Monday, October 31, 2005



I am totally nude come see me. Take a bit for all pics and movies to load. Why do I do this I like to make men blow their jiz in their pants. Visit me. Posted by xx to Weird Tales of the Untrue and Mostly Facetious at 10/31/2005 03:20:38 AM

The one thing pornographers have in common with the deeply religious is that neither one of them can spell or correctly punctuate.

Now I have to securitize my site against posts like these, so you've been warned. And I'm not visiting your website, either.

Thursday, October 27, 2005



They're hiring at the CIA.

Back when I was in college, an acquaintance named Al Turniansky stayed with me while he was completing his interview with the CIA. I know they didn't hire him, and I don't remember much of what he told me (assuming he told me much; I presume everything was on a need-to-know basis almost as secretive as the non-disclosure agreements routinely required by Microsoft), but I do remember him saying something like this: "I answered an ad that was looking for people who liked to spend a lot of time alone, without much contact with people, for months at a time, and who liked doing very detailed work."

One more thing: The CIA jobs page has a recommendation from Jennifer Garner from the television show, Alias. Is that cool, or what?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005



I have only seen hypnotism acts on television and mind-control devices in spy movies, but those wacky Japanese seem to be working toward making the world a more... controlled... place.

NTT, Japan's telecommunications giant, has developed a device that can control humans by shooting electricity into the human ear. Right now we're not talking about post-hypnotic suggestions to murder the president, but the researchers have been able to make a subject wearing the test helmet walk in a particular pattern.

The cover story is that this will make videogaming more fun, but already some are considering military applications, and police departments are thinking it would be a useful tool in helping to control a bad guy.

But, as with all technology, with the good comes the bad. Sure, you may be able to keep a hostage-taker off-balance long enough to capture him and free hostages. But if this technology works, wouldn't it be handy at a supermarket, a department store, a mall, or a casino? Apparently, says the reporter in the article I linked above, the experience is not unpleasant and you don't feel as if you're unhappy. So you wind up in front of the expensive wines instead of the $2 per liter stuff. How different is this from Muzak, which was programmed to elicit specific human responses? Or aroma?

And then... could people beam this electricity at you from a distance, making you into their remote puppet? It might be fun at a sporting event... folks in the stands without theirs might wonder why the running back turned and ran the wrong way with the football.

Could you work this more than ninety feet from a polling place?

Yes, guns don't kill people, people kill people. But goodness gracious, we are just asking for it with some of the things we're trying to figure out, aren't we?



I know I've got Mike Gold's blog linked over below and to the left, but his most recent post about the pitiful thing that television news has become is must reading.

Monday, October 24, 2005



According to a poll reported by this morning, most Americans don't believe in the Theory of Evolution.

I think this pretty much explains everything about the red states and the blue states, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, mediocrity and merit. Only 30% polled thought that there was room for a deity to have initiated the process of evolution.

In fairness to the religious conservatives out there who take the Old Testament as literal and not allegorical, the scientific community has not been able to prove the Theory of Evolution. Then again, Einstein's work was still a theory when American atomic weapons obliterated two cities in Japan. And for you religious folks out there, let's not forget poor Galileo. He, too, butted up against monolithic Christianity, dying in prison for writing that the earth orbits the sun.

I hate to bring religion into the conversation, but if we're going to have a planet where your theory that God is blue and my theory that God is green means we have to wind up killing each other, we've missed the boat, it seems.

As for Darwin's theory, it's as plausible as anything else. I suspect that if you're going to take the Old Testament literally, all the bones of animals that no longer exist can be those that didn't quite make old Noah's boat. And there's no doubt that humans, throughout their existence, have often misinterpreted their observations of the universe, constructing reasonable models that worked.

But once more we're faced in the US with a hairline difference in our opinions, a difference so model-thin that it means we'll just yell at and hate each other for years and years. That just makes no sense.

Friday, October 14, 2005



According to this story, Americans are ruder than ever, not just when visiting France, but here.

Well, duh.

The article blames parents who are too harried to care, but it's not just that the kids haven't been taught the proper fork for the salad course. It's a generation, perhaps two, of Americans who aren't bright enough to perceive the difference between "rude" and "casual."

