The MN Photo ID Amendment is a bad idea

I’m voting no on the MN Photo ID amendment for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t belong in the constitution. Secondly, while it has to be freely provided to the voter, someone has to pay… and that likely means another unfunded and likely very expensive mandate from the state. Thirdly, even if it is free, the time and effort needed to acquire an ID is likely to disenfranchise some voters.  Fourth, there is no religious exemption, thus opening the door for a first amendment court fight. Fifth, its a spendy solution in search of a near non-existent problem… there are bigger fish to fry as far as election fraud goes.

There are a couple issues with making it a constitutional amendment with the first bit being the issue that photo ID’s are likely to become obsolete at some point down the road. If it were a regular statute, it would be a relative no brainer to update it as the years pass. As a constitutional amendment, it likely will be a real pain and significant cost when time forces it to be changed. Secondly, there will need to be a couple pages or more of legislation spelling out the details of how this will work, and how it will be paid for… and afaik, no one has presented anything remotely concrete in this regard. This business of trust me, it will work out just fine without detailed supporting documentation… never works out too well.

My guess is the legislature will try to play the cost shifting game so as not to raise state income taxes to cover its cost. Ie, the costs of issuing, training / recurrent training for false ID detection will be passed on to local govt.

In addition, the legislature may go so far as to try to push the 24th amendment as far as free goes, such that it will end up in court putting adding even more cost to the boondoggle. Its possible they will say the ID is free as they wont charge for printing and issuing costs… even though a voter may need to spend a couple hundred bucks to acquire and notarize the necessary documents. They likewise might not cover the costs of increased student id fees for changes of address and/or verification every time a student moves.

Of course, some might say a photo ID for voting doesn’t need to meet same criteria as does a MN state ID. Ie, it may be possible to simply have a photo book at the polls, and that said ID would not require a current address… (a utility bill etc may be ok) the question I have, is whats the whole point of photo ID, if you are not making the system robust?

As far as time, effort and cost goes… imagine an elderly person who has always banked at the same location, who quit driving 10 years ago, and has been in a nursing home for the last 5 years. This person would likely need to acquire primary and secondary ID per the MN ID requirements and verification of name change if any. Its quite unlikely for such documents to be readily at hand for an elderly person, and its likely they will require some time and expense to acquire. Next, they would need to present themselves in person at a licensing office. The needed time and effort put forth by the nursing home staff to assist said individuals would need to be paid for… and not billed as increased fees to the nursing home resident, to be in compliance with the 24th amendment.

While it is fairly rare for Amish people to vote, their hard core stance against personal photography is widely known due to their religious view that it conflicts with the graven image commandment. The amendment proposal doesn’t leave any room for a religious exemption,  thus it would seem it would get struck down as being in conflict with the establishment clause. On the other hand, legislation supporting an exemption would then be counter to this state amendment. In other words, this would be messy.

Beyond that, photo ID’s are pretty easy to fake, even the ones with so called security features can be forged without too much effort. Likewise, there are other ways in which an election can be gamed apart from photo ID. In other words, if an individual, campaign, party, or superpac is determined to commit voter fraud, they will do so irrespective of a photo ID requirement.

If photo ID is really that big a deal to folks, (one person in MN contributed over a million bucks) it belongs in the regular legislative process, not in the constitution.

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What is the message being sent, ie plagiarism?

There is no question the theft of IP is rampant, whether it be downloading music/videos, faked academic credentials, patents on the obvious and/or prior art, or plagiarism, such does not make it right. What message is being sent when schools wimp out on penalties for such?

More so, what message is being sent when zero tolerance policies result in student suspensions, but only 3 days of detention and a single zero on an assignment is issued for plagiarism? Sure, helicopter parents will swoop down in a huge way, and it is likely such situations will end up in court, if a real penalty such as a F for the entire class was granted (and an F for all classes, if said student blew off the class in which they were caught). Granted, such a situation might well impact where said student could attend university… or more realistically might result in a delayed entry for a few years.

