A tiny bit of justice

I wasn’t going to say anything about this as it was so obvious. Then I realized that it is obvious as I lived here and lived through it, for other folks, it might be entirely unknown. So, a small note just to say “Maybe there is a God, and with a sense of humor…” or, perhaps, sometimes you reap what you sow…

As you are likely well aware, California is a giant basket case. Not only is the state way in debt over it’s head, it has punishing levels of taxation, giant expenditures, a regulatory burden that makes the national EPA look like Austrian Economists, and a current budget deficit that has been variously estimated at anywhere from $14 Billion to $40 Billion. (Not hard to have that kind of range when you have budgets with no connection to reality and a load of unfunded mandates and entitlements). Lately there was news that the latest month tax receipts were off by 20% compared to expectations, or to prior year, (or both). That’s off 20% FROM an expectation of that massive shortfall…

But hey, we have Medi-Cal so everyone can have Medical Care, and we have Welfare, so everyone can have a place to live and food and a case worker, and we have a large variety of Progressive Social Programs and all the right laws. Besides, the weather is great!
(Well, it’s supposed to be… been cold and wet lately)

The Governor has proposed to “Raise Tax Rates On The Wealthy!” via a ballot initiative (that will almost certainly pass as most of the state is either clueless, or is in some way paid via a government related check…) This, of course, will simply drive even more business and wealth out of the State and result in even more of a ‘revenue shortfall’.

When you realize that California is about 4 times the size of Greece, it starts to sink in just how bad this is…

Pity the Governor?

Well…

Our current Governor is Jerry Brown. He was originally governor back in the 1970’s when we called him “Governor Moonbeam” for his crazy ideas. But that was the age of peace, love, smoking dope, and Governor Moonbeam, so it all fit. He then went off to be Mayor of Oakland as a place to hang out for many years. Now he’s back.

What makes this a deliciously ironic moment? Well… Governor Moonbeam did things like halt all freeway construction. The idea was to stop development so as to save the State. (He was ‘ahead of his time’, but you can see how he fits the Agenda 21 doctrins). For about a decade we had a major freeway interchange about 60 feet in the air, with no approach roads. Just sitting, half finished, where it was when he canceled it. (Later we tossed him out and finished the freeways). He did other things, too.

In fact, it was largely his policies that, years later, leads to where we are today.

Now, while I’m saddened that we have him, arguably the one person least able to “fix it”, in office; OTOH, it’s some sort of cosmic justice that HE has to be nose to nose and belly to belly with the ultimate consequence of the path he chose for the State. One can only hope that he learns something from the experience.

OK, couple of links:

There’s a wiki where you can see what he looks like and read about his history from a “special” POV… Also has pictures of him as a “young pup” being sworn in as Governor Moonbeam.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Brown

A nice article that someone pointed me at about the impact on business lately:

http://news.investors.com/article/604210/201203131827/california-drives-out-more-businesses.htm

It makes an interesting observation about the genesis of the problem, but doesn’t point out the Irony.

The benefit of leaving California is immense. Vranich says businesses save 20% to 40% a year in costs after their out-of-state moves are completed.

One company executive who left told Vranich that “we compete globally and we can’t compete with California’s costs.” Another told him that California “is the worst state in the country to do business in. . .. There doesn’t seem be any improvement on the horizon.”

The root of the problem can be traced to 1974 when voters elected current California Gov. Jerry Brown to that office. It was during Brown’s first term that his “administration proceeded to scuttle some infrastructure spending, limit development and expand environmental regulations,” Steven Malanga wrote in the autumn issue of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

The only thing missing is enough intelligence on the part of the folks in power to realize that this mess is the necessary consequence of their earlier actions. Sadly, being as they are from the “never spank, no consequences, fragile self esteem” generation, I fear they do not have any grasp of the idea of consequences of their actions. As long as they feel good about themselves, how could they possibly have done anything “wrong”?

But at least I can enjoy watching them squirm trying to solve what they made without the needed skill, nor understanding, and completely out of touch with the inevitability of their failure (and just how spectacularly big it is…).

When I was a kid, this was called “The Golden State” meaning the land of opportunity. Anyone could ‘strike it rich’ here. Now it’s a floundering welfare state and ‘Progressive Wasteland’ that the article headlines as: “California: The Sick Man Of America”.

Well, at least we’re not Greece… no IMF can impose “Austerity” on us, and we can always ask Obama and Pelosi for more “Stimulus”… and they will have to bail out the State; otherwise it would cast doubt on their whole plan for the Nation…

End Notes

Thanks to a State Law (passed when I was a kid) that made State Senators directly elected (instead of appointed by the Counties) we have a mini-States-Rights issue internally (actually “Counties Rights”) and the State has regularly raided the money supply of counties and cities and pushed unfunded mandates onto them (counties and cities MUST spend on certain mandated services, even though the State gives no money with the mandate).

When I was young, every county had a County Hospital with free medical care for those unable to pay. They also very effectively ran many other services as free agents. Now the State sucks up the tax money and shoves down the costs. The result is that we’ve had County Bankruptcy from time to time, and have most counties basically broke. So in addition to the State being on the verge of default, we have counties and cities too:

http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2011/08/29/moorlach-o-c-again-could-be-bankrupt/95503/

Notice that it says “again”

Moorlach: O.C. again could be bankrupt
August 29th, 2011, 12:54 pm ·

Second District Supervisor John Moorlach warned in a weekend editorial in the Register that the county is poised at the edge of bankruptcy – again.

To make his point, Moorlach compared Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports for June 30, 2010, for Irvine and Newport Beach to the county’s.

“The county’s net assets are $4,794,221,000. The net investment in capital assets is $3,097,843,000. The restricted resources are $1,384,586,000, thanks to our relationships with the state and the federal governments,” Moorlach wrote in an Aug. 26 guest editorial. “That leaves unrestricted net assets available to the county of $311,792,000, or just a little less than that of Irvine and Newport Beach combined. ”

“The net investment in capital assets doesn’t even cover this debt,” Moorlach wrote of the county.

Moorlach was appointed Orange County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector in 1995 after Robert Citron resigned from the post following Orange County’s bankruptcy, the largest municipal bond portfolio loss and bankruptcy in U.S. history. He served as the county’s treasurer for nearly 12 years before running for county supervisor.

