An Ignored Study

Today, I saw a article on a report of research into the “Fix the Debt” campaign with the ponderous title A Pension Deficit Disorder: The Massive CEO Retirement Funds and Underfunded Worker Pensions at Firms Pushing Social Security Cuts. It had some interesting (but, unfortunately, by no means surprising) findings:

  1. The 71 Fix the Debt CEOs who lead publicly held companies have amassed an average of $9 million in their company retirement funds. A dozen have more than $20 million in their accounts. If each of them converted their assets to an annuity when they turned 65, they would receive a monthly check for at least $110,000 for life.
  2. The Fix the Debt CEO with the largest pension fund is Honeywell’s David Cote, a long-time advocate of Social Security cuts. His $78 million nest egg is enough to provide a $428,000 check every month after he turns 65.
  3. Forty-one of the 71 companies offer employee pension funds. Of these, only two have sufficient assets in their funds to meet expected obligations. The rest have combined deficits of $103 billion, or about $2.5 billion on average. General Electric has the largest deficit in its worker pension fund, with $22 billion.

Those are some interesting key findings. Of course, this sort of commie “research,” based only on “facts” is not worth printing. Instead, let us focus on shallow analysis by constantly wrong ignorant talking heads and the dysfunctional relationships of inexplicably well-known idiots…

The Bain Capital Management Model

I wanted to wait until after the election to say what a truly vile organization Bain Capital is. I broke down their model into its basic steps:

  1. Borrow a large amount of money using a small amount of money as collateral
  2. Use that money to buy a 51% stake in a farm
  3. Use your controlling stake to approve paying yourself exorbitant “consulting fees” in the form of all the seed corn
  4. Have the farm expand hiring and spending as if it were undergoing unprecedented growth
  5. Wait for market price to rise
  6. Sell stake in farm for huge profit
  7. Farm fails for lack of seed corn
  8. Blame post-sale management
  9. Profit!

If you are now or ever have been an executive in Bain Capital, you are a truly bad person.

How Confederates Think

Today, Erik Loomis had an article up on John C. Calhoun’s argument against the complete annexation of Mexico. In it, he quoted some notable lines from Calhoun’s 1848 speech to Congress:

I know further, sir, that we have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race. The greatest misfortunes of Spanish America are to be traced to the fatal error of placing these colored races on an equality with the white race. That error destroyed the social arrangement which formed the basis of society.

Thumbing through last week’s issue of The Economist, I saw “The 51st State? on the recent pro-statehood vote of Puerto Rico.” Of note:

The vote will not have immediate consequences. Congress would have to pass a law admitting Puerto Rico for it to become a state. With a fiscal squeeze looming at the start of 2013 lawmakers will have their hands full in the coming months.

Moreover, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has little incentive to address the topic. According to exit polls, 83% of boricuas on the mainland voted for Barack Obama. Statehood would add two Senate seats and a House delegation of five, the same size as Oregon’s and probably as reliably Democratic.

Well, yes, I suppose we could see Republican distaste for Puerto Rican statehood as a tactical concern. Then, of course, there is this:

This is the reception incurred by Republican National Convention delegate Zoraida Fonalledas of Puerto Rico, on being called to the lectern:

I believe this sentiment goes further in explaining the overwhelmingly likely inaction…

Update:I should have mentioned that John C. Calhoun was the founder of South Carolina’s Nullification Party and “an inspiration to the secessionists of 1860–61.” (Wikipedia) He was also found on the Confederate $100 bill:

An inspiration to all slaveholders (wikipedia)

Catalonia

I noticed a little something in an AP piece titled Independence drive falters for Spain’s Catalonia:

Catalonia is responsible for around a fifth of Spain’s economic output and many residents complain that the central government in Madrid takes in more tax money from the region than it gives back. But now Catalonia is the most indebted region in Spain and has had to seek a €5.4 billion bailout from Madrid.

So by this logic, California should be teeming with separatists.

The fact is that separatists are usually in the thrall of power-seekers wanting to take advantage of nationalistic or cultural issues (e.g. the Nazis exploited Slovak separatists to weaken Czechoslovakia prior to invasion or the Southern aristocracy exploited racism of Southern peasants in order to garner support for a rebellion).

One thing is certain. When a country is broken up, the power of each part is disproportionately reduced. The combined influence of the Czech Republic and Slovakia is less than that of pre-split Czechoslovakia. As well, a rebellious province introduces something else that is often overlooked: a border shared with an enemy state. Suppose the Confederacy had prevailed in the American Civil War. The most important facet of the CSA was its so-called “peculiar institution.” In continuing the Monroe Doctrine, would not the two North American powers find themselves on opposite sides of colonialism? Wouldn’t the CSA be compelled to prop up dictators lest their own “lesser race” get too uppity?

I would posit that the most likely outcomes of a CSA victory would be either a permanent state of antagonism (taking opposite sides in wars such as WWII), or the South would fall into a collection of warring states with the inherent lawlessness spilling into USA territory. The latter seems more likely, given that the precedent would have been made that any union may be dissolved on a whim of any state. The logical consequence of this would be smaller and smaller political entities could seek an “independence,” such that the fractal nation would quickly collapse into anarchy.

Idiot Self-Identification

There are a lot of phrases, clauses, and sentences I regularly hear that tell me more than I wanted to know about the speaker. When I hear the statement “Failure is not an option,” I assume the speaker means “I am an idiot.” To date, I have not been disappointed.

As far as I’m concerned, that statement is an acceptance that any accident of chance will render the speaker’s plans unusable. That is to say, the speaker is not only admitting that he has no backup plan, but he is also admitting that the depth of his analysis thus far has been so limited as to consider only the case that everything worked precisely as expected from beginning to end. More bluntly, this means that a minor change effects complete disaster. I’m not sure that is tactically smart.