees brought additional food from home. 

The main course was something called "Carnitas", which Bing defines as "a dish of Mexican cuisine. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork meat in oil or preferably lard until tender. The process takes three or four hours and the result is very tender and juicy pork meat, which is then typically served with chopped coriander leaves and diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans."

Heck yes.  These were some authentic old-school Carnitas.  No one was injured. 

Later on in the week, we had a Supervisor's Lunch.  All food was brought from home by the Supervisors or their spouses. 
Everyone who brought something brought enough to feed about 5 other people. 
It was awesome. 
No one was injured. 

A few days later, I went to Gainesville TX, for the legit Thanksgiving meal with my youngest sister, her husband, and his extended family. 
They cooked almost all of the food.  My mother (that's her with the whitish hair and blue sweater in the Supervisor Lunch picture) did the rest.  That's her again, in the next pic, on the far left at my sister's house. 
She has taught me a deep and abiding love of food, groceries, meals, cooking, plants, animals, spices, and anything else that's edible. 
Once again, no one was harmed....

Thanksgiving night, some friends of mine from a local bar threw something that they call "Friendsgiving". 
It was awesome.  100% of the food was prepared by my friends and their families. 
No one was harmed, although I DID overindulge in bourbon, and have sworn off it for several weeks. 

There was one other event centered around a west-side bar....,
And then another friend of mine threw another party Saturday night. 
Both occasions featured plenty of food from homes. 
No one had his stomach pumped.  (That's a total of 6 Thanksgiving parties, in case you're keeping score....)

So what's my point in all this? 

Here's a letter that my shop received several months ago from the Consumer Health Division of the City of Fort Worth.  It's totally unrelated to Thanksgiving.  We got the letter back in April. 
I've hung onto it for occasions when I'm in a bad mood and want to make it worse.

To: The Woodshop Manager

"Spoke with production manager (Blank Blank) and he stated that female employees do sell sandwiches, Barbacoa (that's Messican BQ) and hot dogs."

"Complaint Confirmed.  Warning issued to all 3 employees.  There was no sign of any PHF's onsite (Potentially Hazardous Foods - prepared from home)."

"One employee admitted they sell about 5 burritos a day."

"Explained to each employee that it was illegal of prepare foods @ home and sell them to the public.  If another complaint happens, a citation will be issued to the individuals selling prepared foods."

Signed - Consumer Health Specialist 

Let me rewrite that letter for you, ok? 

To: The Woodshop Manager, who at this point is now my bitch,

It's painfully obvious to anyone who thinks about it for more than a few seconds that people are quite capable of making good choices about what to eat, what to buy, and whose cooking they trust.   

However, my job gives me the right, and the responsibility, to hassle people about what foods they sell. 

Tens of millions of people consume PHF's (Potentially Hazardous Foods) prepared from home without giving the City Of Fort Worth's Consumer Health Division a kickback money for a food-handler's permit or a license to sell burritos. 

The quality and safety of the food doesn't improve at all as a result of my job, or the kickbacks licenses and permits. 

But if you complain about this visit, my buddies in other City Hall departments will hassle you about your water runoff quality, your factory's air emissions, your habit of parking in the vacant lot next door that's not zoned for parking, or any of the thousands of other niggling little things we could use to make your life miserable. 

So get out of the burrito and barbacoa business, or give me some money. 

Signed - One Of Your Many Lords And Masters

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The chicken funeral

Here's an interesting protest video. 

These protesters are from Direct Action Everywhere.   In the video, they go into a supermarket, reverently and carefully select a (dead) processed chicken, put it in a little black coffin, and then harangue the other grocery shoppers with rants and speeches that their selections "are not food, they are violence". 

Or something. 

This is the Berkeley (California) wing of Direct Action Everywhere, which should surprise no one.

A quick look at the Direct Action Everywhere Meetup page leads me to believe that they're taking their identity politics too far.  Lordy....

Anyway, here's the video. 

Why am I posting this?  Because if you look in the background at the .15 mark, and again at the 1.49 mark, you can see some wooden orchard bin displays that were made at my shop in Texas !!

Heck YEAH!  We can now say that we built the backdrop for a chicken funeral !!!!


Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving !!!! (Hope you were thankful for a free market.)

“Any man worth his salt would fight for his home but only a damn fool would fight for his boarding house.”
                                                                    -Mark Twain

Here's a story that I first heard in China several years ago, and I'm probably going to re-run this post about it every Thanksgiving until I die.  The best online account I've found is on the World Socialist Website (chuckle chuckle).  It's about some Chinese farmers who got tired of starving. 

