Sunday, April 30, 2006

Growth Paradox

Our current mood is somewhat of a paradox. The liberal economic policies of the last two decades has led to a worldwide sustained jump in the economy. This jump is not just limited to a few rich people ... it is a widespread boom.

Despite the obvious success of free market policies around the world, the last several years have been a banner year for the left. Why are people rejecting the policies that have been making significant improvements in their lives?

It finally dawned on me. The two areas that aren't sharing in this boom are the News business (which is being undercut by the net) and Hollywood, which is seeing their influence decline. The great global opinion setters are being marginalized and they are screaming bloody murder.

Another interesting aspect of this boom is that small business seems to be in the lead. With the community color directories, I end up paying a great deal of attention to the Main Street economy. It appears to me that these small businesses are the current engines for growth. This is good news because small firms tend to do a better job distributing wealth. Big business is doing okay ... but we aren't seeing the big Clinton era bubble that makes people ecstatic.

May Day Protests

I haven't been able to find any good web sites for the planned May Day protests. I am assuming that the point of holding a immigration protest on May Day is to show solidarity with other Socialist Worker's revolutions. Here is an image from a previous rally in Los Angeles:

You know. There is one big problem here. Europe won't take Americans back. They have much stronger border control. It would be in the best interest of the US if any immigration reform took place in light of creating an EU style free trade zone.

Desolation Trail

Desolation Trail
I took Coco on a short walk up the Desolation Trail. Since I have to take Coco on regular walks, I never do long walks ... just short walks in areas that allow dogs. There was still a little bit of snow on the trail. A large number of trees seem to have fallen down this winter. I decided that more trees are falling down than normal because George Bush is in the White House.

I am actually a little bit concerned about the trees in Mill Creek. I recall the forest being denser in years. I think the area was hit hard with diseases in the last several decades. The canyon had a gypsy moth infestation in 1993. I think the forest suffered a few other blights along with extremely heavy usage from humans in the last years.

The little brook at Church Fork was running at full force; so I decided to take picture of it as well.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Glacier Lily

This photo of a Glacier Lily turned out okay. I also got a decent Buttercup.

In the desparate stab for cash department, I started Mother's Day Gifts page.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Exxon Mobile's profits are on the move

There is a great big stink being made about Exxon's first quarter profit. Apparently Exxon's profits hit a record $8.4 billion.

The talking heads on TV are reaching news pitches of shrill while government wanks plan ways to buy political favoritism by finding ways to punish the oil companies. (For example Pete Domenici wants to raise a tax then buy voters with a $100 gas rebate.)

Anyway, looking at Exxon's profits. A few people have noted that most of this profit was made overseas. So, while Americans buy gas from overseas, a little bit of it comes back to the US in the form of profits.

Meanwhile the rise in gas prices is spurring American people to do something that no amount of legislation could accomplish. American people are once again engaged in figuring out how to use less gas! We are conserving more, and pumping investment dollars into research for alternative fuels.

I think there is a very good argument that Exxon/Mobile is too big. There is even a good argument that it is so large that it can assert monopolistic behavior. Approval of the Exxon Mobile merger was a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad mistake. Maybe splitting the company in half again would be in order.

A brain dead plan like raising taxes to give everyone a tax rebate check would be stupid. Cutting the taxes on gas would also be stupid since it would stop the current trend to conservation.

Encouraging people to stop wasting fuel is the right path.

I know!!! Why not leave the car home and ride the bike. Yes. Bikes are good. Bikes are fine. They only thing better than riding a bike is walking! Imagine walking a little bit more, and driving just a little be less?

Stating the Obvious

Apparently, there is politic support for a plan to give citizenship to undocumented immigrants who've been in the US for more than 5 years and to deport the rest.

Okay, so what will happen when we ask these undocumented immigrants how long they've been in the United States?

Think about it. Here is a person who broke a law to enter the country. When asking an undocumented immigrant how long they've been in the US. They will:

A) tell the truth about when they crossed the border and be deported like a good law abiding citizen.

