Leader of the Free World? I Don’t Think So

The term “Leader of the Free World” may have been appropriate for Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. I am not so sure about Nixon, Carter and Ford. Ok, maybe Reagan was the last Leader of the Free World.

What’s the “free world?” Is China free? With the onslaught of Chinese tourists all over the world, I would say yes. China is free. Is Russia free? I think so. The only countries not free are North Korea, Cuba, a few African countries – mostly un-free due to their economic plight, and a surprising number of Middle-Eastern countries, in their own way. Did I forget one?

What’s a “leader?” If you had asked anyone in Europe if they considered Bush or Obama their leader, they would have laughed at you. Trump is bringing this to a whole new level. By spouting self-aggrandizing bluster about America first, he is making sure that nobody, anywhere, thinks he might be the leader of the free world. The whole concept of leader of the free world is now dying with Trump.

Leadership implies that the leader does something that others admire, aspire to or want to follow. None of that holds true for Trump.

Let’s do the math. America has not quite 5% of the population of the world. Out of 127 million people who voted in the last election, 62 million, or about 47% of them voted for Trump.

That means that only about 0.88% of the world’s population voted for Trump. He is the leader of those 0.88% or 62 million Americans that voted for him. He has command over the world’s most powerful military, so yes, he is probably the most powerful man in the world right now, but leader of the free world he is not.

Unfortunately, due to the damage he is going to do to the image of the United States in the world, his successors are going to have to work for a long time to reestablish any semblance of leadership.

And that brings me to my final point: With Trump openly withdrawing the United States from the world, by threatening to pull out of NATO or the UN, and by implementing protectionist trade policies, he is signaling to everyone, including our strongest ally, that America can no longer be relied upon. He is abandoning the leadership role.

China will be more than happy to step into that vacuum and take over as leader, and others will follow. Trump thinks he is making America great again, but he must not understand that America is not a planet, it’s a country, one that is completely dependent on the rest of the world for trade.

Leader of the free world is a hackneyed and trite term. We should stop using it, as it does not make sense any longer.


But What If We Are Wrong?

The Religious Argument

I have been fortunate that I was able to cast off the shackles and blinders of religion very early in life. I am not religious or spiritual in any way. I have always called myself a non-combative atheist, and I am convinced that mindset has served me well.

According to Wikipedia:

The Pew Religious Landscape survey reported that as of 2014, 22.8% of the U.S. population is religiously unaffiliated, atheists made up 3.1% and agnostics made up 4% of the U.S. population. The 2014 General Social Survey reported that 21% of American had no religion with 3% being atheist and 5% being agnostic.

So being part of only 3% of solid atheists mean that 29 out of 30 of my friends, associates and people I run into on a daily basis are more or much more religious than I.

As a result, I have a lot of religious friends. Some very old, good friends. I have friends who are pastors, youth pastors, and even a Catholic priest. In serious late-night discussions with religious friends, one of the most common points that eventually comes up is:

What if you are wrong?

They argue that their belief in a God protects them from eternal hellfire. While I, who does not have such an insurance policy, am exposed. Let’s say with both die. If there is a God, the priest presumably goes to heaven. If there isn’t, he’s just dead and nothing mattered anyway. But on the off-chance that there is a God, he has an insurance policy. He is covered.

But I don’t have that coverage. If there is a God, he says I’ll go to eternal hell. If there is no God, I’ll be just as dead and nothing mattered anyway.

I know that is why many religious people hang on to religion. Just in case.

The Climate Change Argument

The American public has been led to believe that “climate change is a hoax.” Our populace has just elected a government that officially, and in all levels of the executive and legislative branches, supports this argument.

The vast majority of all climate scientists in the world disagree with this reasoning. Our CO2 levels at 400 PPM in the Antarctic are now higher than they have been in 4 million years. In a hundred and fifty years of burning coal and oil we have created a hockey stick of CO2 levels in the atmosphere in the blink of an eye from a planet’s perspective. But this argument I am making here is not about the science. I’ll leave that to the thousands of scientist much better qualified than I am. I just need to state that I am utterly convinced that we’re seriously messing with the balances of chemistry in our atmosphere, and we will need to pay a dear price for that in the not too distant future.