On one night in Nov. 1978, 18 villagers of Xiaogang, including (leader) Yan Jinchang, risked their lives to sign secretly an agreement, which divided the then People's Commune-owned farmland into pieces for each family to cultivate.

This was a bold move, as it was seen as "capitalist" and might have led to severe punishment from the government at that time.

Thus, on that secret agreement covered with villagers' seals and red fingerprints, there was a wobbly line saying that "If any word about this is divulged and the team leader is put in prison, other team members shall share the responsibility to bring up his child till he (or she) is 18. "

The original copy of this agreement is now in a museum someplace in China.  It had a huge influence.  Instead of farming the land together, and putting up with slackers, loafers, regulatory parasites and the other inevitable Socialist baggage, this brave group of Chinese farmers decided that each family would be responsible for a certain section of the land. 

That clause about agreeing to care for each others' children was a simple insurance policy.  To the best of my knowledge, none of the farmers agreed to care for the families of those who didn't share their risks.  In other words, you couldn't waltz into the agreement AFTER losing your head of household.  There's not even a hint of Obamacare in this document. 

The facts proved that it's worthwhile to take the adventure. Allocating farmland to each household, also known as "household contract responsibility system", fired the locals' enthusiasm for agriculture production, which had been contained in the outmoded planned economy, and helped poverty-stricken locals out of starvation.

That's just what happened when they agreed to stop the collectivist nonsense.  Think of what could happen if they'd been allowed to own the land, instead of having it allocated to them by their "leaders".   

The grains that a local farmer turned over to the state in the following year almost totaled what he did in past two decades, recalled Yan Hongchang, one of the 18 Xiaogang villagers who initiated the contract system.

Their practice was later supported by Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of China's reform and opening-up drive, and recognized by the Chinese government. Xiaogang has since been labeled as the pace-setter of the nation's rural reform.

Here's a similar story, from the Volokh Conspiracy.  This one hits closer to home.

Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted. In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did.

Time to quote Thomas Sowell for the 10,000th time.  Laws and policies should never be evaluated by their stated goals and objectives, but by the incentives they create. 

In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on equality and need as determined by Plantation officials.

Like we're about to do with healthcare. 

People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food. Governor William Bradford, in his 1647 history, Of Plymouth Plantation, wrote that this system was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. The problem was that young men, that were most able and fit for labour, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.

In other words, when the hardest-working, most creative Pilgrims realized that they were working themselves to death for people who didn't want to work as hard?  They started Going Galt.   

Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.

This change, Bradford wrote, had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability.

Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner.

And what have we learned from this? 

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Who Belongs On Mount Rushmore?

David Henderson, of The Library Of Economics And Liberty, has made the unlikely claim that Warren Harding belongs on Mount Rushmore. 

In addition to letting Eugene Debs out of prison, Harding also was ahead of his time on racial issues.  Here's a quote from Henderson's post:

Instead of attempting to suppress the black vote, he was a Republican, who, in 1921, made a speech in Jefferson, Ala., supporting the right of black men to vote. 1921!

He said: "Let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote." A reporter said that while the white section of the audience remained silent, the black section cheered.

Hardly enough to justify reshaping a mountain, but a good deed nonetheless. 

Other people have made other suggestions....

There's Reagan, who as best I can tell, had the advantage of not being Jimmy Carter....

And, of course, the Obamessiah, who has had the advantage of being black.  (I hate to go down that road, but if that damn fool's name was Barry O'Brien, and he was a white guy from East Armpit, Illinois, with the same non-achievements, he would've never made it into the Illinois State Legislature.)

Don Boudreaux, of the Café Hayek site, has chimed in with his .02 cents

I'd remove from Mt. Rushmore all people who are most famous for holding political office - which is to say, I'd blast off all four of the currently sculpted faces. I'd replace them with images of the faces of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Gustavus Swift, J.J. Hill (even though he was Canadian!), and either Gail Borden or Steve Jobs - people who really define, and who helped in notable and noticeable ways to sculpt, what is good about America. (If obliged to include a non-entrepreneur among the four, there's no question that the person whose visage I would choose is that wisest of all Americans, H.L. Mencken.)

If the suggestion is to ban politicians from being carved into mountainsides, I'll go with the following:

Sam Walton.  Walton brought more people out of bone-grinding poverty than anyone else in history.  He deserved a Nobel.  His company has provided millions of jobs to employees that you and I and Microsoft and Starbucks and Costco consider unemployable. 