B) lie through their teeth and come up with false documentation that they have been in the country for x number of years.

As for companies that undercut their competition by hiring illegals. These companies will

A) help point out which workers came across the border in the last five years.

or B) Lie through their teeth and feel self righteous and smug about it.

Of course the main problem with the 5 year cut off is not that it will cause some people to lie. The problem is that people who know they miss the cut off will simply hide.

The time criteria is not the best criteria. Quite frankly, I think people who crossed the borders illegally right after the 1986 amnesty are the worst of the lot. These people specifically worked against a compromise that our country had worked out.

IMHO, the best way to handle the problem is with a lottery. In such a lottery, we would accept a large number of people for citizenship track. It might include a bunch of different points ... years in the US might give you extra points, speaking English might be extra points. However, no group would automatically be completely excluded from the possibility of citizenship.

A lottery would give immigrants an incentive for coming forward to get documentation.

Temporary work permits could also be in the mix. As I said in a past post. We should not give temp work permits to people with the intention of immigrating to the US and we should not give a citizenship path to those people who really just want to work in the US temporarily.

On an unrelated note. A homeless advocate named Ted Hayes seems to be breaking from the dialectical haze and sees that immigration is effectively reducing blacks back into a slavelike existence. The immigration is undermining the salaries for low and semi-skilled jobs that blacks need to realize their part of the American dream.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Once Again ... The Price of Gas

I keep hearing people saying absurd things about the price of oil. The primary reason for the increase in the price of oil is that demand is skyrocketing. Here are a few of the wrong things people say about the price of gas:

A: The price of gas is going up because of taxes!

This statement is wrong. In the case of gase, prices are a fixed dollar amount and have not been raised. For that matter, if the taxes were lower, the proportional increase that we would be seeing at the pump would be higher. GasPriceWatch tells me the Federal gas tax is $0.184. The Colorado tax is $.22 per gallon. Utah taxes are $0.245. So, we are looking at a tax of about 40 cents a gallon.

In the last 5 years or so; we've seen an increase of about $1.00 per gallon to $3.00 a gallon. That is a nasty three fold increase. If the taxes were $.25 a gallon lower, we would have seen an increase from $.75 to $2.75. That would be a 3.6 percent increase!

The rise in gas prices in not being driven by a rise in taxation.

Personally, I think that, after prices stabilize, the government should think about raising gas taxes.

b: The Government is benefitting from the high gas price.

Since the rise in gas prices decreases consumption, then it reduces the amount of taxes collected. The government does get increased revenue from corporate taxes on oil companies and increased taxes on the income of mudloggers and other colorful characters in the gas industry. Of course, this increase is partially offset by the increased deductions for gas consumption in business and recessed economic activity caused by the rise in gas prices.

The US government is one of the biggest gas consumers in the world. The increased gas prices are hitting all areas of our resource intensive government hard.

c: Increasing production capacity will solve our problems.

In most situations, increasing production capacity solves supply issues. The consumption of a nonrenewable resource is a bit different. Different reports I've seen seem to indicate that the world is sitting near its maximum oil extraction rate. Any artificial increase in the extraction of oil simply transfers the dwindling reserves that future generations have into our gas tanks.

It is a hard fact to accept, but I fear that conservation of fuel and the development of alternative renewable energies are the only real long term solutions to our problem. With gas at $3 a gallon, we need to make sure we use each gallon wisely.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fluff Economy

It is strange. There is growing concern about the economy when there has been broadbased economic improvement in the last several years. The economic good times aren't just happening in the US. We are in a rare globalized economic expansion.

The disconnect between public sentiment and economic reality is an extremely interesting subject. Some administrations are better and generating feel good economic fluff, while others are better at improving the underlying conditions in the economy.

It seems to me that one of the big reasons for this sentiment is that much of the growth is occuring in small businesses, while we tend to make our judgments based on sentiment in big corporations.

IMHO, the small business community is the thing we need to promote. The question that dominates my thoughts on the economy is how can we keep things small?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day World!

