Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

For "a human being, the question 'to be or not to be,' is the question 'to think or not to think.'" Ayn Rand

27 March 2013

The Falsely Framed Moral Evaluation of Capitalism

The Washington Post ran a long article on page 1 of its Outlook section on Sunday, 17 March 2013 entitled Is Capitalism Moral?  It was written by Steven Pearlstein, a Post columnist.  He claims that much of the reason for the stalemate in Washington is because the Republicans and Democrats have not really faced up to the question of whether Capitalism is moral or not.  He says that

The grand experiment with communism has been thoroughly discredited, a billion people have been lifted from poverty through free-market competition, and even European socialists have given up on state ownership and the nanny state.  Here at home, large swaths of the economy have been deregulated, and tax rates have been cut.  A good portion of what is left of government has been outsourced, while even education is moving toward school choice.  In embracing welfare reform, Americans have acknowledged that numerous programs meant to lift up the poor instead trapped them in permanent dependency and poverty.
This introduction to the Pearlstein article seems to bow to the power of Capitalism to do good, though it is always jarring to read that deregulation characterizes our government's efforts when about 80,000 pages of new regulations are added each year and the EPA is carrying out the Obama threat to kill the coal industry and coal-fired electric plants and to give us skyrocketing European gasoline prices.  The outsourced government continues to grow its many tentacles and keeps developing new tentacles such as those that sprout from the recent and still developing ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank "Too Big to Fail" acts.

Pearlstein notes that books by Arthur Brooks, of the American Enterprise Institute, and John Allison, of the Cato Institute, make a moral case for "even-freer-market capitalism than we have now."  The books he is referring obliquely to are:

Arthur C. Brooks, The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise, Basic Books, 2012.

John A. Allison, The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy's Only Hope, McGraw Hill, 2012.

Pearlstein characterizes their argument for capitalism as
As they see it, regulation is an infringement of individual liberty, while income redistribution, in the form of a progressive tax-and-transfer system, is nothing more than thievery committed against the most talented and productive by those who are not.  Regulation and redistribution, they contend, also undermine the vital incentives that drive capitalism, which throughout history has been the best system for freeing large masses of human beings from lives of misery and poverty.  What could be more moral, they ask, than that?
 Pearlstein even credits John Locke, Adam Smith, and Ludwig von Mises for their moral defenses of capitalism, before noting that the novels and writings of Ayn Rand really caused the idea of the morality of Capitalism to catch hold among "right-leaning intellectuals and politicians."

The remainder of this article mostly examines whether Capitalism is moral from Pearlstein's and frankly that of most people's perspective.  That perspective is implicit in the question he asks at the end of the article in his very last sentence:
If our moral obligation is to provide everyone with a reasonable shot at economic success, within a market system that, by its nature, thrives on unequal outcomes, then we ought to ask not just whether government is doing too much or too little, but whether it is doing the right things.
Basically, Pearlstein and most people believe that Capitalism is moral only if it is fair.  The bulk of the article is devoted to his belief that it is not really fair and loaded with implications that it must be controlled by government to see to it that it is as fair as possible.

One problem with judging the morality of Capitalism on the basis of whether it is fair or not is that even a toddler soon has a concept of fairness which need not have firm roots at all in a deep moral understanding.  It is extraordinarily common for the child to complain that it is not fair that her older brother always wins when they play Monopoly.  It is common that the younger sibling claims it is unfair that the older sibling can stay out to midnight on a Friday night with his friends or maybe even until 3 AM.  For many people, that concept of fairness evolves very little as they become adults.

The Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution understood that what government should do was not governed by fairness.  They understood that the legitimate role of government was, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, the protection of our equal, inalienable individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The role of government was simply to see that we were not forced by government or by others to give up making our own choices of values and prevented from taking action to try to acquire and keep our values, so long as we did not initiate the use of force against others.  Government had no role in deciding what values we should seek and no role in the distribution of those values among the people.

Those, who like Pearlstein, claim that the central government role is to ensure fairness in the distribution of values among the people must push government to decide what values really matter and how they will be distributed.  Commonly, they then think almost entirely in terms of income and worldly goods as the values of importance and those to be redistributed.  To concede that government has such a fairness role, is to concede that the Nanny State is proper.  It is to concede that the less developed person is right to constantly challenge the more developed person, or at least that those who have fewer worldly goods are right to challenge the government to redistribute those goods more in their favor or even totally unto equality in the distribution.

Of course a more developed concept of fairness might recognize that someone who chooses to watch NBC and CBS every evening for hours rather than working 12 or 14 hours in a day does not have a moral claim on the earnings or wealth of a person who did make the choice to work the longer hours.  After all, the TV watcher does not trade his relaxation and laughter in front of the TV in any meaningful way for the proceeds of the many additional hours worked by someone making a very different value choice.  Yet, most Americans exercise their limited sense of fairness to think that the TV watcher deserves to have a significant part, maybe even more than half, of what the hard worker made in his additional hours of work.