Let's throw Norman Borlaug up there.  He came up with variations on wheat DNA that quadrupled yields.  He's called "the man who saved a billion lives", and because he did so without help from the Lefties, he's been widely criticized for doing so

David Koch.  Mostly to piss off the Statists, but also because he was an early, early advocate of ending the Nixon/Obama Drug War, legalizing Gay Marriage, ending the Fed, staying out of other people's wars, and lobbying for a smaller government.  Conde Nast has called him "one of the most generous, but low-key philanthropists in the USA".  Go here for a breakdown of just some of the money this man has given away.  (He's also given lots and lots of money to defeat the Obamacrats.  Unfortunately, all of it went to Republicans.)  The Libertarians ran him for V.P. in 1980. 

Milton Friedman.  He wrote Capitalism And Freedom, plus Free To Choose.  As a bonus, he and his wife Rose brought David Friedman into the world. 

I like those people.  Maybe one day they'll be carved into a mountainside and properly appreciated by a grateful nation. 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Liberty Vs Democracy

Here are variations on a hypothetical question I've been asking myself for the last few months.... 

Would you rather live under a benevolent dictatorship that respected property rights, human rights, and economic liberty?  Or would you prefer to live and work in a democracy, where the avid readers of People, Vogue, Duck Dynasty Monthly and The New York Times can vote themselves a chunk of your income and effort? 

Here's Richard Rahn at The Washington Times:

Would you prefer to live in a country that has:
(1) The rule of law with an honest civil service, strong protection of private property and minority rights, free trade, free markets, very low taxes, and full freedom of the speech, press and religion, but not a democracy?

(2) Democracy and a corrupt court and civil service, many restrictions on economic freedom, including very high taxes, with limited rights for minority religions, peoples and speech?

The first example describes Hong Kong under the British, which had full civil liberties, little corruption and the world’s freest economy. The Chinese took over Hong Kong in 1997 and have allowed it to continue as the freest economy in the world. As a result of the British being benevolent dictators and the Chinese largely continuing economic noninterference, with a number of restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, Hong Kong has achieved a per capita income close to that of the United States and higher than almost all democracies.

Many mistakenly believe democracy means liberty, but a quick review of world democracies show that is not true. Almost all democracies restrict economic liberties more than necessary. Many have corrupt court and civil service systems, inhibit women’s rights, constrain press freedom and do not protect minority rights and views. Iran, though a very restrictive theocracy, calls itself a democracy and holds elections.

That second example is a good description of what Bush and Obama killed and maimed several thousand U.S. troops to achieve in Iraq, BTW....

Liberty and Freedom are worth a significant sacrifice.  Democracy ain't worth a bucket of warm spit.  Hell, Hitler came into power through a democracy.  (A democracy with loopholes that made him Chancellor with just 37% of the vote, but a democracy nonetheless.) 

Here's Steve Hanke at Cato:

Most people, including most Americans, would be surprised to learn that the word “democracy” does not appear in the Declaration of Independence (1776) or the Constitution of the United States of America (1789). They would also be shocked to learn the reason for the absence of the word democracy in the founding documents of the U.S.A. Contrary to what propaganda has led the public to believe, America’s Founding Fathers were skeptical and anxious about democracy. They were aware of the evils that accompany a tyranny of the majority. The Framers of the Constitution went to great lengths to ensure that the federal government was not based on the will of the majority and was not, therefore, democratic.

The Constitution divided the federal government into legislative, executive and judicial branches. Each branch was designed to check the power of the other branches. The Founders did not want to rely only on the voters to check government power. As a result, citizens were given very little power to select federal officials.

Neither the President, members of the judiciary nor the Senate were elected by direct popular vote. Only the members of the House of Representatives were directly elected by popular vote. Even in this case, the franchise was quite restricted.

If the Framers of the Constitution did not embrace democracy, what did they adhere to? To a man, the Framers agreed that the purpose of government was to secure citizens in John Locke’s trilogy of the rights to life, liberty and property. The Framers wrote extensively and eloquently. On property, for example, John Adams wrote that “the moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”

Perfesser Hanke goes on to describe the disaster that was Woodrow Wilson, who took a federal government that consumed around 1% of GDP and turned it into the ravenous beast we know and despise today.   I hope you'll hit the link up top and read the whole thing.  Here's his closer:

Almost 80 years later, the farmers are still sucking money from the rest of society and agricultural policy has been enlarged to satisfy a variety of other interest groups, including conservationists, nutritionists and friends of the Third World. Then, during World War II, when government accounted for nearly half the U.S. GDP, virtually every interest group tried to tap into the vastly enlarged government budget. Even bureaus seemingly remote from the war effort, such as the Department of the Interior (which is in charge of government lands and natural resources), claimed to be performing “essential war work” and to be entitled to bigger budgets and more personnel.

