#448 Jumping in Bed with Liz Cheney

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #448. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine jumping in bed with Liz Cheney. Over the years, she and I have disagreed on most every issue.
She’d want to do something one way. I’d want to it a different way. Rarely did we agree.

As the saying goes, never give up. Finally, after all those disagreements, I am in bed with Liz. Well, not that kind of bad, I mean the political bed.

Ms. Cheney has become one of few patriots in the Republican party. She’s upholding her duty to the US Constitution, not kowtowing to a political party and certainly not kowtowing to some wanna be dictator. Representative Cheney should be an example to both parties and voters everywhere of how an elected representative should behave.

Whichever way she votes on recommendations from the January 6 committee, she has demonstrated how members of Congress should approach issues affecting threats to our democracy. Rather than running to Mar-a-Lago and begging to be liked, Ms. Cheney acted like Lizzie Borden and gave old Donald 40 whacks.

Her behavior is an example of duty, honor, country. Republicans who support Ms. Cheney should be proud of her behavior. Republicans who don’t should take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask, “why am I bowing to a guy that tried to overthrow the US government?“ Then ask yourself, “If Trump were a Democrat with exactly the same policies and behavior, would I still support him?”

Liz, thanks for your service and willingness to stand up for what’s right. END #448

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#447 SCOTUS Encourages States to Reinstate Dred Scott

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #447: Following the leak of the draft of the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, far-right members of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Samuel Alito, publicly encouraged US states to pass laws that could challenge rights for blacks as affirmed by the Dred Scott decision.

During a meeting of Republican governors, Alito stated, “Just look at the US Constitution for guidance. When the Constitution was adopted, blacks were not equal to whites and blacks had no rights. Based on the original Constitution, there is no reason why blacks, and for that matter other non-white groups, should have the same rights as whites. “

Alito continued this opinion was shared by all conservative members of SCOTUS, except, of course, Chief Justice Roberts, whom Alito considers more liberal than conservative. When pressed about support from Justice Thomas for reinstating Dred Scott, Alito stated that Thomas agreed once he was guaranteed an exemption from any new laws that might affect his rights.

Far-right members also encouraged the governors to eliminate any laws protecting rights to privacy. Alito stated, “Why don’t people understand? There’s nothing in the US Constitution protecting privacy.“

When asked by a reporter from Fox if he meant the reference was to the wording of the US Constitution as originally approved, Alito responded sharply, “Of course! Are you some kind of idiot?“

The reporter then asked that “Since amendments to the Constitution were not part of the original document, does your position mean the 2nd Amendment no longer is valid and citizens no longer have the right to bear arms?“

Alito, obviously flustered, huffed and walked out of the meeting. His lapel microphone was still active, and he was heard mumbling about “the damn media.“

Ok, so the entry is tongue-in-cheek. But, don’t consider the theme too far fetched. Many of what most citizens consider everyday rights were denied in the Dred Scott vs Sanford decision. END ENTRY #447

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#446. What New Name Fits the GOP’s Behavior?

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #446: Over the past few years and especially the past 12-15 months, members at all levels of the Republican Party seem to have abandoned any guiding principles. To be a Republican candidate for the November 2022 election, one must be “all Trump all the time.”

No one with any credibility seems to claim that the current Republican Party is any longer the party of Lincoln. You remember that Lincoln guy, the president who saved the Union by putting down the rebellion by secessionist in the south. The guy who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves from bondage. The guy who tried to be fair to all.

For Republicans, those ideas are outdated. The new, more dynamic Republican Party has decided to morph into a blob of nothingness. The entire platform of the Republican Party is, well, nothing. No proposed solutions to any problem. No description of real problems. The entire Republican Platform is “just say no” to whatever idea is proposed, even if the idea benefits many people who tend to vote Republican. The only ideas the Republican Party seem to support are outlandish conspiracy theories, and the more outlandish the better.

