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January 08, 2020

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I look forward to the time of resource wars, massive coastal flooding, heat waves forcing tens of millions on the march, unimaginable weather extremes, crop extinctions, the death of the oceans, etc., as another extinction event sweeps across the globe taking its toll on life.

Librul: This does not look good. Maybe we should do something about this.

conservative: THIS IS THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS!!! When are you haters going to get a fucking clue!!!!!

Yup. Can't wait.

My house in the east side of City of Atlanta proper is on 0.2 acres, which I thought of as more or less the norm for this part of town and the contiguous City of Decatur further east. Just looked at Zillow and there's a little more variation than I thought, from 0.1 up to around 0.6, though most are not at the extremes. The incentives now for developers are such that they will buy older houses on the small lots and "renovate" by tearing down the house to the frame or one wall so they can be grandfathered in to older building codes and zoning (think zero lot line development) and putting as much square footage as possible.

There is also a fair amount of in-fill development, where lots that have been undeveloped have completely new houses built on them. One example around the corner from my house is a 3390 sq. ft. house on 0.1 acre that went on the market late last March for $799,000, sold a month later for $805,000. I will celebrate 20 years in my house in September, good thing I got it then, I could not afford to buy in my neighborhood now. My house itself was originally built in 1920, I should throw it a 100th birthday party now that I think of it.

Conservatives who hate non-polluting regulators of industry pollution, both the competent and incompetent ones, replace them with polluters.

New York, California, and Illinois have been hemorrhaging residents.

That sir, is what is commonly called pure unmitigated crap.

This is really quite simple: Conservatives love a government that gives them all the goodies.

This is not complicated.

Well, we don't have to grow it. We can actually insist that it fix its current problems before giving it more access to our personal and professional lives.

I'd give that a second thought the moment the incessant demands to click on "I agree" cease.

Tokyo is a shining example of how free-market housing regulations can keep even big, growing cities affordable.

In contrast (to local zoning regulations) Japan sets housing regulations at the national level.

And that, my friends, is the rest of the story.

BRING ME THAT 600 PAGE REGULATION---NOW!!!!!

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/2-gorgeous-countries-with-high-quality-health-care-where-you-can-live-on-less-than-2500-a-month-2020-01-14?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts

Conservative high-earners leave America during Democratic Administrations because they don't want to pay taxes. Oddly enough, conservatives don't keep track of the numbers leaving during Republican Administrations.

All other classes of Americans leave America (Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, Italy) during all administrations because they can't afford health insurance and the standard of living in this country.

If they happen to like going without affordable health insurance, they leave America and head for Texas.

The U.S. Post Office: What precisely is the problem?

Perhaps that it was privatized years ago...?

I've been quite satisfied with most government services. I'm uneasy with zoning regimes regulating housing uses because they seem to have promoted inequality and segregation, even when the intentions of the planners were benign.

(McKinney, your suggestion that the house in the backyard could be inhabited by a registered sex offender is interesting, given that the most notorious registered sex offender of recent times lived here, among other lavish residences. )

The Salem ordinance may or may not be popular with the people who vote for city counsel. My experience with local government is that people who are interested enough to inform themselves about local issues are those who have a grievance, and people who want to build an accessory in their yard are probably outnumbered by those who are worried about the riff raff who may live in the one next door. Local government is vastly more corrupt (from my experience) than national government (maybe with the exception of recent Republican administrations).

There are many ways to protect the "character of the neighborhood". Restrictive covenants come to mind, for example. The "character of the neighborhood" has very little bearing on the health and safety of the citizens, which is what the police power of the state or municipality is there to protect.

So, although I'm not completely against zoning that protects people from pollution, or industrial hazards, or even traffic problems, zoning that protects citizens from encounters with other people isn't the way to go. Go live in a gated community where covenants are in place requiring architectural committees and neighborhood associations to approve accessory buildings.

Why has Lockheed Martin not been fired for its F-35 disaster?

A fine question. Let's consider some possibilities.

- If they spec'ed the actual expected cost of the real-time high-reliability software, no one would buy it?

- Buying four or five separate fifth-generation mission-specific designs would be an even bigger disaster?

- We'd also have to fire Boeing over the KC-46, and the only two US suppliers of military aircraft would likely be bankrupt?

city council I meant [arghhhhh]

And I thought we were a traditionalist society....
https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/478243-kansas-man-asks-judge-to-let-him-engage-in-sword-fight-with-ex

Yeah that, and this:

https://www.cnbc.com/id/45018432

I was fishing on that one, because I doubt that the complaint is that junk mail arrives right on time, rain or shinola.

Republican filth did this to deliberately hamstring the U.S. Post Office, Constitution be fucked, and get it ready, willing, and financially disabled for privatization to their donors' highest bidders.

The U.S. Park Service has a $10 billion dollar maintenance backlog for which republicans have withheld funding with my tax dollars, against my wishes as a citizen, purposefully in abeyance so that they can privatize campgrounds and the maintenance issues.

Under corrupt vermin subhuman Trump, they transfer perfectly competent Park Rangers and Superintendents, for political reasons, to bad locales, hopefully forcing then to retire, so they face no opposition to handing out the campground and other privatization prizes to their republican donors, while considerably raising fees (inflation anyone?), thus creating mere playgrounds for only those who can afford to use all Americans' public lands.

Go ahead, do that, fuckers.

This is how I'm getting around it. Even though I hold a Senior Pass to the National Parks, I plan on never entering through the gates again in a National Park.

It's easy.

