6.21.2018

The Age of Abundance








Economic Growth from Octavian to Modern Times

Excerpt:

According to the researchers at GGDC, real or inflation adjusted income per person around the time of Octavian (63 BC – AD 14) varied from $1,546 in Italy to $973 in Spain. That amounts to between $4.2 and $2.7 per person per day. It is a testament to the unevenness of economic development that, over two millennia later, some countries are still stuck at those (and even lower) levels. In 2016, GDP per person in Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Malawi and Niger was $692, $619, $836, $764, $950 and $906 respectively.

Those African countries are outliers, of course. In most of the world, GDP per capita has risen dramatically, especially over the last two centuries. To get a sense of how recent and unprecedented the Age of Abundance is, consider France. In AD 1, GDP per person in the Roman province of Gaul was $1,050 – and that’s where it remained for the next 13 (yes, thirteen) centuries. During the first half of the 14th century, however, French incomes rose by some 50 percent, reaching a high of $1,553 in 1355. Why?

The end of the Medieval Warm Period in the late 13th century led to cooler weather and higher rainfall. Harvests shrunk and famines proliferated (e.g., 1304, 1305, 1310, 1315–1317, 1330–34 and 1349–51). To make matters much worse, the Black Plague (1347-1351) wiped out between 75 and 80 percent of those French who survived the climate change. Curiously, the two catastrophes had a salutary effect on both the economic and institutional developments in Western Europe. Abundance of land and agricultural tools seemed to have increased productivity of the surviving peasants, while labor shortages encouraged the lower classes to demand better treatment from their feudal overlords. As a consequence, serfdom gradually disappeared from the region, although it continued to persist in Eastern Europe, where the Black Plague was, due to lower population density, much less deadly.

As the population of Western Europe recovered, incomes waxed and waned, neither falling to their pre-plague levels, nor rising above their mid-14th century maximum. Thus, as late as 1831, the average GDP per person in France was only $1,534. Put differently, in the 18 centuries that separated the reigns of the first Roman Emperor and the last French king (Louis Phillipe), incomes rose by a paltry 50 percent. The Industrial Revolution, a British import, changed French fortunes considerably. Between 1831 and 1881, incomes rose by 100 percent ($3,067). As such, France made twice as much economic progress in 50 years as it did in the previous 1,800 years. In 2016, French GDP per capita stood at $38,758, meaning that a modern Frenchman is roughly-speaking 24 times better off (in real terms) than his ancestor 200 years ago. Remarkable.
Comment: Helpful reminders below:




6.19.2018

My SCANA - Dominion Energy play



Georgia Commission Approves Dominion-SCANA Merger

Excerpt:

The Georgia Public Service Commission has unanimously approved the merger of Dominion Energy, Inc. and SCANA Corp. In doing so, the Georgia PSC became the first state regulatory agency to act on the proposed combination.

"We greatly appreciate the prompt action by Chairman McDonald and the other commissioners in moving forward with our proposal," said Thomas F. Farrell, II, Dominion Energy chairman, president and chief executive officer. "This is an important step in bringing a brighter energy future to customers, communities and others served by the SCANA companies. We look forward to receiving the additional required regulatory approvals and completing our transaction by the end of this year."

The Federal Trade Commission previously granted early termination of the 30-day waiting period under the federal Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. The merger is also contingent upon approval of SCANA's shareholders; review and approval from the public service commissions of South Carolina and North Carolina; and authorization of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Under a merger agreement announced in January, the combined company would deliver energy to approximately 6.5 million regulated customer accounts and have an electric generating portfolio of about 31,400 MW and 93,600 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines. It also would have a natural gas pipeline network totaling 106,400 miles and operate one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with 1 trillion cubic feet of capacity
Comment: The merger deal
At the effective time of the Merger (the “Effective Time”), each share of common stock, without par value, of SCANA (each, a “SCANA Share”) issued and outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Time (other than SCANA Shares owned by Dominion Energy, Merger Sub or any wholly-owned subsidiary of Dominion Energy and SCANA Shares owned by SCANA or any wholly-owned subsidiary of SCANA) shall automatically be converted into the right to receive 0.6690 validly issued, fully paid and non-assessable shares of common stock, without par value, of Dominion Energy (each, a “Dominion Energy Share”)

Today bought shares of SCG @ $ 37.46 that will be receive .669 shares of D (trading today at $ 66.23. Hopefully will make $ 5 bucks a share b/c the deal values the SCG at $ 44.31. Should close the last day of July or 1st week of August

6.13.2018

Chick-Fi-A: the politically incorrect sandwich




Jack Dorsey Chickens Out - The Twitter CEO regrets eating a politically incorrect sandwich

WSJ:

We live in intolerant times, and if you don’t believe it, consider that the CEO of Twitter this weekend was assailed, and then apologized, for eating at one of America’s most popular fast-food restaurant chains.