If you want to continue to be a Republican, you must believe in Trump and Tucker (Carlson). Believe and do what the “T-Boys” say or you will be ousted from any role in the Republican Party. You don’t think so? Ask Liz Cheney (R,WY) and Lisa Murkowski (R,AK) about the consequences of being ethical and supporting democracy rather than following the proclamations of the T-Boy twins.

Given this shift in behavior, maybe it is time to rename Republican Party. What does the “new” GOP stand for? Certainly not the Grand Old Party. Maybe the Republican leadership should adopt one of the following names:
• Greed Overcoming Principles
• Generally Opposing People
• Gangster Operating Procedures
• Genuinely Outdated Proposals
• Giving Others Poop
• Groveling Over Putin
• Goofy Outlandish Politicians
• Grandiose Obfuscation Plans

What does the new, rudderless GOP mean for a possible 5th US Revolution, the Revenge Revolution? The new GOP is so far right and so far afield from a workable political party that the only way to realign it and reign in the crazies is with a full-scale revolution, something akin to a civil war.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly based on history, the 5th US Revolution has already started. Unlike the Civil War while Lincoln was president, the geographic boundaries for the 5th US Revolution are not as clear. The real test whether the US can minimize the damage of the revolution and regain some political stability will be following the November 2022 mid-term elections. Based on the behavior following the 2020 presidential elections and behavior leading into the primaries, Republicans will make every effort, illegal or not, to ensure only their candidates are certified as winners, regardless of the vote count.

With widespread shenanigans by Republicans, the sane part of the US populace might finally wake up and begin to squash the revolt. Unfortunately, as we experienced with the January 6 insurrection, there likely will be bloodshed, but following November the bloodshed will be greater and more widespread than January 6. END ENTRY #446

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#445 Why Let Oil Traders Control US Gas-Pump Prices? (con’t)

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

Entry #443 raised the question whether the US should link gas-pump prices to spot oil prices. This entry offers some additional information.

First, let me clarify that the presumed link between spot oil prices and pump prices was assumed to be at the macro level, i.e., average national price, and not intended to predict prices at an individual gas station. Obviously, there are numerous factors affecting prices at any individual gas station – rent, competition, geographic location, transportation cost, state taxes, and so forth.

The variables affecting pump prices at a specific station probably account for no more than 20% of the pump price, and likely far less.  If one had data over time of pump prices at a specific station, the correlation to spot prices might parallel the correlation for national prices.

In determining whether national gas-pump prices track spot-oil prices, I was reminded of some guidance conveyed while a graduate student at MIT. One of the professors at the Sloan School was fond of saying, “when in doubt, run a regression.”  The advice has proved valuable over the years, at least to get a handle on possible causes.

Obviously, correlation does not equal causation. At the same time, when the variables appear inextricably linked, a high correlation increases the likelihood of causation.

For the spot-price/pump-price correlation I used two data bases from the Energy Information Administration: (i) spot oil prices for WTI (West Texas Intermediate); (ii) average US gas prices. The data gathered by EIA are reported by week.  Spot oil price was the independent variable. 

To get some idea of the correlation, five (5) different periods were selected, ranging from three (3) months to 15+ months, including prices published during the week of 04/11/2022.  The periods were selected somewhat randomly and might not be the most representative.   Nonetheless, the five periods included different levels of stability and a range of prices. The widest variation in prices occurred during CY2008, when maximum oil price was $142.52, 4.32x higher than the minimum price of $32.98.  The least variation during 1994, when maximum oil prices only varied $3.30/bbl.

Note: The degree of correlation is noted in the column titled “R2“. The higher the number, the higher the correlation. An R2 of 1.0 would indicate that gas-pump prices change at exactly the same rate as spot oil prices. Any R2 above 0.8 indicates a indicates a very strong relationship.