Here's what I'd like to see. I'd like to see someone like Snoop Doggy Diddy hosting a show on being polite on MTV or BET or UPN. Even better, whichever of these young hip hop idols is most popular should start dressing and speaking better.

But let's move the issue away from popular culture, where, although the problem is pervasive, the solution is simple. Let's move to the political arena, where rudeness passes for discourse these days. Just because you disagree with me (or I with you) is no excuse for namecalling or unfair characterization. There are numerous examples on all sides. We seem to not care that we're all in this together.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005



You are a

Social Liberal
(70% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(25% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test



This may be something that you suspected all along... because it's been clear that either Satan loves the Yankees, or Jesus hates the Yankees.

If anyone wants to buy me one, I'll take a 2X.

As for the Yankees loss to the Angels, let's look at the superior performance put in by the woefully underpaid Alex Rodriguez, who managed two hits and no runs batted in against the AL West champions. I looked up Rodriguez's postseason experience prior to this series, and it's generally good, but I have to tell you that I remember one particularly noteworthy episode that says it all about the player the Yankees thought would bring them the world. It was the 2000 American League Championship Series between the Yankees and the Mariners. Roger Clemens still pitched for the Yankees; Rodriguez was playing out his string with Seattle. Rodriguez stepped to the plate for his first AB of the game versus the Rocket, who promptly handed the young star a bowtie. After that high and tight pitch, A-Rod took the collar for the day and the Mariners submitted meekly to Clemens. Ultimately, the Mariners lost the series (though Rodriguez put a 4-for-5 game together in the Mariners final loss).

Alex Rodriguez has yet to perform when the game counted. When the Yankees were struggling against the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS, the most memorable thing Rodriguez did was to girlie-slap the ball out of the first baseman's glove on a play that cost the Yankees a potential run-scoring rally. Again this year he failed to drive in a run against the Angels. Since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, he's 3-for-27, and 3-for-29 since his third-inning home run.

To be fair, Rodriguez is a stunning talent. I wish I had 1% of his talent. But Rodriguez may not be the kind of guy who can perform in New York. He clearly presses when the situation is baseball-critical, unlike his teammate and onetime friend, Derek Jeter, who possesses less talent, but more baseball moxie and seems to have that Reggie Jackson clutch-performance gene.

The other disappointment for the Yankees must be Randy Johnson, who desperately tried to hand Game 3 to the Angels, only to be saved by a short-lived Yankees rally. Johnson has proven in the past to be a big-game performer -- but only when pitching for a small-market team. I expressed concerns about Johnson's ultimate efficacy when he was traded to the Yankees, and while he had a good September, he had no pop in his pitches last Friday in the Bronx. Maybe it was the weather, I don't know; he sure was a different pitcher in Monday's loss, shutting down the Angels in relief. Johnson also is an awesome talent, even in his 40s, but he has never pitched in a town that wasn't prepared to love him unconditionally. He may have won four Cy Young Awards, but New Yorkers didn't see him do that, and his little camera stunt couldn't have helped him much, either.

Ultimately, the main problem with the Yankees remains George Steinbrenner. The 1996-2000 Yankees were a product of the years when Steinbrenner had nothing to do with running the team. The early-to-mid-1990s did not show well in the team's record, but during his suspension Steinbrenner's "baseball people" were free from Steinbrenner's inability to be patient, and were able to put together a team whose players worked as a team. It didn't have an All-Star at each position, a proposition counter to Steinbrenner's visceral approach, which says that he needs one at every position and several on the bench (cf. this year's squad, which included bit players like Tony Womack, Tino Martinez, Al Leiter, Tom Gordon, and Ruben Sierra). A team like this won't be able to do what Ozzie Guillen's or Mike Scioscia's teams can -- hit to the right side, squeeze, take the extra base. (Although I was amused at the disagreement between Tim McCarver and John Kruk about whether it was sound baseball for Mark Bellhorn to stay on second on the high-hop infield hit by Gary Sheffield with two out in the ninth on Monday. Doing play-by-play, McCarver called it "excellent baserunning" to stay, while Kruk's post-game analysis called it a fundamental error for Bellhorn not to have taken third. Kruk believed that, had Bellhorn taken third, Angels first baseman Darin Erstad would have been holding Sheffield's pinch-runner, Tony Womack, to first, which would have let Matsui's ground ball through for a run-scoring single.)