Jack Dorsey probably didn’t think twice when he tweeted Saturday that he had used his new Cash app to pay for a meal at Chick-fil-A. Perhaps he thought a chicken sandwich is merely a meal, but now he knows it’s also a political statement.



Chick-fil-A is run by CEO Dan Cathy, who has offended America’s progressive political guardians by publicly supporting the traditional religious definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Mr. Cathy, a Christian, was expressing his personal beliefs. His restaurants serve everyone, except on Sunday when they’re closed. But it is nonetheless now a sin against political orthodoxy to eat at Chick-fil-A, and Mr. Dorsey was immediately roasted on a Twitter spit for saying he had done so. Soledad O’Brien, the cable TV personality, tweeted that “This is an interesting company to boost during [LGBT] Pride month, @jack.” Others were nastier.

Mr. Dorsey replied to Ms. O’Brien on Twitter that, “You’re right. Completely forgot about their background.”

By the way, Mr. Dorsey says on his Twitter feed that his social-media platform is committed “to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation.”
Comment: FACT CHECK: Embiggen:



6.11.2018

Nomorobo - Stop Spam Calls

Nomorobo

I understand this is the definitive app to stop Spam calls

Related articles:

6.10.2018

Marnie - an amazing woman



Marguerite Ella 'Marnie' (Jencks) Hoeger

Excerpt:

Hoeger, Marguerite "Marnie" Ella (Jencks) formerly of Medicine Lake, died peacefully in New Brighton, MN on June 3, 2018 at the age of 106. Preceded in death by husbands, John Nelson and Frank Hoeger; son, Robert E. Nelson; parents, Louis LeRoy Jencks and Bertha May Gass; siblings, Ardith Anderson, Burdette "Bud" Jencks, and Everyl Nelson Hulet. Survived by daughter-in-law, Betty Nelson; granddaughters, Charleen (Darrel) Antilla and Yvonne (Bruce) Zimmerman; 4 great-grandchildren; 10 great-great grandchildren, and many other cherished relatives and friends. She was a dedicated individual who loved Jesus with all her heart. She was passionate about living each day God gave her with a positive attitude. She was a friend to everyone she met.
Comment: Lovely. Always hugged me at church. Now with Christ, our Hope!

Yes Canada has restrictive Tariffs







Canada - Import Tariffs: Includes information on average tariff rates and types that U.S. firms should be aware of when exporting to the market.

Excerpt:

Technical Barriers to Trade

Restrictions on U.S. Seeds Exports

Canada’s Seeds Act generally prohibits the sale or advertising for sale in Canada or import into Canada of seeds of a variety that is not registered in the prescribed manner. The purpose of variety registration is to provide government oversight to ensure that seeds meet health and safety requirements and that information related to the identity of the variety is available to regulators to prevent fraud. There are concerns that the variety registration system is slow and cumbersome.

Import Policies

Agricultural Supply Management

Canada uses supply-management systems to regulate its dairy, chicken, turkey, and egg industries. The regime involves production quotas, producer marketing boards to regulate price and supply, and tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for imports. Canada’s supply-management regime severely limits the ability of U.S. producers to increase exports to Canada above TRQ levels. Under the current system, U.S. imports above quota levels are subject to high tariffs (e.g., 245 percent for cheese, 298 percent for butter).

The United States remains concerned about potential Canadian actions that would limit U.S. exports to the Canadian dairy market. For example, the United States monitors closely any tariff reclassifications of dairy products to for possible negative effects on U.S. market access. 

Special Milk Classes

Canada provides milk components at discounted prices to domestic processors under the Special Milk Class Permit Program (SMCPP). These prices are “discounted” in the sense that they are lower than Canadian support prices and reflect U.S. or world prices. The SMCPP is designed to help Canadian processed products compete against imports and in foreign markets.

Geographical Indications

Canada and the European Union (EU) announced on August 5, 2014, that they had concluded the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The agreement contains Canadian commitments regarding geographical indications (GIs) that raise serious concerns about whether implementation will reduce access for current and future U.S. agricultural and foodstuff producers that trade with Canada. The U.S. government engages with Canada on this issue to advance transparency and due process in Canada’s geographical indications system.

