Stop Idolizing Goerge Floyd

It is sad that Black Lives Matter has made such a point of honoring George Floyd.  He is a human being and should not have been killed by the police.  However, he was a convicted felon for a violent crime, in addition of being a drug user, a poor father, and generally a failure in life.  He was being arrested for committing a crime while being high on drugs.  He was a drag on the US economy and a bad example of the human race. 

The fact that he is being held up to such esteem by the black race indicates what a terrible state the black race is in.  There are many wonderful black individuals, but the black race looks pretty awful.  Africa is a failed continent, populated by the black race.  Why haven’t blacks made something of Africa.  Latin America is dark or brown because of the black intermarriage, and it too is a failed continent compared to the Northern Hemisphere.  Is the Southern Hemisphere failing because if is Southern, or because it is mainly populated by black and brown people? 

Black and brown people need good models for their race like Colin Powell, not failed criminals like George Floyd.  The fact that they honor George Floyd shows how violent, how uncivilized, how uneducated their race is.  They blame it on white oppression, but slavery ended 150 years ago.  Many blacks left the segregated South, but still failed to succeed in the northern US, turning cities like Detroit into spreading slums.  I would like to see an example of a failing city with a majority white population that improved itself as black people moved in and made it a better city.  I would like to see one; most examples are the opposite – nice cities that ran down as more black people moved in. 

When I was at the American Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, I went down to Silesia to survey the coal mines there and to see what their environmental impact was.  The Pole who was escorting me made a point of taking me to an apartment house lived in by coal miners. He wanted me to see how neat and clean they were at home, despite their dirty occupation.  This is the kind of example the blacks need. I’m sure such an example exists, but I don’t know of it.  Blacks should publicize it, instead of praising a criminal like George Floyd. 

Fareed says America is not quite back

Fareed Zakaria says that inspite of what Biden is doing, America is not back yet. The Trump years have stained America’s democratic image in the world. Fareed says in his Washington Post column:

But the story is not entirely positive. One aspect of the United States’ power remains substantially diminished: its role as a beacon of democracy. Among countries surveyed, 57 percent of people said the United States is no longer the model for democracy it used to be. Young people worldwide are even more skeptical about America’s democratic institutions.

In one fundamental way, things look worse now than in prior periods of crisis. After Watergate, many were surprised that the world looked up to the United States for facing and fixing its democratic failures. It was a sign of the country’s capacity to course-correct. But imagine if after that scandal, the Republican Party, instead of condemning Nixon, had embraced him slavishly, insisted that he did absolutely nothing wrong, settled into denial and obstructionism and proposed new laws to endorse Nixon’s most egregious conduct? Imagine if the only people purged by the party had been those who criticized Nixon?

The decay of American democracy is real. It’s not a messaging or image problem. Until we can repair that, I’m not sure we can truly say America is back.

Fareed Zakaria on Cyber Crime

Fareed Zakaria’s Washington Post column on cybercrime:

Many of cryptocurrency’s most ardent advocates see it as the way of the future, a decentralized and seamless monetary system that offers an alternative to national currencies. But none of that requires that it be anonymous. If those broader goals are what bitcoin is really about, it should stay strong even while its illegal use is reined in. If, on the other hand, the crucial, distinctive and unique property of cryptocurrency is that it can be readily and efficiently used for crime, why exactly should governments around the world allow this?

Covid Was Not a War

The Covid pandemic was often compared by news media to a war. The war analogy has been used to justify the huge expenditures and budget deficits associated with the response to Covid.  However, Covid was not like a war.  Wars kill young people in the prime of life; Covid killed unproductive old people a few years before they would have died anyway.  Covid took much less of a toll on the economy than a war involving the same number of people would have.  You could even argue that Covid was a net plus because it reduced the amount that would have been expended to care for old people in nursing homes and other care situations.  There was a corresponding increase in medical payments for end-of-life treatment in hospitals by doctors and nurses.  But overall, the effect of Covid was much less than a war would have caused. 