So, does Jesus hate the Yankees? Probably not. Jesus loves everybody, including sinners. It's still a cool t-shirt.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005



When I logged onto AOL this afternoon, I was given the tempting choice to give Martha Stewart my advice. Sadly, "retire" wasn't one of the options.

But goodness, the full-court publicity press is on, isn't it? I swear she's on the Today show every morning, now AOL (which has no connection to Martha that I'm aware of), and heck, now even me.

I never liked the woman (although it's clear that somebody had it in for her in a disproportionately mean manner since her crime was the equivalent of ignoring the only parking ticket you've ever gotten), but really, please, can we move on to something more interesting.

Wait... let's give Harriet Miers a home economics TV show, and put Martha Stewart on the Supreme Court. What the hell. I mean, it's not like anybody really cares about either job.

Thursday, October 06, 2005



Martha Stewart will get the special permission needed enabling her to enter Canada in order to row a giant pumpkin in a race.

I want a picture.

I also wonder whether Ken Lay can go with her.



Sadly, the mansion used as the model for stately Wayne Manor in the mid-1960s television show, Batman, has been damaged by fire. Sounds like no one was hurt, but it just seems like all the symbols of my youth are disappearing...



I hate bad drivers, inconsiderate drivers, inattentive drivers, and unprepared drivers. If you and I are stopped at a light, and I'm going to take a right turn on red and you're in the left lane, there's no reason for you to creep into the crosswalk. Not only do you block my view, but you don't belong there and you might make it difficult for pedestrians.

If you are making a turn, there's no excuse for not signaling. Being in a parking lot or having nobody behind you is not valid. A pedestrian may be looking for your signal. Of course, I don't own any of those $50,000 SUVs or Bavarian imports, so perhaps those cars aren't manufactured with working turn signals. I wouldn't know.

If you are turning left, you need to make a RIGHT-ANGLE turn. That means you don't make an arc, but an inverted "L." That should keep you from driving over the double yellow line in my lane, and, more to the point, keep you from nearly striking my car -- this is particularly important if you're making that last-minute left turn as the yellow light is turning red and you're doing it at full speed.

Oh, and on the Spokane Street viaduct, the speed limit is 35 mph for a reason. That means 35 mph, not 55 mph. If yours is the next vehicle crushed by an oil tanker, don't expect me to stop and help. Or cry.

Anyway, now that I'm done whining, I found this set of photographs on this guy's blog very amusing. Also this one and this one.



1. Pick up the nearest book to you.
2. Find the 123rd page.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

"These dealers also have to buy more posters, so they could be your customers."

From Kovel's Guide to Selling Your Antiques & Collectibles, by Ralph & Terry Kovel. I had no idea this book was even in our house. I just pulled it off the tv room shelf nearest my office. Thanks to Matt Agee's recent LiveJournal post for this.



I understand that performers are more vain than smart, and care more whether they look good than whether they comport themselves with intelligence or wit when they appear on talk shows like The Late Show With David Letterman.

But is it just habit, or is Letterman as stupid as everyone else, or are today's news reporters as stupid as performers? Tonight Letterman introduced NBC's Campbell Brown as "the lovely" (or maybe it was "the beautiful") Campbell Brown.

What the bleep does that have to do with her reporting skills?

Ironically, I've thought of her as a lightweight, but she actually comported herself with some intelligence, describing how she tried to find a way to get more information from the very secretive Bush White House. But just once I'd like one of these newswomen to just say to Letterman, "Dave, I resent you calling me beautiful. Call me smart, or just shut up."

Hey, it'd be good for ratings.



Every once in a while you read a story that just cements your own half-ill-informed beliefs. In this case, David Shuster, now with MSNBC, says that reporters would even "make stuff up."




I miss reading Molly Ivins, who is no longer carried in Seattle. Thank you, Al Gore, for the Internets.

Here's her column on Harriet Miers. Read it and cringe.



