Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Aa-Chu !!"

 
      Steven Chu is a Nobel Prize winning Physicist, a very, very smart man.   
      And yet, as Secretary of the Department of Energy, Professor Chu approved
guaranteeing a half billion dollar loan to Solyndra, which promptly went bankrupt. Maybe if he had been investing his own money...     
       People are always having ideas for making stuff that they think YOU will like.  If they're right, you'll like their  stuff and they'll make money.  If they're wrong, they'll lose money. And, by the way, you can have any color stuff you want. Not everyone likes green.
      [Go call your wife and tell her that you're a better economic prognosticator than a physics genius even though you still don't know if Queens is part of Long Island or of New York City so, when you go out to eat, is the tax supposed to be 8.50% or 8.75% and are you supposed to tip on the tax?]
      YOU, of course, doesn't mean just...you. It means the millions and billions of YOU's or, as we call them in Brooklyn, YOUSE's, who mostly don't know each other or even ever met each other. They're just folks buying what they want and doing what they want. It's what Adam Smith called the 'invisible hand' of the market and it works pretty well if we just stay out of the way except for laws to prevent stealing and cheating.
      And don't believe people who tell you that some things are so expensive that the gov't has to do them. There's always money for a good idea. You just have to start small,
       "Henry, come in and eat before your supper gets cold. Why couldn't you get a nice job in the Post Office like your brother Seymour? A regular paycheck, good benefits, free stamps..."
       "In a minute, Sylvia."
       If Henry Ford had gotten a grant from the Department of Energy instead of working in his own garage and using his own money, he would have had to try and build an engine that could be implanted in a horse. Bureaucrats don't much like change.
      You know, there was a time in this country when the way to get rich was to "build a better mousetrap." Now, you just throw something together and then hire a lobbyist to make it illegal for anyone to compete or to import something better. The only ones happy with this arrangement are the mice.
     
 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Does Al Gore Claim Illegal Aliens Cause Global Warming?

       Illegal immigrants have been blamed for just about everything in this country except global warming. So, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested that it might be okay to subsidize college tuition for illegals, his presidential bid was probably ended. But should it have been?
     After all, "Live Free or Die" was replaced by "Live FOR Free or Die" in many parts of this country way before illegals came along. 
     But, but, but, they don't pay taxes.
     Well, actually, they do pay taxes, They just don't pay income taxes, usually. They still pay sales taxes, utility taxes, phone taxes, user fees, not-user fees, user only on alternate side parking suspended days fees, etc.
     Call me next time you hear,
     "Ok, that's one flannel shirt, two pairs of socks, underwear...with tax, comes to $83.95."
     "No, senor. I am the illegal. I don't pay no taxes."
      "Oh, sorry, Mr. Illegal. Let's see now, hmm, ok, that'll be $65 even."    
       And about those income taxes, most illegals earn little enough that they wouldn't pay income taxes even if they were citizens. (The real money is in 'plastics,' not lettuce.)
      But, but, but, they steal American jobs.
      If American citizens would be willing to take the jobs that these folks 'steal', we wouldn't have to listen to the President every other week telling Congress to pass all those cock-a-mamie jobs bills "right now". He could just go on national t.v. and point,      
      "My fellow Americans, walk that way. Knock on that door over there and say 'I'm here for the job.' Good night."      
       Even the 'discouraged' workers don't want them. [By the way, do any of these 'discouraged' workers ever get too discouraged to eat?]
       Anyway, if it were up to me, I'd think about restarting a guest worker program.  Only thing I'd change would be to add a requirement for all the 'guests' to do a few hours of volunteer work every couple of weeks. Nursing homes? Hospitals? Could it cut costs enough to save Medicaid from bankrupcy and still allow us to take care of all the people who need taking care of?  Who knows? This country was built on immigration and volunteerism.     
       And maybe, maybe, maybe...with luck, we can some day get back to what America once was, to "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."  instead of "Good fences make good neighbors."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

All of the Above

                                                       
                                                             
 The New York State Education Department recently banned the use of 'all of the above' and 'none of the above' on multiple choice tests in order to avoid 'tripping up' the students taking the tests. 
In other words, instead of concentrating on producing students who will someday grow into literate adults, we're going to be vetting the tests they take in order to remove words that might 'trip them up,' Sounds like Alice has fnally  left Wonderland and is now living happily in New York. 
                                                                ***
     "Before I pronounce sentence, do you have anything to say for yourself?"
     "Your Honor, I'm so sorry. I've been teaching for over 20 years and I was never in any kind of trouble before. I didn't know that it was illegal to put 'all of the above' and 'none of the above' on a test. I..."
     "Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You put 'all of the above' AND 'none of the above' on the same test?"
     "Well, uh, actually..."
     "What kind of a monster are you? And you call yourself a teacher? You are hereby sentenced to death...by boredom."
     "Your Honor, please. Can't I just have life in prison? or the rubber room? I have a family. I..."
     "Death! Now get out of my sight."
     "Does this mean I lose my pension?"
                                                                 ***
Reminds me of a physics professor I studied with in Brooklyn College.  A week before final exams, one of my classmates asked Prof. Smits about a book entitled Physics Made Easy. The question he asked was whether it was indeed possible for a book, any book, to make physics easy.
"Sure, replied Prof. Smits. You just leave out all the hard stuff."
     
Professor Smits was joking. The Education Department apparently is not. Maybe it's finally time to give parents the same opportunity to pick their child's teacher as they have always had to pick his or her doctor.  Choice should mean...Choice. How do you spell 'Voucher?'