Our illustrious American politicians tell us that it’s all a hoax. Never mind that we are the largest polluters in the world as a country. Never mind that the second and third largest polluters, China and India respectively, basically agree with the seriousness of climate change. Never mind that China is now cleaning up their act as rapidly as they can (which requires another post eventually to discuss). Never mind that 195 nations all came together and agreed that this is a serious problem and crafted the Paris climate agreement.

Our government, empowered by the electorate, is now preparing to get out of the Paris climate agreement. Trump’s position is: We’re not allowing UN bureaucrats to have the power to spend American tax dollars. By itself, that argument makes sense. UN bureaucrats should not get to spend American tax dollars. However, the consequences of just tearing up the agreement are severe.

What if they are wrong?

Say for the sake of argument that climate change really were a hoax. These CO2 levels of 400 and more in our air are just a natural spike, and humanity has nothing to do with it, and can do nothing to change it. The weather will change whether we like it or not.

In a hundred years, no matter what we do, we’ll still be here, with our Manhattan real estate, with our Miami beaches, happily ever after.

Then it will not have mattered.

But on the other side, if human activity actually does affect the climate adversely, and the hockey stick graphs are going to get worse, we will have serious consequences to deal with as a species. The human food chain in the oceans will be disrupted. Agriculture will be severely hindered. Real estate will disappear and many of the lowlands around the country will be under water.

Seriously, we’re willing to play this game – for MONEY?

Ignoring climate change now is like killing the last rooster and chicken, who have been laying eggs for us every day, so we can have ONE LUNCH.

We’re risking our children’s welfare and taking away their right to the pursuit of happiness so we can burn some more oil and coal, so some people can have jobs? Seriously?

What if we are wrong?


China now on Forefront of Nuclear Fusion

China has succeeded in a major experiment in the process of creating a fusion reactor. This happened on the heels of Germany achieving a similar goal, albeit using a different type of technology. China and Germany are pulling ahead of the United States in research and development of a major game-changing technology. If we don’t watch out, we’ll have to buy required technology from China – at whatever price they set – and we’ll be in the same position we’ve been in for the past 100 years, having to buy oil from the Middle East.

All is not lost. Supposedly Lockheed Martin Skunk Works predicts to have a fusion reactor that can fit in a van within 5 years. Hopefully that’s true.

Meanwhile, we in the United States spend billions on things that serve no purpose, like defense equipment the pentagon doesn’t want or need, developing the F-35, a fighter plane not up to facing the current Russian generation of fighters, or oil subsidies to the most profitable companies on planet earth.

Our leaders focus on turning our country into a theocracy. They think it’s important to worry about women’s procreative habits, and they believe that dumbing down our children by religious dogma, conservative propaganda and stifling science on all levels is the way to “make our country great again.”

Meanwhile, we’re missing the boat in the areas that really matter: Revitalizing manufacturing in the United States, keeping prices down and productivity and creativity up, educating our children in science and technology, curbing the insane waste of money on military activities, making progress in renewable energies, and upgrading our infrastructure on all levels.

Try to buy anything at the mall today that is not made in China. Good luck!

In 20 years, we’ll even need to buy our energy in China.

Time to wake up, America!


After a comment by a reader, challenging my statement about the Middle East, I did a little more searching and found that we import far less petroleum products from the Middle East than we think (and our public perceptions indicates) we do. Here are some interesting graphs to illustrate that.



The Rise of China and its Consequences

Here is a powerful and insightful article about the Rise of China and its impact. The author gives his own opinions, and they happen to coincide with mine. I took to liberty to quote him here. Please link to his post for the full article. It’s worth reading.