Within the U.S. government, the war on terrorism has given cover to a multitude of parochial opportunists, whose proposals range from bailing out the airlines to nationalizing vaccine production. As a result, former President George W. Bush — a so-called conservative — ushered in a record-setting expansion of government. This trend continues with the interventionist President Barack Obama.

What lessons can we learn? First, “democracy” and “freedom” are not interchangeable words. Second, only the first century of the American experience represents a standard for freedom. Expanding democracy is a slogan which requires great caution. It can easily result in elected tyranny. Freedom is the concept. Our challenge is to persuade every citizen that benefits flow from freedom’s practical applications. Freedom might then flourish in very diverse and unexpected forms in different parts of the world.

There are millions of Tea Partiers, Right-Wingers, and Gung-Ho Militaristic extremists who are willing to have our troops killed and maimed in the name of "Democracy".  Millions of these same people are equally opposed to letting immigrants into the USA. 


Because they fear (justifiably, perhaps) how these immigrants would vote.  They no more trust Democracy than they trust a used car salesman. 

I've got no solution to suggest for this.  If somebody has to intervene in disputes, protect the borders, and provide a courts system, Democracy does ok.  But wouldn't it be nice if someone invented a religion, a mythology, or at least some really good propaganda, all based on freedom and liberty? 

If you've got time to read more on the subject, go here and here

Also, I bet Ben Franklin never said this or anything like it, but it's a cool quote:


Friday, November 21, 2014

Van Jones and "Mockingjay"

Former Marxist/Communist Van Jones (who was booted from Obama's advisory team for being a former Marxist/Communist) has written a silly review of the new film "Mockingjay". 

For those without a young daughter, the Hunger Games/Mockingjay series is about a dystopian future where the children of the outlying regions are forced into gladiatorial combat for the purpose of entertaining the government elites at "The Capitol".  (Spelled with an "O"....)

Jones claims that the film is a "sweeping indictment of income inequality". 


It's a sweeping indictment of the Van Jones political philosophy. 

Here's a pic of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., most of which now surround the U.S. Capital.  (With an "A".) 

Every dollar forcibly extracted from taxpayers goes to the Capital, and a little bit trickles back to the outlying regions.  This is what you wind up with....

Every child in the U.S. now has a $100,000.00 share of our national debt. 

The unfunded liabilities are now around $1,000,000.00 per child. 

I bet a few kids wish they could be randomly chosen to get a free pass from the current mess by....

Naw, I'm not going to go there. 

Pass the popcorn. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Let's knock the dust off this thing


1,2,3, testing....

Keyboard..... works

Internet connection.... works

Outrage beyond any reasonable sense of proportion....  oh yes

It appears that everything still works. 

I'm coming into the slow season at work. 

It's time to knock the dust off this thing !!!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Four Charts That Will Tell You All You Need To Know About "The War On Poverty"

Here's a chart that I've probably posted a dozen times.  It shows how poverty was dying nicely, all on its own, until LBJ declared war on it. 
Then poverty started feeling better, was taken off life support, and is now doing quite well. 

Here's another chart showing the amount spent by Federal anti-poverty agencies per poor household in 2011.  It comes to more than $61,000 per poverty-level household.  These numbers were bitterly contested when first released by The Weekly Standard, but they are what they are. 

Here are two more charts showing the wealthiest counties in the USA  Check out the counties around Washington D.C. 
This is where the 1% lives. 

By name....

From The Atlantic Monthly, hardly a Tea-Party periodical....

To be clear, this isn't telling you that the richest people in America live one commute from D.C.  In fact, parts of Connecticut, New York, and California are much, much richer than the richest parts of the Greater DC Area. Instead, it's telling you that these counties, of varying sizes, have the highest median income, because there is a striking concentration of high-earning (if not quite vertiginously rich) households around the district.

On the Virginia side, Falls Church City (#1 richest county in the country) is enveloped by Arlington (#7) and east rim of Fairfax County (#5), which borders Loudoun (#2) on its west side. From Loudoun, you pass south through Prince William (#13) to Stafford (#9).

In Maryland, encircling Washington, you have, clockwise from the noon position, Montgomery (#12), Howard (#4),  Anne Arundel (#24), Calvert (#23), St. Mary's (#29), ​and Charles (#18). All of these counties border each other, forming a kind of reverse-C (or Hebrew Fe) around the District.

A staggering amount of the money we send to Washington D.C. stays there.   (We send it there because all truly civilized societies provide welfare, safety nets, free educations, free transportation, and free internet wireless, or so they tell us....)

So.... Is the system working? 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Elizabeth Warren's 11 Commandments Of Progressivism

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Moses Of Massachusetts, recently spent some quality time with Jehovah atop Mt. Sinai, and came down from the mountaintop with "The 11 Commandments Of Progressivism". 

