RobotAn idea worthy of a pundit down on her ratings or perhaps of a professor at some university. It turns up from time to time now as if we lacked enough to worry about with our politicians. Some unfortunates have to write something every day to keep their paychecks coming; the search for topics must become pretty desperate sometimes.

First, what is a robot? The term is misused now to address almost any machine that replaces human labor. With that, the textile machines that so infuriated the Luddites must have been robots, right? How about the power saw and nail gun that have all but eliminated carpenters?   Certainly labor saving machines will continue to replace us as they always have done. Such machines are more efficient than human labor, directing it instead toward work for which it is more productive. That has vastly improved our lives.

The chicken littles of robotics raise two fears: One, that there will remain too few jobs for the numbers of humans needing paychecks and two, that machines will not only begin to think but they will do so more efficiently than humans, ultimately replacing us there as well. The ultimate in labor saving devices may then, seeing us as unproductive consumers, dispose of us. Sure.

There are no thinking machines, only machines that execute programmed instructions provided by people. Today, anyway. Nor have we come up with machines that can mimic our mobility, independence or fuel economy. So for the moment we might wish to consider automating too many of our remunerated tasks but we can defer consideration of our replacement by machine equivalents. And though it is an annoying thought, perhaps we should consider the fact: Expensive machines often replace human labor only after its price has been driven above its market value by political meddling. (Economics is called “the dismal science” for a reason.)

Carpenters are many fewer than they once were; fry cooks will diminish as burger making machines proliferate. On the other hand, when carpenters were many, computer geeks were non-existent. New tech creates new needs as it fills old ones. And the more human labor abandons tasks machines can accomplish and proceeds toward tasks only humans can manage, the more we progress. Is it a shame that our society has totally eliminated the work of hunter-gatherers?

The real rub comes as it always has done, with the reality that human affairs always include winners and losers and at least while we inhabit this universe, always will. That is the nature of our physical reality. It is also the tool politicians use tosell their illusions to the losers and those fearful of losing. That is how the Soviet Union and Venezuela arrived where they now are. And the sirens sing that song and will sing it so long as an audience exists. Unless somehow we can turn things over to machines that have been programmed not to listen …

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GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorrected)

alfred_e-_neumannHere they are; help yourself:

Chicago: 9 killed, 76 wiybded kast weej (Report)

Fast food problem: Availability of cheap customary teenage workers now less than 50% of past (Report)

New York City: Restaurants hurting from yet another minimum wage raise (Report)

Russia: Missteps in maintaining a military (Article)

The economy: Cost of 1 BR apartment in 50 cities (Report) (Is so wide a difference sustainable within one country?)

Yemen: Saudis bombed Iran backed rebels in presidential palace (Report)

Science(?): Hypnosis helps inflammatory bowel problems (Report)

California: Will require solar panels on most new homes from 2020 (Report) (Apparently no one talked with electric utilities …)

Healthcare: One cause for high drug prices in the U.S. (Report)

Government: How to bankrupt a nation (photo/Caption)

Syria: Israel threatens Assad over his Iranian support (Article) (But can Assad hold on without Iran?)

More Syria: Suspected Israeli strike on Iranian facility near Damascus (Article)

The economy: Record numbers do not work and the percentage who work is dropping. (Report)

More economy: Social Security pensioners at record high; only 2.5 workers to support each pensioner (Report)

Science: Atmospheric carbon dioxide is rising to ancient levels? (Report) (Plants will be happy, if this proves out)

 Israel: Update (Article)

Venezuela: Massive desertions from the army preceding presidential election? (Article)

Science: Drastically shrunken magnets may advance computer memories (Report)

Mexico: Cartel war update (Article)

Syria: Israel returned missile fire after Iranian missiles attacked from Syria (Report)

More Syria: Israel expanded its response to Iranian missiles fired from Syria (Report)

The war on cash: Who benefits? (Article) (One guess …)

Climate science: Climate changes follow earth’s orbital shifts regularly via celestial mechanics per new geologic measurements (No human carbon dioxide needed) (Report)

Britain: Proposes 6 year prison sentences for online posts against religion, gender (Report) (Scary, if it happens)