“The county of Orange, which went bankrupt in 1994, is a bankruptcy candidate again,” Moorlach wrote.

“If the county experiences an unforeseen financial calamity, then a bankruptcy judge may just have to approve a reorganization plan, again. This course of action is very expensive, but at least we’re familiar with it.”

In the meantime, the county is scrambling to convince state Legislators to give back the $48 million Orange County receives from California vehicle license fees as part of a guarantee worked out while the county pays off its 1994 bankruptcy debt.

Yup, that’s right… It wants relief from the prior bankruptcy terms so that it can hold on just a bit longer before the next bankruptcy…

But that’s not all. There are cities going bankrupt.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=arJRg6BLyYl8&refer=home

Vallejo Is Largest California City to File Bankruptcy (Update3)

That one was back in 2008. Since then Stockton was rumored to be ready as their economy was mostly based on building housing for folks who commuted to The Bay Area for jobs that have now gone to China and Texas.

Oh, and Alameda chased out The Navy and turned the old Alameda Naval Air Station into commercial property during the boom (as folks in California felt that the military was just too ‘blue collar’ for our sort of people…)

http://www.bankruptcyhome.com/bankruptcy-news/800476298/California-city-facing-bankruptcy

Their proposed solution? Raise tax rates!

The city of Alameda, California, is nearing bankruptcy because of the costs of employee benefits and the recent economic situation.

Alameda is considering laying off city workers, as well as having more workers pay for benefits, in order to fend off a bankruptcy situation, according to a report. If the city does not produce or receive enough funding, officials believe that it will have more than $22 million in debt by 2015.

During a recent city council budget workshop, Alameda’s council members announced that the city’s debt will continue to get worse, even if no one receives a raise for the next five years, according to The Oakland Tribune. Lisa Goldman, Alameda’s City Manager, has requested leaders to create budget scenarios that would get the municipality to shave 5 to 10 percent of fees off of its current spending plan.

A parcel tax is being considered to be presented to voters in the city, in order to pay for the police and fire departments, the news source said. The city is predicting a $710,000 loss in sales tax revenue, as well as being $6 million short on the 2011-12 budget.

Lets see. Business is fleeing. You drove out the Uncle Sugar revenue generator. Taxes and regulations are the reason folks are leaving, so the solution is… A parcel Tax! Yeah, that will increase sales tax revenue…

http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120223/A_NEWS/202230328

Stockton bankruptcy first step likely
City leaders expected to face stout opposition
By Scott Smith
Record Staff Writer
February 23, 2012 12:00 AM

STOCKTON – The City Council on Tuesday is expected to take its first step toward filing for bankruptcy in a dramatic move to remedy Stockton’s crippling finances.

If bankruptcy ultimately happens, Stockton would be the nation’s largest city to fall into Chapter 9 protection.

While city administrators remained silent on any plans, it became an open secret Wednesday. The Downtown Stockton Alliance board of directors in a public meeting discussed the city’s bankruptcy timetable.

Have I mentioned lately that Municipal Bonds, especially in California, are NOT a safe investment?

But that’s not all. Even the individual school districts might file on their own.

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/prop-zero/School-Daze-Big-Spike-in-Troubled-Districts-97530664.html

If the state’s budget crisis seems far away, it shouldn’t. The latest evidence is a scary report from the California Department of Education that lists 174 school districts in the state as fiscally troubled.

What does that mean? Those are districts that, according to state projections, may be unable to “meet their financial obligations” — that is, pay their bills, including debt service, for the just concluded school year and the school year that begins this fall. Frighteningly, the state’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, with an annual budget of more than $6.3 billion, is on this list.

For those in other lands unfamiliar with our byzantine system: Over 1/2 the State Budget, by law, must be spent on Education. We did this by initiative of the voters to force the State to fund education. That, however, mostly just lead to things like School Administrators getting very fat salaries and BMW cars (IIRC it was about $130,000 / yr for ONE San Jose administrator about a decade ago, plus new BMW, plus office allowance plus…)

That money goes to the “School District” as a distinct legal entity, which can also run up their own credit card with bond issuance. So they can do their own bankruptcy when the State says “Sorry, no money today”…

So what that little link is pointing out is that there’s a whole lot more below the surface than just a 20% shortfall or revenues on top of a several $Billions deficit on top of an untold $Billions State Debt.

But at least the weather is nice… IFF it would ever stop raining and wasn’t snowing on Mount Hamilton in spring… I’d run the fireplace, but we now have mandated Fireplace Police that control when you can run your fireplace (IF you already have one, they are forbidden in new construction) and if you burn them at the wrong time they give you a ticket. The wrong time being pretty much any time… but at least our electricity stays on now (even if it is frightfully expensive). It was Governor Gray(out) Davis of the Democrats who brought us electricity “at mini-bar prices” (to quote Dennis Miller) via yet another crazy idea that a Government Managed Market was the way to go. That lead to the bankruptcy of PG&E Pacific Gas and Electric in 2001-3 (our major utility provider). He was the Second Governor in the nation to ever be recalled… (After which we got the RINO Republican In Name Only Arnold…)

But, no worries, now that Governor Moonbeam is back in charge, we can all start feeling smug and good about ourselves again. Even if the schools are bankrupt and the State is unable to issue checks. (When that happens they issue I.O.U.s called ‘warrants’. They are almost like a real check and get cashed… someday… by some places… maybe.) But you do get to feel morally superior. Even if a bit hungry. Did I mention that the weather is supposed to be nice? Maybe next week…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Political Current Events and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to A tiny bit of justice

  1. CA Refugee in TN says:

    Wow, 20% to 40 % savings after moving expenses!
    That explains why renting u-haul to leave the state is so expensive.

    I hope they are enjoying having such a robust population of fairy shrimp and delta smelt.
    You didn’t mention that crime is also pretty bad. It costs too much to lock up criminals when the courts are so expensive and your paying prison guards $80,000 year and $100,000 year to retire.

    I don’t miss the place.

  2. R. de Haan says:

    Green activist politics is more devastating than any earthquake.

  3. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. It´s time to emigrate! Be it because of the impending “big one” or because of a second and final “terminator”. Nothing to worry, there are many places with the same weather and with a far better “tax climate”. Time to fly south….

