Cyreenik Says

July 2017 issues

Time for "ISIS Disappointment" to kick in

With defeats happening in Mosul and Raqqa, The Caliphate as some kind of enduring nation isn't going to happen. So what comes next for those ISIS enthusiasts who came from around the world to fight for the cause?

I have used the Spanish Civil War of 1936 as a pattern for the evolution of the post-Arab Spring conflict in Syria and Iraq -- the conflict we are still experiencing there today. Part of the pattern is lots of people from many parts of the world coming to take part in the conflict, another part is many of those soldiers are on the losing side. If the pattern continues those soldiers who were idealistic and enthusiastic about The Caliphate are now going to return home disappointed and discouraged. Most are going to move on with their lives, but the memories will still be with them. An example I think of from the Spanish Civil War is Ernest Hemingway writing For Whom the Bell Tolls in 1940 after he returned. Expect this kind of cultural influence to spring up in many countries as now-discouraged enthusiasts return home and get on with their lives.

The dramatic difference in the two patterns is that, so far, it does not look like the Syrian/Iraq civil war is going to be followed by a big world war the way the Spanish Civil War was. This will make a big difference in how getting on with lives is conducted.

Sarbanes–Oxley is coming to prescription drugs

Ouch! Yet another loss of free market is coming and this time it is going to raise the grief level in generic prescription drug pricing.

This 12 Jul 17 WSJ article, Drug Prices Under Fire, in the States While all attention is on Washington for health-care reform, investors should look at the states by Charley Grant, talks about a trend that is hitting the drug pricing of generic prescription drugs. Basically, the states' attorney generals are taking over the pricing instead of letting the free market do the pricing.

From the article, "Maryland is the first of about 30 states weighing such bills to pass a new law on drug pricing. The law, scheduled to take effect in October, outlaws “excessive” price hikes on generics and gives Maryland’s attorney general sweeping powers to roll back price hikes and fine companies for violations. Bills with similar enforcement mechanisms have been introduced in several other states, including New York, Missouri, Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island."

Taking the free market out of the pricing equation is taking competition out. This means that both pricing and innovation are going to be suffering, just as business IPO's in finance have been suffering since 2000 when Sarbanes–Oxley (SOX) dramatically raised the "grief level" for making an IPO happen.

Alas, this is another case of good intentions getting ready to produce bad results.

Yet another indicator that TSA is a neoreligion not a security enhancer

Airport security survives in its current form because it makes commercial airline passengers less scared of flying. This makes it a neoreligion with TSA members acting as priests who perform a ritual on flyers so they feel safer when they board their plane.

Among other things, the security side is an intensely boring activity for the "priests" -- the front line TSA employees -- and this makes lapsing a great temptation.

This 5 Jul 17 Economist article, Screeners at Minneapolis airport are reported to have a 94% failure rate, describes how lax some US airports have become.

From the article, "But America would do well to get its own house in order as well. Fox 9 reports that in a recent test at Minneapolis-St Paul airport, actors managed to smuggle illicit items past security officials 94% of the time. Sources told the channel that these included explosives, fake weapons and drugs. Fox 9 writes that “last week, what is known as the ‘Red Team’, in town from Washington, DC, posed as passengers and attempted to sneak items through security that should easily be caught. In [17 out of 18] cases they succeeded in getting the banned items through.”

Again, given the intensely boring nature of the security work, and the fact that it is sustaining itself as a ritual soothing emotions, the laxness is not surprising.

To solve this problem long term, we need to recognize that the root problem which is sustaining TSA in its current form is fear of flying, not terrorism. Then we need to separate the two -- fear of flying and airport security -- and let each develop in their own ways. We need to develop voluntary rituals that soothe fear of flying, and much more discrete methods of enhancing airport security.

Then commercial flying as a whole can get much more comfortable and convenient in current facilities. And over the coming decades the commercial air travel experience can change its form into something dramatically more comfortable and convenient -- something involving smaller planes and many more smaller airports scattered much more widely across the nation. Commercial air travel should become much more like getting on a bus.



-- The End --