Category Archives: History

No New Thing Under The Sun

A lesson from Plato, on how Republics die.

[Update a while later]

Here I come to save the day:

Unfortunately, some politicians see the current crisis as an “opportunity” to push an agenda. They haven’t stopped to consider to what extent that agenda may exacerbate the very problems they are trying to solve. The WSJ captured the philosophy of the present administration in White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel’s remarks that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.” Emmanuel subsequently proceeded to enumerate a list of social spending items some of which arguably sound like new versions of the same community housing spending which may have been one of the original “political risks” to start with. When asked whether the stimulus package had turned into a spending spree, President Obama acknowledged it with pride. “That’s the point. Seriously, that’s the point.”

But that’s not the point; not the point at all. And it’s a shame BHO doesn’t realize it and a greater shame if he does. The real question is whether current government solutions to the crisis contribute to political risk or reduce it. That means knowing what’s broke before applying the screwdriver to the screw.

Well, it’s what politicians do. Too bad we have politicians, and not statesmen.

Old And New

Here’s a picture from the balcony of my room overlooking the Savannah River, of a South Korean container ship heading downriver toward the ocean (to the right in this image — the view is toward the northeast), with an old barquentine in the foreground. Well, actually, not so old. It was actually built a couple decades ago, based on concepts from the eighteenth century.

Note that it’s still overcast. Since leaving the Sunshine State a couple days ago, I haven’t seen the sun. I’m not complaining, though. Florida sun has the same depressing effect on me that rain in Seattle has on others. It would be nice to get some nice light for a few shots of the town before we leave, though.

It’s Alive

Yes, we drove up to Savannah on Saturday, and spent yesterday poking around. The weather’s been ugly (literally — overcast) so I haven’t bothered to take pics, though I may have some later if it clears up. It’s actually a more interesting place than I expected (not that I had low expectations). A lot of interesting history here. I had been unaware that it was where the Georgia colony was established. I was also unaware that it was the major port of departure, and home of the global exchange, for cotton for decades. There are ships moving up and down the river outside my hotel room window as I type, but I’m seeing a lot more containers than cotton bails.

More Thoughts On Boundary Conditions

Clark Lindsey follows up on the previous discussion (with the typical ahistorical nonsense in the comments section about Nixon “scrapping” Apollo):

I think that if, say, Pete Worden had been chosen as NASA chief in 2005, his study would have set boundary conditions much closer that for the HLR than to Griffin’s and come up with a HLR type of architecture. Conditions on Constellation required that it avoid in-space operations at all costs, avoid multiple launches at all costs, and avoid development of any new technologies at all costs. Not surprisingly, all of that ends up costing a whole lot.

As someone once said, when failure is not an option, success gets pretty damned expensive.

Bailout Questions

Here are some good ones. I suspect that the socialists will have a response to this one, though:

President-elect Obama claims that spending approximately $800 billion will create 3.675 million new jobs. That comes to $217,000 per job. This doesn’t sound like a very good value, especially with the national average salary around $40,000. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just mail each of these workers a $40,000 check?

The response will be that the jobs will last more than a year. But of course, they’d have to last at least five years to be equivalent.