The stability myth

From The New York Times: “Over seven decades, the United States and Saudi Arabia forged a strategic alliance that became a linchpin of the regional order: a liberal democracy and an ultraconservative monarchy united by shared interests in the stability of the Middle East and the continued flow of oil.”

Those seven decades date from the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. Throughout the Cold War, U.S. policy supported autocratic governments in the Middle East (and elsewhere) because democratic governments were thought to be unstable. Continue reading

Purpose of government?

From The New York Times, in an article about siting casinos in the state of New York, there’s a quotation from Maureen Hallihan, who oversees economic development for Orange County. “If the state is interested in generating the most amount of revenue,” Ms. Hallihan said, “Orange County has a leg up.”  Continue reading

Every clock stops

The April 2014 Scientific American has a box at the bottom of page 22 that says “5 billion [is the] number of years the JILA strontium atomic clock … could tick away without gaining or losing one second.” Don’t you believe it.  Continue reading

Secession and annexation

A region of a smaller country, whose inhabitants have cultural ties to a larger country, secedes from the smaller country and is annexed by the larger country. Examples: Crimea, Texas.

What’s good for General Motors

… is good for the country. Charlie Wilson, then President of General Motors, was misquoted as having said that in 1953. At the time it was thought to be supremely arrogant, but these days it’s apparently accepted as a fundamental truth. Continue reading

Trouble with Internet Explorer

                                                                        I just learned that the layout of
                                                                        these pages does not render correctly
                                                                        in Microsoft Internet Explorer.
                                                                        I’m trying to fix that. Continue reading

I don’t understand the “Stimulus”

The U.S. economy (not to mention the world economy) has been running slow ever since the crash of 2008. The Fed (the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System) is expected to do something about it. So the Fed lowers bank interest rates, to make it cheaper for investors to create jobs. Then the Fed starts buying up U.S. Treasury securities to put more money into the investment market. Supposedly, when investors have enough money they will invest in the kind of business that creates jobs. Continue reading