Furthermore, I'll camp where I fucking please in the parks, because I don't require pool tables, consumer entertainment, and WIFI in the wild.

If a legitimate Federal employee ranger wants to roust me out, I will go peaceably with them to my punishment, but if some underpaid private sector honcho enforcer on contract wants to fuck with me, they'd better be carrying more than bear spray.

Militant resistance.

We saw what happened to the Saguache National land when laissez faire fuck republicans shut down government funding and left the parks to the ravaging depredations of ever-so conscientious private Americans.

I didn't see the fucking Bundys, all of whom should be executed, in there taking potshots at the rampaging free lunch tourists wrecking the land.

The F-35 sucks. You can make a waffle in the cockpit but the thing won't start in cold weather. Take $10 billion from that and allocate it to the perfectly competent and conscientious employees of the U.S. Park Service to maintain the Parks, like they have for more than a hundred years.


And I thought we were a traditionalist society....

Serve him right if the opposing attorney insists on using medieval European broad swords (since he's claiming British trial by combat) rather than Japanese swords. And then turns out to be an SCA type who actually knows how to use them. Be careful what you wish for....

What's the position of the National Sword Association on this guy's request?

No one likes paperwork and 600 pages is excessive

Yes, and arguably yes.

The thing is, setting up a 401k plan for your employees means handling their money, and hiring other people to also handle their money for them. So, some degree of caution seems advisable.

And when things get written down, they can be interpreted in a variety of ways. So, to avoid misinterpretation, rules that get written down often get written down at length, and restated using the 10 or 12 different historical terms of art that the same basic set of concepts have accumulated like barnacles over the decades and centuries.

If it starts with "whereas...", it's not going to be concise.

I don't really know how many pages are too much. 600 does seem like a lot. Somebody is going to take some of your employees money, invest it on their behalf, and then 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years later, give it back to them. And keep track of whatever needs to be kept track of so that the tax stuff all adds up right. And makes whatever guarantees need to be made about acting in their best interest, or not, under what conditions. And make whatever disclosures are needed so that everyone understands the risks involved. And makes whatever allowances need to be made for things like your firm going away, or the investment company going away, or whatever else can happen in 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years.

All of the rules about what has to be spelled out, and in what language, and who has to agree to and sign off on what, are definitely imposed by law and by regulation.

Which ones should we go without? What's the right balance between being concise, and being precise and explicit?

If people would just be honest and fair without being made to be so, we wouldn't need all of this crap.

FWIW, the private sector ain't much better.

Every year I have to watch several hours of videos to make sure I understand that I shouldn't steal stuff, hand my password out like candy, or be rude to people at work. My last job, I had to pee in a cup.
To write code.

Some of that noise is government related, but most of it is private sector CYA. It's checking pointless boxes so that you can say you did.

I put the boundary at 20 people and a budget of $100K. Once it gets bigger than that, the BS kicks in. Doesn't matter much what kind of organization, and if you think private industry is uber-efficient I beg to differ.

If we want a small, manageable government, that only does things that make sense, we need a small country, where everyone agrees about what "makes sense" means.

"If people would just be honest and fair without being made to be so, we wouldn't need all of this crap."

If everyone in America had McKinney's integrity chops, ten pages would be enough.

But we have liar and cheat and thief Donald Trump, for whom a million pages in triplicate wouldn't be enough, as an example to all businessmen in America how far you can rise by lying, cheating, and thieving without breaking a sweat.

Anyone who asks to get into a traditional duel with his ex is not going to get a sword. Mixed gender judicial duels were fought with the man in a waist deep hole holding a club the length of his sleeve. The woman was on foot and armed with a 4 lb. rock wrapped in a sheet of fabric again about as long as her arm. Both were unarmored and wearing the equivalent of modest undergarments.

The Talhoffer Manuscript of 1467 outlines several different martial approaches to fighting such a duel.

https://www.aemma.org/onlineResources/trial_by_combat/combat_man_and_woman.htm

No thank you.

Combination Judicial Duel and Beckett play.

Sam or Thomas, take your pick.

If people would just be honest and fair without being made to be so, we wouldn't need all of this crap.

This.

Blaming government for 600 pages of triplicate or whatever is silly.

The root problem is trust. If everyone could trust everyone else not to rip them off, everything would be great. Handshake deals and contracts on napkins, no problem.

But, seeing as we share a society with a bunch of greed-is-good aholes who put the malevolent loophole-finding genies from the stories to shame, we can't. Someone is going to rip someone off. There are a bunch of people out there trying to figure out new and better ways to -- completely legally -- rip people off as we speak.

And not being able to trust people in your society is fundamentally an expensive PITA. No getting around it.

A regulatory state is one of the cheaper ways to keep the problem in check.* Not perfect, but workable.**

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* Courts and contracts have their place too, but using them for everything is a libertarian fantasy. Either the transaction costs alone kill your civilization dead, or you've set up a system with enough common law judicial precedent or whatever that it's a regulatory state in all but name -- or aspirations to representational fairness.

** Of course, it'd be a lot more workable if the ripoff artists weren't still, as ever, plotting away in the corners.

There are the extra clever ones who will see the threat to their business model coming, and try to make the regulation miss the mark a little. That takes a lot of clever obfuscation, couple hundred pages minimum. (All the better for later complaints about the excessively complicated regulations they have to deal with.)

Then there are the extra, extra clever ones who go all meta and try to write in completely new ways to rip people off - couple hundred more.

After all of which, you gotta hope that someone honest comes along, sees what's going on, and adds a couple hundred on top of all that, to try to get the whole thing back on track.

