For fun, and because I want to laugh at myself when I’m wrong, here is my 2012 Electoral College prediction:
Obama 303 – Romney 235
At the same time, corporate profits were booming. In 2006, the year before the Great Recession began, corporate profits garnered the largest share of national income since 1942, while the share going to wages and salaries sank to the lowest level since 1929. In the recession’s aftermath, corporate profits have bounced back while middle-class incomes have stagnated.
Today the prevailing cut-to-the-bone business ethos means that a company like Caterpillar demands a wage freeze and lower health benefits from its workers, while posting record profits.
Globalization, including the rise of Asia, and technological innovation can’t explain all or even most of today’s gaping inequality; if they did, we would see in other advanced economies the same hyperconcentration of wealth and the same stagnation of middle-class wages as in the United States. But we don’t.
In Germany, still a manufacturing and export powerhouse, average hourly pay has risen five times faster since 1985 than in the United States. The secret of Germany’s success, says Klaus Kleinfeld, who ran the German electrical giant Siemens before taking over the American aluminum company Alcoa in 2008, is “the social contract: the willingness of business, labor and political leaders to put aside some of their differences and make agreements in the national interests.”
In short, German leaders have practiced stakeholder capitalism and followed the century-old wisdom of Henry Ford, while American business and political leaders have dismantled the dynamics of the “virtuous circle” in pursuit of downsizing, offshoring and short-term profit and big dividends for their investors.
To recap, I have an old Stratasys 3D printer (mid-to-late 90s machine, but works fine) and early last summer I printed a modified version of the lower from cncguns.com (I beefed up the front takedown lugs, bolt hold lugs, and added an integral trigger guard).
It’s had over 200 rounds of .22 through it so far and runs great! To the best of my knowledge, this is the world’s first 3D printed firearm to actually be tested, but I have a hard time believing that it really is the first.
While this firearm is composed of a 3d printed lower receiver (which holds the ammunition clip, trigger and butt stock) and a regular upper which holds the firing mechanism, creating the gas-pressure required for the bullet to fire, this is undoubtably a harbinger of things to come. What will happen when metal sintering machines become cheap, available, and with the right tolerances to withstand the pressure of a bullet discharing?
At what point will government start to restrict printing machine or digital files? Adobe Photoshop already can detect the presence of banknotes and disallow printing banknotes (as does some copiers and printers) based on the presence of EURion constellation found on banknotes (constellation found below, which would render this webpage unprintable).
Further on in the thread user ultramagbrion comments:
As far as the manufacture of firearms goes , I dont think these machines will force any law changes , one way or the other . It’s still just a matter of making something , whether it be a decorative widget for your daughter , or a suppressor baffle for your buddy in the militia . . . .somethings are GTG , and some are verboten .
Laws are laws , and they’re already in place to say what you can and cant make , and what you can or can’t do with it once it IS made . I dont think the ATF is going to care HOW you made the suppressor baffle , but the fact that you made it in the first place . Whether you hand carved it with a Dremel and file , spun it up on your bench-top Southbend , hammered it out from a store-bought washer , or spit out 400 an hour from your $400 antique screw machine or $400,000 CNC turning center . . . . the baffle is still illegal to own without jumping through the proper hoops .
At what point will we be making the ammunition so expensive that the 3d printed firearms are worthless piles of plastic?
Living in New York City I’ve never been to where the state government is located: Albany; I can count on one hand my friends who have been to Albany. It is fairly clear that Albany has no clue, or care, about the needs of New York City, cf., denying the city the right to police bus lanes using video cameras, denying the city the ability to raise money and regulate automobile usage in Manhattan’s urban core through the implementation of a congestion charge, and on, and on; to the point that I’ve agitated, in half-jest, for partition creating a separate state for New York City.
So it comes as no surprise that a 2012 research paper from the Harvard Kennedy School and Singapore Management University entitled
empirical connection between isolated capital cities and greater levels of corruption across U.S. states.Holding a
very robust connection… with different measures of corruption, and different measures of the degree of isolation of the capital city.
Isolated capitals are often smaller than the cities which drive the economy:
Which means that voter turnout in those states are lower. Furthermore, the authors find the following conclusion:
We have explored the connections between the spatial distribution of population, accountability and corruption, in the context of US states. We ﬁrst established the stylized fact that isolated capital cities are associated with greater levels of corruption. This holds true for diﬀerent measures of the isolation of the capital, and of corruption.