Message in a Sock

I found this on the front-page of Reddit. Here is the Reddit post with all comments. Of course I cannot attest to the authenticity of this note. Somebody found it in a sock he bought. But if it is even remotely authentic, it is frightening. The products that we buy every day at Target and Wal-Mart (see the Made in China labels on all your Christmas presents) are manufactured in part by victims like this man. This is going on today, while we are out shopping.

Injustice in China

To all members of society who support justice, please help.

My name is Ding Tingkun. I am a 39-year-old man. I live in China, Anhui Province, Lingbi County, Damiao Town, Shatan Village, No. 6 Group. Because I went to Beijing to report corrupt officials in person, on 29 June 2014, I was framed by the Damiao Town government leaders for “extortion.” I have since been shut in the Lingbi County jail. I have suffered great mental torment. My wife was forcibly locked up in a mental hospital, and both she and I have been crippled by injury! On 22 May 2014, my father was murdered in the Damiao hospital!

Please, anyone who reads this letter, please pass this letter on to our country’s leader Chairman Xi Jinping, and through the media bring these things to light! Thank you!!!

Local corrupt officials have no law and no heaven. They publicly oppose the central government’s policies, satisfying their superiors but deceiving the public. They cover up the truth of things. They painstakingly arrange schemes to manufacture false charges!

I resolutely support the Chinese Communist Party’s central leadership and Chairman Xi Jinping’s honest, people-loving good government!

Seeker of Help: Ding Tingkun

24 June 2015, jail

Older brother Ding Qiang’s cell phone: …

Censorship and the Chinese

The Chinese government has blocked Wikipedia again. What kind of government is so weak and fragile that it is afraid of its own people finding out the facts and truth about anything they choose to learn about?

The Chinese may have advantages over us in terms of labor costs, by using child and slave labor. They also have advantages over us by allowing us to export our pollution. Think of it – by us buying products made in China – we’re exporting the environmental pollution the manufacture of the product produces.

But censorship is a handicap of the Chinese. If you withhold information from the people, the people leave. The best and brightest come to the United States, study at our universities and establish their lives here. Their brain drain is our advantage.

Does their government not realize that?

Mammoth Ivory and the Ivory Carving Industry


I just found out through this article that mammoth tusks are being dug out of the thawing permafrost in the arctic by the thousands. They are sold to the ivory carving industry in China at $1,900 per kilogram. The growing Chinese middle class has a voracious appetite for ivory jewelry. Paleontologists are suggesting that this perfectly legal practice should become illegal to protect the not yet extinct elephant.

There are several statements of fact in this article that I found alarming:

  1. I didn’t know there was such a thing as an “ivory carving industry.” Of course, now that I think about it, it makes sense, but it had never crossed my mind before.
  2. The elephant is doomed. The Chinese are just starting to get wealthy, and there are many of them. The ivory carving industry isn’t going to back off as long as a single tusk remains. The country where reportedly 4,000 people die every day because of air pollution isn’t going to care about regulating its consumption of a commodity that is harvested in another continent on the other side of the globe. As long as there are Chinese with money, elephants will be hunted – more than ever, as they become more rare and therefore more expensive.
  3. Global warming is thawing the permafrost. A few decades ago it was difficult to find any mammoths. Now, it seems, you can go out there with a shovel and dig for tusks and sell them for a fortune. There is a significant movement still in the United States and the rest of the world that is “denying” global warming. They say that just because glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, and permafrost is melting in the arctic, it does not mean that the warming is man-made. It’s just a natural occurrence, like it has happened many times in history. The fact that it’s been 800,000 years since we had 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, as we do now, is not enough evidence. Since it’s not man-made, why worry about it. Keep burning that oil!

I am at a loss for suggestions on how to save the elephant, other than save some DNA so we can clone them later, along with the mammoth.

Coming Soon: The China Chicken Express

The USDA recently approved that it’s ok for U.S. chicken to be shipped to China for processing, then shipped back to the U.S. for human consumption. This was previously not done because it was not seen as economically feasible. As it turns out, it’s already being done for some seafood, like salmon and crab from Alaska.