The pattern of the correlation was remarkably consistent. The higher the spot price and the greater the volatility in spot prices, the higher the correlation. Only in 1994 when spot prices stayed in a narrow band, and gas prices changed even less, did the correlation drop significantly. Since pump prices remained so stable in 1994, even a small movement in spot prices would reduce the R2

The correlation did include a two-period lag between spot prices and pump prices as published by EIA.  The data were lagged to allow for some delay gathering and reporting pump prices and for some delay between changes in spot price and changes at the gas pump. The lagging increased R2 a few points compared to using EIA data published during the same calendar week.

No adjustment was made to gas prices for changes in state taxes or changes in refining mix. For example, in the upper Midwest, the gasoline “blend” changes in the summer. For many years, and it still might be the case, the capacity to refine that summer blend was limited, so sharp jumps in pump prices were common, even if spot oil prices remained stable or declined slightly. I recall one business trip to northern Indiana in early summer when the pump prices at the same station increased nearly $0.40/gallon between morning and evening.

The correlation, in my view, reinforces the need to address the question, “If the US is so concerned about how fuel-pump prices affect CPI and other costs, then why does the US allow pump prices to be linked to spot-oil prices?” The link seems especially unnecessary since the US has reduced imports and in CY2021 became a net exporter of fossil-fuel products. 

The cost of domestically produced oil does not change whether the spot price for WTI is $100/bbl, $10/bbl or $1/bbl. The cost to refine the oil (WTI) does not change because refining is a processing cost, not a raw material cost.

As noted in the first memo, if the US wants to begin to make fuel prices more predictable for consumers and businesses, a good first step would be for the Biden administration to complete a comprehensive analysis of anticipated crude-oil supply based on different fixed prices.  And, yes, the analysis should review why such efforts have either failed or succeeded in other countries.

With such a large domestic supply and production base, such a study would help bring to light the enormous impact of spot prices on pump prices and how influential a few oil traders are in affecting the disposable incomes of many US citizens.  The decision might be to continue the current approach.  However, having a meaningful debate whether to implement a fixed national price or a hybrid version, having less volatile price for gasoline and diesel (before tax) would help manage inflation, would help sustain economic growth and might help focus members of Congress on attempting to address and solve real problems.

Note: The NY State Attorney General apparently believes the oil companies might be price gouging.  The AG opened an investigation.  A number of media reports 04/14/2022. END ENTRY #445

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#444. Trump Trifecta — Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #444: Over the 8+ years writing this blog, I tried to focus political comments on behavior rather than focusing on a particular political party.  During the Trump administration it was very difficult to maintain balance, given the number of stunning acts by Trump and staff.

Since President Biden took office, the number of crazy acts by Trump and allies has slowed but the intensity of each act has increased. The past few weeks the behaviors of Trump et al have set a new standard. The individuals involved could be categorized as dumb, dumber and dumbest.  Welcome to the Trump trifecta.

Most of the bizarre comments by Trump-touting Republicans have centered on three events:

  1. Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing regarding nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to SCOTUS
  2. Discussions about Russian invasion of Ukraine
  3. Texts by the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas encouraging White House staff et al to overturn the election

During the Judicial Committee hearings four Republicans demonstrated why the approval rating of Congress rivals the approval rating of a used-car salesman, with the rating for Congress possibly lower.

Judge Jackson who currently sits on the DC Circuit, was berated by Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn – an appropriate name for insulting Judge Jackson.

As is wont for Republicans of late, claims were made based on statements taken out of context and/or data that was distorted or cherrypicked from a more comprehensive data set, all in an effort to discredit Judge Jackson. The distortions were intended to “prove” Judge Jackson was soft on pedophiles, supported the theory that babies are born racist and a host of other spurious claims.

Virtually every question related to decisions prior to Judge Jackson’s arrival on the DC circuit. In previous hearings before this same committee regarding her nomination to a higher court, none of the same, or even similar questions were asked.

The Republican protagonists, all of whom likely want to run for president, apparently felt compelled to throw red meat to the hard right Republican primary voters.  While the questions were insulting and frustrating, more disturbing was the lack of any effort by the other members of Congress to distance themselves from the foolish foursome of Senators.