Restrictions on U.S. Grain Exports

Several grain sector policies limit the ability of U.S. wheat and barley exporters to receive a premium grade (a grade that indicates use for milling purposes as opposed to grain for feed use) in Canada, including the provisions of the Canada Grain Act and Seeds Act.

Under the Canada Grain Act, the inspection certificate for grain grown outside Canada, including U.S. grain, can only state the country of origin for that grain and not issue a grade. The Canada Grain Act directs the Canadian Grain Commission to “establish grades and grade names for any kind of western grain and eastern grain and establish the specifications for those grades” by regulation. The explicit division between “eastern grain” and “western grain” in the Canada Grain Act as “grain grown in the [Eastern or Western] Division,” defined geographically within Canada, further underscores that grading is only available to Canadian grains. Under the Canada Grain Act, only grain of varieties registered under Canada’s Seeds Act may receive a grade higher than the lowest grade allowable in each class. 

U.S. wheat and barley can be sold without a grade directly to interested Canadian purchasers at prices based on contract specifications. Canadian grain elevators offer economic efficiencies by collecting and storing grain from many small-volume growers, giving them the ability to fulfill larger contracts and to demand higher prices. xxx The barriers to assigning U.S. grain a premium grade encourage both a price discounting of high-quality U.S. grain appropriate for milling use and de facto segregation at the Canadian elevator.
Comment: Much more could be said about this but frankly our G7 friends are hypocrites on "free trade". It's a one way street in many cases. See WSJ G-7 Members Condemn U.S. Trade Actions - Ministers of developed nations express ‘unanimous concern and disappointment’ with U.S. tariffs

6.08.2018

Charles Krauthammer - “This is the final verdict. My fight is over”



Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist Charles Krauthammer Says He Has Weeks to Live - The conservative writer and commentator said he is battling an aggressive form of cancer

Excerpt:

Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist whose incisive critiques made him an influential voice in Washington for decades, said Friday he is battling an aggressive form of cancer and his doctors have told him he has weeks to live. “This is the final verdict. My fight is over,” the 68-year-old wrote in a farewell note to his readers.” He added, “I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.”
Comment: Prayers! Source of atheism quote.

His message:
have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months. I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me.

In August of last year, I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my abdomen. That operation was thought to have been a success, but it caused a cascade of secondary complications — which I have been fighting in hospital ever since. It was a long and hard fight with many setbacks, but I was steadily, if slowly, overcoming each obstacle along the way and gradually making my way back to health.

However, recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned. There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over.

I wish to thank my doctors and caregivers, whose efforts have been magnificent. My dear friends, who have given me a lifetime of memories and whose support has sustained me through these difficult months. And all of my partners at The Washington Post, Fox News, and Crown Publishing.

Lastly, I thank my colleagues, my readers, and my viewers, who have made my career possible and given consequence to my life’s work. I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking. I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.

I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.

Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and Anyman - the Contagion of Hopelessness



In the wake of Kate Spade's death, looking at suicide differently

Excerpt:

The list of warning factors for suicide reads, in part, like a catalog of everyday modern ills: lagging self-esteem, depression, loss of relationships or economic security, insomnia. “When you look at those lists,” says Eric Beeson, core faculty member at Northwestern University’s Counseling@Northwestern, “it almost seems like who’s not a candidate for suicide?”

Suicide risk is not as simple as a list of risk factors. “We talk about suicide as this one thing,” says Beeson, “but suicide is really this spectrum of behaviors. You always ask, ‘Are they suicidal?’ and for me that’s really a limiting question.” In assessing whether people might kill themselves, Beeson looks at “key variables that seem to be more related to death.” Those are:
  • Perceived burdensomeness, “this idea that my death is more valuable than my life.”
  • Thwarted belongingness, “meaning I try to make meaningful connections, and they just don’t work out.”
  • Hopelessness, “OK, I have this, and it’s never going to get better.”
  • Acquired capability, the ability to set aside normal psychological and physical constraints and perform an act that may be painful or horrifying.
With the first two factors, Beeson says, people begin to have ideas about suicide. Adding hopelessness can bring on planning of a suicide. But the final factor is the hardest to discern.

Clinicians like Beeson look for clues that the person might have become more inured to pain, shame or guilt. Past histories of abuse, substance abuse disorders, assaults or even professions such as medicine that make contact with death part of the everyday can constitute a slow wearing away of the mental and physical barriers to self-harm. “People work along that continuum until they start to overcome the pain, the shame and the guilt,” he says, “and then the value of suicide starts to outweigh the pain, shame and guilt.”