According to Tom Super, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council:

“Economically, it doesn’t make much sense,” Super said. “Think about it: Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the United States, pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles. I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.”

Apparently it makes sense now. This is alarming, however, in light of the horrible Chinese food safety conditions. The USDA has no way of overseeing how clean some food processing plant in some backwater of China is.

This means that we’re not only outsourcing our manufacturing now, and our pollution with it, but we’re also starting to outsource our processing labor and services. Pretty soon we’ll fly to China to get a hair cut. Hey, it makes sense.

I am not in favor of excessive regulation. But we have the USDA in place to protect us from bad food products. Remember the toxic drywall from China a few years ago? Tens of thousands of houses were built with drywall that started to stink after a couple of years. Now we’re shipping our chicken to China so Chinese hands can touch them, before they show up in our children’s school lunches?

We need to figure out how to do things cheaper in the United States, or we’ll be a second-rate consumer nation completely under the economic and nutritional control of others, China foremost.

Make no mistake about it in this upcoming presidential election season: This is about jobs in the United States. Every chicken processing job is now at risk.



High Speed Rail in the United States

California is in the process of building the most expensive and slowest high speed rail line in the world. Politicians love to make fun of this project. Yet, we need high speed rail – efficient and effective high speed rail – so badly in this country.

There is a rail line planned from Victorville, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. For those of you that are not from Southern California, Victorville is a community in the high desert.


Victorville is a bedroom community about 40 minutes north of San Bernardino, over the mountains, in the Mojave desert. People commute from there into the San Bernardino valley for work. It’s also a stop on the way to Las Vegas, or up Highway 395 into the Sierras.

I cannot imagine driving to Victorville, which would be about two hours from Los Angeles or San Diego, then park my car and get on a high speed train to complete my drive to Las Vegas. By the time I am in Victorville I am through the hard driving, and the remaining two to three hours are easy.

I imagine the line won’t be completed to Los Angeles or San Diego because of land constraints and expenses of building a train line in the middle of urban areas. But that’s where we need them the most. If I could get on a high speed train in San Diego to Las Vegas, and be there in a couple of hours, I definitely would use the train.

The Victorville to Las Vegas line is definitely a boondoggle that makes no sense to me.

Then there is the planned connection between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, which also gets terrible press by many politicians.

Here is a summary of the high speed rail initiatives in the United States.

Now let’s compare our initiatives with those of the rest of the world, particularly in China. Here is a map showing high speed rail lines in the United States, superimposed over all our rail lines.

America's High Speed Rail System

[source language=”Wikipedia”][/source]


This admittedly looks pretty anemic for a large, industrialized country. Here is China’s map, in comparison:

China's High Speed Rail Lines

China is approximately the same land size of the United States. Yet, it has more high speed rail than the entire rest of the world combined. And it’s still building more. Here is a chart that illustrates this:


High Speed Rail

My take-away from this:

China has more high speed rail than the entire rest of the world combined. China is currently building almost twice as much high speed rail as the entire rest of the world combined. The United States is ranked along with tiny countries like Belgium, Austria, Taiwan and Uzbekistan in its installed base. Greece, yes, Greece is building more high speed rail right now than the United States.

High speed rail, the way we think of it, is apparently not practical in the United States. China knows something about infrastructure that we’re not paying attention to, and our children and grandchildren will pay that price. China will be able to move military equipment and troops all over their country with rapid speed. We cannot match this, and even if we started now, we’d be decades behind.

China just started building all this infrastructure within the last 15 years or so. Yes, China is a very polluted country with disregard for human rights, individual freedom, and the environment. Nevertheless, they are building infrastructure like mad, and we are not.

I think the United States is on a dangerous path of rapidly losing its competitiveness in the world by disregarding its infrastructure, and high speed rail capacity is one aspect that illustrates this.


