The great denials

If you like to listen to music while you read,
here are four options:

Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum
(Unfortunately with some video and audio glitches.)
Text of the Te Deum; @Wikipedia

Text of the Stabat Mater
(If you like dramatic, passionate singing, try selections 8 and 13 in the above!)

The above is of course utterly familiar;
the reason for putting it here is the quality of this performance.
(This “video” does not show the performance;
rather, the biblical texts being sung.)

For many more options, mainly of pre-1750 classical music, see

Now on to the subject of this post:

Most Americans seem to agree that
America has been, in the formulation of popular polling,
“on the wrong track”
for at least the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Evident reasons for a very appropriate state of concern include

an attack on America itself,
constant wars without a clear ending point ever since,
economic and financial malaise that leapt to the front page in 2008
but actually began far earlier,
large-scale unemployment without a clear end, and
ever-growing federal, state, local and individual debts and deficits.

Our chattering classes, in the media, political, and academic sectors
have certainly done a fine job of reporting on all these problems.
But I believe they have been counter-productive
both in diagnosing the causes of these problems
and in proposing effective solutions for those problems.
The result is that,
under current policies or even those proposed by the “elite”,
things will not get better.
This post is my modest :-) attempt
to propose a better problem analysis and set of solutions
than the “elite” seems willing or able to do.

To set the mood, recall the familiar proverb

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The relevance is:
For want of an accurate diagnosis of what is causing America’s problems,
all hope of solving them is impossible.

Foreign Policy
That American relations with much of the Islamic world are in a mess
is obvious to everyone.
The question is Why?
Without an accurate and honest answer to that question,
we are indeed doomed to wars without end,
which will, without the slightest doubt in my mind,
only get far, far more deadly for Americans
when, for example,
the growing anti-Americanism in Pakistan leads to
the “liberation” of a Pakistani nuke
and the resultant annihilation of an American city.
And that is surely not the only negative scenario likely to play out.

Further, the internal scrutinazation of Americans to prevent terrorism
will only become more and more onerous,
leading to the progressive Israelization of not only our foreign policy,
but also our internal security procedures (e.g.).

As we all know, the most powerful elements in the “elite”
have tried to place all the blame on the American/Muslim hostilities
on the Muslim side:
“They hate us for our freedoms, etc.”
Continuing down that road,
ignoring the real reasons why they fight us in so many ways,
will lead to the perpetual war sketched above.
The intelligent alternative is to examine
the real reasons why they oppose us.
This isn’t so hard to do,
some authors on the fringe of the “party line” of the elite
have covered the real reasons in careful and, I am quite sure, accurate detail.
I have excerpted from those authors in several posts in this blog, including

Root causes of Islamic terrorism
Why they hate us
What “Islamic extremists” say
Imperial Hubris and its critics (based on Michael Scheuer’s book)
Lebanon 1982: the spark for 9/11

As to what should be done,
perhaps a combination (perhaps all) of the following actions would help:
  1. Take seriously the offer bin Laden and al-Zawahiri made several years ago
    to enter into truce negotiations.
    I don’t see how it would hurt to see what they had in mind.
    (Especially since we seem unfathomably unable to locate and kill them.)

  2. Put into play
    (and I know the Jews will fight this to the (metaphorical) death)
    the suggestions John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt made
    in the conclusion to their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

  3. Scale back our attempts to perform social engineering on
    the Middle East and/or Islamic world.
    Acknowledge and accept the dictum of Samuel Huntington:
    Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations
    is probably
    the single most dangerous source
    of instability and potential global conflict

    in a multicivilizational world.
    In particular, end our attempts to
    force-feed feminism on those societies.

Economic policies

Why are companies not hiring?
Why did so many jobs go overseas?
I don’t think it is that corporations, whether American or multinational,
have anything intrinsic against the American worker.
It is simply a business decision:
The cost of American labor is higher than labor abroad.
I think few people deny that,
but somehow they deny the significance of it,
so we get, for example,
Democrats talking about “green jobs” and Republicans talking about tax cuts,
neither of which solves the fundamental issue.

What we need to do is
carefully and rigorously delineate the consequences of that issue,
which I am sure will be found to be a coming calamity for the American economy,
and come up with specific plans for rectifying that issue.
I haven’t the slightest doubt that each proposed alternative
will be unpalatable for some,
but the alternative of doing nothing is far worse for the general public.

