Daily Archives: July 8, 2014

National Retirement Infrastructure

New Economic Perspectives has the article National Retirement Infrastructure.

First it describes a big chunk of what that infrastructure would be and talks about what it would cost.

The “Retirement Infrastructure” building effort we have in mind is not a “big government” program run by federal, state and local bureaucracies—it is exactly the opposite. It is a program that “big government” (except for one small piece of the puzzle) has no role in whatsoever. Instead, what we have in mind is this: the formation—on a national scale, all across the country—of small, cooperative groups of retirees who (a) plan and (b) manage the construction of modest, sustainable, cohousing projects which they subsequently will live in—for free—and then pass on to the following generations.

A very large part of the article talks about how we could afford such a project.  It discusses how we managed to afford World War II as an example.  The article concludes with:

Now: Let’s imagine a collective effort similar to World War Two, perhaps not on such an all-encompassing grand scale, but an effort nevertheless addressing an urgent collective need. Let’s further imagine the federal government issuing Dollars “out of thin air” to pay U.S. citizens to produce the work and build the things necessary to provide for that need. Finally, let’s imagine that the things created by that effort, instead of being things that would be destroyed, or things that citizens had no use for, were things they very much could use to their benefit every day—like, for example, a National Retirement Infrastructure of cohousing they could live in for free, generation after generation. Now that we understand we can actually “afford” to do something like that, why would we not seriously consider doing it?

The logic in the article is so well thought out and so clearly correct, that the only objection you could possibly have is that it couldn’t possibly be true.  You can spend the next few years trying to come up with reasons why the logic is flawed, and it might be a worthwhile exercise.  If you took as a given that for each reason why this couldn’t work, you would try to think of a way to overcome whatever roadblock appeared, you would find at the end of those years that you had come up with a workable plan to make it happen.

Then all you would have to do is decide to do it.  What possible, logical reason would there be for you, the country as a whole, to decide not to do it?

The only possible reason the country would decide not to do this is that the country has decided that we can no longer do what our country has done before when it was weaker and less powerful.  Or as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.”

Sharia edicts ruled invalid in India

The Boston Globe has the Associated Press story Sharia edicts ruled invalid in India.

NEW DELHI — Islamic courts have no legal authority in India, the country’s Supreme Court ruled Monday, saying Muslims cannot be legally subject to a parallel religious authority.

Individuals may abide by Sharia court rulings if they wish but cannot be legally forced to do so, Judge C. K. Prasad said.

‘‘No religion is allowed to curb anyone’s fundamental rights,’’ he told the court, giving the decision of a two-judge bench. Indian law does not recognize Sharia court rulings, he said.

Can you imagine if our Supreme Court majority had the intelligence of these judges in India?  I know that this is asking you to stretch your imagination beyond the bounds of what is possible.

I also wonder why these decisions always seem to come down to the issue of men taking advantage of women in a sexual way.

Why We Need Female Supreme Court Justices

I am such a fan of my own writing (a little self-directed sarcasm there), that I thought an excerpt from a previous post deserved a post of its own.

It is great irony that the issue in the Hobby Lobby case revolved around contraception.  It is typical of the majority of Justices that they did not think ahead to the consequences of their action.  The majority was all male.  Men frequently do not think about the consequences of sexual activity the way that women do.

Most often women have to deal with the consequences in a way that men do not.  So their thinking about the consequences is in a way that men do not always have the necessity to think.

Extra focus on consequences is but one example of the kind of thought that women can bring to the court that men are not as likely to bring.

Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking

The New York Times has the story Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking.

WASHINGTON — It was one of the final pieces of legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush, a measure that passed without controversy, along with a pension bill and another one calling for national parks to be commemorated on quarters.

“This is a piece of legislation we’re very proud to sign,” a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, told reporters on Dec. 23, 2008, as the president put his pen to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, named for a 19th-century British abolitionist. “This program has been very effective around the world in trying to stop trafficking in persons.”

Now the legislation, enacted quietly during the transition to the Obama administration, is at the root of the potentially calamitous flow of unaccompanied minors to the nation’s southern border.

As with any article from The New York Times, you cannot treat what it says as gospel.  However, if you hadn’t known about the “William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008” before, you now have some new information to consider.

One side-effect of reading this article is the highlighting of unintended consequences of governmental action.  Perhaps the lawmakers should have asked themselves how people will learn to take advantage of this new legislation.  The Judiciary branch also needs to partake of this same type of introspection.  The Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Hobby Lobby case specifically refused to consider the unintended consequences of their decision with the reasoning that these consequences had not occurred yet.  Of course the unintended consequences of their decision could not have already taken place before they made the decision.  The consequences of an action, by definition, can only occur after the action.

This is the same deficiency in thinking that allowed the securitization of mortgages to lead to catastrophe.  All the studies about what could happen with securitized mortgages looked at the history of mortgage default rates before securitization had been introduced into the market.  No thought had been given in the research to how the incentives in the market would change by the introduction of securitization.  It turns out that the due diligence of the lenders that produced the history of low default rates was rendered unnecessary  by this change in the environment of lending.

It is great irony that the issue in the Hobby Lobby case revolved around contraception.  It is typical of the majority of Justices that they did not think ahead to the consequences of their action.  The majority was all male.  Men frequently do not think about the consequences of sexual activity the way that women do.

Ilargi: Overshoot Loop and Evolution

Naked Capitalism has the article Ilargi: Overshoot Loop and Evolution. I’ll just quote Yves Smith’s summary:

Yves here. As Ilargi himself acknowledges, even by the standards of his fare, this post on “overshoot” is plenty sobering. We do seem to be on our way to precipitating a mass species die off (as in it’s underway already and humans seem remarkably unwilling to take sufficiently stern measures to stop it). The end of civilization as we know it seems almost inevitable, given that most “advanced” economies are seeing serious erosion of their social fabric, as reflected in falling social well-being measures. However, the provocative point that Jay Hanson argues is that our hard-wired political habits guarantee our undoing.

The main article introduces some very thought provoking ideas. The comments also go a long way toward preventing the original author from getting away with too much. You get the most out of this by considering both the article and the body of comments.

I particularly like the thought that the open source software development movement might be a template for how we conduct ourselves in the post industrial society. When we don’t have to work the majority of the time to survive, what will we do with our time?