In addition, it seems the cat got the tongue of all Republican senators with respect to comments by Trump and the Fox talking head Tucker Carlson.  Both Trump and Carlson have continued to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At a recent political rally in Atlanta, Trump again repeated the assertion that Putin was a genius.

Given the sorry state of the Russian economy and how poorly Russian troops have performed in Ukraine, why would anyone call Putin a genius?  Unless, of course, Putin had Trump by the short hairs over some financial transaction or illicit activity.

There seems to be more than ample evidence much of the money Trump used to expand the business, including buying golf courses, was provided by Russian sources. When Trump purchased a private Country Club on the north side of Charlotte, NC, Donald Trump, Junior proudly stated that Russian money was the source of funding.

As far as the behavior of Tucker Carlson, I’m sure Republicans would remain silent if a nightly commentator on MSNBC or CNN made similar comments during the broadcast.  Tucker Carlson seems more like a modern day Tokyo Rose.

Completing the trifecta for Republican dumbness was the publication of information about texts by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Mrs. Thomas’ texts encouraged Mark Meadows, then White House chief of staff, and others to help overturn the 2020 election. Thomas continued those texts until the January 6th insurrection and even participated in some events prior to the storming of the Capitol.

Clarence Thomas, who so far has refused to recuse himself from any cases before SCOTUS involving Trump, apparently has no intention of doing so in the future. And where have Republicans been during these revelations? Apparently, the cat still has their tongue because no comments at all.

You’d think the pillars of integrity of the Republicans, you know like Representative Jim Jordan (OH), would take a stand in favor of integrity.  On a more realistic note, where are Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowsky and even Richard Burr?  You’d think Burr might speak up since he’s not running for reelection.  What does he have to lose by taking a stand?  (On a side note, at least Senator Collins agreed to support the nomination of Judge Jackson.  So far the only Republican. Senators Murkowsky and Romney later joined Senator Collins in voting for Judge Jackson.)

What does the behavior Republicans have exhibited the past few weeks and especially the past five years have to do with the likelihood of a 5th US Revolution?  For certain the behavior of Republicans has increased the odds of a revolution beyond 50:50.  In fact, with each passing week part of the US population seems to be speeding toward instigating a revolution rather than working on solving the problems we face. END OF ENTRY #444

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#443 Why Are US Gas Prices Linked to Spot Prices?

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

ENTRY #443 BEGINS: With the rise in gasoline prices, many politicians and their supporters are blaming the Biden administration for the price increases and also demanding that the Biden administration expand the number of leases on Federal land, including allowing drilling in the Artic National Wildlife preserve.  The rhetoric makes for good campaign soundbites, but who or what really determines the price of gasoline in the US? And, is there a more effective way to manage gas prices?

Crude oil is a commodity.  Like virtually every commodity, there is an exchange where contracts are negotiated and traded.  The price for a barrel of oil on the exchanges, aka “spot price, can fluctuate wildly based on how oil traders view the potential impact of world events on crude-oil supply and/or demand. The benchmark quality for these contracts is based on oil produced in West Texas (West Texas Intermediate) or the North Sea area (Brent crude).

In the US, pump prices for gasoline generally track changes in the spot price.  The spot price, however, bears almost no relation to the cost of production.

As the US has produced a larger share of domestic consumption, the rationale for linking the price of crude-oil as feeder stock to pump prices has been minimized, if not eliminated.  According to data from the US Energy Information Administration, for CY2021 the US exported more petroleum (crude oil and related products) than it imported – exports of 8.63 mmb/d vs. imports of 8.47 mmb/d. 

in CY2021 more than 50% of the imports were from Canada.  Some of the exports may be linked to trade agreements with other countries and/or to ensure that certain countries friendly to the US have a constant supply of oil and/or refined petroleum-based products.