Currently, as stated above, the basic issues are not being addressed.
Consider, for example,
the conclusion of the 2010-08-28 Washington Post editorial
Fed's capacity to stimulate economy is limited
(emphasis and a comment are added):
The Fed’s inability this time to magically produce a wave of growth,
even when abetted by fiscal stimulus,
suggests that the United States faces a crisis
that is structural rather than cyclical.

[Good point.
But the Post, and others should have observed it far earlier.
For example,
it was observed in 1998 by Patrick Buchanan in The Great Betrayal.


The answers lie not in
kick-starting old engines of growth
such as housing and consumer spending.
Instead, the challenge is
to identify and invest in new opportunities
and equip the American people --
through education, tax reform and entitlement reform --
to take advantage of them.
This is a much harder job,
one that will require the concerted attention of
public and private sector leaders, at federal and state levels,
over many years.
Mr. Bernanke can help
by keeping the economy functioning in the meantime.
But Fed policy is no substitute for a reshaping of the economy.

My response:
This is the elite?
These clowns don’t begin to know how to address a problem.

After correctly identifying that
there is a structural problem in the economy,
before rushing to give their preferred answer
(one, by the way, which is almost guaranteed
to make the people the Post cares about wealthier,
but to do next to nothing to solve the nation’s real economic problems),
the first necessary step is to identify
what the problems really are, and their causes.

Further, the problem should be put in a historical perspective.
Why are we now having this problem? What went wrong?

We really need to look more broadly at what the economy’s problems are.
Surely they are not just the lack of “a wave of growth”.
In fact, the major problems are not only the lack of jobs,
but also the federal and trade deficits.
All of these are related.
In particular, the trade deficit means that
jobs which could have gone to Americans went to foreigners.
So the fundamental question is:
Why did all those jobs go overseas?
Why did investing in foreigners become more profitable to the corporations
than investments made at home?
Without addressing this issue, which the elite has done everything possible to avoid, no progress can be made on the fundamental issue.
No amount of the “elite” ’s favorite solutions to all problems,
more education and perhaps more immigration,
will solve the problem for America’s historically dominant demographic,
nor for America itself,
as those deficits are a problem for the entire nation.

Look at the agenda the elite has set for the nation since, say, 1960.
We have heard a lot about the need for what they call “social justice.”
We have heard a lot about the needs of “Women, Children, and Families.”
But when have you ever heard a concern about
the need to keep America competitive with the rest of the world?

To those who make up the new “elite”,
what they self-flatteringly call the Meritocracy,
when was industrial competiveness ever an issue?
How often do you hear Paul Krugman or Tom Friedman worry about
America’s competitiveness or the balance of trade?

For an example of how the elite is totally in denial about the depth and causes of America’s economic woes,
note the following quote from Professor Stephen M. Walt:
The second trend is
the self-inflicted damage to the U.S. economy,
a consequence of the Bush administration's profligacy
and the financial crisis of 2007.

[Really, Professor Walt?
You see no problem in the transfer of
American technological and manufacturing know-how
to East Asia?
You think that, once the dollar collapses
(or do you not think that likely?)
and wage costs are effectively equalized between Asia and the U.S.,
that the Chinese and Japanese will happily transfer
the manufacturing technology they have now amassed
back to the U.S.,
so that the U.S. may effectively compete with them again?]

The United States faces a mountain of debt,
the near-certainty of persistent federal deficits,
and a dysfunctional political system
that cannot seem to make hard choices.
This situation does not mean the United States
is about to fall from the ranks of the great powers,
but the contrast with earlier periods --
and especially the immediate aftermath of World War II --
is stunning.

Miscellaneous Articles

A World in Denial of What It Knows
New York Times Review, 2012-01-01

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Deceit from the "elite"

The "elite", when arguing for a particular course of action (COA),
generally makes claims as to what the benefits of adopting that COA will be.
They should, but all too often do not,
point out what the potential down sides of that COA will or might be.
And they should offer some sort of assessment of
the probabilities of the various possible outcomes,
sort of a "risk/benefit" or "risk/reward" assessment.

But in one critical example after the other,
the promised or asserted rewards to not materialize,
while risks or problems that were not mentioned when the COA was sold to the general public materialize.

Here are several examples:
  • The selling of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • The selling of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
  • The selling of Medicare in 1965.
    (Actually, in this case,
    much of the insolvency problem of this program has been caused by
    post-1965 expansion of Medicare benefits
    without proper regard to their affordability.)
  • The selling of the various post-WWII free trade agreements.

Do such sales practices qualify as "deceit"?
It depends on what the salesmen actually knew.
In the case of, say, the invasion of Iraq,
I can well believe George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice believed
the rosy scenarios they spun for the American people,
but I cannot help but believe that many others in the media and academic elites
who could and should have raised red flags about what they were advocating
did have qualms, but chose to not wave those red flags.