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but either way, that's where your 600 pages comes from. Blame the ripoff artists.

Fun stuff. The Post Office was not privatized. Our mail, at home and at the office, is frequently mis-delivered or not delivered at all. When we ask for an explanation of why no mail, or why it takes a week for a letter to get from one side of town to another, we get gibberish. We need a decent mail service. We pay for a decent mail service. We are not getting a decent mail service.

I am not a zero government theorist. I want intelligent, useful regulation. Pollution limits are essential. OSHA's Construction and General Industry manuals are full of intelligent and necessary safety regs. They are both single volume documents, shorter than my 401K. There is no reason for a 600 page document to manage investments. No one can read it. No one does read it. It is stupid, mindless rule making.

We do not have a regulatory culture that does any kind of meaningful follow up to see if regs are efficacious or a big waste of time or 'not bad, but need tweaking here and there'. CFR grows almost exponentially.

I get the frustration with the F-35. The concept was sound: build one chassis that can be tweaked for all three air arms. It was a bridge, maybe several bridges too far. Let's note that many lefties have no problem finding fault with
defense spending, but seem to lose their voice on the domestic front. Let's also note that, in years past, the same lefty voices criticizing the F-35 said the same things about the Abrams main battle tank, the F-14, 15, 16 and 18, yet each of these, in their time, were outstanding ground/air superiority platforms.

Good, effective regulation, when and where needed is a definite plus. One example: our highway standards in TX have been upgraded significantly. Our new highway construction is an awesome drive with all kinds of safety and damage mitigation features. Our Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices has evolved hugely since the late '90's and almost all for the better.

The Feds don't lack for money. They have plenty. Whether they allocate it intelligently may be another thing entirely. There is plenty of room between employment-at-will and a lifetime sinecure for all practical purposes. Accountability is definitely not a feature of our administrative regime.

My point is and remains: before we further extend the role of government in our lives, let's require basic competence, basic ability to self-evaluate and the capacity to course correct. Unfortunately, that isn't even a part of the discussion which is one of the many reasons why I don't care for either party.

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but either way, that's where your 600 pages comes from. Blame the ripoff artists.

I'd like to see some evidence for this assertion. There is not a legal way to steal from a 401K. There never has been. I've been the fiduciary on 401K's since the early 90's, or whenever they first come into service.

A regulation that *effectively* prevents a real risk is a fair regulation. No argument there. Dismissing criticism of the regulatory regime and refusing to accept that maybe, just maybe, real improvement is not only possible but desirable doesn't advance the ball. It's just defending the status quo and, inferentially, the lefty affinity for regulation.

There is not a legal way to steal from a 401K.

That's kind of missing the point on a couple levels.

First, a 401(k) is not a thing that exists in the first place without, well, section 401(k) -- and however many additional pages of supporting legislation and agency rulemaking and interpretation, and financial industry contracts.

Saying there's no legal way to steal from that... well, maybe, but that's because someone's written all those pages of formalized structures and procedures already.

If you want to say there's no way to steal from an agreement that consists of, "hey, how about you give me some money, and then I'll give you a bunch more back when you want to retire" + a handshake. Well, we wouldn't really be on the same page, 'nuff said.

Second, if they're not there either for CYA purposes, or to take advantage of someone, what exactly *is* your operational theory about how all those pages come into being? Are there just a bunch of mad dark monks chained in the Capitol basement writing them for kicks?

Dismissing criticism of the regulatory regime and refusing to accept that maybe, just maybe, real improvement is not only possible but desirable doesn't advance the ball.

Whew! It's a good thing we're instead advancing the ball by trying to form an operational theory about the causes of regulatory dysfunction then!

Has anyone been fired by the FAA over the 737 Max disaster?

I'm sure there are FAA employees who would be glad to take the fall for $60 million or so.

That payout is sickening.

Seriously, I've read a few comments like this lately, and find it amazing that the Boeing disaster is being blamed on government regulation being too tight, or incompetent, or something.

Anyone whose first thought about the 737-Max disaster is that it's an example of government incompetence has something wrong with them.

if they're not there either for CYA purposes, or to take advantage of someone, what exactly *is* your operational theory about how all those pages come into being? Are there just a bunch of mad dark monks chained in the Capitol basement writing them for kicks?

Actually that is, as far as I can tell, exactly the view of the more enthusiastic libertarian/conservatives. That is, they really do think that there are indeed people who are writing regulations because they believe regulation, as such, is a positive good -- without regard for whether it accomplishes what it is supposed to or anything at all. Really, listen to some of the folks here discussing regulations.

Not to say that we don't have plenty of badly written regulations. Some because of simple ignorance/incompetence on the part of those writing them. Some because someone found it profitable to get the rules written in a way that they could take advantage. But that is actually a rather different thing from arguing (which McKinney isn't, once he steps back and takes a deep breath anyway) that the vast majority of regulation is irredeemably flawed.

Hackers stealing from 401K accounts is a problem, I've read recently.

The mail, and email, I don't want arrives promptly.

The mail I want .... not so much.

The mail I wish I was receiving from a former lover never arrives, but I don't think that is a delivery problem.

The Post Office was not privatized

Correct.

The PO was, and is, required to carry out a profoundly uneconomic service, and to do so while paying its own way.

The USPO will deliver a letter up 3.5 oz in weight, absolutely anywhere in the US, for 55 cents. And they'll sell you a stamp for that price and honor it even if the price goes up by the time you send your letter.

You tell me if Fedex or anybody else will do anything similar.