Then again, perhaps a student with a Swiss Army knife, or an aspirin is more of a threat to society than one who cheats. Perhaps society is really ok with plagiarism. Perhaps the cost and threat of lawsuits over teachers calling out a student for plagiarism is more important than to put very strict limits as to when lawsuits over such are possible. Perhaps its fine that the surgeon didnt bother to study anatomy as well as they should have? Most assuredly as society moves towards more and more specialized roles, knowledge gaps are becoming more and more blatant, but also less important… provided there is always another guy to step in to take up the slack.

Of course, what if the other guy cheated too?

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Individual vs Social Responsibility

@flygirl737700 pointed me to the following article by George Lakoff, entitled what conservatives really want. From a Republican/Democrat point of view, I think Dr Lakoff brings up some pretty decent points from a competition point of view. In the past, other articles I’ve read from him have really nailed things from a framing/communications point of view, and he does not disappoint this time around either.

Most assuredly his dissection of the issues into a individualistic vs a societal approach appears on the money. As I discussed previously from a health care point of view, the underlying morality factors leading to such are drastically different. Dr Lakoff presents the following two descriptors.

In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama accurately described the basis of American democracy: Empathy — citizens caring for each other, both social and personal responsibility — acting on that care, and an ethic of excellence. From these, our freedoms and our way of life follow, as does the role of government: to protect and empower everyone equally. Protection includes safety, health, the environment, pensions and empowerment starts with education and infrastructure. No one can be free without these, and without a commitment to care and act on that care by one’s fellow citizens.


Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don’t think government should help its citizens. That is, they don’t think citizens should help each other. The part of government they want to cut is not the military (we have 174 bases around the world), not government subsidies to corporations, not the aspect of government that fits their worldview. They want to cut the part that helps people. Why? Because that violates individual responsibility.

I must admit I run into more than a bit of cognitive dissonance with the conservative viewpoint portrayed here. Government subsidies to corporations, ie corporate welfare creates an illusion of individual responsibility. Ie, if subsidies were cut, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of individuals would find themselves out of work. If publicly funded and provided education were to end, Ie parents were on their own, and were individually responsible to provide education to their children, untold millions of kids would be adversely affected. Either approach would reinforce individual responsibility… likely even more so than the cancellation of unemployment insurance, being such is not a matter of a year or two, but a whole multitude of years.

Perhaps it is cognitive difference…folks love the idea of individual responsibility, but when its in their own backyard, perhaps not so much? Perhaps its because such is a second order or third order effect. Ie, its easy to point at the homeless guy on the corner, who stands out in all types of weather for upwards of 16 hours a day begging as not pulling his weight. Its not so easy to point at someone working very hard as a lobbyist begging for a corporation who job wouldn’t exist if it werent for government giving away “free money”? Its not so easy to point at the guy working long hours at a ethanol plant, whose job would not exist if it were not for the begging from the aforementioned lobbyist.

The same holds through when it comes to deferred benefits, ie pension plans etc. It almost appears an element of jealousy exists that most private firms no longer offer them. Then again, pensions are a way of providing delayed compensation, ie, less in salary now, and a pension later on to make up the difference. Whether such is the right way to go or not, is not the issue, as much as it is a contractual one.

I used the example with a conservative friend the other day, when I stated, well how about we arbitrarily cut your 401K down by 50% or more just prior to your retirement? Such was the case for many an airline pilot, when their airlines declared bankruptcy to get out of contractual pension obligations. If individual responsibility is that big an issue… then it would make most sense not to depend on a 401K, or a Roth IRA being said money falls into the realm of a social/governmental position, rather than an individual one. (and you know, the ability to change the laws on Roth and 401K’s down the road is going to be a huge thing once the social security trust fund starts running into hard times).