Given the widespread concern within the US about fluctuating gasoline prices, why does the US continue to link gasoline prices at the pump to spot prices? Aside from the link benefiting the oil companies, either no one in Congress understands the issue or the oil lobby is in the pockets of many members of Congress, or possibly both.

Even if the US imported say 50% of daily consumption, one needs to ask whether it is necessary to link pump prices to spot prices. If the cost of 50% of gasoline is stable, then why does the pump price fluctuate solely based on the other 50%?

A solution to more stable pump prices would be to set a national price for gasoline (and diesel).  For discussion set the price without any taxes at $3.00/gallon.  Over time, the $3.00 price would be adjusted for inflation.  As is done now, the state and the Federal governments could add a tax to the $3.00/gallon price.

Would a fixed national price reduce supply of crude and gasoline? Businesses do not like uncertainty. The greater the uncertainty, the higher the required profit margin to compensate for the risk. The premium for uncertainty applies at each stage of the supply chain. The more stable or known the raw material cost for a product, the lower the premium for the finished product.

In the oil-and-gas business, most of the cost is incurred up front – exploration, leasing the land, drilling and installing equipment to operate the well. Improvements in processes and technology have reduced significantly the likelihood of a dry hole. Further, 3D imaging has increased the accuracy of the estimated size of the reservoir and the expected production rate.  Once in operation, the cost of extracting oil is minimal in most fields.

The Biden administration might be well served to conduct a comprehensive analysis of anticipated crude-oil supply based on different fixed prices.  Given the effectiveness of applying technology in exploration and drilling techniques, a safe bet would be US production could be maintained for many years extracting oil from existing fields and reopening abandoned fields. Further, with a known, or certain price for gasoline and possibly other refined oil products, US production likely would increase, not decrease.

With such a large domestic supply and production base, why does the US continue to allow the world spot price to have such an enormous impact on the pump price?  A fixed national price for gasoline and diesel (before tax) might be an example how the political parties can work together to solve real problems. The solution to managing gasoline pump prices might also eliminate some of the political divisions that seem to be making a 5th US Revolution more likely. ENTRY #443 ENDS

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#442. “Hail Caesar! Our Beloved Julius Is Dead.”

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #442: This entry has nothing to do with a likely 5th US revolution. The entry was prompted by the date – March 15th, aka the Ides of March.

For those fortunate, or maybe unfortunate enough to have taken Latin, the Ides of March is a big deal.  The saying, “Beware of the Ides of March,” is associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar. Another saying associated with the Ides of March is “Et tu, Brute?” which Caesar uttered as his friend Brutus joined other senators in the assassination. Whether Caesar uttered these words is problematic.  However, the phrase has been popularized by a scene in Shakespeare’s play, “Julius Caesar.”   

After school during most of my high-school days. I worked in a flower shop. As the Ides of March approached, I thought some type of recognition should be made for the death of Caesar.  What could be more appropriate than to honor Caesar than a flower arrangement?

So, during Latin class on the 15th of March, one of the fulltime employees delivered 3 carnations dyed black in a black bud vase. Attached to the stem of one of the carnations was a sympathy card that read, “Hail, Caesar! Our beloved Julius is dead.”

Members of the class got the joke. The Latin teacher, a bit of a sour puss, didn’t.  Rather she thought the class had gone out if its way to honor Caesar.  And she loved every minute of it.

While the Latin teacher might have gotten the last laugh, as it were, the effort of having the arrangement delivered was well worth it. Every March 15th I smile thinking about those black carnations with the sympathy card being delivered to class. “Hail Caesar!”

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#441 What Does One Pray for?

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

BEGIN ENTRY #441: At the beginning of services last Friday night, the rabbi asked congregants to do something.  Doubtless, a similar request was made at services of all faiths throughout the weekend and, unfortunately, likely will be repeated for weeks or months to come.