The only corresponding increase in deficits and debt has been those incurred during World War II. In World War II, people made many sacrifices to support the country. Food and gasoline were rationed. People bought war bonds to finance the war.  Neither the Trump nor the Biden administration has asked Americans to sacrifice anything for the war on Covid.  Instead, the government has handed out more and more benefits, such as the $9,000 FEMA payment for funerals of people who died from Covid.  Medicare and Medicaid paid many of the Covid medical expenses.  In short, it was almost the reverse of World War II; instead of the people helping the government fight Germany and Japan, the government helped people fight Covid. 

The Treasury and Federal Reserve expended trillions of dollars to make sure than no one suffered economic hardship as a result of Covid.  In retrospect, they may have done too much because Covid was not as damaging as people thought it would be.  Information technology kept many businesses going.  The main losers were restaurants and in-person retail stores, but many retail stores successfully converted to on-line sales.  There were dislocations, but certainly not a depression, or even a recession.  It was pretty much business as usual but carried out in different ways.  At first, people thought the housing market would collapse because people would be afraid to show homes for sale or to visit them.  Instead, the housing market turned white hot, with sales and prices going through the roof, in part spurred by interest-free money made available by the Fed.  The stock market has also gone through the roof after the initial losses around March 2020 when the pandemic first began to hit the population.  Many investors make huge profits in the markets.  Again, people expected the devastation to be much worse than it was.  Many people died, but not so many productive people.  Service and travel industries were hit hard, but others not so much.  Gains in information technology largely made up for losses in the service industries, like restaurants and airlines.  Even many restaurants adapted by converting to take-out. 

After the initial losses in early and mid-2020, the US economy came though fairly well, with relatively few sacrifices required of the American people, except a request to wear masks.  It’s ironic that the supposedly patriotic Republicans were the most vocal resisters to the few sacrifices that the government requested, wear a mask and get vaccinated. 

While there are still questions about how Covid started in China, it looks like as soon as the government became aware of it, it cracked down strongly.  The epidemic stated just as the 2019 Chinese New Year would normally have created the biggest travel days of the year, but the government stopped or postponed it.  As a result, China came though the epidemic much better than the US did and in a much shorter time.  This has benefitted the Chinese economy significantly vis-à-vis the US economy. 

Although the US came through the pandemic much better than I initially expected, I remain worried about what comes next. The Fed and the Treasury have made sure that no one suffered terribly from it, but there may be a cost in out years.  There are now huge government debts that must be repaid somehow someday, and it looks like there will be further budget deficits into the foreseeable future.  One way to escape debts is inflation; if money is worth less, the debt is easer to pay off, because you are paying cheaper dollars.  This inflationary pressure is in addition to more normal wage and price inflation caused too much money in circulation, thanks to the largess of the Fed and the Treasury.  If US inflation increases significantly, it will undercut the world’s use of the dollar as the international currency, perhaps replaced by China’s currency if it becomes the world’s leading economy.  Cryptocurrencies will further complicate the situation, if not bitcoin, perhaps cyber currencies backed by national governments. 

The US dollar because the world’s currency partly because of World War II.  The US was much less affected than the other belligerent countries.  The Marshall Plan revived western Europe, and benign occupation of Japan and Germany allowed them to recover.  Meanwhile the US had suffered fewer casualties than many of the other warring countries, hundreds of thousands, rather than millions (Soviet Union, China, Japan, Germany).  The US became the factory and the banker for the world.  There is a possibility that the pandemic will do the same for China.  China may not be as generous following the pandemic as the US was following World War II. 

Nuclear Power and the Environment

If environmentalists were serious, they would embrace nuclear energy.  It has downsides, but it does not contribute to global warming.  Environmentalists oppose nuclear energy on political grounds, not scientific ones.  Wind and solar energy are becoming more productive and reliable, but they still cannot supply the base load for electrical power.  They are too dependent on the vagaries of the weather. 

Nuclear power cannot be made 100% safe, no power system can, but it can probably be 99.9% safe, and if well designed the 0.1% failures can be managed without great loss of life, while global warming could destroy a substantial portion of the world’s population through rising sea levels, crop failures, fierce storms and so on. 

Part of the new infrastructure plan could finance more research on safer reactor designs, and construction of new reactors because new nuclear power stations are needed sooner, rather than later.  New nuclear power reactors will be expensive and take a long time to build, so we need to get started sooner, rather than later.