Going a bit further, one should consider the whole issue of zoning. From an individualistic point of view, zoning would seem to be anathema, especially when said zoning prohibits a Bible study, or the work of a church. On the other hand, it does seem that conservatives tend to put a great emphasis upon zoning. Ie they dont want folks parking at a Bible study, they dont want a church to have homeless people overnight, they dont want their property values adversely affected… but zoning is inherently societal (short of buying off the zoning commissioner).

It also occurs in aviation, albeit this is where things end up really strange. Aviation weather briefings and forecasting have been privatized, and the performance compared to the days of old is pretty abysmal… but it is significantly cheaper. Many smaller air traffic control towers have been privatized, and likewise procedural compromises have been made, not all of which have kept safety as a priority. Whats incredibly odd though, was the big push to make screeners federal… albeit the ability to force massive contracts for high dollar gear became much easier than had they been private firms. In such cases, the conservative cause in these cases is likely a lot more monetarily driven than the morality of individualistic vs societal function. Perhaps such is a case where different higher order effects enter in, and thus greed can predominate over moral factors.

Whether such is an issue of cognitive dissonance, or 2nd or 3rd order effects is debatable, but most certainly a discontinuity exists.

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Liberals View on Tax Cuts

Liberals are not opposed to cutting taxes, and thus cutting government programs per se… but more so, which programs get cut. I think you would see liberals jumping up and down for tax cuts, if said tax cuts reduced the amount of money wasted on prisons, defense contractors, national security, F100 subsidies for their irresponsibility, educational overhead apart from the class room etc.

Its not that liberals don’t see a need for the above at all, but that the priorities are different. Ie, there is no question prisons are needed for murderers and rapists, but so much of the prison population is for over than violent crime. Case in point, most liberals feel it is more important to provide cancer drugs for grandpa and grandma on medicaid rather than $80K/year to keep a non-violent criminal in jail. Most liberals feel it is more important to provide for our veterans and current soldiers, than it is to reward incompetance in the defense contractor world. Most liberals want to see decent textbooks and facilities, rather than 70% skimmed off the education budget for overhead and other fish smelling deals like QComp.

Now, some conservatives should say, grandma and grandpa should have set aside $1-$3 million to cover the costs of their health care, or that their families or churches should do so, and not the government. I concede that such does make a valid point… but then what about the person who doesn’t make 6 figures a year? What about the young family who can’t put aside at least $20K/year to save for their care in later life and another $20K to pay for their elders? What about the average 65 member church who can’t spend millions over a period of years to care for the least of these? Should we as society value the lives of the less economically or geographically fortunate as having less value?

Should we as society view those whose employers no longer cover pregnancy and delivery as being worth less than others? Should we as society hold mothers who had a c-section at one time as forever un-insurable, and toss them and their baby out the door (beyond EMTALA) once their hospital bill goes beyond what their parents were able to save up for, or get a loan for prior to delivery?

The above are the concerns of many liberals. Is government always the answer, of course not… but it should provide a safety net. The tricky balance is to provide a safety net, and at the same time not create a disincentive system, nor a circular counterproductive one.

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Cutting our Way to Greatness???

Harley Davidson is cutting ~20% off their workforce since their peak a couple years back and their profits are shooting up. Of course, they also had greater than a 20% loss in sales, they killed off Buell, and sold MV Agusta too. I’d say its pretty hard to attribute causality to any one factor, but more so the total combination of things. Here in MN, there is one dude running for governor, who says we can’t cut our way to greatness… Well, he is right, if we only look at one thing, ie cutting taxes alone doesnt do much of anything, other than enrichen a few at the expenses of the masses.

The thing is… there is a ton that could be done in regards to cutting, apart from just cutting taxes, that could have a huge impact. Overhead cuts, anti-competitive regulation cuts, and re-prioritization of services could make a huge difference… but sadly, folks want the status quo, of more and more and more government, rather than to say “hey, wait a minute, this is stupid, and has to go”.