Please stop your revelry, quit worshipping the Golden Calf, and join me in critiquing Ms. Warren's commandments....

First, let's straighten out some terminology.  The American Left routinely violates the English language by using words to mean whatever the hell they want them to mean.  For instance, I'm a Liberal.  It's a great old word, coming from the same root as liberty, liberate, libertarian, and liberation. 

The American Left seemed to start off as "The Progressive Movement", then morphed into "Liberals", and then after defiling that fine old word, refashioned themselves as "Progressives". 

Here's Michael Barone, explaining some of the transition:

Liberals just aren't very liberal these days. The word "liberal" comes from the Latin word meaning freedom, and in the 19th century, liberals in this country and abroad stood for free speech, free exercise of religion, free markets, free trade -- for minimal state interference in people's lives.
In the 20th-century, New Dealers revised this definition by arguing that people had a right not only to free speech and freedom of religion but also, as Franklin Roosevelt said in his 1941 Four Freedoms speech, freedom from fear and from want.
Freedom from want meant, for Roosevelt, government provision of jobs, housing, health care and food. And so government would have to be much larger, more expensive and more intrusive than ever before.
That's what liberalism has come to mean in America (in Europe it still has the old meaning), and much of the Obama Democrats' agenda are logical outgrowths -- Obamacare, the vast expansion of food stamps, attempted assistance to underwater homeowners.

I support marijuana legalization, I support gay marriage, and I support lots and lots and lots of birth control.  That makes me a Liberal, in the old-school sense of the word. 

I do not believe that someone should be forced to hire stoners, forced to bake cakes for gay weddings, or forced to pay for someone else's morning-after birth control pills.  In the old-school sense of the word, that makes me a.... Liberal. 

So I'm glad that Senator Warren, the Moses Of Massachusetts, has decided to change her label to "Progressive".  Progressive means "someone who wants to take your stuff". 

Let's look at Fauxcahontas's stone tablets:

 The 11 Commandments Of Progressivism !!
- "We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we're willing to fight for it."

Wall Street already has more rules than the freakin' Koran.  The Securities And Exchange Commission has a budget of 1.32 billion dollars.  Stock purchasing and trading is already one of the most regulated activities on Earth. 
On top of that, Elizabeth Warren's Democrat tribe held the Presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate in the time period immediately after the recent Wall Street fiascos.  Nobody on Wall Street went to jail. 
Elizabeth Warren wants more power and control and money for government.  It really is that simple. 

- "We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth."

I believe in science.  I believe that I have a responsibility to protect this Earth.  (What's up with her saying "this Earth"?  Do we have undiscovered responsibilities to protect other Earths?  And will this require additional funding?)
I do not believe that protecting this (or any other) Earth obligates me to give money to Barack and Elizabeth and The Goracle
I will believe that my activity influences the weather when those three jet-setters start acting like their activity influences the weather.  Canadian Geese spend less time in the air than those three con-artists.   

- "We believe that the Internet shouldn't be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality."

Good Lord in heaven....  If we were to discover that some internet service provider was rigging searches, we could drop them like a hot potato.  Leave it to the customer.  End of story.
For instance, the Progressives who run Google have de-emphasized their Blogger/BlogSpot service (the one that hosts this blog) in the Google search algorithm. 
I believe that there is a 5 to 1 ratio of Libertarian/Conservative bloggers to Liberal/Progressive bloggers. 
It is far more effective for Google to stifle blog search results than it is for them to contribute $$$ to Progressive candidates. 
I can't prove any of this.  I don't want Washington, or Senator Elizabeth Warren, or Rand Paul to spend a dime trying to prove this.  It's a dumbass conspiracy theory of mine. 
It's Google's company, and they can run it however they choose.  Google gives me this blog site for free, and I can start paying for Wordpress or something else if I choose to do so.  Until then, I shouldn't do any bitching about my delusions of Google violating net neutrality.
- "We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage."

And this will guarantee that more low-skilled workers won't work at all, and will live in poverty. 
If I become king and arbitrarily set the minimum selling price on all cars at $50,000.00, you're going to by a Mercedes every single time.  That used, beat-up 1975 Volkswagen Beetle will go unpurchased at $50,000.00
The minimum wage was first put in place in the U.S. to keep (black) poor workers from taking (white) middle-class jobs.  It has always worked precisely as intended. 

- "We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them."

