Thursday, November 20, 2003

Rant 2: The Best Tribute Isn't Even Being Considered

I absolutely DETEST the memorials considered finalists for the World Trade Center site. Has it been forgotten what the Twin Towers were?

They were selected by the terrorists for being symbols of capitalism. The Twin Towers were the defining skyscrapers in the defining skyline of the world's definitive financial center. To stand today at the Statue of Liberty and look across the River is to feel the void like a lost love as much to see the void.

There was a lot of talk in the days following the attacks that the American people must not allow the terrorists win, that we must proceed in the spirit of that hated capitalist mantra, 'business as usual'. How right that common wisdom was.

Well, THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON. It isn't that they ended business as usual. Thankfully, that has resumed. But the symbol of capitalism is gone and won't be replaced.

If I was in charge of the process, I would give the greatest tribute to those firefighters who ran up the stairs and to the people who perished while conducting business as usual. I would rebuild the Twin Towers IN EXACTLY THE SAME PLACES UPON WHICH THEY ONCE STOOD, with all dimensions exactly as before save one: the buildings would finish one story higher.

To let the terrorists know that they will not win, they must be given the symbolic 'fuck you' that they gave to the American Spirit. Raising the Twin Towers for all to see is the greatest pair of raised middle fingers the haters of America would ever see.

THAT would be the greatest tribute to those who died in the World Trade Center attacks. No candles or mirrors or list of names will EVER come close to honoring them as new Towers would.
Rant: I Do Not Care a Whit

I do not care about the details of real crimes involving a single victim and a single perpetrator. I do not care to know about murders, rapes, stick-ups, or assaults. When I see such details in the newspaper, my eyes keep moving. When they are on the TV, the channel is changed. Ditto the radio.

Of course, I am very glad to know that police do the job of apprehending the perpetrators of such crimes. I am pleased that prosecutors see to it that criminals go to jail.

I am sometimes interested in crime statistics. I like to have a handle on crime rates and the relative safety of locations. This is useful news. I can take the information and choose to avoid to go alone into some areas with this knowledge. With it, I can avoid other areas when I have my wife or son with me that I might venture into alone. I rarely complain about seeing crime statistics, because it is actual news I can use.

On the other hand, the crimes allegedly committed by celebrities- Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Phil Spector, Robert Blake- DO NOT INTEREST ME IN THE SLIGHTEST.

Why? Details of the violence instigated by Joe Blow against Jane Doe ARE NOT USEFUL NEWS TO ME. Does the alleged violence of some idiot suddenly become relevant to my life because the idiot is Michael Jackson? NO! Mainly, I am not the sort of man who would allow my 11-year-old son sleep in the home of a man who calls the place "Neverland".

Spare the argument that the parents of the children who did stay at Jackson's crib might have found this sort of news about the man useful. Allegations of Jackson's child molestation is a recurring story, and the fact of the news being splashed all over the media before did nothing to deter these parents here.

When I hear ANY details about Michael Jackson on the radio, I will do as I do when I heard details about Kobe Bryant: I will change the station.

Besides, it's all George W. Bush's fault.

Monday, November 17, 2003

I Could Have Written This One

George Will's latest column reads like one of my spiels on my late radio show, Laissez Faire.

Back when I lived in Cleveland, I traded messages with now-Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. I don't have the first, since it was an email, but I have the response from him. It is clear that he thought I was a Republican (what else could there be besides Republicans and Democrats?) because he replied, "I voted with the President on this issue". Well, that was the form-letter response he sent out to the other side. I didn't get that it was a form letter until after I sent the following reply:

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Attn: Dennis J. Kucinich
1730 Longworth Office Building
Washington DC 20515

Dear Mr. Kucinich: July 18, 2002

I am in receipt of your letter which responded to mine regarding steel tariffs. Thank you for your response. It is gratifying to know that the comments were read and considered

I am not quite sure what I wrote, since it was an email, so I would like to add a few more thoughts.

As I understand it, the problem with other nations “dumping” steel is that it causes there to be too much steel on the market, which causes the price of steel to plunge, making the relatively less subsidized American steel less competitive. If this is true, why were tariffs the solution of choice? Do you know what a tariff does?

A tariff on imported steel is a subsidy for American steel. No problem so far, since the point of the policy was to boost the US steel industry… except that any time you subsidize anything, you get more of it, because there is greater incentive to produce and try to gain market share. If the problem is that the price is too low, the tariff raises the price, and that looks good, right? Unfortunately, whenever prices rise, the incentive is to produce more, which, if acted upon, has the effect of bringing the price right back down because more steel lands on the market, which was the problem in the first place.

Wouldn’t it have been better to devise a policy that would have made it cheaper for Americans to produce steel? If the steel costs less to make, it is easier to meet the competition on price and thus sell the steel.

Besides, cheap steel, while painful for the steel industry, is a positive boon for every other American industry that uses steel. Cheap steel means cheaper cars, tools, appliances, bridges- anything at all that uses steel. In fact, on analysis, it looks like the countries that dump steel actually do us a favor. It may not be politically expedient to say that, but it’s true.

Come to think of it, though, it might be politically expedient to say all of this if phrased properly, after all, the brothers in the UAW must certainly appreciate the availability of cheap steel, as must machinists and other tradesmen and assemblers.

I would be very interested to know what, in your estimation, is fair subsidization. You cited steel that was “unfairly subsidized” by other nations. It interests me because other nations, especially the EU nations but also others, are now looking at our tariffs on steel and calling them unfair subsidies. In light of the host of commodities we have recently subsidized (farm products) or placed tariffs on- (foreign steel and lumber), we face the prospect of a trade war with many of our international friends. Do other nations have a point when they look at our subsidies and call them unfair? And what do American producers of fruit or cotton think of steel tariffs when they are told that tariffs will be placed on American fruit and cotton in response?

So, I have to say that I disagree with your assertion that “tariffs correct this imbalance”. On the whole, I think it is rather like driving on ice on W. 25th Street in January. You start to veer off-course, so you pull the wheel feeling like you’ve got the car under control, but the harder you pull the wheel to straighten out the car, the more you swing it side to side, and less in control. I think if you asked an economist at Cleveland State, you might hear the same thing.

Sincerely Yours-

Michael R. Kole
2436 Grovewood Ave
Parma OH 44134

There was no response from Kucinich on this one. The EU is responding finally, and will target products made in states like California and Florida so as to attack the Bush Administration on the grounds the battle is being fought- tariffs in exchange for the favor, or disfavor, of American voters.