From the land of the well-intended forward comes this basically true one from my cousin Joe LoPue. I'm editing it down for your convenience:

Let's hear it for Costco! (This is just mind-boggling!) Make sure you read all the way past the list of the drugs. The woman that signed below is a Budget Analyst out of federal Washington, DC offices. [Editor's note: According to this conservative website, the woman exists, but has nothing to do with the report.]

Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of Life Extension [Editor's Note: Think they have a viewpoint? Well, do ya, punk?], a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries.

Celebrex: 100 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.60
Percent markup: 21,712%

Claritin: 10 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71
Percent markup: 30,306%

Keflex: 250 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88
Percent markup: 8,372%

Lipitor: 20 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80
Percent markup: 4,696%

Norvasc: 10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $188.29
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14
Percent markup: 134,493%

Paxil: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60
Percent markup: 2,898%

Prevacid: 30 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01
Percent markup: 34,136%

Prilosec: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97
Cost of general active ingredients $0.52
Percent markup: 69,417%

Prozac: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11
Percent markup: 224,973%

Tenormin: 50 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13
Percent markup: 80,362%

Vasotec: 10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20
Percent markup: 51,185%

Xanax: 1 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024
Percent markup: 569,958%

Zestril: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89
Cost of general active ingredients $3.20
Percent markup: 2,809

Zithromax: 600 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19
Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78
Percent markup: 7,892%

Zocor: 40 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63
Percent markup: 4,059%

Zoloft: 50 mg
Consumer price: $206.87
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75
Percent markup: 11,821%

The "writer" says that "everyone should know about this," and, of course, " please read the following and pass it on." Bitterly, the email adds, "This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen's on every corner."

The email also refers to Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit, who did a story on generic drug price "gouging" by pharmacies; some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more. The email complains that drug companies are often (rightfully) blamed for the high cost of drugs, but points to pharmacies. The example: "If you had to buy a prescription drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills. The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are "saving" $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10!

At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs.

To further amplify the original emailer's complaint, Compazine, which helps prevent nausea in chemo patients, was comparison-shopped. The generic equivalent cost $54.99 for 60 pills at CVS. At Costco, 100 pills were $19.89. The poster goes on to point out that, although Costco is a "membership" type store, you do NOT have to be a member to buy prescriptions there as it is a federally regulated substance. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in.

I am asking each of you to please help me by copying this letter, and passing it into your own e-mail, and send it to everyone you know with an e-mail address.

Sharon L. Davis
Budget Analyst
U.S. Department of Commerce
Room 6839
Office Ph: 202-482-4458
Office Fax: 202-482-5480
E-mail Address:

Additional information:

Markups on Generic Prescription Drugs (WXYZ-TV)

Steve Wilson's report: Prescription Drugs (WXYZ-TV)

So let's think about this. The person complaining -- who probably votes Republican, I'll bet -- is complaining about the free market cost of drugs. Drugs, which have monopolies (patents, they're called) are pretty much not competitively priced, and the general marketing rule of thumb is -- charge what you can! This is not new, nor even evil, and, if you voted for the current administration, you shouldn't even complain about it. (See the post I reference above from the right-wing guy.)

These same people drive SUVs and complain about the price of gasoline.

As a liberal who also believes in the free market, I will point out that we can't have it both ways. If we're going to have a free market economy, then we can't inhibit free trade. But -- and this is what I believe -- since the ultimate result of a free market economy is monopoly (remember that from Econ 101?), then there's nothing wrong with tinkering with the economy, especially since there's no reason why individuals should suffer needlessly.

Whether or not Costco is your best choice for buying drugs, I can't say. I looked up my thyroid drug at the Costco site, and it's apparently not available. Right now I pay something like $15 for a three-month supply, but I'm also paying $366 a month for my health insurance, which covers my prescriptions.

I will say this: In a truly free market, where there are enough competitors, there will be downward price movement. However, for some pretty good reasons, we permit drug companies to have patents on the drugs they develop. The logic is that the enormous profits they make in the first years the drug is available only through the manufacturer will pay back the immense costs involved in developing the drug. (Not to mention the cost of lawsuits when the weight-loss drug being marketed turns out to kill a significant percentage of people who use it.)