Elizabeth, you ignorant slut
McDonald's, Whataburger, Wendy's and Burger King hire the people that Harvard, M.I.T., Bell Helicopter, Google, Microsoft, Yale, and NASA refuse to hire.  Elizabeth, you have refused to hire those fast-food workers. 
Don't take to the picket line.  Stop marching.  Stop bitching and moaning about the low wages offered by others.  Hire those people.  It's easy to make money off of low-skilled labor, right?
And in your spare time, look up the black teen unemployment rate.  Do you really want to price even more of those kids out of a job?  Or are you just trying to get traction from an issue that polls well with Low Information Voters Progressives?    

- "We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt."

Then for the love of God, please end government's near-monopoly on higher education. 
Fire Thomas J. Perez, the Luddite son of a bitch who is now the Secretary Of Labor.  (You know, the guy who, when working for the Justice Department, prevented universities from using the Kindle, because Kindles discriminate against blind people.) 
End lifetime employment guarantees for under-worked academics.
Investigate the possibility that government loans just might be the reason universities can jack up their prices to ridiculous levels.   
Give people a freakin' choice.  There is no reason why a course in Western Civilization should cost more than it did in 1950 (adjusted for inflation). 
We're dealing with cartels, not classrooms.

- "We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions."

Too late.  Social Security and Medicare are both bankrupt.  Gone.  They've spent it all. 

- "We believe—I can't believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work."

I can't believe I'm having to say this in 2014 either.....

Think of all the people who came into your workplace with the exact same background, education and training. 
Then eliminate everyone all those who don't perform your same job in your department. 
Then eliminate those who are better workers than you and those who are worse workers than you. 
In Elizabeth Warren's world, the remaining people are those who should be paid the same as you. 
Could you think of anybody? 
No?  There's no one else with your identical training, education, certifications, pedigrees, work ethic, punctuality, attitude, result, profit margins, congeniality, and downright awesomeness? 

That's why the "equal pay for equal work" theme is nothing but a feast for lawyers. 

- "We believe that equal means equal, and that's true in marriage, it's true in the workplace, it's true in all of America."

This is a meaning less statement.  Dell Computer means Dell Computer.  Tape dispenser means tape dispenser.  Stapler means stapler, and phone means phone (to name just a few of the things on my desk.) 
I don't know how this Word Pasta made it into the commandments.  

- "We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform."

I agree. 
But "reform" is another one of those words that the American Left has desecrated. 
Thanks to "Healthcare Reform" and "Campaign Finance Reform", the word "Reform" now means to take something and f**k it up beyond all recognition. 
How 'bout we change that commandment to "We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and therefore we favor Open Borders." 

- "And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!"

Corporations are comprised of groups of people.  They're sure as hell taxed like they're people.  And, to a lesser extent, they can be sued like people. 
Women have a right to their own bodies, because they are people. 
People do have a right to their bodies. 
It follows that people have a right to the goods and services produced by their bodies and minds.   
Therefore, no individual or corporation should be in charge of providing healthcare, child support, income tax withholding, Social Security contributions, Medicare, Medicaid, or 40 acres and a mule to anyone. 
Putting companies in between people and government (for tax withholding, etc.) is a structure that began as one of FDR's many wartime mistakes, and it should end now. 

And the main tenet of conservatives' philosophy, according to Warren? "I got mine. The rest of you are on your own."

And Elizabeth Warren's philosophy is "You got yours.  And I want it." 
Go here to read about Warren's support for the Corporate Welfare Bank. 

God Almighty, I'm glad I got this out of my system. 

BTW, the Libertarian movement only has two real commandments - "Don't hit people and don't take their stuff." 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Yes, I'm still alive

Yes, I'm still alive. 
Working 75-hour weeks. 
I'm "temporary" manager of our wood shop. 
I have 143 employees, on two shifts. 
I will be back to regularly scheduled ranting and blogging as soon as we find a permanent wood shop manager. 

In the meantime, we're building circular bakery fixtures and displays like this one:


Saturday, June 14, 2014

A hypothetical question about a 2nd-World Country

As I've stated below numerous times, I'm swamped at work.  We are busy, busy, busy.  We are so far behind that we occasionally look behind ourselves and think that we're in first place. 
I haven't had much time to write lately. 
However, after reading libertarian-ish stuff about economics, globalization, free trade, and economic development for the last ten years, I can see how my work stuff and my political stuff sometimes intersect quite nicely.  Theories and reality sometimes do come together! 

What follows is an email that I got from my friend and co-worker Darrell (one of our salesmen/project managers) about some display fixtures we're doing for grocery stores in Panama. 
A Fort Worth TX company is doing display fixtures for stores near the Panama Canal.   
(As an FYI, there is a suburb of Panama City called San Francisco, not to be confused with Nancy Pelosi's fiefdom in California.)
Please enjoy Darrell's underlining, exclamation points!!, emoticons :)  and bold text.  Darrell types like he speaks.  Read his email, and I'll try to make my points later...