Let your inner butterfly spirit flutter, recycle an aluminum can, use less gas and be happy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bad Form

Watching the news. Apparently immigration services are currently undertaking a massive sweep and deportation of illegal immigrants.

I think it is bad form to start enforcing the laws at the same that we are starting the debate on immigration reform. Of course, this apparent wave of deportations might simply be nothing more than the INS trying to clean its slate of current investigations before new rules takes effect.

Even if this is the case. A sudden increase in deportations while we are in the process of redesigning the law does smack of selective law enforcement.

Selective law enforcement is a sure fire way to destroy the rule of law.

Speaking of selective enforcement: I listened to Rocky Anderson on KPCW. In his pandering to the immigrant vote, Mr. Anderson recounted his opposition to the deportation of undocumented workers at the Salt Lake International Airport just before the 2002 games. This was one of the only attempts at enforcing immigration laws in Utah over the last decade. Mr. Anderson is somewhat right in labeling this act as selective law enforcement. However, I think he is wrong for condemning the INS agents who partook in the law enforcement act.

The problem in this political climate where we do not enforce laws is that law enforcement agents are stuck in the bad position where they have to build a political base and run a PR campaign for each act of law enforcement. The INS selected the airport because they felt security concerns might provide the PR cover needed to enforce the laws.

Rocky Anderson projected all sorts of negative motivations onto the INS. He used the term "hypocrite" a half dozen times. In the present political climate, I fall short of calling the INS hypocrites for selective law enforcement. In an ideal world, law enforcement shouldn't be driven by PR concerns.

The real evil is large number of politicians who have actively thwarted the ability of law enforcement to do their job.

The current system is really what politicians want. They want a draconian set of laws, with selective enforcement that they can belittle and control.

What the people need is clear, enforceable rules.

Regardless, this acceleration of deportations is bad form. Increased border security during the debate would be good form (keeping a bad situation from getting worse is good form).

We need to avoid a world of selective law enforcement. Selective law enforcement, however, is not a fault of the law community, it is the result of our present political climate that sets unrealistic goals and actively works against effective law enforcement.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Guest Workers

The debate on immigration reform needs recognize a few issue.

I happen to agree that forcing a person who is wanting to immigrate into a guest worker program is unfair. Such a system marginalizes the immigrant.

However, we should recognized in our debate that there are people who really want to to be guest workers. There are people who simply want to come to the United States for a few years. Work, then return home with their experience abroad and money from their work.

Forcing people who want to be a guest worker into a citizenship path is as absurd as pushing people who want to be immigrants into a guest worker path.

I would love to be a guest worker in Europe for a year or two so that I could experience a different culture. I would not want to immigrate to France.

This brings up the second issue that I have not heard debated.

All of the debate that we hear is about the need for the United States to liberalize its immigration policies. The debates we have should also bring up the immigration policies of other countries. There are very few countries in this world that allow Americans to work or immigrate to their country.

As the US liberalizes its immigration policies, we should demand that other nations liberalize their policies as well.

Monday, April 17, 2006

California Transplants

Has anyone else noticed that many of the loudest voices in the Anti-Immigrant side of the debate in Utah are from people who fled California?

Utah just does not have a problem yet. We have 85,000 illegal immigrants in Utah. That is roughly the same size as the population of Utahn's living in polygamous families. Estimates of Mormon polygamists in Utah generally range from 60,000-80,000. 85,000 is roughly the population of Odgen. Our illegal immigrant population is just under half the size of Salt Lake City.

California, NM, Arizona and Texas are the places where the problem is most severe. The illegal immigrant population in Ca is several times the population of Utah.

The question is if the people fleeing Ca are just xenophobes, or if they really are telling us the direction that this debate is taking?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Thinking and Rethinking

Happy Easter. If the Easter Bunny left a little brown treat on your pillow, I hope your brown treat was chocolate!

I am feeling good today. I was happy to see 3rd Avenue Dave rethink his position on immigration. Discourse is the process of thinking and rethinking.

Too often politicians don't look at issues. Instead they look at how they can position themselves in social movements to ride the tide to power. Like many I was extremely upset with the way that "progressive" were selling out the unions and greens to pander to crowds of undocumented immigrations.