To a large degree, most people think fairness is about equality.  Yet, people are too complex and too highly differentiated for them to be equal.  They may have equal rights, but that is about the only way in which people are equal.  The Founding Fathers understood this, but they feared democracy largely because they understood that most people are governed too much by a desire for a simple-minded fairness, which drove them to desire equality and the redistribution of money and goods.  Yet, it cannot be fair to deprive the person who has acquired income and goods without the use of force of what he has acquired.  No system based on a forced redistribution can be fair.  Why set out in the name of fairness to redistribute income and goods when this necessarily means that one is unfairly doing harm to many and that fairness cannot be achieved?  Even Pearlstein allows that it is hard to know when to stop the process of redistribution.

The morality of Capitalism has the same basis as the morality of the entire private sector, only some of whose activities are devoted to the values of income and worldly goods.  There is no role for government in choosing who my friends will be and how many hours I am to spend with each of them for our mutual enjoyment.  The government that tried to redistribute my friendship time and effort would clearly be recognized as a tyranny.  There is no role for government in determining how fair it is that a woman of good character may or may not be loved by the man she wants to love her.  There is no role for government in deciding who we may choose for our domestic partner or partners, though that issue is still hotly debated with respect to same-sex marriage.  Many of the greatest values in each of our lives are properly seen by most of us as beyond the sphere of government rules for distribution.

Yet, for some childish and foolish reason, most adults do think that government has a role in re-distributing income and wealth.  I believe this is in large part because they ignore the fact that this is really a theft of the time an individual put into acquiring that income and wealth, including the time he may have spent preparing himself for earning it, as in his studies, his thinking about markets over many years, and his careful attention to details in his work.  Many seem to think that they have not subjected someone to slavery just because they are taking by force only half of every added dollar he earns rather than all of it.  In fact, a paper by Peter Diamond (MIT) and Emmanuel Saez (UC Berkeley) is making its rounds among the Progressive Elitists now that claims that the correct marginal tax on high income people is 73%.  I frankly cannot understand how they so deceive themselves that taking half or 73% of every additional hour worked from someone is not the moral equivalent of slavery.

Most slave owners in the Antebellum South allowed their slaves to spend a few hours working in their own gardens to grow some of their own food.  Did this mean that they were really not slaves because the slaveholder did not have them in his cotton or rice fields 100% of the time?  The Progressive Elitist might argue that they only make slaves of those who choose to be very productive in the marketplace, so if you participate in the market you are choosing to be a slave.  Of course they fear to be that honest, but they do say that if you make a lot of money you are choosing to pay the progressive taxes.

Yet, the person who spends time on other values, such as watching TV, going fishing, running, or spending time with friends or family is not taxed in any way.  That is not fair.  If it is right to progressively tax the person who chooses to spend time making money, then it is unfair to give the person who could have made money, but did not, a tax deduction for the money he failed to make.  Fairness demands that he be taxed for the value of his time that he spent in a different choice of values.  Yet, government knows that people will not stand for it to discourage other values such as time with family with a tax, so it acts in a manifestly unfair way on those who spend productive time making money through voluntary trades with others.  It does this even though it is generally recognized, even by Pearlstein, that such economic activity has done wonders in improving the standard of living for almost everyone, even the inveterate TV watcher.

Pearlstein's characterization of the market as much more free than it is provides him with some of his arguments that free markets do not work so well.  He also treats the arguments of people like Allison  unfairly.  For instance, he says
The conservative case against regulation, for example, is premised on the proposition that everything that has gone wrong with the markets is the government's fault.
 Well no, free market advocates realize that many businesses will fail in a perfectly free market and that there will be a business cycle in a free market with recessions from time to time.  They just object to the fact that government action in the market has the consequence of causing more business failures, more frequent and deeper recessions, and in the present case a recession that seems to have no foreseeable end.

Pearlstein claims that free market advocates say that
Because pursuit of self-interest is the essential ingredient in a market system, it somehow follows that individuals and firms are free to act as greedily and selfishly as they can within the law, absolved from any moral obligations.
I do not think there are many who believe they are "absolved from any moral obligations" in their actions.  Pearlstein in particular seems to imply that Allison holds this view.  I have not read his book, but the way Pearlstein describes Allison's viewpoint leaves quite a large leap to the conclusion that Pearlstein seems to impose on Allison's viewpoint.  I surely do not believe that a businessman is only morally obliged to obey the law and that he is morally allowed to otherwise act immorally.  Indeed, that is a clearly immoral viewpoint, which an advocate of Capitalism on moral grounds is most unlikely to make.  But Allison correctly notes that when government uses a heavy hand in making moral decisions in the marketplace, the many laws that claim to define moral actions and value choices in the marketplace will naturally become a substitute morality for many people.  If Pearlstein wants everyone in the market to act morally, then he should remove the government from the market as much as possible so that people will understand that they must act morally in the market, rather than just obeying the laws.  Government morality acts as bad money does to drive good money out of the market.