Here is an example of oversalesmanship, and the gruesome result.

Trading up or down
by Clyde Prestowitz
Boston Globe Op-ed, 2016-03-22


While economists argue endlessly over the impact of the trade deficit,
one incontrovertible conclusion stands out.
None of the trade agreements have eliminated it, or even reduced it, as promised,
and none of them have come close to achieving other promised benefits.

Take the 2000-01 deal to include China as a member of the World Trade Organization.
At the time, the US trade deficit with China was about $80 billion.
The US trade representative and the secretary of commerce
told Congress and the public that
getting China into the WTO would dramatically reduce that deficit
because China had more and higher barriers to US exports
than the United States had to Chinese exports.
Ergo, in the wake of a deal,
US exports to China would soar far faster than Chinese exports to America.
Well, 15 years later the US deficit with China is almost $370 billion.

Or, consider the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement of 2012.
In 2011, the US trade deficit with Korea was $13 billion.
Top US trade officials again told Congress and the public that
this deal would dramatically open the Korean market to US exports
and sharply cut the bilateral trade deficit.
But by 2015, the deficit had climbed to $28 billion
as Korean exports to America exploded,
while US exports to Korea remained about the same.
The growth in this deficit,
contrary to the forecasts of the government
and most of the leading economic think tanks,
represents the elimination of about 90,000 US jobs,
if we apply the Commerce Department’s calculation of
6,000 jobs for every billion dollars of exports or imports.


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Where to go to get lost :-)

Highly recommended!
(Be sure to audition the crystalline soundtrack!)

For its home web page, click here.
(Its Wikipedia page.)

(Note: Once it starts playing,
both the video and audio are considerably sharper
if you click on the lower right “360p”, changing it to “480p”.
(On my Microsoft system, in both Firefox and IE, anyhow.))

The 120-cell {5,3,3}: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8e/Schlegel_wireframe_120-cell.png/600px-Schlegel_wireframe_120-cell.png

The 600-cell {3,3,5}: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c3/Schlegel_wireframe_600-cell_vertex-centered.png/600px-Schlegel_wireframe_600-cell_vertex-centered.png

Finally, a mere 24-cell {3,4,3}:

But wait; is all that too boringly static?
Then watch these convex regular 4-polytopes rotate for you:
(Forget “Dancing with the Stars”.
Try “Twirling with the Topes”, or “Pirouetting with the Polys”!)

4-Simplex or 5-Cell {3,3,3} 4-Cube or 8-Cell {4,3,3} 4-Cocube or 16-Cell {3,3,4}
24-Cell {3,4,3} 120-Cell {5,3,3} 600-Cell {3,3,5}

Stepping down a dimension, here are the five Platonic solids,
i.e., the five convex regular polyhedra in three dimensions.

Tetrahedron or 3-Simplex {3,3} 3-Cube {4,3} Octahedron or 3-Cocube {3,4}
Dodecahedron {5,3} Icosahedron {3,5}

How’s that for a nice break from work :-)
Sorry I haven’t found rotating views of the two biggies —
the 120-cell {5,3,3} and 600-cell {3,3,5}.
You might note that, for the 4-polytopes,
the two polytopes on the left are each self-dual,
while in each row the two right-hand polytopes are dual one to the other.
For the 3-polytopes, the {3,3} is self-dual,
while the other polytopes in each row are dual one to the other.

You can check out all six convex regular 4-polytopes,
or take a look at all sixteen (not-necessarily-convex) regular polychora
there is some very interesting Java animation at that site
(in some cases you have to move your mouse onto the figure to see it).
For the Platonic solids, see here.

By the way, if your display doesn’t have enough vertical height
to display all the polytopes without scrolling,
at least on some Windows systems the F11 key will expand the vertical scope.
Interestingly, in my system, the polytopes spin faster
in Firefox than in Internet Explorer.

Thanks, Wikipedia!

These are hardly the only ways of
trying to depict these four-dimensional figures in two dimensions,
a difficult task at best.
There are many others, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
The Schlegel wireframes above are dramatic and perhaps aesthetic,
but that isn’t everything.

A fascinating, thorough, prize-winning article is
The Story of the 120-Cell” by master expositor John Stillwell.
You also might want to check out John Baez at Week 155.

You can also see what Google turns up for the polytopes:
24 {3,4,3}, 120 {5,3,3}, 600 {3,3,5}.

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