Iran: Reimposing anti nuclear sanctions likely to increase U.S.  confrontation with China, Russia and others (Report)

Myanmar : The army continues ethnic cleansing in the north (Report)

A city government has begun snooping citizens’ social media posts as an addition to polls (Report)

Science: Einstein’s local realism theory is challenged by the Big Bell Test (Report) (The more we learn, the less we know)

More Science: Another study has absolved fracking from endangering ground water (Report)

Healthcare: Physicians’ responsibility for health continues to shrink? (Report)

The War on Cash: Australia bans cash purchases over $7,500 starting 2019 (Report)

Israel: Gaza Palestinians mobbed border, throwing grenades/explosives (Report)

A naked man claimed he planted a bomb in an airport’s women’s restroom (Report)

And that is this week’s assortment.

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GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorrected)

alfred_e-_neumannThe gleanings this week:

Venezuela: Escaping refugees overwhelming Brazil (Report)

Freddi Mac launched a 3% down, no income requirement mortgage program (Article) (Reprising the last financial collapse)

U.S. poverty, inequality and redistribution aren’t as they keep telling you (Article)

Immigration: A federal judge ruled that an illegal alien can sue an employer for refusal to hire him without either citizenship or legal residency (Report)

Syria: New U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo approved Israeli measures discouraging Iranian incursions into Syria (Report) (A reversal of the Obama policy)

More Syria: The U.S. will continue to reduce its presence, but will maintain support for Israel against Iranian military advances there (Report)

Iran: Secret documents show pursuit of nukes continued (Report) (And who is surprised?)

Immigration: Illegal immigration cases court backlog exceeds 1 M; delayed deportations exceed 684,000 (Report) (But no peep from Prez Trump?)

Education: 65% of public school 8th graders not proficient in reading; 67% not proficient in math (Report)

More education: Teachers striking for higher wages (Report)

Science: A new microscopy provides real time viewing of working cells (Report)

Venezuela: Inflation hits 18,000 percent (Report) (Proving that socialism governs whether it works or not …)

Chicago police stormed into the wrong home, terrified a sleeping family (Report)

Yemen: U.S. special forces have joined Saudi Arabia against Iran backed Shia rebels (Report) (More U.S. war on borrowed money)

Honduras: Regrets end of “temporary protected status” of many thousands of alien migrants (Report)

Government: Spy agency NSA collected over 534 M U.S. phone calls, texts etc last year (Report)

Hawaii: Big island volcano eruption included a 6.9 quake (Report)

South Africa: Black persecution of white minority continues (Article)

Chicago: 5 dead, 36 wounded in weekend shootings (Report)

A naked man was arrested in a community college women’s bathroom (Report) (Why didn’t he just say that he identified as a girl?)

And so it went …

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An at least $15 hr guaranteed government job for every American  is Senator Bernie Sanders latest. Santa Sanders and some Democrats are apparently testing the intelligence and greed of voters by dusting off an expansion of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Great Depression Works Project Administration (WPA) idea. A poll reported that 46% of respondents like it. In fairness, not only Democrats have waved this banner: Presidents Bush and Trump’s infrastructure spending are the same notion in different uniforms. The fundamental scam is selling a “money for everyone” program without its necessary “money from everyone” twin: Government can hand put money only after extracting it from taxpayers. President Roosevelt’s WPA lasted 8 years, giving rise to much humor (WPA = “ We Play Around”) and some lasting monuments. It gave way to World War II as a more effective use of excess manpower during economic depression.

Politicians selling this avoid explaining the sources for their largesse and if pressed, claim that the funds will be extracted from the wealthy, passing over the uncomfortable fact that much of their campaign funding is provided by those wealthy. Neither do they wish to do the math, which shows that the existing wealth will be used up quickly when paid to millions of recipients, leaving nothing to replace it. Reality sucks sure enough and makes suckers of those who ignore it.