Suicide is not typically an impulsive act. “People talk about it being selfish; people talk about it being irrational,” says Beeson, “but actually I think a lot of suicides are very well-thought out, very well-contemplated. And generally not impulsive. Generally, this is a long process for an individual that started with a faint idea that gradually took hold as those risk factors mounted and as the capability came into their purview.” Leaving behind a note, as Kate Spade reportedly did, can be interpreted as evidence of the contemplation suicide often entails — it may be an attempt to remove the last psychological barriers to death.

“Some people might say that it’s a last way to cope with some of the guilt,” says Beeson. “The guilt can be a protective factor in a certain way, so some people might say that’s a way to reduce that. There’s something about this that the person is still not OK with, so they are trying to address that.”

The philosophical debate on suicide is more present than ever. In ancient societies, suicide was sometimes interpreted as an available and even noble choice. Today, in countries like Switzerland, where there are euthanasia clinics, assisted suicide is accepted. And five U.S. states and the District of Columbia have “Death With Dignity” laws that allow assisted suicide in cases of terminal illness. 

“That gets us into the discussion of whether it is ever OK and under what circumstances,” Beeson says. “Some people would argue that if I have a chronic mental health condition that interferes with my quality of life, is that any different than a fatal medical condition? And that’s a really really hard discussion to have.”
The grim impact of celebrity suicides



Excerpt:

According to several studies, publicity surrounding a suicide has been repeatedly linked to a subsequent increase in the act, particularly among young people.

After Marilyn Monroe died in August 1962, the cause listed as probable suicide, the nation mourned — publicly. In the month that followed there was sweeping news coverage, public memorials and a 12% increase in suicides. That month saw an additional 303 suicides in comparison to the year prior, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 

When Robin Williams died in 2014, the world reacted similarly. The comedian’s image was everywhere, details of his untimely passing spawned countless news articles and think pieces. His death is also similarly associated with a 10% increase in suicide across the United States in the five months after his passing, according to a study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, in February. 

The phenomenon is often referred to as “suicide contagion,” defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as an increase in suicides due to “the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide.” 

And the overwhelming influence of a celebrity or high-profile suicide is far from a new discovery. Following the 1774 publication of Wolfgang Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther” — a book in which a young man ends his life after a failed love affair — Europe also saw a spike in suicides, particularly in men the same age as the protagonist.

The outbreak prompted the novel to be banned in several European locations.
Comments:

I have some (albeit limited) experience on the subject of suicide. A very close friend's father committed suicide in the early hours of July 5th 1967.

I've had friends and acquaintances commit suicide and I've counseled a handful of suicidal persons. I don't credit it to my counseling skills, but none of my counselees followed through with their intents. 

I've also counseled a man who attempted suicide. He had shot himself all the way through his his head - temple to temple! He used to small of a calibre weapon to accomplish his objective, but the act left him blind in one eye, mostly blind in the other and mostly paralyzed.

I have a relative who attempted suicide with a rifle and left a hole in his home's roof.

Just this year a prominent and respected church member committed suicide.



Somewhat related, I was a kid when Superman committed suicide. I remember being told about it and how it left a mark on me.

Someone recently asked me if suicide is mentioned in the Bible. The answer is that there are Bible character who indeed kill themselves: Most obviously would be Judas, Saul,  and Samson. Here's a list of seven suicides in the Bible.

I have a family member who has told me that if he ever gets cancer he's going to commit suicide.

I've also counseled people whose parents committed suicide. Needless to say, that suicide is terribly hurtful to one's children and loved ones. A study has shown that children of parents who committed suicide are at a significantly increased risk for committing suicide themselves. The younger the child at the time of the parent's suicide, the greater the risk of his or her own suicide.

I've been asked - "have you ever considered suicide?" There was one time, briefly, when if I could have killed myself I think perhaps I might have. When I was in intensive care after I broke my neck - when I woke up and knew my condition, I prayed to die! I had a $ 100,000 life insurance policy and I deemed that my wife would be better were I dead. I think that if there were a red button that would have ended my life, I would have pushed it. 


Have I been discouraged in life? Yup! Many times. My ministry career didn't turn out the way I had hoped and frankly the last year of my career was less than fun!