I have, over the years, done some trade in musical instruments. Buying, selling, trading. Not as a business, just as a way to get good instruments, stuff you won't find in neighborhood retail or online stores.

My preference is always USPO. Fedex costs the earth, UPS beats stuff up. USPO usually takes about one day longer, but everything arrives in one piece.

God knows I have my own public sector war stories to share, but by and large my interactions with the public sector are good. They deliver. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles, but useful stuff gets done.

Maybe the government is just better where I live. Not making any judgements about other places, I just can't relate to the negative vibe about the public sector. In my world, they do a pretty good job. I appreciate it.

let's require basic competence, basic ability to self-evaluate and the capacity to course correct.

These all seem like worthwhile goals. Let's work toward them.

they really do think that there are indeed people who are writing regulations because they believe regulation, as such, is a positive good

It's worth looking at the history of the various regulatory agencies. There really aren't that many examples of the feds - or much of anybody - greedily imposing regulation on an unwilling public. In most cases, governments had to be dragged into the regulatory role, and it typically took really freaking egregious behavior on the part of somebody or other to make that happen.

Don't take my word for it, go look it up. Pick any regulatory area you like, and go look at the history of how the feds got involved.

It's eye-opening.

Part of the problem is that Congress, not wanting to take responsibility for anything, pass vague, ill-defined laws and leave it to the federal agencies to fill in the blanks. And they often find exceeding small blanks to fill in.

Part of the problem is that Congress, not wanting to take responsibility for anything, pass vague, ill-defined laws and leave it to the federal agencies to fill in the blanks. And they often find exceeding small blanks to fill in.

That's a rather perplexing thing to say.

If 'the problem' is an ever growing mound of legalese, and a culture of government that abhors flexibility and experimentation, I'm not really sure "make Congress hash out the details even more interminably" would be my first stab at a solution.

It kind of seems like what you'd end up with is an order of magnitude more corrupt/ass-covering legalese -- but enshrined in the federal code this time -- and then it would take *another* such herculean act of Congress to fix anything (if somewhere down the line it were to happen that a loophole was found, or an approach was not working and needed slight adjustment).

Even if Congress were a much better functioning body than it is, I'm not sure how much such work it is even logistically capable of taking on. I suppose a go of it could be made if you also proposed increasing the size of the combined House and Senate to roughly the same order of magnitude as the federal rule-making bureaucracy. I'm all in favor of bringing the citizen-congressperson ratio down a bit myself, but even I think that would be a mite extreme...

The complete opposite would probably have better results:

Let Congress pass extremely simple laws that specify as few details as possible. "Here's X billion dollars. Try to keep Americans from going hungry/cars from killing people/banks from crashing. We'll check on your progress periodically." Then turn it over to a staff of professionals* to work out the detailed solution and iterate on it, with as little political interference as possible.

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* In-house experts. Not 750K/year interns from Booz Allen.

Part of the problem is that Congress, not wanting to take responsibility for anything, pass vague, ill-defined laws and leave it to the federal agencies to fill in the blanks

That is not a problem (Chevron deference which see). The problem is those who insist it is a problem.

My point is and remains...

No, it does not. Having personally watched the Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, George Bush, GWB, and Trump administrations in action, I can positively assert (just like you) that conservatives are hell bent on changing government....for the worse.

Dismissing criticism of the regulatory regime and refusing to accept that maybe, just maybe, real improvement is not only possible but desirable doesn't advance the ball.

Man, the stink of burning straw is just too much at times.

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2020/01/14/assassinating-our-own-ambassador-it-would-be-wrong-thats-for-sure/

Those tax cuts will make anyone suck a little murderous dick.

America is in grave danger.

Dismissing criticism of the regulatory regime and refusing to accept that maybe, just maybe, real improvement is not only possible but desirable doesn't advance the ball.

And neither does assuming that less regulation is always better regulation.

conservatives are hell bent on changing government....for the worse.

America is in grave danger.

Yes. Not sure what it will take for the "pox on both their houses" crowd to wake up and start fighting for the country.

The problem with "talking about something" else is that it's easy to become complacent that policy discussions can be about what well-meaning people want to do to make things better for Americans. If it was ever about that, it's not anymore.

The Republican regime is one of mobsters, and they're not going away until we make that happen.

Let's note that many lefties have no problem finding fault with defense spending, but seem to lose their voice on the domestic front.

"defense" is more than half of all US discretionary spending. it's 25x as big as what the federal govt spends on education; 50x as big as what we spend on 'energy'.

and for what?

so we can go dick around in a new ME country every few years and entangle ourselves so much that it takes trillions of dollars and decades to extract? all the while making new enemies and closing opportunities?

it's a self-perpetuating scam that bleeds taxpayers in the service of looking "tough".

of course "conservatives" lvoe it.

"defense" is more than half of all US discretionary spending.

I believe in a strong military, and fair treatment for people who serve. Under Republicans, it becomes a money laundering operation for whatever Republican scam is going. Dick Cheney and Haliburton. The Republican Children's Iraqi Internship Program. The Wall. Now it's a mercenary force for Donald Trump's murderous friends.

Just a few examples.

Goin' back to Houston, Houston, Houston...

Congress doesn't provide enough detail, but the ACA was too many pages.

Congress doesn't provide enough detail, but the ACA was too many pages.

Right?

Also, lefties love complicated regulation.

Which I guess is why one of their headline policy proposals right now is to cut out about a million labyrinthine, dysfunctional pages of healthcare regulation and replace it with a (by comparison very simple) eligibility adjustment to one existing program.