  4. ecuamantis says:

    @E.M. I couldn’t agree more with Adolfo. It’s time to move south. The confirmations just keep coming, and will continue. Why wait? Our invitation is always open for you to come visit and stay for as long as you like. We should start building in the next couple months – “Up from Zero”. We could certainly use your expertise at the ground stage – for designing a model community for humanity’s next phase in their evolution.
    BTW: Your cell phone is not accepting messages. Let me know when is the best time to talk.

  5. kakatoa says:

    E.M. If you wait a few years, and you have a plug in or all eclectic vehicle, you can use Governor Brown’s newest efforts to electrify the transportation sector.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/23/business/la-fi-electric-stations-20120324

    “NRG Energy Inc. has agreed to pay $120 million to settle a dispute over long-term contracts signed during California’s energy crisis 10 years ago, and most of the money will be used to create a network of more than 10,000 car charging stations for electric vehicles, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday.” It would of been nice if the settlement had ended the long term contracts- the electrical contracts that got Gov Davis removed from office. I, a PG&E ratepayer, am reminded of how our elected officials responded to the “energy crisis” every month on my electrical bills- the DWR bond payment part of my bill.

    Dennis Miller can have some fun with the the LA Times comment- “With the move, California will try to turn a black mark on its past power management into an attempt at future energy efficiency.”

    Lets hope our trial this time works out better then the last time we tried to aid the commercialization of eclectic vehicles. I am a bit worried about Gov. Brown’s batting average when it comes down to picking technological development winners- “It’s not for the faint of heart. Scientific and technological progress moves by trial and error.” http://www.sacbee.com/2012/03/24/4362729/gov-jerry-browns-solar-power-campaign.html

  6. Jason Calley says:

    How about a tee shirt with two pictures of Gov. Brown, one picture from his first swearing in, the second from his current term. Label the two pictures, “You broke it.” and “You pay for it.”

    C.S. Lewis was right in his well known quote: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    @kakatoa. It seems that it´s becoming “Koreafornia” as for the future total energy blackout.

  8. Jason Calley says:

    @ adolfogiurfa “Koreafornia”

    I would like to see a night time satellite photo of the contiguous US with the state of California photoshopped as a blank unlighted black, a la North Korea. :)

  9. Pascvaks says:

    Funny and NOT!

    “Where have all the flowers gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the flowers gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the flowers gone?
    Girls have picked them every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?”
    http://www.arlo.net/resources/lyrics/flowers-gone.shtml

    California was always first. Well, since I was a kid. We made skate boards in the 50’s out of our sister’s roller-shakes and wooden fruit boxes and some nails. We didn’t call them skateboards, we just thought it was fun. It was good to be young then. California was good then. But, what the hay! Life changes. Nothing stays the same. Got a feeling that Ol’ California is going to be first again, the first to go bankrupt, the first to start the snowball rolling. Yhep! Nothing better than a fruit box, a girl’s skate, and a hill in La Mesa, California. You’ll know when things are about to go ‘postal’ when Hollywood starts making worthless movies. Probably be any day now.

  10. I have lived in California for almost three decades, but in the past two weeks have been seriously contemplating alternatives. If a project turns out successful, this place would be even more expensive.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  11. boballab says:

    EM:

    Besides losing the Alameda NAS the bay area lost:

    1. The Sub base at Vallejo, where the city went Bankrupt(Where I went to “C” school for the KG-84).

    The Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINSY) was the first United States Navy base established on the Pacific Ocean.[3] It is located 25 miles northeast of San Francisco in Vallejo, California. The Napa River goes through the Mare Island Strait and separates the peninsula shipyard (Mare Island, California) from the main portion of the city of Vallejo. MINSY made a name for itself as the premier US West Coast submarine port as well as serving as the controlling force in San Francisco Bay Area shipbuilding efforts during World War II.[4] The base closed in 1996 and has gone through several redevelopment phases.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mare_Island_Naval_Shipyard

    2. Treasure Island NS (Where I transhipped through twice).

    Treasure Island is entirely within the City and County of San Francisco, whose territory extends far into San Francisco Bay and includes a tip of Alameda Island. The 535-acre (2.17 km2) man-made island used to be owned by the U.S. Navy, but was later sold to the city of San Francisco for $108 million as part of a redevelopment project. On June 8, 2011, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a 19,000 person new neighborhood to be developed on it over the next 20–30 years by Wilson Meany Sullivan, Lennar Urban, and Kenwood Investments.[3]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_Island_(California)

    3. Naval Hospital Oakland (Where I had my knee fixed).

    Naval Hospital Oakland, also known as Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, was a U.S. naval hospital located in Oakland, California, opened during World War II (1942) and closed in 1996[1] as part of the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure program.[2] The 167-acre (0.68 km2) site is bordered on three sides by Mountain Boulevard and Keller Avenue in the city’s Oak Knoll section and its map coordinates are 37°46′05″N 122°08′46″W Coordinates: 37°46′05″N 122°08′46″W .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Hospital_Oakland

    4. The Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point.

    The Navy closed the shipyard and Naval base in 1994 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). In addition to radioactive contamination, Hunter’s Point had a succession of coal- and oil-fired power generation facilities which left a legacy of pollution, both from smokestack effluvium and leftover byproducts that were dumped in the vicinity. The BRAC program manages the majority of the site to this day, and is engaged in various pollution remediation projects.[3]

    The Hunters Point shipyard has recently been targeted as a possible location for a new San Francisco 49ers stadium.[4]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Naval_Shipyard

    5. The Naval Supply Center (NSC) Oakland.

    Naval Supply Depot, Oakland was a supply facility operated by the U.S. Navy in Oakland, California. During World War II, it was a major source of supplies and war materials for ships operating in the Pacific.

    The Depot had its origin in 1940 when the Navy bought 500 acres (2.0 km2) of wetlands from the city of Oakland for $1.00. The Navy reclaimed the land and populated it with large warehouses. It opened on December 15, 1941, and quickly began a decades-long expansion. In the late 1940s it was renamed Naval Supply Center, Oakland; later it was renamed Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, Oakland. During the Cold War, it was one of the Navy’s most important supply facilities.[1]

    In 1995, the BRAC Commission recommended that the Center be closed. It was closed in 1998, and in 1999, the Navy transferred the entire 531-acre (2.15 km2) property to the Port of Oakland. The new owner plans to develop it for intermodal freight transport involving a marine terminal, railroad, and truck cargo activities. The site is environmentally contaminated due to past activities.