The alternative is to make important substances, such as drugs, or petroleum, or electric power, quasi-governmental or totally governmental organizations, and, for some reason, we don't really want that, either. Although I would submit that one good practice might be to prevent ginormous (wow, I never thought I'd use that word) corporations in the same business from merging without requiring some equally ginormous public benefit. For instance: Sure, Exxon and Mobil can merge, but the merged company cannot lay off employees and must sell gasoline at the pump for no more than x% markup.

Drugs, gasoline, electricity, and other items like this are items not easily done away with. In Economics 101, this was called "price inelasticity." If suddenly we needed to pay for oxygen, we'd pay whatever we had, because you just can't live without oxygen.

Therefore, in my humble opinion, anything that is relatively price inelastic is something that should not be thrown willy-nilly into the free market. Free market bullies will hoard the item and then hurt people while gorging themselves on the profits.

That said, if you're out there in the real world, buying milk and bread and cars and gas and Claritin and cigarettes, then remember to shop accordingly.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Rumer Willis. Apple Paltrow. Phinneas Roberts.

Okay, I don't know what surnames the offspring of Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts really have, but we can pretty much stop with the first names.

But today the mother of all baby names was announced: Kal-El Coppola Cage. He is the offspring of Nicolas Cage and wife of the moment Alice Kim. And, God bless Nic, he loves his Superman, and I guess he's trying to one-up Jerry Seinfeld, who worked the Man of Steel into every episode of his classic sitcom.

But I have to ask: Isn't that some sort of infringement? Will AOL Time Warner (or whatever it is this week) sue? Will little Kal-El's younger brother, should he be born, be then named Clark Kent Cage? Or would the logical second choice be Jor-El (Superman's Kryptonian father, for those who may not know)?

I am all in favor of unique names. I suffer having two other Mike Flynns in Seattle who are in the same business as me. Another Michael Flynn is a bestselling science fiction writer, and there's also an actor named Michael Flynn. My spouse dropped her maiden name -- Smith -- faster than someone else's used Kleenex, even though Flynn isn't much less common these days.

So I can see where one might be tempted to choose a unique first name. Still, I might go to number 100 on the list before I got to number 2,000,100. And when you're growing up priveliged -- as baby Kal-El is bound to do -- there will be no likelihood of getting your ass kicked in by schoolyard bullies. Especially since any of his classmates will be named Apple, or Rumer, or Phinneas.

Being of the television generation, I remember the discussion on My Three Sons when Robbie and his wife were going to have their triplets. I remember there was discussion of the name "Erasmus." Thing is, I couldn't begin to remember what the actual characters were named. (More pathetically, I remember that the triplets who played the screen triplets were Guy, Garth, and Gunnar Swenson... all three of which struck me as odd when I was young, although "Garth" appealed to me because it was the real name of the character Lightning Lad from my favorite strip, The Legion of Super-Heroes.)

There's no secret that Nicolas Cage had wanted to play Superman in the upcoming movie. I believe the story is that his schedule precluded it. I guess in a way it's good that he hadn't hoped to play Satan, or Rumpelstiltskin, or Hitler.

It should be noted that the name "Pamela" was invented for a work of fiction, and just became popular after that. So, if we're going to open the world up for unique names from popular fiction, let's consider some potential beauts that could soon belong to your favorite actor or singer:

Doonesbury Depp
Dilbert Duff
Peter Parker Pitt
Tarzan Aguilera
Yossarian Ma
Fox Mulder Valderrama
Chandler Aniston
Phoebe Buffay O'Neal
Nemo Cruise
Homer Simpson Lachey... oh, wait, never mind.

You get the idea... in fact, I look forward to your additions.

Your humble servant,

plain ol' Mike Flynn



So I have this theory about Harriet Miers, the latest nominee for the US Supreme Court.

I picture a staff lunch. Everybody who works at the West Wing is there -- Turd Blossom and the gang -- munching on dry turkey clubs and sucking on Safeway Select sodas.

They talk about University of Texas football -- shouts of "hook 'em horns" fill the room. They debate the joys of semi-automatic gun ownership. They wonder which explosives are best for taking out abortion clinics.

Then the designated bad-news deliverer -- who has made sure to finish eating his lunch just in case he gets thrown out of the room -- reminds the president that he needs to nominate a Supreme Court judge soon.