Overhead is often a killer. Just look at the massive layers in education…. case in point, actual classroom expenses, ie teacher + classroom + supplies are dwarfed by overhead. Or in other cases, some cities are finding its cheaper to use private contractors. In the future, I would guess many of these contractors will likely employ the same folks who used to do the same job as a government employee for a fraction of the cost.

MN is averse in anti-competitive and barriers to entry regulation. Politicians seem deathly afraid of a new entity coming in and doing the same work for 20% less for fear that it might cut into old entrenched businesses, the jobs such businesses create, and of course the resulting political contributions as well. They also seem to fear progress too… horrors that buggy whips might evolve, and something totally new replace them. I almost wonder had MN been more startup friendly, on all fronts, perhaps we wouldn’t have had the mass technical exodus post the CDC glory days.

Re-prioritization could be a huge deal too… Its like the Federal MMS on a small scale, or a Van Halen concert on a large scale. Writing up BS stuff for light bulbs being out, or improperly labeled buckets on the Deepwater Horizon, all the while major process issues go along unchecked and unregulated is a huge mistake. Granted, anyone can count light bulbs, and bucket labels or sort Van Halen’s M&M’s… it does take skill and expertise to understand the drilling process, or the rigging of a stage.

Trivial BS checksum methods (bucket inspectors)are mostly cross checks for attention to detail… with the philosophy that if attention is given to minor things, the feeling is that the major items are subject to the same attention, if not more so. The problem is… both on the fed, and state level… making sure that the bowl of M&M’s doesnt have any brown ones has become the greater priority, than the integrity of the stage rigging and floor.

Excessive overhead, the anticompetitive stance, and the prevalence of bucket inspectors are firmly entrenched… Its going to take a whole ton of folks crying uncle before any of that changes. We could cut our way to greatness… but instead, we talk about cutting key services, and cutting taxes, rather than cutting policies and procedures that could likely cut both taxes, and improve/expand valuable services to the citizens of MN.

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Safety or Desire/Finance? Physics is no Respector

Desire and Finance always win out over safety, even when it comes to regulation… well, unless of course those on the safety side of things have more money or desire at stake. It doesnt seem to matter whether its oil, bio, transportation, or even ones own personal choices, desire is an incredible motivator. It may be time, it may be money, power, jobs, politics… but desire wins. Well, at least it wins over safety in the short term; statistics and physics are always the ultimate winners.

This plays out in nearly every risk/benefit decision made, whether it be the purchase of a family car. Ie do you buy a clone of Cadillac One or a used Hyundai? Obviously the chances of an encountering an IED, or a sniper in a family car are low, so armor plating and bulletproof glass would be overkill. Yet, an encounter with an out of control semi is much much greater in the Hyundai than Cadillac One, or even spinning out of control on ice, but such events are virtually never considered when it comes to car buying.

It plays out in the regulatory arena too…. case in point, the experience requirements for being an airline pilot make great financial sense, from a hiring perspective. However, when the chips are down…. not so well, case in point Colgan 3407, where in both pilots had thousands of hours, said hours were not of the quality needed to prevent the tragic loss of life.

A similar deal in oil regulation, ie if multiple relief wells were required for deep water drilling, oil companies would make less money, there would be less profit, less taxes to government, and ultimately higher consumer costs and fewer jobs. On the other hand, we (the taxpayers) will likely have $50billion+ to pay in cleanup costs, society will have untold amounts of human suffering, and the environment in some areas may take generations to recover, due to extended time needed to drill them now. Even now… one relief well is being drilled, one is on hold… and what if both fail? We then start on well #3 in September?