    A portion of the supply depot was developed into Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in 2003. Buildings were removed and environmental restoration created new wetlands for wildlife.[2]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Supply_Depot,_Oakland

    6. The Presidio Army base (at least it was made into a national park).

    The Presidio was the center for defense of the Western U.S. during World War II. The infamous order to intern Japanese-Americans, including citizens, during World War II was signed at the Presidio. Until its closure in 1995, the Presidio was the longest continuously operated military base in the United States.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidio_of_San_Francisco#History

    When you add Alameda NAS in that is 7 military facilities and many thousands of jobs (especially at NSC Oakland).

  12. Jason Calley says:

    @ bobalab

    And of course there was the US Navy Shipyard at Long Beach that disappeared in 1997. I expect to see the Long Beach port facilities scaled back and shut down, until the bulk of the shipping is transferred over to the wonderful new port that was constructed at Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico.
    http://g.co/maps/nesz4

  13. adolfogiurfa says:

    @ecuamantis: E.M. needs a sea-shore and a sail boat, if you could arrange that it would be great; instead I would advice him the northern coast of Peru, perhaps Mancora beach, in the vicinity where another famous american writer,Ernest Hemingway, really wrote the “Oldman and the Sea” while fishing marlins.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    It would be interesting to see who in government owned stock in that Mexican port and facilities… That our law makers can legally profit from insider dealings on laws they pass makes me highly suspicious of all those kinds of things (and with good cause as they have been shown to be self dealing in many of them…)

    @Adolfo & Ecuamantis:

    First off, the cell phone: When Tallbloke got abused by authority, I decided to practice my “scram”. Part of that is depowering the cell phone and walking away… Then the voicemail fills up. Why do that? Well, aside from the intense feeling of peace and tranquility that it brings ;-) a standard part of investigation is to use the GPS in phones to track the owner. Or turning on the camera and microphone remotely to monitor. Another is “contact tracing” via who calls whom. Not having the phone powered and not using it kind of thwart those. (Of course, now that we’re talking about ‘failure to connect’ via postings, a full record of YOUR IP address and location will now be enshrined forever in some servers somewhere… which means you can not be a ‘bug out’ destination… )

    Not that it particularly matters, as my “bug out” plan does not involve staying with any person I’ve ever known nor at any place I’ve ever been before… But it’s more a matter of “best practices”. If you don’t practice these things, you get sloppy.

    As “no bad thing” has happened, and Tallbloke clearly was found “not interesting”, I suppose I ought to dig out the phone ( I think the recliner ate it…) and find the charger and once again devote an hour of two per day of my life to servicing it… (Yes, you are hearing the emotional overtones of a “chucker wannabe” ;-)

    Do I have any reason for having a ‘scram’ and ‘bug out’ plan? Well, it lets me dodge the boredom of an ordinary hum drum existence… but other than that, not really. Rather like the guy who sells shoes 50 weeks out of the year and goes camping for one week to “rough it”; it is largely a fantasy serving behaviour.

    It started back when there WAS a reason and kind of got carried over mostly from habit. During the USSR period, we lived just on the edge of damage from a likely target for sub launched nukes (the Lockheed ‘blue cube’). As they are launched with a 5 minute flight time and the ICBMs took longer, we had about a 20 minute “bug out” window to get away from destruction if the nukes ever started flying. So we had a 5 minute bug out plan. Inside 5 minutes we could be in the car, and a mile further away moving fast. By the time the 30 megaton types arrived, we were outside the blast radius and with mountains between us and line of sight.

    After the USSR collapsed, the motivation kind of left. But I figured “what the heck, I enjoy it” so I’ve extended the fantasy to “civil unrest bugout” and / or “social collapse bugout”. Some of those also involve avoidance of abusive authority. Also consider that from time to time I’ve worked on “security projects” and there are a variety of times I could have been targeted by “bad guys” wanting access via extortion, and it made sense. Now, not so much… (but it is fun ;-) Kind of like an old hunting dog that goes on alert when a car backfires, remember the days of hunting in the field…

    Per Relocate South:

    Well, that will likely depend on the spouse. She has finally realized that California will not be a safe and secure future, so is (finally) talking about change. About a decade too late for optimum. ( I suffer from seeing what will be in a decade hence, and always having others think me daft, but also always seeing that they catch up a few years too late… Oh Well…)

    My expectation is more about being a “floater” than being an “emigrate”. I don’t make enough money to really worry about the US Tax Laws ( IIRC there’s a $70,000 / yr ‘free pass’ on expat earnings) and don’t need to dump the US citizenship. So my expectation is more that “when the time comes” the spouse and I will just go on a very long wandering vacation…

    As it stands, the daughter needs to finish college (about a year) and then there’s about a year of “sorting out stuff” before I could even consider “moving”. (However a “visit” to places would be mostly just picking up a passport and a visa. I’ve not renewed my passport in a while and need to stop being lazy and do that, but not looking forward to all that entails these days…)

    So right now I’m in the “looking around” stage (and enjoying the fantasies that come with it ;-) but not in the “going anywhere soon” stage. Nor do I think that there is any urgent reason to do anything. I don’t see any catastrophic sudden collapse, just a slow grind of decay to the economy, hinging on the next election. So, IMHO, “plenty of time”. There is also the minor point that my medical insurance is tied to a local provider…

    Frankly, the biggest issue is just cost. Right now I’ve got a near zero cost basis for living. Living on the road costs about $100 / day high end, about $20 / day low end. Travel international hits with a Kilobuck tab at the start (flying anywhere interesting). So the odds of me doing anything for any length of time is pretty low until I sort out a new income source. (Trading pays for day to day, but not “the high life on the road” that the spouse likes…)

    OK, with all that said:

    The notion of living on a cheap boat near where Hemmingway hung out is rather charming… The spouse would never go for it, but… I suppose I could park her in a casita ashore somewhere ;-) Near a shopping mall ;-)

    I’ll need to look up the sea conditions along the Chile / Columbia run and see if it’s easy or hard… Might be fun to wander down to Chile for wine tasting…