Greetings from Panama! It is after 2100 hours on Friday night and Edgar and I are getting ready for a good night’s rest here in the hotel.  A very brief report as we get ready to hit the hay and hit it hard again tomorrow.  

1.       The first container arrived today at 0900 at the San Francisco store – and it worked out perfectly that it was the La Cresta (what we thought would be the first store) container with all that we needed for the first install. The stores are not – as we were led to think – anywhere near ready to be open. We will have everything set up in all of the stores before they are ready to earn dollar one!

2.       The Solid Surfaces were ALL intact and unbroken. Kudos to the Jamie and the other guys at Infiniti (under the direction of Dan and Angel) for an excellent packaging job!


3.       The fixtures were completely intact and undamaged with the exception of one pretty big scratch (might have been done by one of the workers while cutting the foam and wrap away) on the a metal cabinet and one little bend in one of the pieces on the Checkout Counter. Extreme Kudos to one Clinton for his assistance in leading me in the packaging of all of the fixtures. It was excellence in every way possible! It is  very difficult to explain how significant Clint’s contribution was to this project!

4.       It is extremely “primitive” here in Panama City with no forklift and not even an available pallet jack to use in unloading the containers. Edgar and I worked and supervised a group of young men workers in unloading it “piece of piece by piece of piece.” It took 22 minutes to load by Mikey at Metal Shipping (In Texas) – and 2 hours and 15 minutes to unload (In Panama) – basically by hand. I have a short video of Edgar wringing out his shirt at the mid-point of the process that is priceless. He is now asleep already and snoring loudly. J

5.       Oh – the most important part…The clients ABSOLUTLEY LOVE the look of the fixtures. We are really close to getting the commitment on the next 6 of their stores. And (censored) was talking us up today about the prospects of the remodeling the rest of the 40+ (censored, not any of your damn business) stores in Panama and the 32 stores in Costa Rica. And – in the interest of a true long-term partnership with the parent company – remodeling a few dozen (censored) pharmacies and even more of (censored again; you're on a need-to-know basis) in Central America.

6.       It will be a long few days here – but the prospects are bright!

7.       Lastly, I have copied but a fraction of the Marco and Infiniti people that have contributed to this effort…and there were 19 names in either the To: or the CC: lines above (when I first tried to send this last night)!  And THAT is source of great pride for me. It should be to you all, also.  I am filled with gratitude for your help in this true TEAM effort.

Darrell (Last Name Censored)
Project Manager
The Marco Company

Ok, let's begin the economic and political and Libertarian analysis of each bullet-point in this email....

1) Shipping Containers.  These ugly metal boxes are so significant to our lives, so vital to the global economy, and so wonderful for trade, but most of us have little or no idea how much they have enriched our existence.  Prior to the invention of containers, manufacturers and shippers had to "break bulk" every time a shipment moved from truck to boat to rail to truck.  Theft was rampant.  20% losses were common. 
Back in the late 1950's a genius entrepreneur named Malcom McLean invented a metal box that could travel by truck, rail, or boat.  (Think about how many nations have different standards for their roads, their truckbeds, their railcars, and their harbors, and you'll understand the magnitude of his task.  Mr. McLean really, really, really wanted this system to work.) 
Unless you are a Luddite, a Nationalist, or a racist of some sort, you understand that Free Trade is the greatest economic concept ever devised.   Politicians rant against Free Trade, corporate lobbyists try to protect their industries from it, and government munchkins love being photographed rushing to the aid of those whose lives have been disrupted by globalization.  This makes as much sense as rushing to the aid of Blockbuster employees whose lives have been disrupted by Netflix. 
Thank you, Mr. McLean for increasing global trade by inventing the shipping container.  Because of this glorious metal box, one million people per month are leaving poverty in China alone!     

2) "The Solid Surfaces were all intact and unbroken..."  The unions hated McLean's shipping containers.  They hated the concept.  They still wanted to unload each container onto a boat when it entered each harbor, and then reload it when it went onto the rail.  And then unload the container and reload it when it went from the rail to a truck.  I swear to God, that's what they wanted to do.  You can read stories about it here.
But it's hard for The Teamsters and union dockworkers to steal from your shipment when the factory in China (or Fort Worth) puts a seal on the door and all container movement comes to a shrieking halt if the seal is broken. 
Thank you again, Mr. McLean, for inventing a shipping device that allows the Free Market to function smoothly.  Readers, unless you're in Asia, the device you're using to read this rant arrived in your nation via Shipping Container. 