Book Review: The World Without Us – by Alan Weisman

World Without Us

Imagine all the people in the world disappeared today. Gone. I recognize this is a hypothetical scenario, one that has a low likelihood of happening, but — it could happen. An Ebola-like plague could sweep the world and eradicate the human race in a matter of a few weeks. There have been doomsday books, like Stephen King’s The Stand that were based on just that premise. My favorite book about this subject is Earth Abides by George Stewart. Both novels start out with just about all people dead, and one single survivor eventually finding another one, starting the long process of building a new world from scratch and from the ruins of the old world.

The World Without Us is not a novel. It is a speculative work taking on many of the controversies of our society, including overpopulation, climate change and runaway pollution. Every chapter explores, from its own viewpoint, what it would be like if humans simply were no longer here.

Here is an example. What would happen in New York City if humans disappeared. Surprisingly, the city would come to pieces very quickly, must faster than other places out west.

Schuber peers down into a square pit beneath the Van Siclen Avenue station in Brooklyn, where each minute 650 gallons of natural groundwater gush from the bedrock. Gesturing over the roaring cascade, he indicates four submersible cast-iron pumps that take turns laboring against gravity to stay ahead. Such pumps run on electricity. When the power fails, things can get difficult very fast. Following the World Trade Center attack, an emergency pump train bearing a jumbo portable diesel generator pumped out 27 times the volume of Shea Stadium. Had the Hudson River actually burst through the PATH train tunnels that connect New York’s subways to New Jersey, as was greatly feared, the pump train— and possibly much of the city— would simply have been overwhelmed.

Weisman, Alan (2007-07-10). The World Without Us (p. 25). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

650 gallons of natural groundwater run into that one subway station every minute, and pumps must keep running 24 hours a day to keep it try. When the power runs out (and that’s another chapter), in a half hour the water would be high enough to flood the tracks and trains could no longer pass. In 36 hours the entire subways system would fill up. Weisman goes on:

Even if it weren’t raining, with subway pumps stilled, that would take no more than a couple of days, they estimate. At that point, water would start sluicing away soil under the pavement. Before long, streets start to crater. With no one unclogging sewers, some new watercourses form on the surface. Others appear suddenly as waterlogged subway ceilings collapse. Within 20 years, the water-soaked steel columns that support the street above the East Side’s 4, 5, and 6 trains corrode and buckle. As Lexington Avenue caves in, it becomes a river.

Weisman, Alan (2007-07-10). The World Without Us (pp. 25-26). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

This is just about one of our great cities.

There are 441 operating nuclear power plants in the world. Without the regulating eye of humans, many of these plants would go through some form of catastrophic failure and eventual meltdown. Imagine 441 Chernobyls around the world. Check out this map and find how close you live to one? Hey Australia! Safest place on Earth in case of a meltdown.

Source: International Nuclear Safety Center at Argonne National Laboratory.

This map is from 2005, I could not find a newer one, but given how long it takes to build such a plant, and considering that they are not building many more, it’s pretty close.

The World Without Us was published in 2007. Given today’s pace of development, and pollution in China (check out this link and be shocked), and runaway fossil-fuel-burning, things are much worse than described by Weisman in 2007, when there were only 6.5 billion people on the planet, rather than seven.

We’re adding one million people to the planet every four days.

The World Without Us reads like a fast-paced thriller, where the bad guys are out the make the world go away. As I read the book, I realized that I was in it, and it wasn’t a thriller, it wasn’t a novel, it was a giant reality show, and my life, and the life of my children, and their children, was on the line.

Don’t you understand what I’m tryin’ to say
Can’t you feel the fears I’m feelin’ today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave
Take a look around you boy, it’s bound to scare you boy

— Barry McGuire, Eve of Destruction

Choose not to read this book at your own peril.

Rating - Four Stars

Book Review: Tai-Pan – by James Clavell

Tai-PanClavell wrote Tai-Pan in 1966. Almost 50 years later I finally get around to reading it. This is a novel about China and the beginnings of Hong Kong. It plays in 1841 in the Hong Kong area, including some scenes on the Chinese mainland and Macao.