And conservatives hate regulation.

Which is why they're almost certainly going to fight tooth and nail to preserve as much of that regulation as possible -- and probably add uncountably more twisty little epicycles to it in the process -- in order to carve out profitable refuges for the vested interests that benefit from the existing system.

Seriously, I've read a few comments like this lately, and find it amazing that the Boeing disaster is being blamed on government regulation being too tight, or incompetent, or something.

Bernard, I haven't seen where the Max disaster is being laid solely or even primarily at the FAA's doorstep. Absolutely, Boeing takes the hit for this. The 60M payout is BS, but that's outside the public purview. No, the problem with the FAA and Boeing is that someone at the FAA--one would think, I may be wrong--either needs to explain how Boeing got the reduced training/disclosures by the FAA or where the FAA's regs fell short. Boeing needs its ass whipped separate and apart.

As a Max-former frequent flier trial lawyer who makes his living off of horrible accidents, I'm pretty f'ing pissed that there was undisclosed corner cutting on the training/disclosure side. I don't love flying and unless I have work at the end of the trip, I have one pre-flight cocktail and then two or three more depending on the length of the flight. I look at the flight crew for signs of impairment or fatigue. Years ago, I got a confidential medical record on a commercial pilot in which someone in the pilot's life complained that the pilot was a domestically violent alcoholic. It was an interesting quandary: patient confidentiality vs public safety. I went with public safety but I'm not discussing what I did.

I've flown over a million air miles easily. I've had seven aborted landings, six on commercial flights, one on a private charter (not my nickel, I was a guest). I've had at least two in-flight equipment malfunctions that caused diversions. I've had one mid-air collision with a goose in a commuter flight, and we hit jet wash once on final coming into DFW which made the plane do all kinds of weird and unpleasant stuff. The foregoing is the human element to flying. I'm leaving weather out of my list of shitty air experiences. The point is that I'm not a fan of flying and my expectations for what the plane manufacturer and the airline owe me are very, very high. Even when it's done right, other shit can happen. As it happens, I'm wheels up in 4 hours for Denver on business. There will be vodka.

Bottom line: You won't hear me making nice with the Boeing's of this world.

I look to agencies like the FAA to represent me and people like me when Boeing rolls out a new plane or someone starts a new airline or charter service. When something like the Max happens, I expect everyone involved to be held accountable. I'm not seeing it on the FAA side of things.

I expect everyone involved to be held accountable. I'm not seeing it on the FAA side of things.

the FAA is part of DOT, which is headed by Elaine Chao, cabinet Secretary to Trump and wife of McConnell.

sounds pretty Republican, to me.

i'd start the accountability by getting rid of all three and electing people who care about this stuff. even if it means they will write new regulations to make the FAA better at doing what it's supposed to do.

I look to agencies like the FAA to represent me and people like me when Boeing rolls out a new plane or someone starts a new airline or charter service. When something like the Max happens, I expect everyone involved to be held accountable. I'm not seeing it on the FAA side of things.

But who? Unless you're just talking about throwing a few people under the bus for appearances sake, we should figure out who precisely should be held accountable.

I find it pretty hard to fault the low-level engineers. A lot of them *did* scream and holler about various problems, when they were able to find them, only to be overruled by high-level managers who didn't want to hurt Boeing's schedule.

Other stuff was just delegated almost entirely to Boeing. Including the MCAS, the details of which it was not especially forthcoming about. And the specific pair of FAA engineers overseeing the system -- a system which was, according to info from Boeing, relatively unimportant and low risk -- were also fairly inexperienced.

Which -- full circle again -- was in part because the FAA had been experiencing a long term problem attracting high quality engineers. Budget cuts meant they couldn't pay very well. Morale problems meant experienced veterans were leaving. It was a whole thing.

But that was no problem for the remaining engineers, because they could just delegate review of more and more stuff back down to Boeing, like the upper bosses kept pushing them to do.

So what about those upper bosses? Usual story of industry capture. Working for Boeing, working for the FAA, working for the industry to lobby congress for laxer regulation of the industry, go back to work at the FAA. That kind of thing.

They're all shady as shit, and I'd be fine with throwing a few of them under the bus.

BUT.

AFAIK, they didn't actually have specific knowledge of the problems with the MCAS system. Naturally they wouldn't, because the staffing issues and culture of deference to the 'client' meant such problems wouldn't be found. Mission accomplished.

So not specifically guilty. Were they generally complicit in creating those issues and that culture? Absolutely. But so was Boeing, Congress and at least two or three successive presidential administrations. It was policy. A policy based on 'regulation bad, government spending bad, private industry good.'

Who we gonna blame for that?

When something like the Max happens, I expect everyone involved to be held accountable. I'm not seeing it on the FAA side of things.

Couldn't agree more.

It is happening on the Boeing side of things, but mostly through not being able to sell a bunch of planes, and also having their reputation shredded. And, correctly so.

Speaking as an alleged 'lefty', I'm fine with making some heads roll at the FAA as well, if there was negligence there. It is their job to enforce safety standards.

My only comment about all of that is that there are two basic options about things like this:


  1. You can have clear and strong public safety standards and solid support for their enforcement
  2. You can have a generally hands-off public posture and rely on private actors to do the right thing

You have to pick. You can't have both, except in some imaginary world where "just the right balance" is struck.

Conservative policy has been, consistently and emphatically, in favor of the second, for as long as I've been on this planet and for decades if not centuries before that.

Thus, the 737 debacle and things like it.