Senator Sanders and his ilk are a bit early for the next presidential election; they are likely trying out ideas this November. The Democrats are as divided as the Republicans; they have to settle whether their liberals or their self-declared socialists will be in charge. For the GOP, it’s whether it will be Trumpians or anti-Trumpians, both being liberals. For either party, conservatives have replaced Communists as the new villains, increasingly offered as the source of political violence though to date, sans evidence. It seems noteworthy that the left can encourage violently prejudicial behavior toward conservatives  while deploring such behavior toward political clients; folks selling tolerance ought to display it, right?

Down through the baby boomers, socialism de jure has been a hard sell in the United States thugh acceptable enough de facto. The oncoming avowed socialists now competing for control of the Democrats is a test of successive generations of U.S. public education and particularly of its ability to displace the political principles of America’s founding with today’s visibly failing political illusions. Half-hearted socialism is failing, full socialism has failed worldwide in front of everyone. Nevertheless, here they come again. It will be interesting to see how many buyers line up this time.

Actually, if one considers it, there is no such thing as socialism; that is merely a sales term foran almighty Godvernment that exerts total dominion at will. America’s Founders were correct; there are only two choices that matter: Big, all-controlling government or small, weak government. Our choice has proven the opposite of theirs and we are watching that play out as U.S. finances crumble and control of individuals expands. A departed God cannot impose limits upon government; we are left now to wonder who can …

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Providing Healthcare Is NOT Practicing Medicine

Once, medical doctors were self-employed professionals who needed to please patients but now, they are functionally mid-level employees who have to please their employers. Those employers in turn have to please both insurers and government. That has produced changes that matter.

Providers are supplied patients by employers and insurers; pleasing patients is now a much reduced priority for the doctors. Obedience, profits, conformance and recognition of political priorities are demanded by employers, insurers, regulators and politicians; patients can’t compete.

This shift has not come out f the dark; it reflects ongoing cultural changes now naturally appearing in politics and governance. The United States was founded as a Christian country; those values underlay its Constitution. That was the source for the generally accepted sacredness of human life that in turn, justified extraordinary efforts to support and preserve it.

Now in a Post-Christian era with human life subject to an incipient mother’s convenience abortion, human life has become a commodity (Well, excepting mine, of course) subject to economic and political considerations. Not only is convenience abortion licit, assisted suicide is available in eight states with more expected. Present U.S. culture places a lower value on human life than heretofore.

That shows clearly in the recent transfer of some $716 billion from Medicare funding to support the financial stability of Obamacare. Seniors are devalued in favor of more productive younger people. Consider too the first half of last century when a sick child often received a visit at home from a family doctor carrying his then familiar black bag of medical magic. Note too while considering today’s quite different access to doctors, the new service provided by Walgreen’s and others: Consulting a doctor on the internet. Looking ahead a little, planners contemplate patient self-care using the internet; no doctor needed. This development is thought necessary because even today’s reduced medical access is becoming unaffordable. We will continue paying more for less.

Consider aging Patient X: He suffers from a worldwide parasitic infection that is often asymptomatic in healthy young people. When symptoms are present, they generally remain mild until age related immune decline turns the heretofore quiet affliction deadly. Strongyloidiasis receives medical attention in some poor places where it is widespread but it is generally ignored by doctors in developed countries though as it also affects pets and livestock, veterinarians are usually aware of it. Pet and livestock healthcare isn’t usually funded by government regulated insurers. With people, the pathogen generally causes little trouble until it kills the very old; why waste resources on that? A young doctor once said to Patient X that it was a doctor’s job to help his patients reach old age. He then added: “You have arrived.” When government and business make healthcare policy, resources must be allocated toward the most productive choices, not wasted upon the lesst productive people. So far as politically possible, anyway. Human providers  ignore strongyloidiasis by continued reliance upon ineffectual diagnostics; apparently the more effective measures used for pets and livestock are too much trouble.