    And, while we’re in a ‘sharing’ mood: I’ve had a fantasy of doing a ‘tour of South America’ ever since I first saw the Disney film with Donald Duck doing the Latin Tour. Don’t know that I’ll ever get to act on it, but the idea of a ‘road tour’ has it’s charms. A van I can sleep in, gas money, and a map is about all it takes. That’s more likely than anything else. But I have a house full of ‘baggage’ to deal with first. 30 years of “stuff” accumulated in the garage…

    FWIW I don’t say that kind of thing naively. At one point I dumped almost all my worldly goods, moving first from large apartment to a studio, then onto a 27 foot live aboard boat. Then spent a year+ with that as my home. So “I’ve done it” when it comes to ‘minimal stuff’ and ‘live on the road’ (or, in that case, water). I put 120,000 miles on my car in 2 years as a ‘database consultant’ during that time; so when I wasn’t on the water I was driving ‘crazy miles’… I think I’ve got one more of those left in me before I can’t do it anymore ;-)

    But not any time soon. About 2 years, I think…

    OTOH, I could also easily see an EU passport and finding an interesting place to visit with it. Isle of Mann has interest, as does Ireland ( I can get an Irish passport). After the EU is done deciding if it is going to collapse, turn into a New Empire Dictatorship, become a Russian Dependency, or break up into a few dozen squabbling principalities… (Gee, kind of like any time in the last 500 years of European history ;-)

    When the “plan” is nomadic wandering, lots of places become possible. Just to give an idea how ‘bent’ I am: I would find it great fun to get a Eurail Pass and just take trains all over Europe for a year. Only staying in a hotel every other day or two when stopping in some place to see more than one or two things.

  15. Mark Miller says:

    Your plight in CA made me think of these other articles, and places that have been doing the same thing as CA.

    “First Step for California: Admit There’s A Problem”
    http://www.newgeography.com/content/002460-first-step-california-admit-theres-a-problem

    City Journal has a whole section on CA, and what’s going on with it. None of it sounding good.
    http://www.city-journal.org/california/

    “Progressives Against Progress,” by Fred Siegel is becoming a classic in my mind. I’ve referred others to it many times. It explains a lot re. Agenda 21, I think.
    http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_3_american-liberalism.html

    One of the articles in the section on CA contrasts the progressives from the first part of the 20th century to the progressives we’ve had since the 1970s, in “The Golden State’s War on Itself.” It covers the Brown political family.
    http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_3_california-economy.html

    When you said, “So goes CA, so goes the nation,” I thought of these places.

    Harrisburg, PA.

    Steven Crowder in this video on Detroit (from 2009) gives a warning that if Obama’s policies go unchecked, “The whole country could look like this in a very short period of time.” This is one of the best videos he’s done. I think with regard to CA, with the way it’s going, it could very well look like MI in another 20-30 years, and perhaps the nation will follow.

    The reason I have more certainty about this now is that what we are going into financially is unlike any financial crisis this country has encountered before. It’s not like the Great Depression. Yes, we had an overbearing government then, but most of the beneficiaries of the New Deal out in society were people of working age. Social Security was created then, but it didn’t really become a retiree program until Eisenhower. Today we have an entitlement state, and it is driving us into the next financial crisis. One of the chief duties that our federal, state, and municipal governments have taken on is to manage pension funds for retirees. The political forces that benefit from this have shown themselves to be well funded, well organized, and intransigent. They are not giving an inch. I suspect as the crisis worsens, they will resist even more. This could be a situation where we are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to get ourselves out of our own mess. Instead politically liberal governments will become ever more predatory on the citizenry to try to raise more money, and citizens will be looking to escape, with only the weak and tied down left to deal with it. As the fiscal situation worsens, only the politically powerful will get theirs. They will feed off of everyone else within reach. In the liberal precincts, the only question will be who will manage to get a leg up on their political competition, so that they can feed more than their rivals off the public.

    The only places that will deal with this reasonably will be conservative governments, IMO, who will work to hold off these forces, and force cutbacks in benefits, though I wonder how long they will last. It really depends on the orientation of the next level up in government from them.

    What I fear in this scenario is that like parasites, rather than realizing the mess they created for themselves, liberals will move away from their own private hells and move into more politically conservative, prosperous areas, and attempt to take those areas over as well, repeating the process.

    This is just me forecasting some years down the road. As usual, I hope I’m wrong.

  16. Jason Calley says:

    @ Mark Miller “This is just me forecasting some years down the road. As usual, I hope I’m wrong.”

    Yes. If you are wrong, then you and I will both be wrong.

    In some ways, it would be better if we (the US) had an honest-to-gosh financial collapse. Remember that most of our national wealth would not be gone; the houses, the factories, the people and their skills, all that would still exist. Financial collapse is not like Mad Max and a post nuclear war world. The actual wealth remains, but the rules of the game and the scorecard are reset. Short term, it is horrendous, but it may still be preferred to the long term slide of the US middle class into a state of permanent serfdom.

    I wish though that there were better terms to use than “liberal” and “conservative.” I think I know pretty much what you mean, but the terms are needlessly fuzzy. Certainly the “conservatives” have run up just as big a bill by pushing the warfare state as the “liberals” have run up by pushing the welfare state. Politically speaking, both conservatives and liberals support the current governmental system. How can I say this with certainty? Because when the conservatives are in power they pass their own agenda — but (and this is important!) they never repeal the programs the liberals put in place. Likewise, when the liberals are in power they pass their own agenda — but (and this is important!) they never repeal the programs the conservatives put in place.

    This is a very un-PC way of putting it, but instead of liberal and conservative, what we really have is “makers” versus “eaters”, that is, those who produce surplus vs those who consume more than they create. That is the real divide in our species today.

  17. R. de Haan says:

    “what we really have is “makers” versus “eaters”, that is, those who produce surplus vs those who consume more than they create. That is the real divide in our species today”.

    With this difference is that the establishment is now defining the “eaters” as the people who lost their job in the crises they caused.

    This elite is set up to remove these “eaters” from society, 6 billion of them.

  18. R. de Haan says:

    Sorry for the crooked text. I will put on my glasses next time (if I can find them).

  19. Pascvaks says:

    @ Jason Calley –
    Good points. The thought that cancer is not just a medical condition entered my mind. The Two Party system here, the Multi-Party System there, the One Party System is some places, as Chiefio has often said ‘ain’t the problem’, it’s that cancer can destroy any and all. Excess leads to abuse. Abuse leads to disease. Disease leads to collapse. And we all know what happens next. It definitely takes a ‘life change’ to save a system. Seems we’re overdue to one of those rare ‘happenings’ when we come face to face with the meaning of life, the value of things, and the merits of true virtues.

