Whither hence?

Sadie strikes again (thank you Sadie!) with another excellent topic suggestion, asking each of us as the new year begins to look back to the best and worst moments of last year and forward to predict the best and the worst of the year to come.

I’ll start.  On a personal level, the worst moment was when I found out my Dad has lung cancer and the best is when I got to visit with him and he was (and is) doing better than we had any reason to expect.  On a public level, the best is election day and the worst is, gosh, I don’t know, my beloved Pirates losing for the millionth consecutive season, proving once again their management is not the least bit interested in winning.  Seriously, I suppose the national debt ballooning even more out of control than ever.

Who knows what will happen next year.  My guess is that prices will start to rise sharply, but not be seen as out of control just yet and that the Republicans will not do at all what they have been elected to do.  If that happens, I don’t know how the Tea Party members will react and I’d be especially interested in hearing from Tea Party members on that subject.

Okay, your turn.  What’s your best and worst from last year and what do you expect from the new year.  And, by the way:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So where is the inflation?

Sadie has another good suggestion:

“Need another topic..here’s one.  Anyone else notice the cost of gas and food lately. The food doesn’t get to the shelves by magic wand or windmills. The rise in the cost of a barrel effects everything and everyone.

“Five dollars per gallon of gas by 2012! A former president of Shell Oil considers this likely.
The average price on Christmas Day for a gallon of regular gas reached $3.28 in Los Angeles County, the highest price since October 2008. In one month, the price rose 13 cents, up 35 cents year to year.

“Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2010/12/larry-elder-whos-blaming-obama-high-gas-prices#ixzz19dIns9RJ

When the stimulus bill passed several conservatives I know predicted massive inflation before 2009 ended.  Here we are at the end of 2010 and we haven’t seen much of it, except in food and energy.  Even there, the price of oil has increased 2 1/2 times over its lows and the price of gas has not (I don’t believe; I haven’t looked it up) kept pace.  So, where is the inflation aside from in oil and oil-reliant produced and services?  When will it get here and, when (and if) it does, what will it look like and what effects will it have?

What can you tell me about Social Security and Medicare?

In response to my question about what you would like to talk about, Sadie made this suggestion:

“How about a PSA to ‘welcome the new and old/er’. I think many of us have taken care of aging parents with love and kindness, but we’re also taking care of current and retiring representatives, who pay only a fourth of the cost of medical insurance compared to the graduating class of 2011 will have to. The House had no problem enacting health careless for the rest of us, but never touched their own perks.

“I hear that the first wave of baby boomers, at the pace of 10,000 daily for the next 19 years, will begin January 1, 2011. I think a nice cover letter welcoming them to the world of Social Security and Medicare is in order with the caveat…  

“Welcome to the ‘golden years’ and remember all that glitters is not gold and not always covered, unless you’ve been elected to the 112th House of Reps. or served in any other.”

Sounds like a great topic and, as a 58-year-old, a topic that I’m interested in.  Problem is, I am profoundly ignorant in all things Social Security and Medicare.  I’m especially ignorant about what changes are being made to Medicare to save have a trillion dollars (at least that’s what I think I heard was happening).  Can anyone please enlighten me?

Also, as to Sadie’s last comment, I doubt there is a reader in the Bookwormroom who doesn’t think the Congress should be bound by the rules they impose on the rest of us.  But does anyone think that is ever going to happen?

So, if not one world, how do we keep from blowing ourselves up?

This really is a continuation of yesterday’s post and a new topic in one.  The comments to that post indicate a concensus that “one world government” is a Utopian pipe dream.  Some commenters even suggested that it was desirable to have many smaller countries.  Okay, but we do have the capacity to blow humanity off of the face of the earth.  The more nations we have, the more people who will have that capacity.  Assuming that we don’t want to blow humanity off of the facce of the earth (and, gee, I hope that’s a safe assumption) what do we do to prevent that from happening?

And, in that is really two questions.  What do we do in the short term?  And what do we do in the long term?  For the second question, what will the world look like in 100 years, or 250 years, or a thousand?  If Wells’ dream is false and we are not moving toward a united world, what are we moving toward?  As always, I’m eager to see your ideas.

One world?