We also saw evidence that state politicians tend to get more money from campaign contributions in states with isolated capitals, belying the fear that having the capital in a major economic center would lead to a greater risk of capture of state politics by economic interests – and consistent with the idea that lower levels of accountability in isolated capitals would actually increase that risk.
From a policy perspective, in particular, one is led to conclude that extra vigilance might be needed, when it comes to polities with isolated capital cities, in order to counteract their tendency towards reduced accountability.
It has been a busy few days for the Frank Gehry designed Eisenhower Memorial. Yesterday we talked about the Eisenhower Memorial Critics, and I have been corresponding with critics from the National Civic Art Society in hopes to share their viewpoint here with their commentary.
Also yesterday Gehry Partners unveiled revisions to the Eisenhower Memorial:
The new proposal, unveiled at an Eisenhower Memorial Commission meeting, retains the metal tapestries surrounding an urban park framework, but offers changes to the memorial core that the architect hopes will give greater prominence to Eisenhower’s stature and accomplishments.
Gone are bas-relief sculptures in favor of three-dimensional, heroic-size statues of Eisenhower as president and general, with space for his accomplishments on the stone blocks and quotations on lintels above them. The changes address some of the original design’s focus on Eisenhower’s modesty by putting forth a more muscular representation of his leadership.
Frank Gehry, in a letter read by his chief of staff remarked, “How do you represent a man of such towering achievement whose modesty was one of his core values?” Gehry wrote. “I have refined the design to incorporate this feedback, which I believe helps tell the story of Eisenhower with more dignity and more power.”
Critics haven’t been mollified:
After the Tuesday meeting, critics said the new design still did not address key conceptual and aesthetic concerns. Justin Shubow, president of National Civic Art Society, says the memorial “still portrays Eisenhower as an unrecognizable boy or young man, which is at its core.”
Milton Grenfell, vice chairman of the civic art society and a classical architecture advocate, said the new design remained overscale, “with huge iron curtains,” and called the inscribed stones perched atop one another “willful” and “anti-aesthetic,” giving a feeling of “something that’s not going to last.” He said he hoped Congress would have a chance to weigh in.
I will have to disagree with the two critics mentioned by the Washington Post, both who work for the National Civic Art Society.
I don’t understand why showing Eisenhower throughout his life as a boy, a leader of men in combat, and a leader of men in service as President is an issue. From my understanding his humility was a core feature of his life. Furthermore a memorial illustrating how a boy from Abilene, Kansas grew up to lead one of the most powerful forces ever constructed during World War II, and then put aside his weapons to lead the nation as a civilian President is uniquely American.
His seminal Homecoming Speech in Abilene, Kansas on June 22, 1945 explicitly links his dreams to his youth and a deflection of honor from himself to the men he commanded:
Because no man is really a man who has lost out of himself all of the boy, I want to speak first of the dreams of a barefoot boy. Frequently, they are to be of a street car conductor or he sees himself as the town policeman, above all he may reach to a position of locomotive engineer, but always in his dreams is that day when he finally comes home. Comes home to a welcome from his own home town. Because today that dream of mine of 45 years or more ago has been realized beyond the wildest stretches of my own imagination, I come here, first, to thank you, to say the proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.
One more word, there was one thing in the parade today that was in error. A number of signs – I saw a sign, “Welcome to our Hero.” I am not the hero, I am the symbol of the heroic men you people and all the United states have sent to war. It has been my great honor to command three million American men and women in Europe. All those people from Dickinson County could not come back at one time for a celebration like this, I fully realize, cannot be held for the return of each but in the sum total, if you, as a community, accepts each one of those men back to your hearts as you have me, not only will you be doing for them the one thing they desire but for my part you will earn my eternal gratitude. Every one of those men is precious to me and each one coming back does not want special treatment; he does not want to be supported for life. The initiative, the self-dependence that made him great as a soldier, he expects to exercise in peace, but he does want to be received in the same friendly spirit that you received me. I know you will do it, not as parts of your war duty but out of the greatness of your heart and the warmth of your affection for soldiers that have laid everything on the line for us, even their very lives.