A mechanism to assure this for Medicare was created (quietly) as an Obamacare provision: The Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board Will address the program’s costs, which as we are seeing in Europe, inevitably involves reduced services. Not only has healthcare now a culturally lower priority;, politicians have promised more than can be financed by government. England  and even Israel provide additional examples. Europeans and North Americans are becoming more pragmatic about human value just as the politicians need to go back on their promises: perfect political timing.  That assumes of course, that the voters won’t review their values again …

We have already seen medical doctors morph from concerned caregivers who rush to your child’s bedsice at need to remote figures usually available after weeks or months outside of emergency rooms where the waiting seems endless. We are already expecting to consult the internet rather than visit a doctor increasingly. Once we arrive at old ages, we are seeing comfort replacing costly cures and assisted suicide encouraged as increasing trends, one step short of Soylent Green. We should note that all this is taking place during a dissolution of America’s middle class, whose members find themselves retreating toward historically traditional status of proletarians. The anticipated dudgeon to be expected at this may be comfortably offset by the vastly increasing abilities for populace control now bestowed on government by technology.

Some good may accompany all this; Western healthcare is overdue for a reality shakeup. First, an M.D. generally must accomplish 11 years of education and apprenticeship before applying for a physician’s license. Since much of what is learned is archaic and inapplicable to today’s healthcare, that is in need of rethinking, never mind the often accompanying student debt burden that ends as indentured servitude. However, as the licensed medical schools are heavily invested in all this, change awaits societal convulsions greater than any to date. An overwhelming financial collapse, perhaps.

Noting that government healthcare inevitably produces the VA, today’s hospital “emergency” rooms and rationing of doctors’ time, perhaps restoration of competitive private enterprise might grease the sticky wheels of healthcare services and restore rational pricing. Pharmaceuticals overpriced in the U.S. might be more affordable if they were allowed to be imported. Drugs exported from the U.S. are sold other countries at lower prices thn at home, why? Ask your Congressfolk who imposed this.

Another costly imposition: Why have doctors a monopoly on pharmaceuticals? A lot of medicines could be sold safely enough and cheaper if prescriptions were limited to addictive and highly dangerous products. Too, that would provide pharmacists with something useful to do while putting needed medicines into hands presently forced to do without.

But those are thoughts about the future; now we enjoying the replacement medical practice by the provision of healthcare. It’s no longer about saving George whatever it takes, it’s about using limited resources to maximize productivity. And the U.S. life expectancy has been declining for two years now, though we must guess at why. The politicians will find a reason … and costs will continue to rise as services decline.healthcare

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GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorrected)

alfred_e-_neumannFrom the week:

Social Security and major foreign equivalents are unsustainable (Article) (And then there’s spending on healthcare and military ventures?)

The dissolving middle class: For the first time, millennials with student debt have negative net worth (Article)

25% of millennials rely on some parental help even though working full time (Article)

The economy: From fake boom to real bust (Article)

Venezuela: Healthcare breakdown in the socialist paradise (Article) (Well, it helps distract from the food shortages …)

 Science: Study shows new diet supplement really reverses blood vessel aging (Report)

More science: Organic solar cells reach 15% efficiency  (Report) (Sun power will proliferate)

Still more science: Quantum data have been sent and received for the first time (Report) And physical objects have been entangled (Report) And the quantum EPR paradox has been experimentally demonstrated  (Quantum research will change our world)

Canadda: Advertises the results of debt-based economic “growth” (Article) And bank mortgage rates are rising

Canada’s financial Wiley E. Coyote moment approaches? (Article)

The economy: Under political pressure, Europe’s central bank gave up an attempt to strengthen banks’ defenses against bad debt (Article)

More economy: U.S. occupational licensing has gone wild, restricting growth (Article)

Still more economy: An analysis of our current substitute for free market capitalism (Article)

Government: New pizza regulations will raise costs for little or no gain (Report)

Military: Armed/Armored driverless tanks and other vehicles (Article)

The universal basic income experiment was abandoned by Finland (Article)

The media: More hostility toward journalists reportedly a trend (Report) (Now that they’ve become propagandists)

Government: Now it’s knife control in Britain (Report)

The climate: Change “not as bad as we thought” say scientists (Report)

China: New “social credit” system monitors and penalizes individual behavior, public and private (Report) (Big Brother has arrived)

Education: Too many workers harbor unrealistic expectations of retiree Social Security incomes (Report) (No reality taught kids now?)

Science: Dark chocolate reduces stress and inflammation (Report) (What will they discover about wine?)