I am not upset with the immigrants, but with the political wanks. The politicians are the ones that have created our mess by their uniform failure to address issues. The immigrants are pawns.

I am deeply troubled with the large number of politicians who do not invest the time to learn the complexities of the immigration issue. Instead they take the low road and jump infront before crowds to create the illusion of leadership.

A great example here is the large number of union leaders who turned their backs on the concerns of union members to babble about their support of immigration.

Unions were the prime driving force in current restrictive immigration laws. Our problems exist because the left pushed for tight immigration quotas, but would cave in each time people tried to enforce the tight quotas.

When the issue finally reaches critical mass, the left sells out the traditional unionists then tries to project thier political beliefs onto conservatives. It really is a disgusting way to do politics.

I am not upset about different positions on the issues. I am upset with the extent to which the left has undermined our ability to discuss the issue. I admire those people on both sides of the issue who take the time and learn the positions and concerns of their opponents.

The primary problem we face is with the undocumented status of the immigrants. The reason we have this is because modern politics has effectively destroyed our ability to discuss and face issues. In this case we see that pro-labor groups coxed the US into passing excessively strict immigration laws. Other political groups envisioning Hispanic vote as a unbeatable political base actively worked to subvert the laws.

We are now in a really difficult situation where we cannot simply address the issue by setting up rules, because the whole foundation of rule of law has been subverted.

It is a complex and difficult issue that should not be handled by mass deportations, but cannot be handled by a general amnesty. Above all, any immigration reform really needs to start with people caught in a nightmarish immigration bureaucracy.

Solving this problem will require work and quality discourse. Reid's blocking the amendment process was a disservice in that blocking the process stifled debate. In the long run, I think it was good for the nation. A debate as important as the immigration issue really needs to go through several rounds of thinking and rethinking to create a workable solution.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chambers Galore

Speaking of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I am not quite sure what to make of the modern tendency to create a Chamber for every diverse group. In Denver; so far I have found a Black Chamber, a Woman's Chamber, a Hispanic Chamber, a Indian Chamber along with a chamber for every single neighborhood.

I do realize that there are driving economic forces behind this trend for ever more specific ethnic chamber and gender based chamber. However I fear that they also feed an innate human impuluse to split into warring sects.

I cut my teeth in the business world in Salt Lake City. In Salt Lake the divide is religious. Salt Lake has an unfortunate history where the market was deeply divided by religion. In early Utah history, Saints were admonished to avoid buying from gentiles. There are still a few hints here and there of this unfortunate tradition. My experience in Salt Lake has been that, whenever anyone makes a decision based primarily on group preference, the decision almost always hurts the stake holders in the decision.

With the opinion that dividing people up into groups hurts people, I found myself interested in seeking out those things that unite us.

The local Chambers of Commerce has a history of being one of those things that unite people. In progressive speak, Chambers tend to be filled with a bunch of capitalist pigs who are most interested in the almighty buck and not in the color or shape of the hands holding the buck.

The primary concern of a Chamber is business. As a result, chambers have generally been on the forefront of integration, immigration reform and gender equality.

Seeing this group that has traditionally served as a unifying force in society split up into fractions is a bit disconcerting.

On the positive side of things, the different chambers can serve as a conduit of information between different segments of a segmented community. If your business desires to reach out to the Hispanic community, a Hispanic chamber can serve as a conduit to that elusive market segment. The danger, of course, is that an excessive emphasis on race can lead to bunker mantality where people conclude that they can only do business with people in the same ethnic group.

I do realize that in the current economic climate, the different ethic chambers do serve important needs. The Indian chamber serves a diverse group that is spread over a much larger area than Denver. The Hispanic chamber is a group trying to overcome a language barrier.

The black chamber is working to overcome centuries of racial prejudice. While there is still an unacceptable achievement and education gap between black and white, I hope that someday this chamber will find that there is no longer a need for black owned businesses to be developed outside of the community at large. The same hope applies to the Hispanic chamber.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hispanic Chambers

Most of the debate on immigration focuses on Hispanics as low wage workers.