Pearlstein repeats the liberal argument that economic success often is due to dumb luck.  Some have the good fortune to be born with the right genes and the right parents, to grow up in a good community, to be better educated, to be better mentored, and to be at the right place at the right time.   They argue that the market should reward virtue, not dumb luck.

Well OK, we like to see virtue rewarded.  But, in a system in which market success means that everyone involved in a voluntary transaction has entered into it because he believes he is better off for having participated in it, how is anyone hurt if someone in the transaction was lucky?  Everyone still benefited.  We all want the freedom to be lucky, do we not?  We may be lucky in a business transaction one day also.  Or, maybe we were lucky enough to meet the love of our lives 40 years ago.  Apparently liberals believe that luck should be re-distributed also.  So, why is it only luck in financial terms to be redistributed?  Did I not realize a greater value in having the luck to meet Anna than someone else has had who is unhappily married for the third time?  As in the marketplace, virtues and luck both play roles in our love lives.  Luck is not something to be redistributed and rationed among us.  Our luck and misfortunes are generally properly beyond the reach of government.  Yes, we may well choose to recognize that some people have suffered more misfortune in life than others in our private charity work or contributions, but this is not a proper function of government.  Rightly, there is no grant of power for the purpose in the Constitution.

Pearlstein continues to argue against the perceived fairness of the marketplace.  He says that 20 years ago wage and salary earners reliably captured about 75% of the national income, with the rest going to capital providers.  More recently, labor has only received about 67%.  I expect there are reasons for such a shift that make sense.  One is that there is a decrease in union labor in the private sector.  Another is that there is an increase in the importance of knowledge and professionalism and both are more and more often tied to capital and the founders of businesses.  Still another is that complex law and regulation has insulated very large companies from upcoming competition.  Another is the huge influxes of taxpayer money to companies such as Goldman Sachs, CitiBank, Bank of America, GE, GM, Lockheed Martin, Solyndra, and A123 Systems in recent years.  Corporate welfare seems to be a staple of Progressive Elitist government even as it pretends it is not.

Pearlstein claims that 50 years ago, the typical corporate executive earned less than 50 times the pay of the average front-line worker.  He says the ratio is now 350 to 1.  He implicitly believes this is a statement that morality is defied here.  I expect he is comparing the few large corporations of 50 years ago in a much smaller US economy with today's corporations acting in a much larger US economy and in a much larger world economy.  If he chose to compare the mid-sized companies and large small businesses today with similar sized businesses by income of 50 years ago, the ratios would be much more similar.  That is, compare the ratio in a $100 million income company today with a $100 million income company of 50 years ago and the ratio will be much less dissimilar.  Neither 200 years ago, 100, 50, or last year did most companies even have a 50 to 1 ratio.  That ratio is a phenomena of size.

Pearlstein laments the fact that inequality of income in the market threatens to overwhelm the ability of a progressive tax-and-transfer system to keep up with it.  So yes, Pearlstein simply assumes that income equality is a requirement of a moral economic system, despite the fact that almost no one advocates equality in other aspects of our private lives.  His, and that of most Progressive Elitists, is a very childish moral code.  It is manifestly biased in the application of equality and it absolutely refuses to recognize that individuals are highly complex and differentiated.  It refuses to recognize that as a result, we make very different value choices and bring very different abilities to bear on acquiring the values we choose.  It just assumes that using force to redistribute income and wealth is good.  It just assumes that largely enslaving those who make good money in the voluntary and mutually beneficial marketplace is justified as for the greater good.  It also assumes that it is right and proper to redistribute luck, but only luck operating in the market.  What an absolutely weird, yet common, idea of morality this is!

A society with a very limited government whose only function is to protect our equal, sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, property, the ownership of one's own body, mind, and labor, and the pursuit of personal happiness is the only society in which people are free to be moral.  They are then free to be moral in the entire private sector of their activities, including that subset of economic activities in the market.  Capitalism is moral for the same reason that other human action dedicated to the free choice of values and the freedom to pursue them is moral.  Capitalism is moral because it allows these choices of value by each individual in the marketplace.  It is moral as an exercise in our individual right to freedom of association to cooperate with others as we choose for financial reward, just as in other aspects of our lives we are free to associate with others as friends and lovers and family.  Our labor belongs to each of us by right and we trade it with others in some cases for monetary gain and in other cases as part of a family to instruct a child or to do the dishes and laundry.  Government has no moral obligation to equalize any of the rewards that we get from exercising our freedom of association or the use of our time.  Indeed, if it tries to do so, it has violated our individual rights and done an evil deed.