I’ve been reading with great interest the 1949 edition of The Outline of History, written mostly (except for the WWII part) by H.G. Wells.  The book provides a nice perspective of the socialist mind in the first half of the last century.  To his credit, Wells makes no pretense of objectivity, and the closer to current times he gets the more opinionated and subjective he becomes.

The book is interesting on a number of levels but one thing that particularly catches my eye is that Wells views all of history as a struggle toward a single, unified society.  Here, let him tell it:  “Sooner or later mankind must come to one universal peace, unless our race is to be destroyed by the increasing power of its own destructive inventions; and that universal peace must needs take the form of a government, that is to say, a law-sustaining organization, in the best sense of the word religious — a government ruling men through the educated co-ordination of their minds in a common conception of human history and human destiny.”  He favored what he called a “world-wide educational government.” 

The questions fairly burst out.  Is such a state possible?  Is it desirable?  Is it, in fact, the only way for mankind to survive the ever-increasing destructive power of its own invention?  If it is desirable, how do we get there from here?  If it is not desirable, how do we prevent folks like Wells from taking us there? I look forward to your ideas and opinions.

“Progressives” are really against progress and “conservatives” are for it

This article caught my eye.  The view of the future it presents does sound like science fiction, but, of course, most of our current technology was science fiction 50 years ago.  This is interesting in it’s own right, but it also got me thinking about the conservative and progressive reaction to progress.  Conservatives welcome it, and believe in richly rewarding successful innovators (with the marketplace determining who is successful).  Progressives aren’t exactly against progress, but they are suspicious of it.  Consider their dislike/distrust of the drug companies despite the amazing drug breakthroughs those companies have produced.  And, rather than letting the market dictate what innovations the innovators work on, they want to control the research.  For example, they are quite happy to throw tons of the people’s money at “green” innovation, hoping for progress in electric cars, wind energy and the like. 

I submit that the conservatives have it right.  The marketplace provides much better incentives to the innovators and much greater rewards to those who succeed.  And, the marketplace is a much better judge of which innovations have true value than any government bureaucrat is.

Please share your Christmas stories

It’s Christmas morning as I write this and I hope you all are having a lovely Christmas.  Perhaps the way to celebrate in the Bookwormroom is to share Christmas stories.  I don’t have much to share myself, but I do have one and my wife has a better one, so I’ll share them both.

When I was about 6 years old, I was allowed to stay up to watch for Santa Claus.  I feel asleep, of course, and, eventually, my Dad picked me up to carry me off to bed.  When he did so, I woke up and caught a peek at the presents the adults had already placed under the tree.  This confused me terribly.  Not only had Santa been there and I’d missed him, but he apparently came when the adults were still up.  I think that was the beginning of my suspicions about Santa.

My wife’s story is really cute.  She was about 8 years old.  The night before Christmas, her Dad took her aside and whispered to her that he had a present for her Mom out in the car.  He asked her to sneek out and get it and sneek it back in.  Mom was in the kitchen, so my wife snuck out the dining room door and out to the car.  She got the gift and snuck back, not fully closing the door because she didn’t want to make any noise.  She  made her way quietly and successfully up stairs and hid the present under her bed.  The door blew open and her Mom asked who left it open but never realized what had happened.  The next morning, Dad whispered to my wife to wait while the presents were opened.  Finally, he nodded to her that it was time.  She went up stairs and got the present. When she came back down Mom had her back turned.  She held the present out in front of her and exclaimed Merry Christmas, surprising and delighting her Mom.  My wife says she’s never forgotten the joy of sharing this secret surprise with her Dad.  You might guess (and you would be correct) that my wife had a nearly perfect childhood until the car accident that blinded her and took her parents when she was 15.  I suspect it’s that foundation that allowed her to turn out to be the extraordinarily wonderful person she is today.

I’m sure most of us have stories.  Please share with us all your favorite Christmas (or other holiday, if you do not celebrate Christmas) story.  I look forward to hearing them and thanks in advance.

The toughest problem of all

I echo Danny’s Merry Christmas to you all! 

Perhaps because it is Christmas Eve, I don’t feel like blogging on anything serious today.  Still, there is one problem President Obama promised during his campaign that he would fix that he has made no progress on at all. Indeed, I fear he has given up.  Maybe the Bookwormroom readers will have a solution to this toughest of all problems, though.  What can we do to get rid of the BCS and get a playoff in the top division of college football, for crying out loud?