The rabbi asked congregants to pray for the people of Ukraine. I listened and thought the request was quite appropriate. Then I thought, just what am I going to pray for? The Ukrainians have done nothing wrong. The Ukrainians are completely innocent. So, rather than praying for the Ukrainian people, shouldn’t I be praying for Vladamir Putin to quit being so stupid and arrogant? Shouldn’t I be praying for Putin to become incapacitated or even die so then the Russians can withdraw from Ukraine?

I must not be good at praying because praying for something negative to happen doesn’t seem right. And praying for innocent people not to get killed or injured doesn’t seem right either. Maybe I should just be praying for the situation to end peacefully and quietly.  Doing so might be a good start.

#440: Adding a Question When Discussing Black Suppression

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

ENTRY #440 BEGINS: We are near the end of February, which some years ago, was designated as Black History Month. A major event during this month was the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court and, if confirmed, would be the first black woman to serve on SCOTUS.

Judge Jackson has stellar educational and work credentials. Two other possible nominees, also black women, are also highly educated and qualified.

During February, while the speculation about the SCOTUS nominee received considerable media attention, there was also frequent mention from various high-profile blacks that we, societal we, need to have an honest conversation about the history of how blacks have been suppressed over time.

I agree that historical suppression of blacks is a fair topic. I also think the conversation about the effects of suppression needs to include a simple question. “Why has every other ethnic group in the US been able to move up the economic ladder within two to three generations?”

Before claiming these other ethnic groups weren’t discriminated against or suppressed like blacks, one needs to read the history books. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were signs reading, “No Irish or dogs allowed.”  Similar signs were put up about Italians and various other groups, some far more recently.

Targeting non-black groups continues today.  The march in Charlottesville, VA during the early days of the Trump administration, in addition to targeting blacks, targeted Jews.  In the past couple of years, several synagogues have been attacked and a number of people killed.

So back to the question that needs to be discussed, “why have blacks continued at the bottom rung of the economic ladder for so long?”  Yes, I understand the question is politically incorrect and may even be offensive to some people.  However, without addressing such difficult questions, progress becomes impossible.

Over time education has proved to be a key for upward mobility.  Education does not mean everyone should or needs to go to college.  Technical training is an ideal route for many. 

The discussion also needs to ask whether society is providing the right kind of support for blacks.  While modern school buildings and access to an iPad are nice, education only works when the individual has the desire to learn and is willing to commit time and effort to learning.

Without that desire and commitment at the individual level, educational efforts are as effective as pushing on a string.   No matter how much energy is expended pushing on the string, not much happens at the other end.

As demonstrated repeatedly by other ethnic groups, even with a desire for and a commitment to education, significant economic mobility will take several generations.  For blacks specifically, the Emancipation Proclamation was about 160 years ago, or 6-7 generations. There have been three generations since the SCOTUS decision of Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned the separate but equal clause from Plessy v. Ferguson.

A controversial idea.  Maybe it is time to revisit the ideas of Plessy, but this time with fair implementation.  For many black families, there has been limited exposure to post-secondary education.  The transition from high school to college is difficult for most every student.  And with fewer family experiences to draw on, the transition for black students might be even more difficult.

Is it time that we, back to societal we, consider beefing up resources provided to various historically black colleges and universities?  HBCU’s could be an ideal environment for many black students to achieve the transition between high school and college.   HCBU’s have produced a plethora of highly successful graduates, including VP of the US, Kamala Harris. 

The scope of education at HCBU’s could be expanded to include more courses in the skilled trades.  As the economy becomes more reliant on digital-based equipment, the education for skilled trades needs to increase the amount of technical knowledge in addition to teaching the skills of the particular trade. 

To begin to grasp how much more sophisticated the equipment is than 10-years ago and certainly 20-years ago, one only needs to look at a recent episode of “This Old House.”  Even more striking is the difference in the use of digital-driven equipment in manufacturing.    

The technical training at HBCU’s could be complemented with business training.  Not everyone needs to earn an MBA, but many students would be well served by classes in the fundamentals of operating a business — accounting, budgeting, cash flow management, etc. 