"I hear there's rumors on the Internets that I have to do that," says the president. "Okay, anybody in this room want to be on the Supreme Court? Harriet, how about you? You look smokin' hot in black!"

And so it went. The woman is a lawyer, but she's never been a judge. That presents quite the poser, since she has no judicial record for critics (or supporters) to refer to. On the other hand, I believe that the last Supreme Court justice who had no judicial experience was Earl Warren. He didn't quite turn out to be the conservative that the Republican president who had nominated him expected, did he?

And the White House went out of its way to point out that 10 of the last 33 Supreme Court nominees were, like Miers, cronies of the guy in the Oval Office. This is the old "Billy did it, so I can do it, too" defense, which is about the level of intellect involved here (and routinely displayed by these folks).

Democratic Sen. Harry Reid is said to have been one of her recommenders. Considering the state of the Democratic Party, I'm not sure that reassures me.

I will keep an open mind here, but I don't expect much.

Saturday, October 01, 2005



I've got a link over there, down and to the left, to Richard Pachter's reviews for the Miami Herald. He comments on business-related books, and one review he emailed early last month has been sitting with me.

It was of the book Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East, by Clyde Prestowitz.

According to Pachter, who describes the book as "scary," the book reasonably presages that the United States is just a step or two from economic disaster.

Pachter reminds us that Prestowitz, the founder and president of the Economic Strategy Institute, served as counselor to the secretary of commerce in the Reagan Administration, and led many trade and investment negotiations with Japan, China, Latin America and Europe. This ain't Michael Moore.

Prestowitz says that with the shift of manufacturing to the Far East, subsequent transfer of strategic technologies, establishment of the dollar as the international monetary standard, termination of the gold standard, lack of government support for competitive industries, huge government and private debts, lack of savings and a laissez faire approach to international trade, bad things are in our future.

We already know about the joys of outsourcing... we have airplanes built partly in China and tech support in India. These are scary because they're the most populous nations on the planet, but as they make rapid economic progress, not only will they grow quickly, but the growth will be further enhanced by the power of their population. Our answer is that our productivity is good. Pachter quotes Prestowitz:

"It is comforting to Americans to keep telling themselves they have the best productivity and GDP growth and will therefore remain the location of choice for foreign investment. But is it true? While there is much evidence to indicate that U.S. productivity has indeed taken a jump, there is also cause for prudence about this conclusion. While American productivity per worker per year is improving faster than that of Europe, on a per hour basis the Europeans are starting to come out ahead.

"This once again raises the issue of living standards. Americans are not only working more hours than Europeans or Japanese, they are working six more weeks a year today than they did 20 years ago. Yet median family income has not risen much. As for unemployment, it's easy to keep it low if you put 2 percent of all the men in the country in jail and don't count them as unemployed -- which the United States currently does. Further, we only count as unemployed those receiving unemployment benefits or who tell poll takers they are actively seeking a job.

"To see how this works, look at Kannapolis, North Carolina. When the town's only mill shut down, reported unemployment soared. A year later, however, unemployment magically disappeared -- not because people got jobs, but because their benefits ran out. The real story of the U.S. economy is rising hours worked, rising debt and job creation largely restricted to low-paying categories like retail sales and fast-food restaurants. This is not a formula for long-term prosperity."

When Bill Clinton was president, the standard joke was, "Sure, Clinton created 100,000 jobs, and I have three of them." What kind of jobs is George W. Bush creating? And, as labor is devalued by both employers and employed, what future is there for the average working guy without huge wealth? Remember, capitalists with great wealth have easily transportable wealth -- Bill Gates could live just as pleasantly in Macao as he could in Medina, WA -- but if I can't find anyone to buy my house because nobody's making money, and if my house is my biggest investment, how much capital do I really have? (See my references elsewhere to the growing fear of the real estate bubble, just to add to the fun.)

As a nation, we have already shipped our wealth overseas. We are now shipping our manufacturing overseas. That's going to leave us as a nation whose sole productivity will be the movement of money, the making of films with large explosions, and government expenditure. The conservatives can't reduce the size of government. It's the only thing that's propping up the GDP right now.