The Tai-Pan is the “CEO” of a trading company. This is the story of Dirk Struan, a middle-aged Scott who worked his way up from cabin boy on a ship at age 12 to one of the richest men in the world. He is not only running his business, shipping tea, silk and opium between ports in England, India and the Orient, he is also shaping politics with the Chinese and creating the free port of Hong Kong, which he sees as pivotal to trade in Asia.

When Clavell wrote this novel in 1966, China was a sleeping giant behind the Communist iron curtain. Mao ruled the country with the will of a dictator, and the rest of us knew very little about China, except that one in four people in the world was Chinese.

Today, China is no longer a sleeping giant, but rather one that is very much awake and shapes international politics and commerce unlike any nation since the emergence of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. When Clavell wrote about China, he wanted to educate the population in the sixties about the country. Little did he know that I would learn immensely about China reading Tai-Pan in 2014.

It does not matter that the story plays in 1841. China is ageless and its rich history and culture permeated the world in 1841, then it went to sleep under Communism for most of the 20th century, only to awaken again.

The Tai-Pan tells his son Culum:

“First thing to understand: For fifty centuries the Chinese have called China the Middle Kingdom—the land that the gods have placed between heaven above and the earth beneath. By definition a Chinese is a uniquely superior being. They all believe that anyone else—anyone—is a barbarian and of no account. And that they alone have the God-given right, as the only really civilized nation, to rule the earth. As far as they’re concerned, Queen Victoria is a barbarian vassal who should pay tribute. China has nae fleet, nae army, and we can do what we like with her—but they believe they are the most civilized, the most powerful, the richest—in this I think they’re potentially right—nation on earth.

– Tai-Pan (p. 91)

There was more wisdom that I enjoyed reading about:

“The rich are too rich and the poor too poor. People pouring into the cities looking for work. More people than jobs, so the employers pay less and less. People starving. The Chartist leaders are still in prison.”

–  Tai-Pan (p. 81)

The rich were too rich and the poor too poor. That was the problem in England in 1841, as told by Clavell in 1966. Here we are in 2014 and we’re telling ourselves that the rich are too rich and the poor are too poor. People are still pouring into the cities looking for work. They take jobs at Wal-Mart for minimum wage. People are starving. We pay out welfare. It is strangely comforting to realize it’s been like this for a very long time. Income inequality rules now, and it ruled then:

Do you know the price of bread is up to a shilling and twopence a loaf according to last week’s mail? Lump sugar’s costing eightpence a pound; tea seven shillings and eightpence; soap ninepence a cake; eggs four shillings a dozen. Potatoes a shilling a pound. Bacon three shillings and sixpence a pound. Now take wages—artisans of all sorts, bricklayers, plumbers, carpenters—at most seventeen shillings and sixpence a week for sixty-four hours’ work; agricultural workers nine shillings a week for God knows how many hours; factory workers around fifteen shillings—all these if work can be found. Good God, Mr. Struan, you live up in the mountains with incredible wealth where you can give a thousand guineas to a girl just because she’s got a pretty dress, so you don’t know, you can’t know, but one out of every eleven people in England is a pauper. In Stockton nearly ten thousand persons earned less that two shillings a week last year. Thirty thousand in Leeds under a shilling. Most everyone’s starving and we’re the richest nation on earth.

– Tai-Pan (pp. 560-561)

I enjoyed reading Tai-Pan immensely. Not only did I learn a lot about trade two centuries ago, the political situation in China, and the formation of Hong Kong, and the way of life and thinking of the ordinary Chinese, but the entire “lesson” was wrapped into a riveting plot that kept me turning pages.

Rating: *** 1/2

What are Rare Earth Metals and Why Are They Important?

On the periodic table, rare earths are in a row at the bottom called the lanthanides (the neon green row). The elements from lanthanum on the left to lutetium on the right plus yttrium and scandium are called the rare earths.

[click to enlarge]

Why are they important? They are needed in pretty much all electronics. The explosion of hand-held computers, like cell phone and tablets, has created ever more demand. The glass display, the magnets in the speakers, the headphones, the vibrating motors, all require rare earths.