23 March 2013

Corpus Christi, TX School Provides a Dubious Education

Kara Sands, a Texas mother recently became upset that her son, who attends Flour Bluff Intermediate School in the 5th grade, was receiving a sub-standard education.  She especially seems to think that the Corpus Christi area school puts the United States of America in a bad light and that it does an injustice to Christianity as well.

I attended 2nd grade at Flour Bluff Elementary School in 1954 when my Dad was flying out of the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station.  When we moved to Brigantine, NJ in 1955, my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Leeds, spent a good part of the year threatening to make me repeat 3rd grade.  In due time, my mother figured out that few of my math problems were copied correctly from the board, but as copied the math was always correct.  I got my first pair of eyeglasses and everything changed in math.  However, I had no reading skills.  None.  Dick and Jane running after Spot was of no interest to me at all.  Learning the rudiments of reading was very painful, but my mother survived the crash course of making me read.  In the early 4th grade, I discovered books about John Paul Jones, Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk-Fox Indian wars, and Kit Carson.  There was no stopping me from reading after that.

So, while I have fond memories of living as something of a wildcat on Rod Field, an old abandoned naval air station of WWII, Flour Bluff Elementary School is a bad memory.  I really hated the sauerkraut they seemed to feed us every day at lunch.  So, hearing about the present-day Flour Bluff Intermediate School was of special interest to me.  Let us look at some test fragments that Kara Sands has made available from that school.

Kara Sands was right to be concerned about the offered answers to Question 3 and the fact that the "right" answer was considered to be B.  Well, yes some decisions made in the US have had negative effects upon someone outside the US, but many of the actions of Americans have helped to make the world more peaceful and to allow widespread trade that has raised the standard of living of billions of people around the world.  Our scientific and medical advances have improved lives widely and our production methods have made many fantastic products available at an affordable cost.  The "correct" answer B displays a huge failure to convey context.  Of course, this context-dropping is all too common among the Progressive Elitists and the unskilled laborers of the teachers unions who follow their directions.

I have another problem with this.  Look at Question 1.  These are kids who probably do not know who Nathaniel Greene, George Mason, Robert Morris, and Gouvenor Morris are.  But they sure are taught the name of a rescue dog.  This is as bad as the now commonly known victim of the Boston Massacre, Crispus Attucks.  Mind you, I do not actually mind kids knowing who Attucks or Nero were, provided they know who Greene, Mason, R. and G. Morris were.

Kara Sands has also provided us with a vocabulary test:

Kara was unhappy with the description of the swastika.  The description is a natural one, but it is also true that many Christians are sick of slights directed at Christianity by the Progressive Elitists who dominate the government-run education systems.  Tolerance is taught toward other religions, but not so much for Christianity.  I will not judge this one without more context on how the school generally treats religious issues and sensitivities.  Governments have many conflicts of interest when it comes to their controlling education and one really sticky area is how can they address religion without violating freedom of conscience, or that sub-field of freedom of religion.

However, she also pointed out that Nazi was improperly said to be simply "member of the German Party."  Of course, other German parties co-existed with the Nazis, preceded them, and followed them.  One suspects that the proper choice of member of the National Socialist Workers Party was not offered because it really rankles the Progressive Elitist Socialists that the Nazis were a socialist party.

Note also that Halt is spelled Halte.  No, that is not the German word for halt either.  Nor the Danish, since the Kroner is mentioned.  Halte does appear in French.  But it appears simply to be a misspelling of the English halt.

Then there is the carelessness of not actually having provided the correct answer for Occupation.

It seems that education in the government-run schools of Flour Bluff still leaves a lot to be desired!

22 March 2013

Congresswoman Donna Edwards Replies

Periodically, I send my Congressional Representative or my two Senators notes expressing my abhorrence about something or other they are about to do to suppress the rights of the individual.  Usually, the response indicates no appreciation for my note in the form of acknowledging the legitimacy of my points.  But, most of the time, it at least broadly indicates something about what I was addressing.  Sometimes they respond as though I agreed with them, as all right-thinking Progressive Elitists, or Aristocrats, do in Maryland, where the Free State of old has long been a sad, poorly used skeleton.  They simply cannot conceive that a decently written note could come from someone who opposes the Nanny State and their Progressive Aristocracy dedication to the victims of a society that has made almost everyone rich and free by the low standards of most of the world.  Today, I received a particularly aggravating non-response from Congresswoman Donna Edwards.  My reply is given below:

Donna Edwards,

I contacted you last year when I was still in your gerrymandered district.  I am not sure about what and I cannot find a hint about what from your response.  Now I am in the most incredibly gerrymandered district of John Sarbanes.
Of course, neither of you are in the least interested in my one, dominant need for the freedom to exercise my equal, sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, property, the ownership of my own body, mind, and labor, and for the pursuit of my own personal happiness.  You are both enthusiastic supporters of tyrannical, rights-violating, and illegitimate government.  If you think your government is legitimate, re-read the Declaration of Independence.  You might also observe that the reason for a Constitution was for the People to mandate a government of highly limited and precisely enumerated powers which would operate as a legitimate government as defined by the Declaration of Independence.

