Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Supreme Surprise?

Liberals seem to be shocked that the Supreme Court justices are unabashedly taking potshots at Obama-care and taking delight in showing the administration and especially the Solicitor General how embarrassing and difficult it is to defend the indefensible!

Supreme court justices may lack the incredible narcissistic egos of liberal politicians, but they do have egos, and after the disrespectful comments from the administration after the Citizens United decision, they should have known somebody was going to get publicly bitch slapped at oral arguments.   McCain Feingold also sought to radically alter the relationship between the government and the governed, in complete defiance of the Constitution, because it was 'reasonably necessary'!

I got the impression, however, that some of the justices still think that if the legislation is 'reasonably necessary' then it should be enacted even if it is completely at odds with the Constitution.  This may be the safe harbor that the three liberals who have already decided (and perhaps brokered) their vote will seek to shelter them.

What if a law was Constitutionally sound but so expensive that it clearly would not work in practice. Would the Court simply rule on legal arguments and wash its hands of implementation issues? Or would it tie itself in knots to find a way to declare it was not constitutional?

When the converse is true, and a law is clearly at odds with the Constitution, but may solve some economic issue, is it okay to tie those knots to try to find a way declare it Constitutionally sound?

What to do with Zimmerman?

I note that prominent Democrats are calling for restraint and justice in the Trayvon Martin case, and all of them are united in their desire to make sure that no one is deprived of their civil liberties!

One of the most respected Democrats has called for Zimmerman to be arrested and detained for his own safety:

Another, no lesser light, Maxine Waters, perhaps the intellectual giant of the party, has assured us that this is a hate crime:

I know President Obama takes his oath and duty as the nation's top law enforcement officer seriously, and he is monitoring this case closely, even while busy planning arms control concessions.   If he thought the Black Panther Party bounty on Zimmerman was out of line, he would have said so!

Since this president has been given unprecedented power to arrest and detain US citizens indefinitely and without a hearing, he should immediately arrest and detain Zimmerman, at least until November!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Soccer Disgrace

When I first heard about the US getting completely snookered, and not even getting an invite to the soccer competition for the upcoming Olympics, I was at a loss as to how we could solve this problem. But the disgrace of being shut out from a competition that most European countries qualified for is almost unbearable. I thought the smart folks were telling us that the USA needs to be more like the European Social(ist) Democracies, not less!

Perhaps we should turn to outcome based solutions, meaning that we simply declare that all countries should get to participate in the tournament. After all, that's only fair!

Perhaps we should take affirmative action! Demand lower standards for countries with less soccer tradition and opportunity!

But if the Supreme Court rules that Obama Care is constitutional, the problem can be easily solved! We will simply mandate that all schools must hire more soccer coaches and all students must enroll in soccer programs year round!  Soon we will join the world community and hold our heads up high.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The $80T Debt Elephant in the Room

Our government is now so deeply indebted that all macroeconomic policy choices are subjugated to doing whatever can be done to keep interest rates down.

If they had not stayed at historic lows for this long, and interest payments on the debt were thus much larger, everyone would recognize we were broke.  If rates were at normal levels. even the happy talkers of the midstream media could not pretend that everything was fine.

If interest rates returned to the levels of the early 1980's, the federal government could not even pay the interest, much less the principal!

Inflation cannot be artificially depressed like interest rates. It is now over 5% and climbing, even though the economy is not growing very fast, if at all.  So even if you are sitting on cash, the government's desperate need to keep rates down is sucking money right out of your pocket.

But it's a heck of good way to make sure that everyone becomes dependent on the 'Givernment' for subsistence!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A-Si Bye Bye

It is not surprising that amorphous silicon no longer commands respect in the photo-voltaic market place, at least for grid connected power applications. See

When Applied Materials and Oerlikon began offering turnkey production lines, doing a little life cycle cost and revenue analysis showed that 95% of the total lifetime net present value of the line went to the supplier of the line as a capital investment in the purchase price. And that assumed that poly-silicon and  x-Si prices stayed high or declined slowly.  If you did a forecast scenario where x-Si pricess dropped to their current levels, that figure rose well above 100%!

The primary achievement of this technology was the marketing and selling process used to put this kind of deal over on the solar investors caught up in the tulip craze!

A-Si still holds the record for highest ratio of investor losses suffered versus monies paid to the inventors/developers of the technology. Just look at the example of ECD and "Ovonics" for a business school case. Stan O is still chuckling.

But it looks like the massive investments in CIGS PV module production lines for a product that still costs more than x-Si instead of less will soon compete for that crown, with Solyndra the most publicized candidate firm to make it into the Harvard classroom studies, but there are definitively some other worthy contenders in the race.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Light Squared Stupidity

The idea that Light squared got a raw deal from the FCC is a joke!

Any moderately competent communications engineer could tell you their proposed system was certain to encounter problems with GPS. The only uncertainty was whether the problems would be serious or very serious! 

The technical evaluation that let them explore this system was massively biased in their favor. They just could not move the shares to the greater fools before someone woke up to how flawed the plan was.

Iridium failed because the company did not do proper market validation. Light squared did not do proper technical validation, or they thought they could politically influence the FCC process and sell to uninformed investors.

In this case the market worked. Let's let it work all the time.