In my community directory building business, I've noticed that the Hispanic community has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Look at the numbers. The consensus that Latinos are taking jobs that no-one else wants is falls short. There are more Latinos running around than there are jobs that no one wants. The truth of the matter is that the Hispanic community is creating jobs!

In our efforts at drafting immigration reform, we need to make sure that we do not undermine this entrepreneurial spirit. One of the centers of this entrepreneurial spirit is the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, April 10, 2006

NAFTA and a Borderless N America

The ideals behind NAFTA was to illimate trade barriers and to gradually transform North America into a single economic unit. This logic will will eventually lead to an EU style set up in North America.

Since we apparently lack the political will to secure borders. Perhaps it is time to accelerate the process and start thinking of an open border. The problem with this current immigration law is that we end up filtering out those immigrants who respect laws to the extent that they would not break laws to enter a country.

While we are so caught up in being fair to the people who only obey rules they find convenient that we become horrifically unfair to the people who obey laws, period.

The issue I have not heard discussed in the current immigration debate the extent of the demand for future immigration. If we have open borders, are we looking at just a paltry 20 or 30 million more people wanting to immigrate to the US or are we looking at serious numbers like 100 million plus?

The current nondecision that affectively grants amnesty to the current batch of 12 million undocumented immigrants has already dictated that we will have 12 million more undocumented in the next decade. Having failed to address the current crisis, the next round of immigration reform talks really should begin with a discussion of the total demand for immigration. It is entirely possible that the US has already experienced the brunt of the demand for immigration with the current 12 million illegals plus the 10 or so million that will follow in wake of today's protests. If that is the case, then perhaps it is time to return to the ideals of open borders?

The worst of all worlds, however, is this status quo that punishes people for abiding by laws.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Judas Gospels

On the plus side of things. The National Geographic presentation on the Judas Gospels sounds intriguing.

What people seem to be discovering is that the modern view of the ancient world is a bit skewed. I basically learned that Christianity was a back water cult that emerged among uneducated, illiteral masses.

Rodney Stark's work, The Rise of Christianity, held an interesting thesis that religions tend to start among recently marginalized segments of society. In the case of the ancient world, this was the Hellenic Jews in Alexandria and other former Greek outposts.

The Greeks were the intellectuals of the ancient world. Prior to Christ, Ancient Greece had fallen to Rome. Hellenic culture still survived in many outposts. The population would have still been relatively well educated but politically marginalized. If this is the case, the Christianity would have inherited both the Greek view of philosophy, the Judaic tradition of rule of law along with Christ's message of compassion and respect for life.

The appearance of the Judas Gospel and the increased availability of other texts from this time seem to be indicating that this was a time of open positive discourse.

Abandonning reason

I am glad that today's protestors are carrying the American flag rather than the Mexican flag. I am sad that, yet again, Congress has failed to pass any legislation.

I fear that the modern world has simply given up on discourse.

IMHO, the imagined gap between Conservative and Liberal is a non-issue. The real scary issue is the underlying conflict between those who believe we should solve our nation's problems through rational discourse and those who reject discourse and who seek power by manipulating crowds and emotions.

Both Republicans and Democrats seem to have abandonned discourse. The very fact that this immigration debate has been driven by symbolic gestures (minutemen, protests and flag waving wars) are signs that we are systematically abandonning reason in discourse.

BTW: The fact that Congress abandons the debate on immigration reform over a non-issue like the number of amendments to a bill is as absurd at the Congressional tradition of loading all bills with hundreds of pork barrel projects.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Spanish Language Sites

With a growing Spanish Speaking population, I think it is important for web developers to add Spanish language pages to their web sites. To help encourage the development of Spanish Language pages, I give sites with Spanish Language pages a second link.

IF you have a Salt Lake site with both an English language page and Spanish Language page, I will give you a link to both pages.

Here are the pages: Salt Lake City en Español and Denver en Español.