As for Mr. Grendell’s criticism of the memorial being “anti-aesthetic,” I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean. Does Mr. Grendell think that the design is a willful attack against beauty? Or does he just not like the way it looks?
There are many parallels between the reaction to the Eisenhower Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial designed by Maya Lin:
On November 13, the memorial turns 25. The criticism that dogged the project in its early days—its unconventional design, its black color, its lack of ornamentation—has given way to appreciation of its simple, emotional power. “In the past 25 years, it has become something of a shrine,” said Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund President Jan Scruggs, who conceived the idea of building a memorial in 1979. “It has helped people separate the warrior from the war, and it has helped a nation to heal.”
They are two different memorials for two different needs: the Vietnam Vetrans Memorial is a place for reflection and healing. The Eisenhower Memorial celebrates the life of a man. I think Gehry has aspirations of creating a work which is on par with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; here is hoping he can. I also hope critics can offer less attacks, and more ideas.
In further posts, I will be discussing the design itself and memorials in general (stay tuned as they say).
UPDATE May 2012
The discourse is happening – please read Reader Response on the Eisenhower Memorial.
If you have the stomach, read the Washington Post’s tic-tock about the Frank Gehry designed Eisenhower Memorial. I am no Gehry apologist, but he has become another pawn in Conservative Republican’s culture war:
Justin Shubow, president of a little-known nonprofit group, the National Civic Art Society, read back to Gehry quotes from years earlier, in which the architect discussed the inherent chaos of democratic cities, the way a discordant but often exciting stylistic diversity emerged as the rigid power structures of the 19th century yielded to more freewheeling forms of democracy. Gehry often speaks metaphorically of chaos and danger as powerful aesthetic energies. But Shubow seemed to take Gehry literally, as if he thought the architect wanted to vandalize the sacred center of Washington.
“I probably was talking to a bunch of students … who were afraid,” Gehry responded. “The chaos of the world around us is a fact, and recently it has gotten to be more of a fact.” What matters, Gehry continued, is what you make of that chaos.
Shubow argued that the memorial “represents death and nihilism in the same way that I see your black T-shirt, much beloved by downtown hipsters and nihilists everywhere, and its total rejection of the past and tradition and honestly everything that Eisenhower himself stood for.”
In the weeks and months after Gehry’s National Archives appearance, conservative writers and columnists would focus on the “barefoot boy” almost to the exclusion of all else, arguing that Gehry was diminishing Ike’s stature, ignoring his mature work.
In February, George Will branded the memorial “an exhibitionistic triumph of theory over function — more a monument to its creator, Frank Gehry, practitioner of architectural flamboyance, than to the most underrated president.” Ross Douthat in the New York Times said “the memorial sells the supreme allied commander’s greatness short.”
Leading the charge is Justin Shubow, of The Federalist Society, the ultra-conservative/libertarian think-tank which brought us Kenneth Starr and the wonderfully usless Clinton investigation of the 1990′s. Mr. Shubow started a new non-profit called National Civic Art Society which pedals out-of context quotes and a conspiracy theory quality website attacking the memorial. Labeling a mockup of the tapestries Shocking “Tapestry” Photos (complete with scare quotes) with photo commentary alleging that,
We do not believe these photos have ever been seen by the public or media — for good reason.
Shubow recently accused those who point out that his organization is really just the Heritage/AEI/Federalist Society in a new name as playing politics (what does that mean in this context: nothing). What is telling is that Shubow et al are really against modernity (not Modernism):
Is it “nostalgia” to ask that the Eisenhower Memorial “shall blend with the essential lines of the old”? Would Knight like to see Paris “improved” by some more oppressive skyscrapers à la the Tour Montparnasse, a Modernist middle finger to centuries of humane harmony? Should Venice, Rome, and Florence get with the times, and hire a starchitect to jazz up their hopelessly backwards cities?
Anyone looking to see what happens when civic architecture abandons such traditional values as harmony and beauty need look no further than Boston’s Brutalist City Hall, San Francisco’s schizo Federal Building, London’s City Hall (a leaning tower of pickle), and the truly bizarre Scottish Parliament Building. In D.C., there is the wasteland of L’Enfant Plaza, the alien gun-tower Hirshhorn Museum (straight out of Battlestar Galactica), and HUD Headquarters a.k.a. the Ministry of Monstrosity.