I, and most people like me, are more than fine with strong public regulation of pretty much anything concerning public safety. We aren't the problem here.

I completely agree that there is a problem. I'm just calling attention to the right place to look for the sources of the problem.

You can have clear and strong public safety standards and solid support for their enforcement
You can have a generally hands-off public posture and rely on private actors to do the right thing

I think you can have both, and should have both. I have to run, so I'm going to do this quickly and broadly: when the universe of actors consists of competent adults and the activity does not present an objectively colorable risk to life, health, etc and that is not already addressed by, e.g. traffic laws or the penal code, there should be minimal to no regulation.

When activities involve minors, the infirm, the elderly, the mentally incompetent (perhaps to include the chronically inept), gov't needs to set some rules.

When the activity is movement in the public domain, reasonable rules/regs applicable to and guided by the relative risk are necessary.

So, I tie the need for government involvement to risk of harm.

An argument for an NGO approach to certification of aircraft.

"Part of the fall-out from the Boeing 737 MAX crashes and several other problems has been increasing congressional criticism of the long-standing global practice of aviation safety regulators delegating certain aircraft certification responsibilities to experts at the companies that manufacture the aircraft. The practice is called Organizational Designation Authorization (ODA). Indeed, the National Transportation Safety Board identified shortcomings in the ODA process used to certify the 737 MAX. Congress has increased the scope of ODA over the decades, expanding it as recently as the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018."
Aviation Policy News: What If Congress Bans Delegation of Aircraft Certification?

So, I tie the need for government involvement to risk of harm.

I'm pretty sure everyone does...

So, I tie the need for government involvement to risk of harm.

I'm pretty sure everyone does...

Agreed.

So, I tie the need for government involvement to risk of harm.

I'm pretty sure everyone does...

Of course, for some the risked harm is that they might end up with fewer tens (hundreds) of millions coming in each year than otherwise. Listen to some of the ultra-wealthy, and the PACs they support.

This
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap200115.html
is just stunningly beautiful.

When the activity is movementJUST ABOUT ANYTHING in the public domain, reasonable rules/regs applicable to and guided by the relative risk are necessary.

Ah, grasshopper...so just who gets to decide what is "reasonable" or assess "risk", eh?

We await with great expectation your 600 pp single spaced regulatory screed regarding transgenders going to the bathroom.

And what Jack L. said. He hit the nail on the head.

Thanks, wj.

This should be interesting!

It was policy. A policy based on 'regulation bad, government spending bad, private industry good.'

This.

The racism, sexism, and xenophobia aside, the one the only prime directive of today's Bolshevik 'conservative movement' is this: Privatize the profits, socialize the costs.

Climate change which see (cough, cough)

Only around half a century.....
What are its chances if the dispute over the ratification deadline gets to the ratfnckers in the Supreme Court, sapient ?

(My wife still has an ERA lapel pin her mother wore in the early 70s....)

I'm wondering if the Democrats might not be better off is the ERA is held to have expired.

It's pretty clear that it's coming eventually. And it might give them an additional lever to attract female voters. Running against state legislators who won't vote to ratify the next time around. The Democrats really need (IMHO) to pay more attention to state legislative races. This might be a way to push that.

Less good news from Virginia.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/939b3y/virginia-declares-state-of-emergency-after-armed-militias-threaten-to-storm-the-capitol?fbclid=IwAR0Cxeg702voa_gr0hcsMqCtTpybylYHp0NGCTFUFGExB7H5jmvZFiM7PnM

(My wife still has an ERA lapel pin her mother wore in the early 70s....)

Warms my heart!

As to the question, I think it will be awhile before the question arrives at the Supreme Court. I haven't studied the legal issues except for reading a couple of articles and having a general idea. Obviously, the R's will be R's. But with all of them proclaiming how feminist they are with regard to hiring women clerks, etc., I think this one is hard to know. I might as well be hopeful.

Less good news from Virginia.

Yes. This is a warning to all of us about what happens when they lose.

(McKinney, your suggestion that the house in the backyard could be inhabited by a registered sex offender is interesting, given that the most notorious registered sex offender of recent times lived here, among other lavish residences. )

I quote myself, from above, but would like to invite discussion on the idea that someone who builds an accessory unit in their backyard, or rents out a small home somewhere else, or that affordable housing in general, is occupied by sex offenders (not that we shouldn't also have a discussion about sex offender registries). I guess that I can find lots to rant about, even non-Trump related issues, but this got stuck in my craw.

The sex offender registries are a sad farce. They have everyone from unredeemable sex offenders to teenagers having consensual sex with underage teenagers or engaging in underage sexting.

The people I know who handle rental property (for themselves or family, not as part of a property management company) run background checks on prospective renters.

In 2017 Seattle pass a law banning landlords from conducting criminal background checks. It was struck down by a court in 2018.

Last year, Minneapolis passed a law prohibiting landlords from checking tenants' criminal history, credit score or past evictions.

McKinney,

I expect everyone involved to be held accountable. I'm not seeing it on the FAA side of things.

How wide a net are you prepared to cast? If the FAA failed, should we just fire some engineers there, or look for systemic reasons that led to that failure. If we want accountability, and we should, then let's talk about reasons the FAA failed, which might, just might, have to do with deregulatory fanaticism, inadequate budgets, or a host of other matters which the agency lacked control over.

The 60M payout is BS, but that's outside the public purview.

I'm not so sure it's outside the public purview. If our corporate governance systems operated in accord with the capitalist ideal of shareholder control, pay packages that size might not exist. We don't have that, and to be blunt, conservatives, even "free-market" types, generally fight like tigers against any moves in that direction.