Yes, these pages are small, and my Spanish is horrible. I doubt my sites will ever attract sizeable Hispanic traffic, but an inbound link is still an inbound link. The goal here is simply to encourage the development of bilingual web sites.

Activism and Discourse

Sustained will is the most important element in any immigration reform.

Speaking of sustained effort. I decided to do some web research on upcoming April 10 protest events. (I want to make sure that local political groups are included in my Community Color collection of web sites.) This search was harder than I first imagined. Searching for keywords related to the upcoming protest returned a long string of past protests.


While the scheduled April 10 protests will appear to many as a spontaneous outpouring of sentiment. In reality, the protest is just an escalation of a long sustained effort by activists.

(NOTE, I decided against linking to all the different immigration protests I found because it would take too long, and would invariably be incomplete.)

In this regard, the immigration reform debate shows how activism often leads to negative results. By shouting down attempts at immigration reform, the activists end up polarizing people. Even worse, with no immigration reform, the number of marginalized undocumented immigrants increases. The next round of protest invariably escalates. Each round of failed attempts at immigration reform tosses out voices of moderation and strengthens the positions of extremist.

In most cases, the cycle of activism continues until a strong arm (either on the left or right) steps in.

The planned April 10 protests are not a spontaneous outpouring of sentiment. It is a continuation of this cycle of activism stopping the process of discourse.

Activists tend to start with worthy causes, but they invariably undermine their societies and to a system of even greater oppression. It is sad that so few people see this.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Radicalizing The Hispanic Community for Fun and Power

This current cycle of mass protests in the Hispanic community brings up an interesting question of the extent to which the Hispanic Community has been radicalized.

There's been a large number of professors and activists who've worked to radicalize the Hispanic community. My experience, to date, had been that the Hispanic community is extremely diverse. Many of the people from Latin America admire the freedoms offered by the United States. Other sympathize more with the Socialistic Style of Hugo Chavez.

My experience to date has been that political sentiment in the Hispanic community runs the gamut. Yes, the community tends to be united in a distaste for exploitation of workers. Beyond that, the opinions of this diverse community seem to run the gamut. (They are pretty much like everyone else in the world). Some in the Hispanic community would love to see the US move toward socialism. Others escaped socialism and like the free market.

In the past when I've tried polling Latinos on political issues, I've found that there's been very wide disagreement. This is good. This is the way that open discourse works.

The big question today is if the massive protests scheduled on April 10 will just be a release of steam or if it is the beginning of an entrenched radical element. I hope the former will be the case. The Mexican economy seems to be limping along at 4.1% GDP growth. Mexico's labor laws seem to push Mexico's most productive workers northward. Too many Mexicans are contributing to the US economy and not the Mexican economy.

The other great fear is the extent to which the current mass movement will lead to xenophobia. It seems that so far America's political community has done a good job keeping xenophobia in check. The Democrats have kept a muzzle on the Unions. The kooks in the Republican party have done a good job concentrating their angst on law enforcement issues. The anger is aimed at flaunting the law and not on immigrants themselves.

I simply feel sad that our government proved itself incapable of creating a workable immigration system after the 1986 amnesty.

The only thing I know for certain here is that any laws we pass must be forward looking. We can't undo the past. I simply hope that the wanks of the world don't through us into the cycle of radical action and reactionary reaction.

American immigration has generally been about bringing people into a diverse community. Radicalization is about driving wedges between people in a community.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Immigration Lottery

The worst part about amnesty is that it puts all of the people who've been waiting for a legimate immigration slot at the very end of the list. Aborbing the 12 million undocumented immigrants into our roles of citizens will cause us to put the kabash on legal immigration for the foreseeable future.

This actually has me thinking. Perhaps the way to handle this situation is with a lottery. We would give temporary visas to current workers in the US. The temporary visa would enter the immigrant in a lottery along with other hopeful immigrants. Each year, the lottery would allow in x number (or x percent) of citizens.