Architectural Modernism and its deformed descendants have been utter failures both aesthetically and functionally, not to mention aberrations from the entire sweep of civilization. Their works and underlying ideas are headed for the scrap heap of history, where they will join Gehry’s Eisen curtain.
How have they been failures, and why? But that isn’t asked nor given. It is tautological fact that Modernism is a failure. Setting aside the fact that Modernism has a colorful history with successes (Lever House) and failures (Pruitt Igoe), no one labels current design trends Modernism. Which tells me that the opposition comes from some deeper Id.
Mixed up in that list are flavors of Modernism from (Boston City Hall by Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles and Robert C. Weaver Federal Building by Marcel Breuer, to the Hirshhorn by Gordon Bunshaft. Also on the list are newer buildings ranging from the Scottish Parliament Building by Enric Miralles to City Hall by Norman Foster. Arguing that City Hall doesn’t have harmony and beauty is obtuse. This list reads less as an indictment against Modernism or Contemporary architecture than a list of “Things I don’t like, in no particular order.”
This is a list of someone who rejects modernity.
Critics have compared Gehry’s tapestries to billboards, the Iron Curtain and the fences that surrounded the Nazi death camps; they have invoked the names of Marx, Lenin and Engels, as Susan Eisenhower did at a congressional subcommittee hearing. Criticism is fair and required in art and architecture, but we are arriving to crazytown with the tenor and content of the attacks – most of them personal against Gehry. The last refuge of the scoundrel, especially in art, design, and architecture is to attack the designer personally.
There is a larger undercurrent which encapsulates both the Eisenhower Memorial fight and the larger fight against smart growth; a movement which is fearful of the future and believes that the past is not respected enough. Did you know that a vocal minority, mostly composed of Tea Party adherents, see smart growth as an United Nations “Agenda 21″ plan to take over the world? No really: people really think that sustainability and smart growth is all about “a centralized planning agency [that] would be responsible for oversight into all areas of our lives. A one world order.”
I would agree to a moratorium on all new memorials in Washington DC for the next 100 years, or better yet, a 100 year rule where no memorial could be designed before 100 years has passed since the person died or the event transpired.
Come at this with actual criticism, not “I don’t like new things” and maybe we can have a dialogue.
UPDATE May 2012
The discourse is happening – please read Reader Response on the Eisenhower Memorial.
Besides going back on their debt ceiling promise (and wanting to raise taxes on poor families) House Republicans voted to end the American Community Survey, which isn’t part of the decennial census, but is a yearly survey which records supremely useful survey charting what exactly it is that we Americans do, ranging from where you work and how you get there to your family and relationships. This is wonderful data and everyone from researchers to the business community uses this data to help craft products and services for Americans.
But to House Republicans, it is EVIL:
The House voted Wednesday to eliminate the detailed surveys of America that have been conducted by the Census Bureau since the nation’s earliest days.
House Republicans, increasingly suspicious of the census generally, advanced a measure to cut the American Community Survey. It passed 232 to 190.
The survey is not part of the constitutionally mandated population count, but some version of it has been done by law as part of the decennial survey since the time of Thomas Jefferson to assess the needs of the nation. It’s generally considered a vital tool for business.
Republicans, acknowledging its usefulness, attacked the survey as an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, arguing that the government has no business knowing how many flush toilets someone has, for instance.
“It would seem that these questions hardly fit the scope of what was intended or required by the Constitution,” said Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), author of the amendment.
“This survey is inappropriate for taxpayer dollars,” Webster added. “It’s the definition of a breach of personal privacy. It’s the picture of what’s wrong in Washington, D.C. It’s unconstitutional.”
Too bad that the data is anonymized and individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, – not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency. Rep. Webster should please review the meaning of “unconstitutional” before using those big words.
Luckily this bill has no chance of passing in the Senate.