I am a small business owner and operator who can no longer provide as many jobs as I could before the government-induced recession, from which my business is still suffering.  Thank you for the big government model of special interest controls which has brought about a total stagnation of the real per capita private sector portion of GDP.  It is so clever of you to understate inflation, which acts as a hidden tax on all of us Americans.  It is a neat trick to take any increase in GDP, even government spending on your favored special interests and campaign donors with dummy green energy companies, and attribute that to the health of the economy.  It is especially neat that we are not supposed to be aware of the fact that what matters is the size of the per capita private sector, hence a stagnant economy is one that grows in real value at the same rate as the population is growing.  The number of missing jobs has remained constant over the last 3 years (see  With the booming potential of our fossil fuel supplies and American innovative proficiency, it is a really amazing feat that big government has been able to totally stagnant our economy.  Industry-killing regulations, ever increasing taxes, and many unfunded mandated expenses imposed on the private sector are your stock-in-trade.

Finally, I will always remember that you voted for ObamaCare, really ObamaUncaringTax according to our crazy Supreme Court.  That unread bill is an attempt to steal the very ownership of my body from me.  It expects me to sign over my body by filling in an IRS tax form that acknowledges government ownership of my body.  I am supposed to bow and scrape and prove that I have submitted to the government directive on how I will maintain and support my body.  The draconian 5-year prison sentence you voted for, is supposed to cow me into slavery as a numbered body owned by the government.  Nothing about my individual nature is of interest to the government that aims to take control.  To be sure, you hope to simply steal money from me or that I will submit instead of revealing your tyranny so dramatically as to be hauled off to prison by tyrannical government thugs.  The theft of hard-earned income or the draconian prison sentence are supposed to prevent such public displays of principled stands for liberty.  As the Congress, President, and the Supreme Court have abandoned the Constitution and the concept of equal, inalienable individual rights, so are we the People supposed to abandon them.  I will not do so.
Perhaps that is why you are buying up so many assault weapons, as you call them, and so many rounds of ammunition for domestic government agencies.  American government has undergone quite an amazing transformation toward tyranny.

An American Dedicated to Liberty,

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D.
Lab: (410) 740-8562
Mobile: (301) 830-1886
Home: (301) 384-3253

19 March 2013

An Unsettling Removal of Atmospheric CO2 by Plankton

Adam C. Martiny and a crew of mostly researchers from the University of California - Irvine have just published a study in Nature Geoscience that indicates that phytoplankton in warm ocean waters use up far more of the so-called greenhouse gas CO2 than had been previously thought.  The overall result is that about twice as much CO2 is taken up by plant life in the oceans as had been previously thought.

Many textbooks and practitioners of ocean biogeochemistry have long thought that phytoplankton, their excretions, and dissolved nutrients in the ocean interior maintained a ratio of carbon to nitrogen to phosphorus of 106:16:1.  This is known as the Redfield ratio, which Alfred Redfield established in 1934.

Martiny, et al., showed experimentally that this ratio varies considerably in the oceans, mostly as a function of latitude.  They observed carbon enrichment in the phytoplankton as high as 195:28:1 in warm, nutrient-deprived low-latitude areas with closed-loop circular currents.  In warm, nutrient-rich upwelling areas, the ratio was 137:18:1.  In cold, nutrient-rich high-latitude areas, the ratio was 78:13:1.

Some models had shown the possibility of such variations of the Redfield ratio and some field and laboratory measurements had shown differences with the Redfield ratio.  But, this large sample study should put that persistent ratio into retirement.  The settled science has another unsettling reality check!

I am of the opinion that while the first little bit of CO2 may contribute to warming, additional CO2 with common water vapor concentrations, does not cause significant Earth surface temperature change.  Insofar as it does, it is likely to act as a coolant to the surface, even as it raises the temperature of air at altitudes above the main water vapor concentration top.  This is because the much ignored absorption of solar insolation by added CO2 is greater than is appreciated and this cools the surface.

The IPCC claim of catastrophic CO2-induced warming depended upon an assumption that increased CO2 had caused all of the warming since the end of the Little Ice Age (or the dawn of the Industrial Age) and a posited positive feedback by increased water vapor due to the warming said to be caused by increased CO2.  The assumption that CO2 had caused all the warming since the Little Ice Age was extremely questionable and therefor a likely exaggeration.  The positive feedback due to increased water vapor due to warming is looking more and more to be a mild negative feedback, making the Earth's climate a lot less unstable.