The combination of some traditional education and technical training could help HCBU’s become a major source of highly skilled graduates for many industries.  Some HCBU’s could add a co-op program that would allow students with limited resources to earn enough money for tuition and living expense while also getting an education and real-world experience. 

These ideas do not eliminate the reality of the effects of suppression of blacks.  The ideas do help change the focus toward the future.  Rather than driving while only looking in the rearview mirror, blacks can start driving while looking through the windshield and occasionally glancing in the rearview mirror.  Doing so will speed up the trip away from the bottom rung of the economic ladder.   

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/  

#439 Whose Right and Who’s Wrong?

Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

ENTRY #439 BEGINS: The pandemic seems to have spurred many people to begin claiming their individual rights have been violated. But when it comes to decisions affecting others, who has the right?

Many of the claims of individual rights center on wearing masks and/or requiring vaccinations. So let’s assess, “whose right and who’s wrong?

Many anti-maskers claim no one can force them to wear a mask. Well, the mandate does not force anyone to wear a mask. The mandate only forces a mask if you are involved in certain behavior. Want to avoid the mandate? Then stay at home.

But if you want to go shopping, say at a grocery store, then who has the right to decide whether a mask is required? If the store requires all shoppers and staff to wear a mask, then the store is not discriminating against anyone. Everyone who shops there must wear a mask.

Anti-maskers claim their rights are being violated by the mask requirement. How are rights being violated? Everyone who shops at the grocery store must wear a mask. If you don’t want to shop for groceries at the store, buy groceries elsewhere or buy them online and have the groceries delivered. No one is being singled out. Everyone who shops at the grocery store must follow the same rules.

If a restaurant requires a coat and tie to eat dinner there and welcomes all who comply, then how are individual rights being violated? Don’t want to wear a coat and tie? Then eat elsewhere.

What about an employer requiring vaccinations? Everyone who works for the employer is a subject to the same requirement. Whose rights are being violated. The employer has a right, and in most cases is required legally, to protect the safety of employees. Don’t like the rules of the company? Get another job.

Another high profile, but more complicated and controversial story about individual rights, is an alleged claim of discrimination by the New York Giants, and implicitly the NFL, in considering candidates for a new head coach. One of the candidates, who was not hired, claims in a class-action suit that the New York Giants and all 32 NFL teams discriminate against prospective him, in part because he’s black.

Huh? Maybe the New York Giants didn’t want to hire the guy because his record as a coach was mediocre and was fired from his last job.

Part of the plaintiff’s claim notes about 70% of the NFL players are black. OK, so they’re black. From all indications those players were selected for the teams based on their ability to play football, not because they were black.

If race were key criteria in selecting players, then less than 20% of the players in the NFL, and the NBA, would be black. If merit is a key criteria for playing, why isn’t merit a key criteria for hiring coaches?

No one is forcing black athletes to play in the NFL or NBA. If the players or prospective players believe their rights are being violated, don’t join the NFL. Find something else to do.

Individuals do have many rights and those rights are sometimes infringed upon. For example, a question for those claiming the mask requirement violates their individual rights. What’s your position on the rights of women to seek an abortion?

Whose rights are superior, the rights of the individual woman or the rights of a bunch of elected officials, most of whom that promote abortion restrictions are male?

Does the argument that companies and organizations have rights that sometimes supersede an individual’s rights mean there is no discrimination? Not at all.

But the idea that an individual‘s rights always supersede everyone else’s is simplistic, selfish and non-workable. FYI anti-maskers, a democracy is created when a group of people decide to relinquish certain individual rights in favor of an organization to oversee the collective rights of the citizens. That organization is called government. By the way, the way to make changes in a democracy is called voting.

Other Topics. Interested in more info about climate change, what’s required to electrify a fleet of cars/trucks, what it was like to work day-to-day with Lee Iacocca and an array of other topics? Visit another page of this website, https://usrevolution5.com/jrd-thought-comments/