Does the Bible speak directly to the ethics of suicide? Yes indeed. "Suicide" defined is "to kill oneself":

The "-cide" suffix pertains to "killing"




God is the granter and the One with authority to end life:




So to be clear - it is morally wrong to take one's life!

Hopelessness is a dangerous Suicide warning sign and the answer to hopelessness is Christ!


John 3 is the key chapter on being born again and John 3:16 is the key verse:






I have a line break above to separate the image below from the very importable Biblical teachings in this blog post. For those with immediate thoughts of suicide - please, I beg you, do not hurt yourself - reach out to someone today. This hotline is always available:










I've heard this view (below) that is is wrong to say that someone "committed suicide". I strongly disagree! It's a choice they made!


Blame it on Uber?

Son sues Dad he loves - why?



Minnesota Supreme Court rules that son can sue dad over deer hunting accident

Excerpt:

Man falls out of deer stand. Breaks both legs. Sues his father in a case that goes all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

And now they may wind up trying the case all over again. xxx In a ruling that clarified the state’s law on public access for hunting, the Supreme Court this week held that Corey Ouradnik can sue his father, Robert Ouradnik, for more than $150,000 in medical bills incurred after he fell 16 feet from a deer stand after a board nailed to a tree came loose in his hand.

You might expect a three-year court battle to generate ill will in the family. But father and son get along just great.

“He is my dad. I love him,” Corey Ouradnik of Lindstrom, Minn., testified at the trial in Pine County District Court.

Then why fight dad all the way to the state’s highest court?

“Insurance,” said Matt Barber, a Minneapolis attorney who represented the son.

Minnesota requires people who are injured to sue the person who injured them,” if they hope to recover a payment, Barber said. “In other states, like Wisconsin, you can just sue the insurance company. 

“As the plaintiffs, we wish we had the ability to just sue the insurance company. It looks bad [to a jury] to have a son sue his dad.”

Lawyers also aren’t allowed to mention insurance to the jury at trial, Barber added.
Comments: Many Christians wrongly interpret and apply 1 Corinthians 6:1-2 to forbid lawsuits between Christians! Christians Covered by Insurance: In many cases, the person who caused your harm or damage is covered by insurance. Example: Automobile accident cases. What if that insured person is a Christian? In some states, you can sue the Christian’s secular insurance company directly. Therefore you don’t have to directly sue the Christian who harmed you. In other states, you must sue the individual even though the insurance company (surety) is paying for the damages and controlling the case. Obviously, a secular insurance company will rarely, if ever, agree to a Christian dispute resolution process.

Helpful links:

6.07.2018

Prison Reform - we need more "Alice Johnson" stories



Freed grandmother thanks Trump: 'I am so grateful'

Excerpt:

A woman whose life sentence President Donald Trump commuted on Wednesday thanked the president Thursday morning and urged him to “remember” other prisoners who she said deserve similar opportunities for freedom.

“I have not heard directly from the White House yet, but I'd like to tell president Trump that I am so grateful for everything that you've done for me and my family,” Alice Johnson told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday. “This moment right now is happening because President Trump had mercy on me.”

Johnson was released from a federal prison Thursday in Aliceville, Alabama, hours after the White House announced that Trump had commuted the life sentence she had been given in 1996 for a nonviolent drug offense. Johnson’s case was brought to the president by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who met with Trump last week in the Oval Office to plead the 63-year-old grandmother’s case.
Comment: Long term incarceration of first time, non-violent offenders makes no sense. Consider this one factor only - the cost of ...

Nationwide, the numbers are staggering: Nearly 2.4 million people behind bars, even though over the last 20 years the crime rate has actually dropped by more than 40 percent. 

"The United States has about 5 percent of the world's population, but we have 25 percent of the world's prisoners - we incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any country on Earth," said Michael Jacobson, director of the non-partisan Vera Institute of Justice. He also ran New York City's jail and probation systems in the 1990s. 

A report by the organization, "The Price of Prisons," states that the cost of incarcerating one inmate in Fiscal 2010 was $31,307 per year. "In states like Connecticut, Washington state, New York, it's anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000," he said.

Yes - $60,000 a year. That's a teacher's salary, or a firefighter's. Our epidemic of incarceration costs us taxpayers $63.4 billion a year.

The explosion in incarceration began in the early 1970s - the political response to an explosion in urban violence and increased drug use. 

"So 'Tough on crime,' 'three strikes, you're out,' 'Let 'em rot, throw away the key' - all that stuff resulted in more mandatory sentencing, longer and longer sentencing," said Jacobson.