A Simulation of Stimulation

I see that President Obama has admitted that his efforts to improve the housing picture have not been successful.

(What gave you the first clue, Dick Tracy?)  The administration is seeking some method to stop the decline in home values, but as someone in the business I can tell you that the solution is jobs, and that is not being addressed.

The job numbers released this morning were “disappointing” to use the president’s words, and the president said in a statement that the sooner we give businesses some certainty by solving the debt problem, the sooner they will hire.

That may be his hope (he is strong on hope), but I track Apple computer closely because they are a bell-weather company. The upper management is liberal – but they are also realistic. They have more than 60 BILLION in the bank, and they are not hiring – except in Taiwan, China and South Korea. Their numbers are staggering, they have for the iPHONE and iPAD, more than 425,000 approved apps, and users have downloaded more than 15 BILLION apps! Here is the rub – Android phones outsell them, but Apple still drives the market.

If Apple is doing so well financially and not hiring US, what incentive is there for others to do so. Business has discovered that the workers they let loose can be replaced more easily today with available, off-the-shelf technology.

Disintermediation is accelerating. Real Estate agents are in the crosshairs, just as travel agents, and bank tellers before us. It’s not that we will be fully replaced, but there will be less need for the numbers of us. There will be less need for MANY people – unemployment is going to be a natural thing – or rather many of us will sell our skills as independent contractors.

The administration is insisting that lenders extend consideration to jobless homeowners from four months to a year, but that is not going to solve the problem. jobs, and jobs alone will  eventually stop the homes from going into foreclosure, and it is that foreclosure inventory that can be bought below market that makes a new market at the lower rate, and the slide continues.

It was the government permitting, nay, encouraging people to own homes who rationally should never be homeowners. The lenders are now overly cautious but that is natural as they see the results of being too lenient.

There is a natural tendency for governments under both major parties to extend home ownership under the theory that home ownership contributes to societal stability. However there is a natural ratio of homeowner to renter, and government can do nothing to change that natural ratio – it can only distort it unnaturally. Distortions eventually reach a tipping point.

We are in a long term transition. I have explained before the constant cry of every lacrosse, soccer and basketball coach – “You are being killed in the transition game” – because transitions take place in sports and in life with great rapidity, and those who do not respond quickly are left behind.

Government, by its nature, does not respond quickly. People can respond quicker – but not when they are paid by government, not to work.

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The Teachers and Pricipals Gave the Students a Bad Name

It has not been a strong point on the news, but the Atlanta school system is in turmoil.

Cheating on tests.

Not the students – the teachers, and the Principals. More than 178 of them, to be exact! Almost HALF of the 100 schools in the district were involved!

The agency that certifies the school system has placed them on probation, some teachers and principals, 82,  have admitted the scheme that goes back almost a decade, and there are criminal charges pending.

The contention is that it was the pressure for good grades that caused the cheating, but the appearance of performance is exactly the reason people cheat at EVERYTHING!

Back in my racing days we had a saying that “I know he cheated, because I cheated and he beat me!”

(Admission: I never cheated for increased performance…but I did have this neat little switch that turned on my brake lights, so that a competitor right behind me going into the last corner before the checkered flag would think I was braking, and tap his brakes while I was actually still off mine. I might trick him into a lapse of half a second. Never got a chance to use it, but I probably would have…my victories were not that close, and my losses never required gaining a spot. Whether I was second or 23rd, didn’t make any difference to me. Second place is just first among losers. Second admission – I blew a LOT of engines, so many the factory in England sent someone to have a talk with me. He was not amused. The British do not have the same humor that Yanks do.)

Athletes cheat for fame and performance, so do students, and so do teachers and Principals. Anytime there is something to be gained, cheating is a possibility and that is certainly true in schools at any time, and more so when something like increased pressure for competitive improvement is concerned.

Atlanta was a showcase for Black student achievement, and I am certain there was great pressure for what has to be the most successful Black society in America to show that the highly successful Black middle and upper middle class in Atlanta could perform where the lower strata in Detroit and Washington, D.C. demonstrably did not.

I would be willing to bet they could have done so without cheating because the influence of successful Black families in Atlanta alone would have driven up the scores, but the teachers and the Principals would not have been satisfied with just and increase, or a good showing – for them it had to continue to increase to a great showing.

The teachers and Principals got greedy. The Superintendent is under pressure because she knew or should have known – cheating was that widespread.

What should have been a triumph for successful Black students has been tarnished not by them, but by their teachers and Principals, and that is the real shame of it.

Rick Perry 1…Obama 0

Humberto Leal died a peaceful death in Texas, something he did not permit a 16 year old girl he brutalized, raped and murdered.

The execution of Leal was a real controversy between the State of Texas, the nation of Mexico which contended that Leal was denied access to Mexican Consular officials, and the Obama administration that sided with Mexico as a result of a treaty.

In the end, the Obama administration took the issue to the US Supreme Court, claiming that the Obama administration supported legislation that would require Consular visits for foreign nationals, and Texas was in violation of that treaty..

Here is the problem: Crime is a state issue, always has been and it is not going to change. The federal government is not going to ever have any influence over states on that issue, and in particular the State of Texas which is, fortunately, the most independent state in the union.

Now the nation is bound by treaty to provide Consular advice to prisons, but the question is, can a foreign treaty bind an individual state on a specific state issue. There is a bill in Congress to require states to reflect the obligations of the federal government, but it has never passed and with the House in Republican hands, never will.

On a vote of 5-4 the US Supreme Court refused to issue a stay several days ago, saying that it was the policy of the Supreme Court to enforce existing laws, rather than enforcing potential laws that may never pass the Congress at any time in the future and certainly has not now.

The Mexican Consulate contended that they might have proven that Leal was not guilty, but Leal admitted his guilt in the chamber where he received his injection, apologized for hurting so many people and died saying, twice, “Viva Mexico!”