The fact is that corporate governance in the US is a broken system, with results like Muilenburg's obscene payout.

We could change that, if we wanted to.

what Bernard said, both times.

I'm loathe to move in the direction of discussing You Know Who, but I have to say, where do they find these people? Every new character is more bizarre than the last. Robert Hyde. Boggle, the mind does.

many people are saying it's the Best People. you wouldn't believe. so great.

"NGO reform of Boeing"?

Sure. All close relatives of someone who died in a Boeing 737MAX crash gets to take one free .45 caliber shot at anyone who was on the Boeing board, or their C-level execs, as of the date that they rolled out the 737MAX.

Accountability: It smells like gunpowder. And it certainly would concentrate the minds of surviving aircraft execs.

The linked article in the OP includes "abolish tenure" as a tactic. Interestingly, the word "research" does not appear once. The big commercial research labs are all dead and gone. The national labs have quite limited charters. The top tiers of research universities (50? 100? 200?) have become the backbone for science and engineering research in the US. Tenure is a critical part of that.

"All 50 states have sex offender registries, and the U.S. Justice Department combines them in a single national database. The information, which is available online to the general public, covers nearly 1 million people, whose crimes run the gamut from streaking to rape. In addition to the stigma imposed by that electronic pillory, registration comes with a panoply of restrictions that dictate where people can live and work, when and where they are allowed to travel, and even whether they're allowed to pick up their own children from school or take them to the park.
...
The crimes that will land someone on the list vary by state, but they include not just assaultive crimes such as rape and child molestation but also nonpredatory offenses such as public urination, promotion of prostitution, and possession of child pornography. Children as young as 9 have to register in some places. A handful of states require people convicted of any sex offense to register for life—and even after death."

Sex Offender Laws Are Broken. These Women Are Working To Fix Them.: Standing up for the rights of a widely reviled group isn't for the faint of heart.

Talking about something else (kinda):
there's a nice piece in today's NYT by Chesley Sullenberger, a childhood stutterer and an anointed American hero, rebuking Lara Trump for mocking Biden's stutter, and by implication rebuking much else about that assorted bunch. Towards the end there's an excellent remark (on phone so cannot give exact quote) to the effect that it's a lot easier to fix a speech defect than a character defect. Quite.

So there IS sex after death?

Or is it merely the judgemental condemnation that continues into the afterlife?

How American, that.

No tenure for scientists and academics, natch, but a sort of eternal tenure for streakers and pissing in public, unless of course, in both cases, you are an elite, conservative Supreme Court nominee.

From the somewhat overworked department of WTAF...

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/01/militia-richmond-virginia-gun-rally.html
Despite the rhetoric about gun confiscation and governmental overreach, most of the measures proposed by Democrats are widely supported by Virginians. A December poll indicated that universal background checks, one of the first measures that will be enacted, are supported by 86 percent of Virginia voters. A bill that would allow courts to temporarily prevent the dangerously mentally ill from having access to firearms, the so-called “red flag” law, enjoys the support of 73 percent of Virginians, and similar measures have been passed in seventeen states and D.C., including Florida, Nevada, New York, and Colorado.

Concerned about rising tensions and false statements online, Northam, in an unprecedented move, used his annual State of the Commonwealth Address to the joint assembly last week to assure Virginians that “no one is calling out the National Guard. No one is cutting off your electricity, or turning off the internet. No one is going door-to-door to confiscate guns.” That effort has not, however, stemmed the tide of controversy. Even Liberty University President, Jerry Falwell, Jr., has gotten into the act, stating that the Second Amendment is “sacred” and that the state is “going to be faced with civil disobedience, not just by citizens but by police officers. And I think it’s what they deserve.”

via Eschaton:

https://mobile.twitter.com/CameronYardeJnr/status/1218128025520410625

Remember when summing up the reality of the situation was ironically funny, but now is cause for violent revolution.

Today, the Navy announces that its latest aircraft carrier will be named after an enlisted man.
https://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=111881

One assumes the President's opinion was not solicited. (That or he was told the alternative was USS Obama. 😁)

Music for your holiday:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CILIBlQ2D0Q

More music.

That song is almost 50 years old now. Could be written today, seems to me.

Today I give thanks for the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, who saw a path forward for us, a path founded on love, respect, dignity, and justice.

He saw the promised land, and told us all what it could look like. He knew he would not enter in with us.

We all are, somehow, still standing at the doorway, looking in. But we can hardly blame him for that. He did his best for us.

Still a long way to go. Members, don't get weary.

Murder by extradition, of a man who is almost certainly entirely innocent:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/27/the-fight-to-save-an-innocent-refugee-from-almost-certain-death

Finally, a solution to the invasive worldwide infestation of conservative nationalism:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/01/eating-invasive-species/605215/

Talking about other things, this is an interesting thesis.
What do people think ?

http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2019/09/korea-japan-and-end-of-65-system-part_24.html#more
It didn’t have to be this way. The United States could have demanded from Imperial Japan the same level of historical self-reflection it demanded from Nazi Germany. The US could have excluded the leaders of the Japanese Empire from the positions of power, rather than elevating them back to the top levels of the government. It could have compelled Japan to engage in a more honest accounting of the damages caused by its imperialism and war, and pay due reparations to its neighbors with unqualified apologies. With the true resolution of the historical issues, there was no reason why northeastern Asia could not have developed like western Europe. Just as much as Germany became the centerpiece of the European Union that today forms a healthy block of liberal democracy and free trade, Japan could have been the centerpiece of eastern Asia that could have linked Korea, Taiwan, southeast Asia and beyond.