Via Atlantic Cities blog post, What Killing the American Community Survey Would Actually Mean comes this article from Census Director Groves entitled, A Future Without Key Social and Economic Statistics for the Country:
The ACS is our country’s only source of small area estimates on social and demographic characteristics. Manufacturers and service sector firms use ACS to identify the income, education, and occupational skills of local labor markets they serve. Retail businesses use ACS to understand the characteristics of the neighborhoods in which they locate their stores. Homebuilders and realtors understand the housing characteristics and the markets in their communities. Local communities use ACS to choose locations for new schools, hospitals, and fire stations. There is no substitute from the private sector for ACS small area estimates. Even if the funding problems were solved in the proposed budget, the House bill also bans enforcement of the mandatory nature of participation in the ACS; this alone would require at least $64 million more in funding to achieve the same precision of ACS estimates.
Not to mention that many government programs are by statute dependent on data derived from the ACS. Conservative Republicans often complain that government isn’t as efficient as the private sector (a point I don’t agree with after working with many Fortune 100 companies), so how might we make government more efficient? Their solution is to cut any customer reporting and steer the ship blind. Thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In even more ACS news, the New York Times thinks Rep. Webster is heralding the The Beginning of the End of the Census:
“This is a program that intrudes on people’s lives, just like the Environmental Protection Agency or the bank regulators,” said Daniel Webster, a first-term Republican congressman from Florida who sponsored the relevant legislation.
“We’re spending $70 per person to fill this out. That’s just not cost effective,” he continued, “especially since in the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey.”
In fact, the randomness of the survey is precisely what makes the survey scientific, statistical experts say.
Each year the Census Bureau polls a representative, randomized sample of about three million American households about demographics, habits, languages spoken, occupation, housing and various other categories. The resulting numbers are released without identifying individuals, and offer current demographic portraits of even the country’s tiniest communities.
It is the largest (and only) data set of its kind and is used across the federal government in formulas that determine how much funding states and communities get for things like education and public health.
Other private companies and industry groups — including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Home Builders — are up in arms.
Target recently released a video explaining how it used these census data to determine where to locate new stores. Economic development organizations and other business groups say they use the numbers to figure out where potential workers are.
Big Media Matt has a prickly post riffing on a Politico story arguing that, Mitt Romney Shouldn't Need a Dedicated Lobbyist To Build His Tacky Megamansion:
Romney’s house sounds tacky and extravagant, but it’s not some kind of public safety hazard in urgent need of regulation. You shouldn’t need dedicated lobbyists to get permission to build buildings on property you legitimately own. At the end of the day, Romney is going to be able to hire the lobbyist and get his mansion built. But these same hurdles afflict people who might be interested in affordable housing for low-income people or simply regular old market rate structures for the middle class.
Not to defend Mitt Romney, but aesthetics aside, hiring a third-party to navigate regulations isn’t ground breaking.
In New York City, generally you need an Expediter to file a permit application at the Department of Buildings in order to assit you through the different building codes (there are three currently in force), zoning codes and the general bureaucracy which each building permit application must go through to gain approval. The regulation complexity of having 200+ year old tenement buildings next to skyscrapers (the above photo has structures built ranging from 1883 to 2011) has created a new middleman whose job is to push paper, and in some cases, offer code review. Sometimes the Expediter is the very same architect which is designing and overseeing the project; I was once an Expediter and dealt directly with the DoB on projects I was designing under the review of a licensed architect. This is normal and part of the current process in New York City, Washington DC, Cincinnati, and other locations.
Aesthetics aside, I would argue that structures are, contra Yglesias, a public safety hazard in urgent need of regulation: buildings can, and do, fall down killing people. Having an effective, and efficient, code review process is necessary and proper to guard the citizenry from unsafe and hazardous building. Just recently an architect in California was charged in the death of a firefighter after he installed four outdoor fireplaces inside the house, in violation of building codes. This architect basically built a firetrap, and used faulty piping for the sprinklers which appears to have directly contributed to the death of a firefighter.
There are tons of other examples of willful or unintentional negligence by architects, engineers and builders which has caused building damage and death. This is why becoming a licensed architect is so onerous, and why building codes (which often seem to get in the way of your precious design) are to be followed.
Can the permit process be more efficient, and less encumbered by red tape? Yes. Should government find a balance between efficiency and the mandate to create a safe environment? Yes. Does the presence of this third-party mean we should deregulate building permit applications? No.
I hope that Matt is arguing for more efficient code review, rather than no code review; the only reason Politico called Romney’s expediter a Lobbyist is that it fits Romney’s larger narrative of being out of touch and super rich (which is probably true).