Director: Our new carbon regulations go into effect today. A great day. All of those old power plants will either clean up or shut down.
Assistant: With permission. Many of them say these regulations go too far. They don't want to invest more when the Agency is suing them. They will probably shut down.
Director: Good riddance.
Assistant: What will their workers do?
Director: Anything they do will be better than working for evil. Anyway, that is the business of the Department of Labor.
Assistant: By chance, do you know where our building power comes from?
Director: No, why do you ask?
Consider these scenes from the movie Titanic.
Ismay (imperious president of White Star Lines): So you've not yet lit the last four boilers?
Captain: No, I don't see the need. We are making excellent time.
Ismay: The press knows the size of Titanic. Now I want them to marvel at her speed. We must give them something new to print! This maiden voyage of Titanic must make headlines!
Captain: Mr. Ismay, I would prefer not to push the engines until they've been properly run in.
Ismay: Of course, I'm just a passenger. I leave it to your good offices to decide what's best. But what a glorious end to your final crossing, if we were to get to New York on Tuesday night and surprise them all! Make the morning papers. Retire with a bang, eh E.J.?
Captain: (nods reluctantly)
Ismay: Good man.
(The Titanic has hit an iceberg. The Captain reviews the damage.)
Ismay: Most unfortunate, captain!
Captain: (perspiring and trembling) Water fourteen feet above the keel in ten minutes. In the forepeak, in all three holds, and in the boiler room six.
Ismay: When can we get underway, damnit!
Captain: That's five compartments! She can stay afloat with the first four compartments breached, but not five!
(pause) Not five. As she goes down by the head, the water will spill over the tops of the bulkheads at E deck from one to the next. Back and back. There's no stopping it.
Smith: The pumps... if we opened the doors...
Captain: The pumps buy you time, but minutes only. From this moment, no matter what we do, Titanic will founder.
Ismay: But this ship can't sink!
Captain: She's made of iron, sir! I assure you, she can and she will. It is a mathematical certainty.
Many people see the prosperity of the US as a given. They think many things. That we float on air because of luck, or location, or whatever. That one person earns more money than another because he is only lucky or privileged. That this lucky and undeserved wealth should be taken in taxes and redistributed. That businesses can be restricted at will, and can be made agents for the social good, in detail.
They believe that our country can't sink, no matter what laws or policies are implemented. But, the iron laws of incentive, energy, and economy cannot be abolished. People will not work hard if their income is taxed away. Investors will not risk their money if they cannot make more money. Great doctors will not work in a profession that requires half of their time to be devoted to paperwork at no benefit to the patients.
Our great ship can sink. It is kept afloat by well organized effort and private initiative. It will float for a while as damage increases. We are floating now at a tilt, after reckless government policies created more housing than people could pay for. Now we are all paying. How much more arbitrary and wishful policy will the government impose? Flood the fifth compartment, and our country will sink. It is a mathematical certainty.
A conversation in San Francisco.
[edited]: I pointed out that California and San Francisco were both hemorrhaging money, destroying jobs, and were fundamentally unsustainable systems.
She said “I know, I know. I’ve heard all that. But, you know, I just love it here so much and I don’t want anything to change. Something will come up and it will get fixed. I just have to believe it.”
And, Best of All, It's FREE
01/01/11 - Insure Blog
The government has declared that certain unproven treatments for autism are now covered by health insurance, up to $40,000 per year in each case. But, care is not free, and the providers will be paid. All people buying insurance will pay the providers through increased premiums and taxes.
This is just one cause for insurance premiums to go up. If you think that insurance benefits are free, to be mandated by the government, then you might think anything. You might think that iron will float regardless of the damage to the ship.
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
01/27/11 - A Brief History
Video (6:38) and song by Gordon Lightfoot.
The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was an ore carrier, 729 ft long, 75 ft wide, weighing 13,632 tons empty. That is big. It broke up and sank in a storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. All 29 of its crew were lost.
Large, stable, systems can be broken by the chance forces of nature. You never know. Prudent men manage with a wide margin of safety; even then, it may not be enough. So, it is troubling that our politicians are managing our country at the edge of stability. We are currently in a storm, and we don't know what will be lost.