Free Resources

PM-KnorIt is hard to imagine if bricks of gold were walking across our borders that we’d complain about the need to build vaults to keep the gold safe. We’d simply know it was worth the investment. But people are a resource that pays off better than gold. We somehow lose sight of this in fear or pessimism. But if we invest in people we are always better off. To me that is the real message behind the lines on the Statue of Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

– The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus\

It is a wonderful reminder that as Americans we thrive on the potential every person brings to our country. While we have to be reasonable about keeling those out that truly mean to harm people. We do ourselves the biggest harm when we search out excuses to keep people out. For me bravery, freedom and compassion are American values, not fear, scapegoating and indifference.

A Madman has spoken…

Trump’d Up Immigration Charges

I think almost everyone in the world now knows the words that Donald Trump used to describe immigration from Mexico into the United States. But the fervent responses to the provocative language he used to describe immigrants has missed a much larger issue in his thoughts.

Candidate Trump described immigration from Mexico to the United States as Mexico sending immigrants to the United States. This is simply not the way immigration works. It would actually be more accurate to say the U.S. is stealing motivated entrepreneurs from Mexico. The reason is simple; in reality, immigration happens when individuals decide they want to move. And currently the barriers to getting into the United States from Mexico mean the individuals who want to come here need to be motivated, willing to take risks and be industrious. When they get into the United States, they need to adapt and quickly figure how to make a living, often by being a self-employed contractor. Yes, these immigrants are creating jobs.

I am, of course, also choosing provocative language, but at least it cuts closer to the truth.

A Madman has spoken…

The Candid 47%

Recently, I was caught in a conversation rehashing the infamous “47 percent” comment by Gov. Mitt Romney. Something had been nagging me about the whole brouhaha.

It is a reality of the political process that candidates may “let their hair” down when talking with supporters and are likely to state things poorly. So we should have thick skins when we are given a peek into that realm.

In the case of the 47 percent comment, all Romney was stating is that there is a good portion of the electorate that is not going to vote for him so he has to focus elsewhere. And that, since there was 47 percent that doesn’t pay income taxes, that percentage wouldn’t vote for him. It’s a simple truth, right?

The problem is that the 47 percent, as already reported, has a lot of retirees and veterans and many of these are going to vote for Romney.

I believe the Romney team is bright and competent and therefore knows that the 47 percent is split among both President Barack Obama and Romney and that most of the Obama voters do pay taxes. So, the reality gnawing at me is that Romney chose to deceive his own supporters. I wonder why he chose to paint his and Obama’s supporters inaccurately?

A Madman has spoken…

Just Say No

It is tiring hearing various conservative pundits whine about how Obama policies have failed to recover the economy.  You see we don’t’ know what Obama’s policies would have done if they weren’t blocked by partisan politics. Basically the only economic policy that was passed was the stimulus package, and as that money was spent the economy went from terrible to slowly growing.  Ever since then any economic policies have been stopped by the house of representatives and republican senators. We’ve been kept in policy neutral by a “Just say No” congress.  It seems they are scared that working toward compromise might actually make things better. Basically a lot of hand wringing about keeping their jobs.


A Madman has spoken…

Let them eat broccoli..

I found the question from the Supreme Court, on whether our Congress could pass a law compelling citizens to eat broccoli, intriguing. It elicits an image of a nanny state and ludicrous overreach in a single question. But if “compel” or “mandate” means can the Congress make people who don’t buy broccoli pay more in taxes, then, surprisingly, it seems to me the answer is yes.

That Congress causes someone to pay more in taxes for not buying something may seem like something new, but it really isn’t. It is simply just a different way of presenting tax breaks that we have become accustomed to. We have given our Congress the power to tax our incomes. So members could pass a law adding, say, $1,000 per year to everyone. Then, at the same time, they could pass a tax rebate of $1,000 for anyone buying broccoli. This is identical to just raising the taxes by $1,000 on anyone not buying broccoli.

Of course, in this theoretical case, our Congress could “compel” us to buy broccoli but not necessarily make us eat it. Notice the above model only depended on three things: the ability to raise income taxes, the ability to do so on a flat tax basis and the ability to offer a tax rebate. Of course such a law would likely spur recall elections and the election a new Congress to change the taxes back. But who knows? Maybe our Supreme Court has now sparked some ideas.

A Madman has spoken…

Creating a better health care market

As an independent consultant I would I would really like to buy health insurance in an open market, at reasonable rates. I’d like the market to be transparent. I’d like to not have to worry about being denied or having coverage suddenly dropped because of a preexisting condition. I don’t even mind living by the necessary rationing and restriction that today’s insurers apply.

As an American, I want as many of the uninsured to participate in this market since they should pay their way as much as possible, rather than having to wait until they are admitted to emergency rooms where the costs are higher and they can’t pay. When they can’t pay then we all pay a portion of that bill. I would really like all these common sense things. But there are 41 members of the Senate that don’t want me to have these. To get fair open market for health care I want fewer Republican Senators to be elected.