3)  I'm not going to go off into who is at fault for the damage (that probably happened in the store, caused by store employees, and not by us). 
But had the display fixtures in question needed repair, the nation of Panama would've allowed Darrell to do the work. 
Contrast Panama's approach with that of The Peoples' Republic Of Canada, where a foreigner can't even carry his toolbox across the Canadian border because the Canadian government is afraid that doing so will destroy Canadian jobs.  Seriously.  Texans can't carry their own toolboxes into Canada without special permits, or paperwork explaining that it's for "warranty repair". 
Making foreign labor illegal is as harmful to your well-being as making foreign products illegal.
If you disagree, spend a few minutes questioning why we've had an embargo with Cuba since the JFK era. 

4) Point number 4 is interesting.  A guy named David Mason and I once loaded a 53-foot Wal-Mart trailer in 18 minutes.  There were about 25 skids and 30 boxes, and we did it in 18 minutes.  I repeat, and I might want this included in my obituary, we loaded that trailer in 18 minutes.  Mikey got this shipment done in 22 minutes.  And it took more than two hours to unload in Panama because they don't have forklifts!

So here's the economics question....  Which process "saved or created" the most jobs?  Loading in 22 minutes or unloading for two hours without a forklift or a pallet jack? 

Well, working without the modern tools created the most work and the most jobs.  But creating jobs is not the purpose of work.  The purpose of jobs is to produce something.  Something that people want.  Here's a famous Milton Friedman anecdote that might make the point more clearly....

The story goes that Milton Friedman was once taken to see a massive government project somewhere in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman was puzzled. Why weren’t there any excavators or any mechanized earth-moving equipment? A government official explained that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman’s response: “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”
That story came to mind last week when President Obama linked technology to job losses. “There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers,” he said. “You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”
The president calls this a structural issue—we usually call it progress.

The writer goes on to dissect a few more paragraphs of Barackaganda.  Hit the link up top to read it all, and for a more thorough explanation of the difference between jobs and production.   250 years ago, 98% of us were farmers.  That's what it took to keep us alive.  Anybody want to turn back the clock? 

5)  Regarding how much the customer loves the displays, and how we've got the potential to do a lot more stores for (censored) in Panama and Costa Rica, and elsewhere in Latin America....
I was born in 1961, on a farm between Merigold and Drew Mississippi.  If you had told me as a teenager that U.S. companies would be exporting fruitstands, bakery racks, and other display fixtures into Latin America, I would've said that you were insane. 
Don't they have trees for wood in Panama?  Don't they have metal shops in Costa Rica?  They produce lots of oil in South America, so they make their own plastic? 
Yeah, they have all the raw materials down there, but they also have a choice....
Leave them alone, and they choose to buy their freakin' fruitstands from a U.S. company.  Could they make 'em cheaper in Latin America? 
But Latin America is best at growing bananas and fruit and cattle.  West Fort Worth is best at making display fixtures.  It's called "comparative advantage", and with the exception of Ron Paul, I don't think any major American politician has ever understood it.
We really would be better off if without laws stating that Olympic and Army and Navy uniforms have to be made in the USA.  For the love of God, let everyone, everywhere, do what they're best at doing.  

6)  "It will be a long few days here - but the prospects are bright!"  Compare that sentence to the current Keynesian mess that our political system encourages. 
Presidents want the economy to improve now, so they mortgage our children's' future. 
Keynesian economists want to create full employment now, so they borrow from the next generation.
Going through a recession?  Create a "stimulus", using borrowed money via loans cosigned by infants. 

But in the private sector, Darrell works hard now so that in the future we might have brighter prospects. 

7)  Darrell makes a slight mistake in that last bullet-point.  He thanked everybody for the "team" effort. 
Most of us had little or no idea of the bigger picture.  Some of us were making metal brackets, some were cutting laminated sheets, others were painting parts. 
Very few people involved in the project were aware of the big picture.  The teamwork in the process was a matter of passing each part along to the next stage, in shops located miles apart. 
If one master craftsman had tried to do it all, it would've taken years to finish.  Nobody is good enough in all areas to do something like this. 

This guy has a good explanation of why that is the case:

In the first chapter of  “The Wealth of Nations”, Adam Smith, explains the optimum organization of a pin factory. Traditional pin makers could produce only a few dozen pins a day. However, when organized in a factory with each worker performing a limited operation, they could produce tens of thousands a day. This was the reason why Smith favored division of labor.

Karl Marx believed that this "Division Of Labor" would create a "loss of self" in workers.  Karl Marx was usually full of crap. 

So here's a hypothetical question about Panama....
Are Panamanians better off or worse off because of buying display fixtures from Fort Worth, Texas?

That's all I have to say about this email. 
It's been a long, long day.