A key point in the development of any political thesis comes when people are called out explicitly to support it.
That's what is happening on the Mall this October 30. It may be the most important political event of the year, putting the politics of our time on trial and calling for its rejection.
The President hasn't done this. A comedian has. And to the nattering classes it sounds crazy. Only, in the context of our time, crazy is the only truth. When everyone else is afraid to speak truth to power it becomes the job of the jester.
To the President's supporters it's baffling. Because as Obama made clear in his recent CNBC appearance, which drew such negative reviews from the nattering classes, he's not raging at his enemies and, thus, not putting "a human face" on the ideals they marched for, or the continuing struggle to put them into practice.
Well, I happen to have watched the CNBC appearance. All of it. What I saw were hard questions from frightened people of means, and a calm man at the center discussing choices that had to be made, and those which still have to be made.
He treated the people who asked the questions, and who watched on TV, like grownups. There was no shouting. There was a limited range of emotion, because emotion is not helpful. He was Yoda, not Luke. He was Miyagi, not the Karate Kid. He was Eastern, not Western. (It's his Indonesianness, not his Kenyanness, that is the key to his character.)
More important, there was no call to hate and he issued no call to fear. He gave his critics credit for good intentions. Yet the dehumanizing of critics is so embedded in the Nixon Thesis of Conflict that we can't conceive of politics being any other way.
Think of this as Volume 14, Number 38 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
Each generation's economic model builds on the one that came before, and obsoletes one that came before that.
Moore's Law was built on manufacturing, and device energy will be built on Moore's Law. It's the idea of energy as resource, something that must be drug out of the ground, which grew here early in the 20th century, that will be replaced.
Moore's Law is usually described as the idea of silicon processing doubling every 18 months, as circuits get closer together.
But the economic forces that make it possible makes the process hard to start.
Subsidies are needed to win the initial breakthroughs. In the case of Moore's Law, these subsidies came through the Cold War. Fairchild was a big military contractor. Military contractors bought every early advance, for missile systems and their peaceful-appearing analog, Apollo.
Tech factories cost big money, and costs increase over time. Moore's Second Law holds that, as device complexity increases, so do the costs of initial production. You can make these up with time and quantities, but you still need increased amounts of capital with each generation.
Consumer markets depend upon mass quantities. If we don't buy the '386, Intel doesn't have money to make the '486. The '486 is much better than the '386, but it won't emerge unless there's demand for what came before. This is how the private market for technology works.
Standards and scale drive down costs. We learn as we build. The early runs of a new chip have many more errors than later runs. Per-chip costs go down as errors are corrected. But the later run is based on the same design as the early run. Maintaining standards throughout a product life cycle is imperative.
Think of this as Volume 14, Number 37 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
Each of America's great political crises have really been about the economy.
In our time it's about energy coming from devices, as opposed to energy as resources. Resources have to be transformed by fire to become energy. Devices harness energy from the environment.
There is, in fact, plenty of energy all around us -- as much as we could ever use. Coming down from the sky, flowing under the Earth, blowing across our land. What we need are devices that can harness it.
Meanwhile we have a Stupid Economy. It's stupid because there is an economic force stifling growth we feel powerless to get past, because that force seems to control our politics. In this case, it's energy billionaires like the Koch Brothers, the oil power, and to a lesser extent coal.
Look closely at who funds the Republican National Committee, all the "wingnut welfare" groups and Tea Party arcades. Follow the money where it doesn't want you to go and it's the same collection of names -- energy men and their bankers.
But their economic time has passed. They can no longer deliver the prosperity they once did. They can only beggar our people as they have been doing for the last decade.
This is because resources have prices, prices that rise with demand. Every sign of economic growth in the last decade has been accompanied by a rise in energy prices. The only way to break the logjam and create real, sustainable economic growth is by harnessing the energy all around us, through devices.
But the resource industry does not want that. Thus they have captured our politics, not for ideological reasons (as they tell their allies), but to keep the power and subsidies that sustain them. Subsidies like wars in the oilpatch as well as tax credits that make it profitable to drill a mile under the Gulf, even at the risk of a catastrophic failure.
The cost of many devices, like solar cells, can actually fall as a function of Moore's Law. Even for those which don't, like windmills, they're a fixed, sunk cost. Upkeep is minor. Energy creation is as reliable as the energy source passing by them. Everything we can do to further energy as devices benefits the U.S. economy. Even the efforts of rivals like Germany and China benefit America -- their devices put a break on energy prices, their knowledge is technology that can be sold and shared.
Think of this as Volume 14, Number 36 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
As I noted last week, proof that this is a crisis Presidency is obvious in the polls. (Hey, Tea Party. Two can play this game.)
No crisis President is popular at this point in their term. Lincoln wasn't -- we were losing the war. FDR wasn't -- there was serious doubt as to whether democracy would survive. Nixon certainly wasn't -- "We're all Nixon's niggers now," said George Carlin, and the crowd roared.
Why is this? It's because politics are driven by myths and values, by assumptions of right and wrong. A crisis President, by definition, is elected in rejection of these assumptions, and gradually creates what I call a new Thesis, a new set of myths and values that will define power in coming decades.
So it is today. Every poll I see shows the President and his party are unpopular. They all show Republicans winning. But they don't see the Republicans as popular, because they're not.