Future blog posts, which will be hotlinked as I get to them

Justification due to Operating in Deficiency Mode

Money is Almost Always Available After the Fact

Changes in Safety are Usually Short Lived

Second Guessing will Haunt many for Years

Can anything be done?



some background bits

Judgement calls

from Rockman

IF I suddenly thought I could use the RW BOP to deal with the leak and IF I felt the other RW was doing OK I would delatch and move to the blow out. And my two prime motives: to do the BOP move as fast as possible and to pinch pennies. I’m VP Operations and there are times when I make such decisions on an almost daily basis. And sometimes I make decisions based on a minimal (but never zero) risk vs. costs. I don’t always take the most expensive route to minimize risk. So yes, there are times when I accept a certain risk to the environment, the rig and the lives of the hands working for me as well as myself. As yes, I’m still on crutches after my double knee surgery so I would always be the last one to get away from a rig if something goes wrong. It’s a judgment call. No different than when everyone here bought his or her last car. Did you spend the most money possible for the safest car available? No in most cases. Then you must value your money more than your life or the lives of your loved ones. Right? More than 30 years ago I had to help the company carry off the body of a dead floor hand in a tarp. As I said once before I can still easy remember how that tarp felt in my hands. I’ve never made a decision that hurt a hand let alone killed one. Right now I’ve the ultimate authority in my drilling ops…anything goes wrong…someone gets hurt or killed…it’s on me…no one else. So I make those judgment calls. And monetary considerations will always be a factor. But when I make those calls I literally always ask myself that one question last: is saving money going to cause any “real” increased risk? Each one of has to decide how we define “real”.

Scale of Consequences

from greenish

In choosing a car for one’s family, one weighs risks and costs. When choosing a car for the president, likewise. That’s why I have a beat-up Hyundai Accent and the president travels in a car-shaped tank within a convoy with traffic shut down. Because the scale of consequence is different.

from Rockman

greenish — A little friendly picking on you: so the life of the president is more important than that of you and your loved ones? So you’re willing to save a little money to not maximize their safety?

There really isn’t a proper answer to my question. But those decisions are made every day. Do you cancel every flight out of NYC because there’s a bad thunder storm predicted? I would offer that killing 300 folks in an airplane crash is as significant, if not more so, as the POTUS being killed in an auto accident. Heck… that’s why we have vice-presidents.

It’s all about choices. A bad choice is always a bad choice even if it doesn’t cause an accident. It appears the folks at BP made a bad choice and it bit them hard. But sometimes the proper choice can kill you too. But do you base your choices on the magnitude of a worse case scenario? I fully understand your “scale of consequence”. Killing your baby in a car accident would be considered a rather significant conseqence of scale by most IMHO.

What I offered earlier wasn’t as much a justification for anyone’s judgment calls. Just laying out how it works in the oil patch (as well as the rest of life IMHO).

Real Moral Hazard

from pbnj

One issue though that petroleum industry (and any industry that could mess up the environment) must deal with that my industry doesn’t have to.. is moral hazard. If I misjudge risk, it messes up my customers and my own company. If Petroleum industry misjudges risk and screws up (or nuke, or coal, or chemical or etc) then the mistake messes up OUR world and our raw natural resources. This places petroleum industry in a position not well suited to corporations because they must be stewards of shared resources as well as for-profit corporations. Some of that stewardship may be offloaded to government agencies, but regardless, the performer (the oil industry) still must work in good faith with the agencies. That is a tough position that I am glad that I am not in. Unfortunately the government (enforcer of stewardship) only really has one or two hammers against a misbehaving actor. Nationalization (nuclear option) and regulation/fines. So I ask you (in this philosophical discussion) do you think that the “corporation” concept is appropriate for an organization that has such a high moral hazard?

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H.R. 875: Food Safety Reduction Act of 2009

To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to endanger the public health by encouraging food-borne illness, decreasing the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and decreasing the security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.

1. It encourages food borne illness through consolidation of operations, through preferable treatment to large agribusiness.