A Madman has spoken…

The high cost of exclusion

If we are going to build marketplaces of medical insurance it is in our interest to have all potential patients participate. Basically we don’t want to exclude anyone who might use the system from buying health insurance that is offered at a profitable price.  There are of course people we don’t want to pay any part of their insurance premium. The reason is simple if we keep someone from buying health insurance they are still just as likely to need care and some of them will end up in emergency rooms costing us all in higher health costs.  So anyone we exclude from buying health insurance ironically will end up being subsidized in the worst possible way.  And we let them buy health insurance we are letting them pay their fair share.  Yes it is stupid to exclude any potential patient of the health care system, even if those potential patients are called illegal immigrants.


A Madman has spoken

Auto Bailout Consequences

I am a concerned citizen and technology entrepreneur writing to you as an auto industry bailout is considered. I want to share insights gained by being part of small technology companies competing against established market leaders. My experience has been in the aerospace and software markets so I have no direct interest in the automotive industry.

Any established technology has a large advantage over emerging technologies. Existing technologies have an established track record with customers, efficiencies of scale and basic market / mind share. If current auto manufacturers receive financial assistance in this tight credit market it will increase these already high barrier to new technologies.

As with any technology there are always small companies trying to evolve or revolutionize the industry. Here are three examples in the auto industry:

1. Fiberforge, a company creating thermoplastic composites that are stronger and lighter then steel. And could be used to improve fuel efficiency and even reduce manufacturing costs. Based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

2. Aptera, a company that has built a hybrid 3 seat vehicle capable of 230 mpg, as a diesel pluggable hybrid or act as a 100% electric vehicle. Based in Carlsbad, California

3. Tesla Motors, a bay area company selling an all-electric sports car. They have also designed a sedan that would extend the practicality of an all-electric vehicle to many more buyers. Based in San Carlos, California.

If these or other companies succeed they will build an industry of parts manufacturers and support industries. More importantly if companies like this do not succeed it won’t stop innovation from happening. The next generation of vehicle technologies will occur, but it will occur elsewhere in the world.

If today’s auto companies are “bailed out” with no consideration for tomorrow’s auto technology companies we’ll put ourselves behind in the long term. That does not mean supporting the current industry is wrong. But, if we do it is in our best interest to provide substantive support to emerging companies in the market as well.


A Madman has spoken…

Of lipstick and hot air

Most of the time a rose is a rose and a pig is a pig

But when you put lipstick on a pig you now get a lot of hot air. Because “change” has become a key issue to voters, Sen. John McCain has predictably started calling himself a “change candidate.”

Just as predictably, Sen. Barack Obama wants to portray McCain as not being a candidate of change. Obama described McCain’s claim to change as selling the some old policies as something new and different.

To do this, Obama used on old phrase that he and McCain have used before, “You can put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change.’ It’s still gonna’ stink. We’ve had enough of the same old thing.”

As an American, I understand what Obama is trying to say. Up to now, it is all pretty normal. Then somehow the “lipstick” part of a comment is picked up in the media and portrayed as a slur on Gov. Sarah Palin.

The McCain campaign has even created an ad showing this as a smear to Palin. Why does McCain think we are dimwits who don’t understand what Obama was really attacking?

And why hasn’t McCain responded to the real statement, that the policies he promotes are the same as the policies that President Bush has been promoting?


A Madman has spoken…

Give me back the straight talk, John

Our political system really needs straight talk. With each passing election, candidates show less and less respect for truth. Because of this I was very happy when Sen. John McCain became a candidate for president. But the past few weeks have been sadly disappointing.

Listening to McCain say Sen. Barack Obama was willing to “lose a war in order to win a campaign” is a President Bush tactic — basically paint anyone who disagrees with your policies as unpatriotic [“McCain: U.S. can win, not go back to Iraq,” Times, July 24].

But it gets worse. Asked about his statement, McCain said he was not questioning Obama’s patriotism. This level of disdain for the U.S. public attention is another aspect of today’s politics. When you say someone is willing to put their self-interest above our country and then claim you are not questioning their patriotism, guess what — you are not “talking straight.”

Sen. McCain, I had a great deal of respect for your candidacy and hope you get back to straight talk. You tell Obama he should go to Iraq and Afghanistan, then call him presumptuous when he goes and visits the same world leaders you have. You claim he is naive for questioning the surge in Iraq. Surging troops in Iraq limits us from surging troops in Afghanistan, something you say is needed.

Both you and Obama want to win a war, but you disagree on whether that requires emphasizing Afghanistan or Iraq. True naivety is not recognizing trade-offs — even a tactic yielding benefits may not be the right choice.


A Madman has spoken…