Increasing the partial pressure of CO2 over the oceans will cause them to absorb more CO2, which is another negative feedback mechanism.  Now we find out that increased CO2 is used up by ocean phytoplankton in greater quantities than previously thought and that the warmer the ocean the more CO2 is used up.  This again is a negative feedback mechanism.

The Earth and its ecosystems do not seem to want to cooperate with the catastrophic predictions of the settled science of the Earth's climate based on man-made global warming.  It appears they have a proclivity toward much more stability.  Although we must note that this means that a more stable climate creates a most unstable status for the settled science!

18 March 2013

Do All Atmospheric Gases Absorb and Emit Electromagnetic Radiation?

Yes, all atmospheric gases absorb and emit electromagnetic radiation.  It is often said that only the so-called greenhouse gases emit and absorb radiation.  That is usually in the context of a discussion in which the relevant radiation is infrared radiation.  Sometimes, that discussion ought to acknowledge the oxygen molecules, composing nearly 21% of the atmosphere, absorb and emit radiation in the very near infrared and visible portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.  In other contexts, it is important that both oxygen and nitrogen molecules absorb ultraviolet light.  These absorptions affect the radiation incident from the sun, but not that emitted by the Earth.

I was asked if every gas molecule or atom emits energy when it is at a non-zero temperature.  The answer is yes.  No gas molecule or atom has an emissivity of zero.  Let me simply explain why.

A single charged particle undergoing acceleration or deceleration will emit electromagnetic energy.  Any oscillating dipole will emit electromagnetic energy.  A dipole consists of a positive and a negative charge with offset centers of their charge distribution.  It is rather like a dumbbell with one side positive and the other side negative.  The oscillation is a change of distance between the two opposite charges.  A force is required to cause the two charges to leave their equilibrium position.

Let us consider any atom.  The nucleus has a positive charge and the electron cloud about it is negative.  As long as the electron cloud has a symmetric distribution, there is no dipole.  Now you can accelerate the entire atom and the radiation emitted is very low because the symmetric nuclear positive charge and the surrounding positive electronic charge electromagnetic emissions cancel out at a distance on the order of the diameter of the atom.  If the atom is ionized, so that an electron is missing, then the mere acceleration of the atom will result in electromagnetic emission at a distance.

More commonly, an atom will emit radiation because the electronic cloud centroid is oscillating about the nucleus.  When the atom is not at absolute zero temperature, there will be such an oscillation.  However, it takes a lot of force to pull the electronic cloud away from or push it toward the nucleus because the coulombic and nuclear repulsion forces are very strong.  The oscillation at room temperature is therefor very small and the energy radiated is very low.  This energy is in the microwave range for a single atom, such as an argon atom in our atmosphere.  Nonetheless, the energy is great enough that atoms far away in the universe emit microwave radiation from areas of space at a temperature of only 3K and that has been detected.

It is easier at a modest temperature to stretch a bond between two atoms such as in N2 or O2.  The creation of the bond between these two atoms creates a distortion of the symmetry of the electron cloud of each atom around its nucleus.  The equilibrium length of the bond between them is the condition in which the center of the positive charge in the two nuclei corresponds to the center of the electron cloud distribution, but at non-zero temperature this bond length oscillates and the stretching and compression of the bond causes the electron cloud to have to accelerate and decelerate to try to keep its centroid in the same position as that of the positive charge in the two nuclei. This makes for a weakly oscillating dipole moment and radiation is emitted.  The radiation is very long wavelength microwave radiation.  Such very long wavelength microwave radiation can also be absorbed by these molecules as well.  This is why the atmosphere is fairly opaque to low energy or large wavelength portions of the microwave spectrum.  See the spectrum below:

The 6 cm to 20 cm microwave or radio wave radiation is not absorbed by the atmosphere, but at longer microwave wavelengths the absorption is very strong.  This is also the part of the electromagnetic spectrum in which N2 and O2 are radiating for the most part.  But very long wavelength is also very low energy radiation.  When N2 and O2 molecules collide with other molecules, there will be minor oscillations set off between the centers of the positive and negative charges and microwave radiation will result.  They collide because they have kinetic energy, which means they have a temperature.  N2 and O2 also absorb ultraviolet radiation from the solar insolation spectrum.

More complex molecules with 3 or more atoms have additional degrees of freedom of motion.  Not only can their molecule bonds be stretched, but the angles between them can be changed.  This allows them to absorb and radiate energy at a higher energy than in the microwave range.  H2O, CO2, and CH4 are examples of molecules that have a number of absorption and emission lines in the infrared radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Much of the solar insolation radiation is in the infrared range, especially the high energy end of the infrared range.  This is often called the near infrared range.  The radiation from the Earth is in the mid and lower energy portion of the infrared range of electromagnetic radiation.  These parts of the infrared radiation range are called the mid and far infrared, respectively.  This is why these larger molecule gases are properly called infrared-active gases.