    How do we know if anything hopeful is really happening? Watch the middle. The center of mass. If it ain’t moving, nothings happening. Personally all I see in Australia and the US is noise, I don’t see any ‘movement’. It takes a hell of a lot of force to move something the size of either on of these countries. If the middle is too hard to see, watch either of the extremes. If something’s really happening there’s a BIG shift toward the extreme that’s gaining ground, and the other extreme is becoming MUCH MORE EXTREME. I still just hear noise. No movement of any significant amount.

    I do detect in the current American Administration, under the current HMFIC, that there is definitely an inclination toward violence; that he is capable of it and is inclined to use it. So far? I just see smoke. More than I like to see, but not the degree that makes me think the other extreme is running away with the golden goose. Violence, in every guise, is the proof of change. (Not advocating it, now I just study the way people behave; I used to be an artist myself, now I just watch the painters paint;-)

  20. Mark Miller says:

    @Jason Calley:

    I guess your use of “makers” vs. “eaters” will work. :) I meant “conservatives” and “liberals” in that context, respectively, not the way the mainstream uses them, for two sides of the same coin. Another way of looking at this in a political context is the way Luigi Zingales described it, as “pro-market” vs. “pro-business” and “anti-business”. Pro-market is the stance that whatever you earn, you keep the lion’s share of it to do as you wish, but if you screw up, it’s all on you. Don’t look to the government to bail you out. Pro-business believes in some capitalism, but likes government contracts and favoritism. Anti-business is anti-market, and anti-capitalist, and wants its bailout from the public trough. Pro-business and anti-business agree on bailouts. You could basically break it down as Republicans = pro-business, and Democrats = anti-business. Pro-market doesn’t really have a voice right now, except for Ron Paul.

  21. Mark Miller says:

    Hmm… “You could basically break it down as Republicans = pro-business, and Democrats = anti-business.”

    I just had the thought this could be incorrect. I’ve been hearing lately how much Wall Street likes what Obama has been doing. It seems like the Democrats are actually straddling the pro-business and anti-business sides, with some of both activities going on in the same party.

  22. Pascvaks says:

    @ Mark –
    Ahhhh… but what is the definition of “business”, that is the question.

  23. Mark Miller says:

    @Jason Calley:

    We agree that a financial collapse would be the better of the bad options we have. More to the point of what I was saying, what I worry about is that we won’t bounce back for a pretty long time. I anticipate that such a collapse will be precipitated by the government, due to its bonds and the dollar losing credibility. What would help get us out of that would be budget austerity, but this is almost impossible politically. The very programs driving up our debt are the programs used by seniors during retirement, the most powerful political constituency, and the poor. From what we’ve seen recently, they’re not giving an inch on that, even though most seniors are wealthy. They depend on fixed-income investments (ie. bonds). That’s what I was talking about. In a financial collapse, they’ll be dependent on those programs even more, and will be even less willing to give up anything in them, even though the dollar will be shot to hell. The very remedy we’d need to get out of a collapse will be foreclosed by people’s feelings of desperation. In a nutshell what I’m saying is that even though it will be apparent that we’ve dug ourselves into a hole, we won’t stop digging, because most people either aren’t aware, or are in denial, about what’s causing the hole to get bigger. Most seniors still believe they paid into something, and they’re just drawing it back out, plus some interest, like it was an investment account, and that when the government talks about reducing benefits, it’s like they’re raiding a pension fund. Even when they’re told the truth that there never was a Social Security trust fund, they insist on this belief.

  24. Paul Hanlon says:

    One thing I can definitely say, having looked at the way Europe and Ireland has “progressed” in the last thirty years, is that Big Government does not work. Doesn’t matter who is in power, conservatives or socialists, once government gets to a size where it is taking more than a third of the economy, the country is on a downward spiral.

    It used to be that labour was the most expensive item to a company, now it’s government. When it was labour, we were able to invest in new machinery to make the processes more efficient and raise productivity, so that the labour costs were spread over more widgets, but you cannot do that with government costs, because they grow at the same rate as income grows.

    And government costs aren’t going down anytime soon, at least not in the “West”. All those unfunded mandates and entitlements, plus repaying all the money borrowed – with interest, will guarantee that.

    A large part of the blame has to go to Democracy and the rise of the “career politician”. People won’t vote for people who tell the truth, so the best liar wins. They don’t need to know stuff, they just have to be able to lie better than their opponent. They are voted in as “leaders”, yet they won’t do a thing until their ten advisers and the polls agree. That’s not leadership. But that’s what we’re getting and paying for.

    There’s another problem. What do we do with all the people who really don’t need to work? By that I mean, in most Western economies the producers, the ones who create the actual wealth, only constitute about 10-20% of the economy. How are the rest to be gainfully employed? Sure, we could increase the numbers creating wealth, but we’ve priced ourselves out of a lot of the wealth creating industries, and the main reason for that is the cost of government.

    We’re at a point now in Europe where basically all the income earned in the first three days that a company is open, goes straight to the government. That’s income, not revenue. The next day goes to paying the staff, leaving the last day to pay the overheads and generate the profits.

    The exact same thing applies to the staff member. Three of her days’ work goes to the government, one to herself and one to the company. That means she has to be productively enough employed to be able to generate her whole weeks wages in just one day and work at that pace every day. Only the highest value added industries can generate that sort of productivity, and there’s just not enough of those to go round.

    So any solution is going to have to involve a massive restructuring of government, and I can’t see them doing that voluntarily.

  25. Jason Calley says:

    @ Mark Miller

    Sorry for the delayed response, but I lost track of your posting!

    Very simply, I think you are pretty much correct. We could, theoretically, save HUGE amounts by scaling back our military and still leaving in place an overwhelmingly powerful defensive force. After all, we (the US) spend about as much on the military as all other countries on Earth combined. Think we might be able to cut some of that? Still, that will not happen any more than the oldsters will let SS be cut off. What was the sign I saw one old guy holding at a protest? “Government, keep your hands off my Medicare!”

    You and I both know that the SS fund is gone. It is spent. Tip toe, bye bye, left the house, not coming back, spent. And still, people imagine that THEIR money is still there for disbursement.