The United States never did that. We can have a long debate on the many possible reasons, such as the exigencies of the Cold War and the different extent of Soviet advances in western Europe versus northeast Asia. But the ultimate reason is straightforward: the United States never took Korea seriously....

Why I love Test cricket - another instance:

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/jan/21/nadkarni-maiden-epic-cricket-dull-boredom-pleasure-india-england
...Finally, just after three in the afternoon, Nadkarni was five balls through what would have been his 22nd maiden when the man at mid-on misfielded and the batsmen stole a single. And, just like that, Nadkarni’s captain took him out of the attack, “as if”, the Times noted, he was all of a sudden judged “altogether too expensive” to carry on. Nadkarni was still annoyed about it 50 years later. He had bowled 131 consecutive dot balls. It is one of those records that will likely stand as long as they’re playing the game. South Africa’s Hugh Tayfield once bowled 137 in a row but they were spread across two innings.
The Chennai Test was a draw. So were nine of the 10 other games they played on that tour, including all the other four Tests. It was one of the most stultifying boring series ever played and yet it pulled in a total of over a million spectators....

Nigel, the denazification of Germany as far as personnel went was rather superficial. And even the war criminals (and all the "blood judges"*) that got sentenced to jail under US supervision were freed after ridiculously short periods and often re-instated (after the US looked away). Many never got prosecuted at all and had successful post-war careers in public service while those connected to resistance against the regime were inofficially still treated as traitors.
In public opinion the Nuremberg trials were seen by most Germans at the time as 'victors' justice', i.e. at least partially illegitimate.
It took decades to remedy all of that and most of it was by the 'natural biological solution' (i.e. the guys dying of old age). It took those born after the war to honestly come to terms with the past for the country.
It's still an open debate whether this was the only choice to keep the peace and successfully rebuild or just shameful cold war opportunism.

*i.e. the ones that dealt out death sentences en masse under the pretense of justice.

RIP Terry Jones. Not only a splendid Python, but the director of films which have been observed to make watchers become completely incoherent with laughter, a rare talent indeed.

RIP Terry Jones.

And Neil Innes just gone, as well.

Those guys put a lot of smiles on my face.

:(

Yes. How like John Cleese to say "Two down, four to go" (the two being Chapman and Jones - Neil Innes was not actually a Python, despite his wonderful musical and other contributions - "I've suffered for my music. Now it's your turn").

You can hear this Neil Innes singing background vocals on this wonderful cover by Aimee Mann of Harry Nilsson's "One":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgN0VTl03Yk


Later, live, sans Nilsson:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc6WbTHRq9c

Innes, on his own:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-DgIU4E9Mo

I meant sans Innes, but now of course we are sans too many great ones.

Arghh!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJFLiW10ZrE

It's not like there are TOO many actual Beatles left among us, that a fifth one has to die too.

Maybe not an actual Beatle, but certainly an actual Rutle ("the Rutles - a legend in their own lunchtime")

How much music do you listen to that you don't want to listen to before you come up with this such good music?

https://www.newsweek.com/reagans-solicitor-general-says-all-honorable-people-have-left-trumps-cabinet-he-capable-1483292

Kill, and butcher and slaughter.

I have no brief for Fried.

He's late to the game. He's like the Mafia accountant who happens to be explaining the funkiness of the numbers on a spreadsheet, because they don't comport with generally accepted accounting principles, to the vermin thugs at the back of the restaurant when the gunmen enter.

Fuck him. But thanks for the warning. Now fuck you.

Trump is merely the means to the fulfillment of Fried's long-standing vermin conservative movement ideology.

But he finds these particular means unsound, does he?

At this late date? Fuck his mouth.

Kill and butcher and slaughter the worldwide conservative movement on every street, in every country, on every continent.

If a trace of trump conservative ideology is detected in crevasses on distant planets, kill and butcher and slaughter it.

Nuke. Kill.

There is no rule of law.

Disobey with savage violence all conservatively imposed law.

Hurrah for Judge Stanton.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/01/read-fiery-dissent-childrens-climate-case/605296/
In these proceedings, the government accepts as fact that the United States has reached a tipping point crying out for a concerted response—yet presses ahead toward calamity. It is as if an asteroid were barreling toward Earth and the government decided to shut down our only defenses. Seeking to quash this suit, the government bluntly insists that it has the absolute and unreviewable power to destroy the Nation.

My colleagues throw up their hands, concluding that this case presents nothing fit for the Judiciary. On a fundamental point, we agree: No case can singlehandedly prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change predicted by the government and scientists. But a federal court need not manage all of the delicate foreign relations and regulatory minutiae implicated by climate change to offer real relief, and the mere fact that this suit cannot alone halt climate change does not mean that it presents no claim suitable for judicial resolution.

Plaintiffs bring suit to enforce the most basic structural principle embedded in our system of ordered liberty: that the Constitution does not condone the Nation’s willful destruction. So viewed, plaintiffs’ claims adhere to a judicially administrable standard. And considering plaintiffs seek no less than to forestall the Nation’s demise, even a partial and temporary reprieve would constitute meaningful redress. Such relief, much like the desegregation orders and statewid e prison injunctions the Supreme Court has sanctioned, would vindicate plaintiffs’ constitutional rights without exceeding the Judiciary’s province. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent....

Finland has gone beyond handwaving.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/extra/MtJYmYFONq/finland_carbon_neutral_in_15_years

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