They are also commonly called greenhouse gases, though that term has no scientific basis.  Water vapor does change the distribution of heat at the Earth's surface and in the troposphere, but their is no well-founded analogy with the mechanisms by which it does so with a greenhouse.  The same is true of CO2 as well.

10 March 2013

Obama Jobs Recovery in 99 Years

Despite all of the whooping and hollering about the BLS February Unemployment Report and the claims of job recovery, there is no evidence of a meaningful jobs recovery.  None.  Absolutely none, unless your time horizon is 99 years and you have an unjustified belief that Obama will not continue to purposefully damage the economy.  The real unemployment rate is 13.92% in February, which is only down by 0.10% since February of 2012 and 0.41% since February of 2011.  To return to the unemployment of January 2000, before the government started extracting more and more out of the private sector on a wild spending spree, will take 99 years at the rate of improvement of the last year and 48 years at the rate of improvement of the last two years.  Note that the rate of improvement is actually slowing down.  The molasses once flowing at a typical late December rate is now flowing at a late January rate.

Because of the huge numbers of people who have left the labor force since January 2000 and especially since this recession began, the usual unemployment rate is quite meaningless.  It is presently 8.08%, though it is the seasonally adjusted rate which is usually given.  The BLS tells us that is 7.7% now.  The Wall St. Journal gives that nonsense the headline treatment.  But in January 2000, 64.49% of the working age non-institutionalized population over 16 was employed.  In January 2013, only 57.88% were employed.  Jobs have been created over the last four years despite Obama messing the economy up, but the population has also grown.  As a result, the number of missing jobs needed to return employment to 64.47% of the working age population for any month of the last year when compared to that same month one, two, three, or four years earlier is unchanged.  The missing job plot is shown below:

Comparing February 2013 with February 2010 or February 2012, we see that the number of missing jobs is very slightly higher.  It is very slightly lower compared to February 2011.  But overall, it is remarkably constant.  About the only month that is exceptional is October 2012, which is slightly better than any of the prior three October missing jobs numbers.  This might be due to an intentional effort on the part of the government to improve the job situation immediately before the 2012 election in November.

The complete job situation is spelled out in the table below:

It is interesting to examine the BLS chart on the number of non-farm employed persons.

Despite the passage of 5 years since the employment peak before the recession, we are not even close to having as many people employed now as then.  What is worse, the working age population has grown by about 11.2 million people since the peak in employment.  Many more people would be employed now than were in December 2007 were it not for a terrible combination of governmental incompetence and a willful determination to harm businesses.  Government has to work very hard to create a situation as effective in thwarting the desire and the ability of American businessmen to grow their businesses and the economy.  The federal government alone is extracting 25% of the GDP for its spending, which is up from an excessive 20% under Bush and Clinton.  In addition, Obama has laid many new operating expenses upon businesses with mandates, new expensive regulations, higher taxes, and ObamaCare.  These and his constant anti-business, collectivist rhetoric have made it unreasonable for many businesses to invest in added production and in hiring new employees.

It is very obvious that Obama and his backers do not care about the welfare of the American people.  When many cannot find decent jobs, they become more vulnerable to long-term unemployment, to under-employment, to addictions and health problems, and to lacking the means to retire in their old age.  The con artist is effective in pretending to care about some Americans, but you have to look at the result of his actions.  It is important not to allow him to misdirect our attention with his magic tricks.

There is at least one good piece of employment news as a result of the Obama Depression.  The number of government workers across the country has been falling.  That is fewer people creating bollixing laws and regulations and demanding very high salaries, rich working benefits, and unbelievable retirement benefits.  The two sharp upward spikes are due to the hiring of census workers for the 2000 and 2010 censuses.

In looking this data up, I came across myriad articles construing this data as that for only federal employees.  Therefore there were many claims that Obama was decreasing the size of the federal government or of public employment.  These included an article in Forbes magazine, a claim by Paul Krugman, and one by Media Matters.  Unbelievably, they either thought that there were 22 million federal employees or they were trying to give Obama credit for restraining the growth of local and state government employment in a most deceptive way.  I shudder to think how much damage 22 million federal employees would do.

The federal government actually takes years to release the information on the number of its employees.  It does not want us to know.  But I did find that in 2011, the total number of federal employees, including the armed forces, was 4.403 million, of whom about 2.76 million were civilian employees.  It is perfectly clear that the above charted data from the BLS surveys is for all government employees, most of whom are either local or state government employees.  The reduction in government workers seen here is due to the reduction of local and state employees as their tax revenues fell off.  Unlike the federal government, they cannot simply print money to pay their employees.