    It is a Gordinian knot, and slicing it to pieces via collapse may be the only way to solve the problem. There may, in fact, be no cure for a collapse, because the collapse IS the cure.

    Bitter medicine, though.

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    @Mark Miller:

    Had some stuff come up, so just now catching up on this thread… Nice links.

    Per the ’70s and why Liberals went off track then: The Club Of Rome.

    Among their other creations was this book:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth

    which set the mold for computer generated ecological fantasies of catastrophe. ( For example, it predicted we would be complete run out of natural gas in 1980… Oh, and they were the foundation point for the ‘projected not predicted’ bull shit too.)

    The same Club Of Rome is reputed to be behind the Global Warming hysterics as well.

    It has been well funded and working for all that time. That’s also why you find the “running out” story always woven into the same “people bad” narrative you get with AGW pitches.

    FWIW, the argument hasn’t changed much either. It was (and is) that exponential growth will inevitably lead to ruin. That growth is not exponential does not soak in to their world view… They also don’t ‘get it’ that there is something called ‘resource substitution’ and ‘technical progress’. (So they projected we’d run out of copper by now too, as all those phone wires and home wiring and water pipes would consume it all… Missing fiber optic cables and PVC plumbing… and aluminum wire.)

    @Boballab:

    Nice list. I cry for times lost…

    @Jason Calley:

    Make that 3 of us… There is, IMHO, no hope of getting this changed in time to have a libertarian Renaissance. Ron Paul at single digit percentages, and that’s even in the “conservative south”… California re-electing Governor Moonbeam (who made the mess here in the first place).

    No, the welfare state will not end until the host is dead.

    Basically, it requires some degree of intelligence and education in classical wisdom to “get it” on what is needed for the fix; followed by a selfless turning away from the “free lunch”. Thwarting that just requires ignorance, stupidity, greed, selfish power lust. We have those in abundance….

    On “liberals vs conservatives”: We have neither.

    Clasi-liberals have mutated into the ASo-Liberals who are, at core, nihilist socialism with a greenwash. Classical conservatives have mutated into a Big Business and Rich Folks Lobby that wants more power for itself. Long gone is the Libertarian ideal of free individuals with the government kept in check and personal rights (including property rights). It’s all about centralizing power in D.C. and arguing over who’s side gets to kick the other more.

    That’s not to say you can pigeon hole it as ‘Republicans for business Democrats against’. It is more that that is the posture they take. Democrats are for Centrally Planned Crony Capitalism while republicans are for Constituency Paid For Regulation Crony Capitalism. That is, GE wants Democrats to ban cheap incandescent bulbs where it has low margin so it will sell more expensive bulbs, while the Republicans want to give oil land concessions to large oil companies in exchange for campaign contributions… Both want to buy land just ahead of freeways they approve and stock in companies who’s laws they pass…

    Basically, BOTH are in favor of “Third Way” Progressive / Fascist economics that ‘eliminates destructive competition’ and replaces it with “Friends Of Congress” favors and oligopolies.

    Lost in the shuffle are the voters, who are seen as cattle to be herded to vote as desired, then ignored.

    It is really very helpful to understand how the economic side of Fascism works ( i.e. get past the emotional loading of the propaganda about it). It was the system advocated by the Progressives (of BOTH parties) prior to W.W.II and it has returned. Central planning, government control and “regulation”, but with “private corporations” let in existence. Except the government doesn’t want too many little companies as they are hard to managed / control. And the big companies don’t want the ‘destructive competition’ and “plays well with government”. So BOTH parties in government AND the largest companies all agree that as much ‘destructive competition’ as possible needs to be squeezed out (i.e. all those ‘little companies’) and this is done via Crony Capitalism laws and regulations.

    The desire is to have a ‘manageable’ oligopoly in every industry, with Labor Unions representing the people. That way Labor Unions, Corporation Management, and Government Agencies can all agree on just how to run things, without disruption from competition or annoying loss of profits…

    It works really really well too. For about 10 years. Eventually someone figures out they can take over and the whole thing turns into a Dictatorship / Tyranny. Then comes war and collapse. Wash until done, repeat…

    Or, put more simply: When GE is asking for an incandescent lightbulb ban, who represents the person with a pantry closet who does not want mercury in it and where the light is used for 10 minutes per day and they want instant on, not wait 5 minutes for the bulb to warm? The labor union at GE? The politician getting a GE “contribution” and buying some land near that new curly bulb plant overseas? GE Management? GE Shareholders? Clearly you are just not a ‘team player’…

    Yes, what’s different this time is the number of folks who are ‘on the dole’ and the number who are not used to ‘doing for themselves’ at all. We also have a much larger and more fully entrenched set of government workers and their overlords. Insulated from the complaints of everyone else until a full collapse. Vis California and the “well just raise the taxes some more” proposed “solution”…

    @Paul Hanlon:

    That Democracy was prone to this nature of failure was known to the Greeks. It is described as one of the “bad” forms of government. I was taught that in school. Then I asked “But we hear gown ups saying we are a democracy and that it is good.” The teacher had no good answer other than “well, that’s just what the Greeks thought. Moving on…” Now they don’t even mention the Greek views of governments…

    Our founders knew this as well, that’s why they had Senators appointed by the States (to preserve States Rights and to act as a brake on the Will Of The People to ‘vote for themselves the largess of the public purse.) That was broken by the Progressives with the 17th amendment in 1913.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventeenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

    Add in the change to the President also being directly elected and we’re down to the Supreme Court as the only bar against a Progressive Democratic Collapse. We now have 4 of them already on the court. One more and we’re toast.

    In essence, as of now, there is NO branch of government that can consistently stand against the will of the people, and they will vote to use the power of government to tax their neighbor and give them a free lunch. Which is largely what we see happening. Politicians buying our votes with our own money. Completely to be expected.

    That the precess is slow is why folks will assert it isn’t that way at all. You have to be able to see trends that run over a hundred years… It takes ‘generational change’ as our grand parents and parents die (they would never have accepted abuse of that power) and it takes a “percent a year” growth for 50 years to end up consuming enough to collapse the largest most productive economy in the world. But it is what it is.

    BTW, Richard Nixon was widely held to be a Progressive Republican. He gave us the EPA.

