Cyreenik Says

October 2017 issues

A big threat to growing prosperity: people not moving for better opportunities

The US and the world have experienced a decade of slow growth. There has been some recovery over the last year, but US economic growth remains feeble. This long period of slow growth has been a mystery.

Here is my partial answer to the mystery: the US lifestyle has changed and one of those changes is less moving to take advantage of better opportunities.

This 29 Oct 17 WSJ article, Stuck in Place, U.S. Homeowners Hunker Down as Housing Supply Stays Tight by Laura Kusisto and Christina Rexrode, describes how families moving is at a 30 year low.

From the article, "Despite rising home prices and a growing economy, U.S. homeowners’ mobility rate is stuck at a 30-year low as many opt to stay put rather than move to pursue job opportunities or trade up for more space."

Growing our prosperity is a process of changing how things are done. Part of that change is education, another part is moving to take advantage of better opportunities. This moving to take advantage of better opportunities is the heart of the immigrant experience, and why the immigrant experience produces so much prosperity, and why when the US is an immigrant nation it prospers so mightily.

If we want America to become great again, to grow fast again, we need to be promoting lifestyles with lots of change, including change in where we live. Back in the 1960's one nickname for then dominant IBM was "I've Been Moved". America needs to rebuild its society so that the IBM experience is once more a major part of it.

Blindspot thinking: Health insurance = Health care

One of the reasons that Obamacare is such a hot issue is the widespread belief that without health insurance a person cannot get health care. This is a contemporary urban legend and a powerful one. In fact, there are many alternatives to health insurance = health care.

As one alternative, think back to the beginning of the 20th century. This was a time when doctors made house calls and people paid doctors directly for their services. It was also a time when doctors would take their payments in many ways -- cash, barter goods and gratitude being a few. This could be just as much the case today, except that there are so many people who think of health insurance as the only right way to be paying for health care -- both catastrophic and routine health maintenance. "Those poor dears who are <gasp> uninsured. We need to do something for them!" Voila! We have NHS in England and Obamacare in the US.

As another alternative, think of auto insurance: it does not pay for routine maintenance, and the settlement is paid to the people insured who then pay repair people for their repairs. When things are handled this way people remain the customers, not insurance companies.

Part of the solution to the health care crisis is fixing our blindspot thinking in this arena. We need to educate people that health care and health insurance are not one and the same.

With ISIS being ousted, what comes next for the Middle East?

This 21 Oct 17 Economist article, Syria’s Kurds led the advance on Raqqa, but now may fracture, talks about ISIS losing its last big city in the Syria-Iraq region. The end of an era has finally come, now, what comes next?

The proxy war in the Syria-Iraq region has been going on for many years now. It is likely that the numerous outside parties supporting the many sides inside this conflict are all now getting tired of supporting this never-ending violence -- they have all been spending lots of money over these years without much to show for it. Result: the violence is likely to cool down a lot.

But since the violence has not produced winners, only ISIS as a loser, the region is going to stay muddled in terms of who owns what and who is ruling what. In some ways this is a "Korean War" ending -- that one was a years-to-decades long wind down as the contestants slowly moved on with their lives and slowly found other things to argue and cooperate about.

This slow wind down as contestants get more interested in other activities is what I envision coming for this Syria-Iraq region over the next few years. It is going to stay muddled and messy, but with less large-scale shooting and violence mixed in.

Also note again that the aftermath in Europe of the ISIS caliphate experience is going to be like the aftermath of the 1930's Spanish Civil War experience, except that that aftermath got interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. In both cases there are a lot of disappointed returnees who are going to have to decide "What's next?" for them in their lives and get on with making that happen. The ISIS returnees won't be forgetting their caliphate experience, but they will now be moving on. An example: expect to see the equivalent of a For Whom the Bell Tolls written by a Hemingway equivalent who has come back.

The Las Vegas Shooting: Is it Panic and Blunder Time?

October's Big Scary Surprise comes the first day of the month: A shooter in Las Vegas has caused more than 50 deaths and 500 casualties at a country music concert at the south end of The Strip.

This event is deeply scary and deeply surprising. This means there has been lots of panic surrounding it, and there has been and will be lots of blunders enacted before the panic subsides. These blunders are missteps taken at the scene while the shooting was happening, and they will be in policies and laws enacted as politicians and policy makers try to grapple with the public calling for them to "do something" in the aftermath.

Here are some questions I have that I don't see being addressed: (note that this is just the first day after the disaster)

o How did this guy manage to haul all these rifles and ammo into his room without the hotel staff noticing and getting suspicious? This stuff is bulky and heavy.

o How did he arrange to get a room overlooking the concert? Did he arrange this ahead of time, or was he counting on being lucky?

o How much of this carnage is bullet damage and how much is stampede damage?

The surprising and scary event has happened. Now we get to watch Las Vegas and the world react to it in very emotional ways.

Yes, it's Blunder Time, folks.

Update: As of a week later there has been lots of talk, and urban legend spawning, but not too many blunder-style policy actions being taken or serious calls for new laws. This is good news.

Why so few blunders? My explanation is that while this is a surprising and scary event, the novelty element is low -- America has experienced a string of mass killings over the last decade and lessons have been learned from those. What is happening this time is the much calmer process of reevaluating lessons already learned.

Update: At the end of the month we have another example of a violent act loosing it novelty. This time a terrorist ran a truck through dozens of people in a Manhattan city park. "It's terrible! It's horrible! [yawn] So, what's new today?"



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