07 March 2013

Betrayal: Republican House Votes to Fund ObamaCare Again

Once again the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has betrayed our individual right to own our own bodies.  They have again sold our bodies to the government for momentary power for themselves.  On a vote of 267 - 151, a continuing resolution to fund the government for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year was passed.

Only 14 Republicans voted against this monstrously tyrannical act.  Many, many representatives who had pledged they would defund ObamaCare voted in favor of funding ObamaCare.  What is more, the 2010 Pledge to America to post bills up for a vote online for 72 hours was violated.  The efforts of 14 Republicans to defund or to at least keep funding from infringing upon religious freedoms was beaten down by the Republican Establishment.

This Establishment has been re-asserting itself so it can maintain control of the party in the face of efforts of the Tea Party and libertarians to make the Republican Party a true party of limited government and a defender of individual rights.  This heinous act of betrayal by the great mass of the Republican Party representation in Congress must not be forgotten or forgiven.  These unprincipled men must be replaced.

The only principled Republican Representatives were:

Justin Amash (Mich.)
Jim Bridenstine (Okla.)
Paul Broun, M.D. (Ga.)
Ron DeSantis (Fla.)
Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (Tenn.)
John J. Duncan Jr. (Tenn.)
Phil Gingrey, M.D. (Ga.)
Louie Gohmert (Tex.)
Jack Kingston (Ga.)
Tom McClintock (Calif.)
Thomas Massie (Ky.)
Bill Posey (Fla.)
Matt Salmon (Ariz.)
Steve Stockman (Tex.)

These men are heroes.

The rest of the Republicans are villains.  It was in their power to prevent the funding of ObamaUncaringTax during this critical period of its implementation.  Instead, they calculated that it was politically expedient to lay their hands upon our throats and strangle the last vestige of self-ownership until it is dead.

If we do not own our very bodies, are we not slaves?  Yes.

Is the power held by any slave-master ever legitimate?  No.

Failed Federal Education Ideas

I just read Edward Hudgins article Obama offers more of the same failed education ideas.  It is an easy read and a good review of the futility of federal spending on education going back to George H. W. Bush.  He points out that despite all of the federal spending on education, there is only evidence that student knowledge has not increased.

The level of student knowledge and thinking skills was poor when local and state governments were the only governments controlling the K-12 schools and there has been no change with federal controls and spending.  Government spending on education is generally popular because almost everyone agrees that education of children is very important.

But eating is also very important and most of us agree that it would be nuts to have government-controlled farms, food processing plants, food distribution, and kitchens.  It would be even more appalling if we were all required to take our meals at the government-operated and controlled kitchens, because eating is so important.  In fact, because eating is so important, we would be very unlikely to entrust it to the government.  So why do we entrust the education of our children to governments?

Americans are said to be pragmatic more than principled.  A real pragmatist is actually the most principled of people, but it takes a great deal of high level thinking to understand that, so most people see no inconsistency in the idea of being an unprincipled pragmatist.  Many would claim that there is an optimal degree of commitment to principle that each pragmatist seeks within the context of his society.  But with respect to the education of children, it appears clear that Americans are not even in that respect principled or pragmatic.

They have been conned.  The con is not very sophisticated.  The failures of government-controlled education are really, really obvious.  The damage to American children is horrific.  The lingering damage into their adulthood is all too clear.  The resulting retardation of our economy is also very obvious.  Strangely, the very fact that everyone recognizes these facts is actually used by every President to justify spending still more unproductive money on education.  The same is true at the state and local levels of government.  Hope springs eternal that more money spent on government-controlled education will improve its quality.  It will not.

What is more, government controlled education has a critical conflict of interest.  Throughout history, most men have been the servants of their rulers.  The Norse god Loki recognized this and claimed that freedom for man was an illusion.  America has historically managed to be the home of an unusually free people.  We proclaimed famously that the only legitimate purpose of government was to protect the rights of the individual and we rebelled against the most powerful military nation in the world at the time in the name of that principle.  Now we pretty much forced to send our children to government-run schools that claim that principle to be false.  If we do pay for both the public schools and a private school for our children, the curriculum is still substantially controlled by governments.

What else would one expect of government but that it would revert to the historical tyrannical ruler known so well to Loki?  We are not even ruled by a government equivalent to the government we rebelled against in 1776.  Ours is a more tyrannical government despite being a democracy.  That government is actually very happy if most of the people are dumbed-down servants willing to be ruled by the political class of Progressive Aristocrats, most of whom have never escaped government indoctrination themselves.

As I have many times, Hudgins calls for more school choice and for private education.  Only private education will ever be capable of providing the knowledge and critical thinking skills needed by a people to be free and to stay free.  With greater knowledge and better thinking skills, we will flourish as self-managing individuals and the standard of living will rise rapidly in our society.  The stagnation of the Big Government era in freedom, knowledge, and our standard of living will be ended.  The rule of a tyrant such as Obama would no longer be tolerated.