The big advantage of a lottery is that we can do it over several years. The lottery would give people an incentive to stay documented. Even if they lose this years lottery, staying documented keeps them in next year's lottery.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Respect of Law

America was not only founded on the rule of law. We use to have the expectation that there would be respect for law. Although undocumented workers do have good reasons for justifying crossing a border without permission, the act is a flaunting of rules.

Anyway, I just love the following quote to describe the mass protests scheduled for April 10:

'"We're flexing our muscles to send a message that we are not criminals," said Juan Jose Gutierrez, director of Latino Movement USA.'

Senate struggles with immigration overhaul by Donna Smith.

Translated, we are engaged in thuglike behaviour to prove our civility. Let's hope the demos don't turn into riots. I suspect, however, that these mass protests will become a regular thing like the yearly student protests in France.

Undocumented Americans

There is a large number of creatures that migrate from North to South on the American Contitent. To a large extent, humans are migratory creatures.

One of the driving dynamics of the current immigration debate is this natural impulse for North South migration. I suspect that this tendency is especially strong in Central America which is long and skinny as opposed to the US which is wide in the middle.

People on the North South migration do have a different opinion of their actions than a person crossing a sea.

Immigration attitudes that may have worked well for people coming through Ellis Island will not work the same for people traveling North and South on the same Continent.

Even worse, we have a silly problem with linguistics. While we tend to see immigrants as "people coming to America." People born on the American Continents see themselves as Americans.

The people who we are preventing from traveling to el norte have an ancestry that migrated through el norte in the distant past.

Of course, to say that Mexicans should be citizens of the US simply because they live on the same continent is a bit absurd. However, debates about the current illegal immigration crisis should recognize the difference between the European emigration and north south migration.

Perhaps the PC word for the people from Mexico in the US without proper documentation should be "undocumented American" rather than "undocumented immigrant."

House Thinking

I am listening to talking heads on the radio about a new book called House Thinking by Winifred Gallagher. The book is based on historical research on ways that we think about the rooms in our house.

Most of the redesign discussion I've heard in the last several years have dealt primarily with the effects that the redesign has on the resell value of the house, taxes or on the all important mortgage. The discussion of how we actually live in the house takes second stage. For example, today people are spending outrageous amounts on kitchen redesigns ... this is happening at a time when people are doing less cooking.

Of course, we are not unique in building our houses around false ideals. The reasons houses of 50 years ago were split into many different rooms is that the number of rooms was a primary factor in the selling price of a home.

House Thinking sounds like an excellent contribution to the overall dialogue about how we should organize our lives in this modern world.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


I wish we had a Security and Exchange Commission that actually did something.

Here is the justification for the Alcatel and Lucent Technology merger:

"Together, the companies will have more power to negotiate prices with their telephone company customers"

The telephone companies that buy products from Lucent have gone through their own slurry of mega mergers. The justification for the reconsolidation of telephone companies was so that they could have more buying power.

In other words, we had to let the telephone companies consolidate so that they would have more power to negotiate with Lucent. That means we have to let the telephone technologies providers consolidate to negotiate with the consolidated telephone companies.

The only losers are the public at large.

Of course, this merger is more benign than the Exxon/Mobile and Conoco/Phillips mergers.

Internet and Distributing Wealth

CSMonitor has an interesting report on Google Adsense in the third world. It is possible for people in the third world to make a decent living from internet ad revenue. Adsense is spawning a great deal of entrepreneurship as people build web sites and try to find ways to tap into international markets. I see this as positive as it is helping improve technology and living conditions in remote locations. The internet isn't just helping internet geeks, it sounds like Google checks help encourages modernization of banking in the third world, etc..

I am happy to hear that the Internet is spreading wealth.

The reason that I started creating Community Directories was an interest in the possibility that the Internet might serve as a medium for distributing wealth. I believed strongly that the Internet could serve as a mechanism for creating and distributing wealth. My stab at business was a failure. It took three years for ad revenues to equal costs. The sites could never generate enough cash to pay a minimum wage worker to update the sites.

There was, and still is, big questions about the long term viability and independence of the net. Will the net include millions of viable companies and distributing wealth to the masses, or will it be dominated by a few giants who further concentrate wealth among the few?