Its interesting to note the major food borne illness outbreaks are the result of large consolidated ag practices, which are encouraged under this bill. Diversity of production is a national security concern. Imagine the consequences of Monsanto, or ADM screw up in a huge way, its not a matter of if, its a matter of when, biology can be messy that way. In part, this is why small producers are subsidized to encourage some level of diversity. Just as we found in banking, the too large to fail mantra, and the monopolistic practices granted to some firms are counter productive. Thousands of small banks did ok. The 18 or so super banks are in serious trouble.

2. It decreases the safety of food, by a massive influx of new and inexperienced inspectors, and focuses more on the administrative side than physical inspection and testing.

The FDA is tragically undefunded as it is. Adding a new overhead layer of govt, re-arranging all the chairs, increasing the paper work burden, and the inspection scope, will require a massive increase in human resources and training. As a result, experienced people are likely to be diverted to greater administrative functions, rather than being in the field. The end result, greater administrative functions, and a focus on paperwork inspections, combined with less actual testing, planning, and review by those skilled in the art.

3. It decreases the security of food from intentional contamination.

This comes back to the diversity issue once again. Ie, one person could now jeopardize security of food for millions of people, rather than just a local area. It would no longer be necessary to utilize massive terrorist cells for a ampaign, as the vulnerabilities are so concentrated. The lone errant individual would be a much greater concern as well. Introducing pathogens in the food supply chain is not rocket science, doing it over a large scale as existed 30 years ago would be impossible. Today, its possible but difficult. After passage of this bill, it would be rather simple.

In many ways large agribusiness using transgenic crops is in effect a bio lab on a large scale, and its open for business pretty much anytime day or night, with exceedingly limited security. Such crops pose a serious enough problem in the south that over 50% of biotech cotton land must be used as refuge acres, and even here in the north, the EPA requires 20%. The idea is to prevent transgenic crops from loosing their specific traits as concerns insect resistance. Its a similiar situation with volunteer corn having different gene expressions than off the shelf corn. In other words, if left unchecked its a disaster waitng to happen. Case in point, BT volunteer corn.

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ASCE 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure – Stimulus Bill

I’ve seen reference to the 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure in numerous news sources, but had to do some digging to find the actual source. Well,its there in the previous link. Obviously, the ASCE wants things fully funded, as their membership base would do very well financiall. However, beyond that, it is very clear infrastructure is in terrible shape. How many more I-35 collapses, or dam collapses, or even power grid failures (I should write a blog on that, its probably a good thing J6P doesnt know how bad things really are) will occur before action is taken.

Clearly, a $2.2 trillion dollar package for infrastructure alone is not going to fly, in part that the govt would rather throw such levels of money at Wall Street for the benefit of the few cronies, but also, there is not enough construction capacity to burn through that amount of activity in a reasonable time frame. That being said, the current funding levels proposed for infrastructure do not max out capacity, and in many ways, end up continuing with the bandaid process which has been used for years. Sooner or later something very bad is going to happen… unlike mark to finger in the wind accounting as was used by Wall Street, the damages from an infrastructure collapse will make the financial collapse seem miniscule.

Some years back, we were within minutes of loosing half the midwest power grid, fortunately good judgement calls, and some systems that worked kept disaster at bay…. but having multiple states without power for weeks if it were to happen in winter would no doubt result in substantial loss of life. Emergency backup is designed for short terms, and it assumes key infrastructure within a reasonable transport distance is available… 7 minutes, and the midwest would have been toast.

Next, look at Mississippi river transport, and even the St Louis seaway. A lot of that infrastructure is operating beyond its expected life span… and all it takes is one link in the chain, and now we have a huge problem with multiple cascading and far reaching effects.

Then brownfields… yes, they can be a real boondoggle for a wide range of reasons, imho mostly too much govt involvement and oversight on the technical and operational aspect causing huge costs, all the while running with minimal financial oversight. Go figure, but its not attractive to a finance type, but they attrack bureaucrats in huge numbers, with restrictions at every path. Hopefully the ASCE guys can apply pressure… the clean up needs to occur, and it needs to be safe, but one should never have to get a flat bed and crane for a day to take a piece of gear off the brownfield for a 15 minute repair, as it takes 2 weeks of paperwork to effect the repair on site.