    This is NOT a “Republican vs Democrat” issue. That’s why I’m neither one and generally say “a pox on both their houses”. BOTH are happy driving this bus to Hell… Romney put in place an ObamaCare Lite in his State. NIxon gave us the EPA. Baby Bush destroyed privacy rights and gave us Medicare Part B drug ‘benefits’. Obama is just batting “clean up” and trying to fast track things…

  27. p.g.sharrow says:

    I just listened to a interview of Mit Romney. He knew that 60 years ago California the best schools in the world and now the worst. But he still mouthed the same “dumb as a post” observation that what was needed was better pay and incentives to get better teachers to restore the states education system! California still has the best educated teachers in the world. The problem is professional administrators, stupid liberal politicians and greedy union bosses working in concert to rob the system to enrich and empower themselves, Students are just bodies to count for more money. More money just yields grander administration monuments and more interference in the education effort. Grrrrrrrrrrr. pg

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    BY LAW, at least 1/2 the State expenditures must go to education. It’s not the money. It’s not the teachers.

    It is, as you pointed out, the Administrator who use the money to build monuments to themselves and giant salaries (while the classrooms get no paper) and churn out reams of “mandates” such that the teachers can not teach. My spouse has about ‘had it’ and said “all the joy has been taken out of teaching”. Substantially all she does now is what the law mandates. Endless testing, meetings with parents and other teachers to ‘admire the problem’. Filling out miles of State mandate or Fed mandated reports. Filing out reams of legally mandated “documentation” that they followed all the prescribed forms of non-teaching.

    She has a credential for a one room schoolhouse. I’ve suggested finding an out of the way place and using it… (She wants a shopping mall…)

    I suspect Romney doesn’t know we have a law that 1/2 the budget goes to schools. He ought to look at the places the UC system has built…

  29. Mark Miller says:

    @E.M.Smith:

    Baby Bush destroyed privacy rights and gave us Medicare Part B drug ‘benefits’. Obama is just batting “clean up” and trying to fast track things…

    After seeing what Obama and Pelosi have done (more credit going to Pelosi, IMO), I can see that the Democrats used what Bush did in his term to their advantage, and they did it very well. The image I always get is that particularly with the ’08 crash, (to use a volleyball analogy) Bush “set the ball” (though I see it more as a “save” where he felt he had to do a maneuver he didn’t want to do, and reach to get the ball), and then Obama, David Obey, and Pelosi “spiked it” on us with the “stimulus” bill, and subsequent spending. Conservatives warned in ’08 that what Bush did would just give an excuse to the Democrats to hike spending up to levels we had never seen before, and would fear to contemplate. I just assumed it would be temporary, but they were right.

    @P.G.Sharrow:

    California still has the best educated teachers in the world. The problem is professional administrators…

    Your comment brought to mind a summit I went to on computer science education in ’09, in Mountain View, CA. I was at a table made up of mostly high school computer teachers, and one CS professor. One of the teachers was from a high school in Mountain View. All of them were shocked, and in awe, when I said that when I went to high school, we had a computer teacher who had a degree in computer science. That is so rare today. I said that she (yes, our computer teacher was a woman, too–shock and awe at the table…) convinced me to go into computer science, when I was wondering what major I should take in college. I didn’t ask, and no one volunteered, but it’s possible that none of the high school computer teachers at my table had a CS degree.

    I went to the summit with the idea of contributing ideas for changing CS education (how it’s taught) for the better. My suggestions largely fell on deaf ears, from what I could tell. The high school teachers from the UK seemed more receptive, like they got what I was talking about, though they had this sense of powerlessness that they would be able to innovate in their home districts. One told me, “I feel totally manipulated, all the time,” though to give context, we weren’t just talking about work. We were talking about life in society in general. He was at least perceptive about his circumstances, which impressed me.

    Overall, the summit was a bust. I discovered when I got there that the overriding goal most of the participants had going into it was to discuss ways to make CS more popular, how to make it more appealing to students. In other words, most of them were there because they were afraid for their jobs. They had no sense that there was a problem of quality of content to be solved. Subsequently I’ve been hearing that some universities in this country have shut down their CS departments altogether, and I’ve discovered that since the mid-1990s most primary and secondary schools have gradually stopped teaching programming altogether. There are now only a relative few schools in the country that teach programming at all as part of their curriculum. For most schools, if they have computer classes, they just teach how to use Microsoft Word and Excel. If students are “lucky” they’ll teach how to write macros in them.

    Getting to your point about regulation of teaching, it’s having affects in other ways. Beginning in the mid-2000s, IT departments in public school systems have really clamped down on how school computers can be used. Up until then it was largely a free-for-all. Teachers had more control over how they were used. They could install their own software. Now teachers are largely forbidden from installing anything on computers. The IT staff is supposed to do it. This is because of the fear that any new software will mess with system settings, or bring viruses into them. If the software isn’t on the IT department’s approved list, it doesn’t get installed. In many cases computer teachers are not allowed to even install educational programming environments. Since the computer departments are small in relation to the whole school system, the IT department doesn’t consider evaluating the software for approval worth their time, or they’ve heard how it has vulnerabilities, even though it’s unlikely they’ll be exploited. And so the students miss out.

    This problem is partly one of preferring ease of management over education, and management’s inflated sense of importance, but the way computers have been designed is also largely to blame. I was just thinking that when I was in public school we didn’t have persistent operating systems like we do now. We only had microcomputers, and the way they worked was you inserted a floppy disk, booted the machine with it, and whatever got loaded had total control of its environment. If you wanted to load something different, you power-cycled the machine (or did a soft reset), totally erasing its memory, and then loaded something new. With that kind of system it was very difficult for something to get infected, or if it did, for it to spread. We had a lot more freedom in what we could use, with no fear that anything catastrophic (in most cases) would happen. If it was catastrophic it was of a different nature, like losing all your work, either because you forgot to save, or you did a no-no in your program and it wandered off into DOS (Disk Operating System) memory… Not to say that persistent OS’s are bad, but they need more work in terms of implementing protected memory, and allowing any software to do what it wants in the environment. Even with systems today it’s still possible to do malicious things with them, partly because they’re based on old software designs that have yet to be improved upon, really, and they’re designed to be “all things to all people.” In the opinion of some, they can’t do that without leaving vulnerabilities open.

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