Unfortunately, the early years of the Internet was dominated by rogue players whose business model was to dominate the industry through tricks. The reason we had the dot com boom and bust was a belief that there would be only a few internet firms that dominate the market. To gain this precious dominance, marketers did stupid things like selling goods at below cost.

The dual effect of the dot com idiocy was to drive out good companies. The bad companies floundered under their own weight. This very instability prevented the net from being a wealth producing engine.

Even worse, the bubble headed marketers in charge cultivated a climate of dishonesty that still affects the net today. There are very few players that you can trust in the game of buying and selling internet advertisements.

In the first years of internet advertising, I only received about 70% of the money that marketers promised for advertising on my site. The big advertisers were inundated with people pushing scams.

The affiliate marketing industry was the first industry to promise widespread wealth redistribution though the net. In mass affiliate marketing, merchants simply give a portion of sales to web sites that send customers.

This market has been undermined by big ad agencies that keep trying to take short cuts to market dominance. The big companies splattered the world with popups, and funded the emergency parasite (spyware) industry.

To make matters worse, most affiliate programs work on a regressive model. They pay small sites at a significantly lower rate than big sites.

The combination of parasites and low rates for small sites pretty much destroys affiliate marketing as a wealth distribution mechanism.

The story of Google is a little bit different. Google's approach has been to take the high road and to concentrate on supporting good netiquette. Despite the promose of quick riches, Google avoided crawling in bed with parasite. Google's pricing model does not favor big companies over small. Most important, you can do business with Google without feeling that Google would try to pull the wool over your eyes.

This is an interesting situation. In the early dot com days, you couldn't make money because you couldn't trust the people you did business with. Simply by creating an open system that people can trust, Google has been able to gain the dominance that the tricksters dreamed about.

With just a little bit of honesty at the root of things, I think we could realize the dream where the net becomes the equitable wealth producing engine people wanted.

Of course, there is always the chance that the market will undermine itself. Prices on the net or often set by the lowest common denominator. If the traffic produced by Google's third world publishers is not prime, then the payment that American publishers will fall to the third world level.

Speaking of internet riches: In March 2006, my collection of sites had 900,000 page views in 170,000 sessions. I sent 7500 hits to advertisers for a promised payout of $527.00. To make a middle class American wage, I would need about 10 times the amount of current web traffic. I would need about 1.7 million user sessions and 10 million page views a month .... which I don't see happening.

Big Brother Probably Should Be Watching

AlertNet (a site dedicated to watching right wing media and political groups) has a report on the FBI's monitoring of fringe groups. The warning is "Early this March an FBI agent's presentation at the University of Texas law school listed Indymedia, Food Not Bombs, the Communist Party of Texas and "anarchists" as groups on the FBI's "Terrorist Watch List" for central Texas."

The goal of this article is to raise fear. So it does not go into the details of what "watching" means. The article wants to raise fear that the FBI is trying to thwart open discourse.

Let's be honest. The government should be monitoring the above organizations. The government needs to keep tabs on media, educational facilities, and even religious groups.. The questions isn't if the government is keeping tabs on things, but how intrusive they are, what they are looking for and what they do with the data they collect.

Monitoring a dissident group does not say that that dissident groups are terrorists. History has shown that terrorist groups have infiltrated and used dissident groups.

The ideals of the United States is not that people will go through their lives unseen. The ideals in the United States is to create a world where we are free to pursue their interests.

One of the truly innovative ideals of the U.S. was in the creation of a free press. The free press has the effect of decentralizing public discourse. The result is that we end up with groups like AlertNet, IndyMedia and a billion of blogs that are all engaged in monitoring and commenting on what's going down in the world.

The charge of AlertNet is that they will expose all of the evil people on the right who are subverting culture. The government should be checking up on media and other influential groups to see who is subverting who.

Speaking of subverting media, the Christian Science Monitor has an interesting piece on people manipulating Internet News Aggregators. Since the aggregators are not edited by humans, people have found it easy to inject advertisements and hoaxes into the news channels.