And there-in leads the inefficiency of govt contracts and programs. The focus is often driven not on what is beneficial to the public whether it be optmization value via low cost, or short duration, but on what is beneficial to the politically driven govt bureaucracy… In the case of catostrophic failures, the govt can step in and work wonders as evidenced by the repair of the Oakland bay bridge after the earthquake nearly 20 years ago, or the I-35 bridge more recently. Contrast this with the current Eastern span replacement of the Oakland bay bridge… yikes.

No doubt infrastructure needs help, and a ton of it… but just how much can be done, how much it will help the economy, and if it can be soon enough before disaster ensues. All very difficult and challenging questions, the only thing for sure, is the status quo (ie bandaids) will result in failure for all of the above.

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Senate approves four-month delay to digital TV changeover

Senate approves four-month delay to digital TV changeover —

This was a good call, albeit it doesnt solve the underlying technical issue, which is lack of coverage, which could result in no OTA (over the air) availability for some, and drastically reduced selection for others.  In some cases, its possible a high gain antenna, tower, and amplifier may be adequate, in others… it will take a change in the laws, the private sector cannot be expected to solve this on their own.

The reason being, to solve the problem of blackout areas, assuming the end customer has done everything on his end possible, it will require one or more of the following. Greater transmitter power (a regulatory issue… and many digital transmitters run at significantly lower power than their analog predecessors), more translators (low powered tv transmitters operating on unused channels to provide specific coverage to a local area), and/or potentialy a requirement that broadcasters must ensure their coverage area remains the same on digital as it did on analog.

The end result, hugh cost increases for tv stations, and potentially tons of regulatory hoops to jump through… then add in an assurance of virtually nil increase in market size, and its not justifiable. Ie, providing service to 1000 existing viewers in a market of hundreds of thousands just doesnt add up.

Now some would say tough, folks should just switch to satellite or cable, but in todays economy, more and more are going to OTA, rather than sat or cable. Then add in the fact this whole deal was done, not so much as to increase quality for the average Joe, but to bring in huge revenue in spectrum auctions for Uncle Sam. Sure, in some areas, clear spectrum is rare, but for vast portions of the US, its amazing how little spectrum is really used, and for where it is in use, how inefficiently it is used.

And yet others will say, who needs OTA TV, its not a right or anything… well there is a public safety aspect to this. Tornado warnings, and other emergency comms are typically disseminated via TV. Sure, radio does some, as does even the internet, but the primary method is via TV. To drop the coverage from entire communities is just asking for liability headaches should something bad happen, and thats apart from any injury or loss of life aspects.

Then add in the 4 month delay, and wow, we are right in the middle of Tornado season. At least the bill buys more time to get more of the tech issues solved, and it is much easier to do antenna work in the summer than it is now. On the other hand, the way things normally go, it will just be a delay, and until analog goes away, we really wont know how bad things truly are…. and then the mad scramble begins. Hopefully more and more testing will be done, and heat can be applied to the legislature, well before segments of rural America go completely dark in the midst to summer.

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Socialized Life Insurance

U.S. Mulls Widening Bailout to Insurers –

Go figure… life insurance companies made bad investments, and now want in on the bailout too… but they also do not want to fess up to their precarious financial position, and thus want govt to socialize the whole industry so as not to give competitive advantage to well run firms.

Its pretty screwey, many folks are against socialized medicine, and yet we have big insurance firms that want to be socialized, at least in the less lucrative arena’s it seems.

About the only thing we can probably figure on, is that Joe sixpack and mainstreet are not going to get bailed out, and likely a vast portion of the F1000 will, either through overt socialization through the bailout program, or exceedingly favorable tax or other corporate welfare schemes. What on earth ever happened to antitrust laws such that no entity would ever be too big to fail.

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