Even more alarming is that all batteries contain rare earths. And batteries are becoming ever more important to fuel our insatiable need for portable devices. I can’t even count the number of batteries I carry with me, even when I go on “nature trips” like backpacking excursions.

I carry my cell phone, my Kindle, my GPS (with spare rechargeable batteries), a solar charger (with batteries) just on a hiking trip.

My Prius uses nearly 20 pounds of rare earths in its battery alone. There are over two million Priuses on the road.

Alright, we can agree rare earths are important.

Did you know that 97% of rare earths come from China? The Chinese have recognized that a monopoly on rare earths can be very valuable indeed. Why does the rest of the world not mine its own? The problem is that a major by-product is radioactive waste in the form of thorium. When the U.S. was still mining its own rare earth materials, much waste leaked into the environment, causing mines to be shut down. Alarmed by a Chinese monopoly, spurned by low labor costs, large deposits of the minerals, and lax environmental laws, other countries are now trying to catch up. The U.S., Russia, Australia, India, Brazil, and Vietnam are all looking for new deposits.

This is one reason to recycle old electronics. There are hundreds of millions cell phones, computers and other devices with on/off switches that sit uselessly in drawers, on shelves, in boxes and people’s houses – full of valuable rare earths that could be harvested. I harbor my share.

Now I know why it’s important to recycle my used batteries.


Wal-Mart – Evil Empire or Opportunist?

This is a scene in front of one Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving night. People line up to get in, and when the doors open, the stampede starts quickly. The guards are simply overwhelmed.

American consumerism has gone amuck. We line up, jump barriers and get into fistfights for the privilege to buy a toaster, a television set or a video game. We have created a society of consumerism completely absorbed by commercial goods.

Wal-Mart pays its employees an average of $8.80 – it’s the largest employer in the country and one that pays the lowest. Of the goods sold at Wal-Mart, more than 90% are imported. More than 70% of all the stuff Wal-Mart sells comes from China. Estimates are that over 10% of all job loss in America in the past decade was due to Wal-Mart alone.

Yet, our young people line up at night on Thanksgiving to spend their dollars (earned or welfare) at Wal-Mart, which sends the money directly to China – after it pays its employees $8.80. The rampant consumerism, the shipping of manufacturing to China, the extension of the welfare state in America, the lack of education of your young people and the loss of real values, common sense and dignity will bring this country down, if it hasn’t already.

At the same time, there are protests at Wal-Mart and other retailers about their low wages and the extended hours imposed on employees, particularly during the holiday season. Protests may get our attention for a few minutes. A much more effective strategy would be to simply stop shopping.

Do you think that Wal-Mart would notice that it was not smart to make people work on Thanksgiving day if nobody showed up to shop? The doors would close quickly. Wal-Mart is not the evil giant that we make them out to be. Wal-Mart is simply an opportunist.

Wal-Mart can pay $8.80 because there are plenty of people willing to work for $8.80. Wages won’t go up until they can’t find people anymore willing to take these jobs. Wal-Mart can sell Chinese stuff and send our money to China because we’re willing to stand in line to give our money to them.

Stop working for Wal-Mart, stop shopping at Wal-Mart, and things will change quickly.

China Warns U.S.

Thirty years ago China was a third-rate communist country with no noticeable presence on the world stage.

Today, China warns the U.S. to stop “manufacturing crises” and upsetting world markets. And it galls me that:

1. They are right. We ARE manufacturing crises and we’re looking ridiculous in the eyes of the rest of the world.

2. It’s China that is starting to tell us what to do, and we actually would be wise to heed their advice.

For those that don’t know, China’s economy is scheduled to exceed that of the United States by 2020 at the current course. If the Republican knuckleheads have their way and actually commit political and economic suicide due to ideological obsessions, it might be much sooner than 2020.

Let’s all give the baton of leadership to China quicker than it has to be – to China, which was a third-rate nation with no noticeable presence on the world stage just 30 thirty years ago.

Are we insane or what?