More science: Light will replace electrons for a breakthrough in computation speed (Report)

Still more science: A breakthrough in making plastic semiconductors may be revolutionary (Report)

The economy: Inflation is here; get used to it (Article)

The culture: The great exodus from America’s biggest cities continues ( Article)  (Historic trends reversing)

Ford will begin withdrawal from traditional models of cars in North America (Report)  GM retreating too  (Just SUV’s and trucks–  it’s not gonna work)

War on the middle class: “Single family home faces uncertain future” (Report)

California: Democrats retrying rent control? (Report)

U.S. pension plans are in worse shape than you think (Report)

Wine: Worldwide production has declined to a 60 year low (Article)

The climate: Major U.S. cities face the coldest April in recorded history (Report)

The eonomy: Trump’s Federal Reserve seems to continue the road toward failure (Article)

Iraq: ISiS update (Article)

Israel repulsed mob invasion attempt from Gazs with gunfire (Hamas pays pensions to families of casualties)

The culture: A North Carolina transgender prisoner is suing the prison over refusal to provide special diet and facilities for practicing witchcraft (Report)

More culture: A French museum has found that half its collection is fakes (Report)

Chicago: 4 killed, 25 wounded in weekend shootings (Report)

A naked couple was chased and arrested (Report)

Politics: Black “racism” vs. reality by Thomas Sowell (Book review)

The economy: One year later, Illinois on the verge of downgrade to junk, its taxpayers $5B poorer (Article)

And this is the end

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GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorrected)

alfred_e-_neumannOdds, ends and trivia:

The internet: Now it is a federal crime to own, operate or manage a website with intent to promote prostitution (Video) (Government reaching for control of the web?)

Technology: Traffic cameras give speeding tickets to parked cars? (Report) (Murphy rules …)

Government: Can a state tax residents’ out of state internet purchase? Supreme Court is deciding (Report)  (The “tax cutting” Trump admin supports the tax)

The economy/Government: Building growth on other people’s dead bodies (Article) (Oversimplified but with some broadly accurate observations)

The economy: Investors can’t win when money is prostituted (Article) (From Prez Reagan’s Budget Director.)

Israel: Iran finances the mass attacks on the border from Gaza (Article)

Science: Humans to be genetically modified for the first time (Report)  (Under a political regulator whose name should be Pandora …)

The British Commonwealth will select Queen Elizabeth’s successor shortly (Report)

Canada is considering decriminalization of all drugs (Report) (sensible and sad)

Science: Quantum entanglement research proceeds with a record number of entangled bits (Report)

Syria: A very awkward question going unasked and unanswered (Report)

America’s imperial wars lamented: Why the destruction from Korea through Viet Nam to Syria was unnecessary (Article)

The Constitution: Defense Secretary Mattis wanted Congressional approval before striking Syria but was overruled (Report)

The power grid went down on Puerto Rico (Report) (High tech equals higher risk?)

California forces unions onto unwilling farm workers (Report)

Healthcare: Drug resistant typhoid is overwhelming available treatments (Report)

The Federal Reserve has done a great job eliminating the middle class (Article)

Syria: Update (Article) (Did Assad and the Russians shoot down most of Trump’s missiles?) (Unlikely)

Iraqi Kurdistan: Russia plays the oil game (Report)

Science: Cloning pets is an available service … humans seem inevitable next (Report)

Education: A government mandatory service is now fully politicized (Report) (Student demos and teacher strikes)

Science: Lab achievement of extremely low power video streaming may be a breakthrough (Report)

The economy: Prez Reagan’s Budget Director parses Trumpian economics with the pitiless light of reality (Article)

Science: NASA plans to demonstrate its new space-going nuclear power plant (Report) (Another breakthrough – if  unintended consequences permit)

Corruption: Public school students/teachers are now organized anti-gun political activists (Report) (Taxpayer funded brainwash replacing education?)

Yellowstone supervolcano draws more concern (Report)

The world economy: World finance roils as the U.S. dollar dwindles, free market Bitcoin threatens and governments compete (Article)

The military: Politics rot battle skills (Article)

Chicago: 628 people have been shot this year, a 328 person improvement over 2017 (Report)

A naked Harvard student was arrested on the street (Report)

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