Monday, August 29, 2011

What is a German Accent?

   In my earlier post,  Conversion of a Spelling Reformer, I mentioned that the upper midwest was settled in the mid to late 19th century by immigrants from everywhere except England.   Today, they all speak only English,  but few of them came from England, though many came from Ireland.  My own people were Luxembourgers,  (both French speaking and German speaking,) and also Czechs, Austrians, Swedes, and Norwegians.  Two of my grandparents were born in Europe and spoke German as their first language.  But my mother,  brought up with Luxembourg German as her first language,  spoke no German as an adult, and by the time she died, had an excellent command of the English language and had no German accent that any Iowan would have noticed.   And I certainly never imagined that I had a German accent.
      When I was about thirty,  I went to Kansas City, Missouri to find work in the electrical trade.  The union hiring hall sent me out to a job site at Kansas City International Airport, which was then under construction.  The general foreman spoke to me for a few minutes, and then took me to my new foreman. He said,  "Here Jim;  I got another Iowegian  for you."   "Iowegian," I asked?.   He said, "I mean "Iowa German."    I asked, "What makes you think I'm German?   My name is has an English spelling."   He replied, "I could tell by your German accent."     I said, "Wait a minute.  I know what a German accent is.  Two of my grandparents had a German accent.  They would say diss und dat  instead of this and that. But my pronunciation of all English consonants is absolutely standard."   The general foreman replied,  "If you do not have a German accent, then how did I know that you are German?  You are of German extraction, are you not?"  "Yes,"  I confessed.   "But what did I say that you thought was so German?"   He said, "I asked you a question and you said 'ja.'   We do not say 'ja.'   We say yes or we say yeah--but we don't say 'ja.'   'Ja' is a German word."   I protested that I had said "ya,"  but not "ja."  The general forman couldn't see much difference.   I said, "But where I come from,  everyone says ya, and half of them are Irish."    The general foreman replied, "Yes, but they are Irish who were raised among Germans."
        This was not the first time I'd been away from Iowa.   I'd lived in California for four years, and had spent three years in the Army.  I had been stationed near New York City, and had served with people from all over the U.S.   And no one had ever commented on my use of the word "ya."    They say "ya" in California, New York,  and everywhere in the country I had ever been.   But they don't say it in Missouri.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Modern Agriculture


Last weekend I attended the "Old Time Power Show" at Antique Acres, near Waterloo, Iowa.  This is a living museum whose annual exhibition showcases the development of modern agriculture, from horse drawn equipment and steam powered threshing engines to present day diesel tractors.   I wrote a Facebook post encouraging all my local friends to attend this event and take their kids. Why?   I believe that the three most important events in human history are (1) The discovery of the use of fire,  (2)  The invention of agriculture, and (3)  The mechanization of agriculture.   If you feel that item 3 does not merit a place alongside the other two, then consider this:    In the U.S. in 1800,  90% of the population farmed to feed themselves and the other 10%.   Today in the U.S.,  less than 1% still farms, and yet we are the world's largest exporter of grain.
     The discovery of fire and the invention of agriculture did not happen within the memory of people still living and did not happen in Iowa.   But mechanization of agriculture did.   The very first tractor factory in the world opened in 1892--in Waterloo, Iowa.  When I worked at John Deere Tractor works in 1958, they made only relatively small, two cylinder tractors and a typical farm was 80-160 acres.  Today, one of my neighbors farms over 6,000 acres, and the countryside is becoming as depopulated as the moon. This is the most radical transformation in human history and it began within my own great grandfather's lifetime.  
   No matter where you live, it there is some museum near you which displays the agriculture methods of the recent past,  go there and take your children.  What they will see is the change that defines the modern world.   Because very little of what we call the modern world could exist if 90% of the population still was needed for food production.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Limerick of the Day, Aug 20

To learn the conventions of spelling,
(For reasons both grave and compelling)
Can drive a man daft,
With vowels fore and aft,
And reduce us to mumbling and yelling.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Conversion of a Spelling Reformer

            As a young student, I found English spelling particularly opaque.  And none of the little rules of thumb seemed to help, as they all had more exceptions than rules.  If I had tried harder to master it, I’m sure I could have.  But I deeply resented being required to invest my time learning a system that was patently absurd.  And I was half sure that, as absurd as the system was, it would surely be replaced in a decade or two anyway.  While I have less trouble with English orthography now than I did forty years ago, it still troubles me.  And without the wonderful invention of spell check software, I could not be writing this blog today.
            Over the Twentieth Century, the crusade to reform spelling was not just the province of the lunatic fringe.  From 1910 to 1955, the Chicago Tribune used a modified spelling system for the benefit of its largely immigrant readership.  And George Bernard Shaw campaigned his entire adult life for a more rational orthography.   He invented the word “ghoti” which he claimed was pronounced “fish;” (GH as in laugh, O as in women, and TI as in nation.)  Before he died, he set up a grant to fund the development on a more phonetic system of spelling.
            For most of my life, I have championed the cause of spelling reform.  One day I was arguing this issue with my wife and daughter, both of whom were then teaching college level English.  My daughter, who has always dismissed spelling reform as quixotic nonsense, became exasperated.  She asked, “You say you want all words spelled as they are pronounced, but pronounced by whom--and where?   In Australia?--or Boston?--or East Texas?--or in the West of England?--or in Northern Minnesota?”  She went on to explain that while we do not have a standard dialect of spoken English, we have a reasonably standard written English.  An English speaker in Mississippi can send an Email to Minnesota, Massachusetts, Mumbai, or Manchester, and whoever receives it can read it.  She added, “If we are to require that every word is spelled as it is actually pronounced, then we would have to change spelling systems every time we crossed a county line.  Would we really want that?”
            Her final argument, the coup de grace, was to tell an anecdote about a Harvard English professor, a native Bostonian, who suggested to his astonished students that the words “Korea” and “career”  were examples of homophones.   He spake, “The young officer volunteered for service in Korea because he thought it might help his career.”
            I passed this example along to my brother, who also believes in spelling reform, and he protested, “But this isn’t “real” English.”  “Oh really,” I asked?  I reminded my brother that this Harvard Don, this Boston Brahmin, surely had ancestors that came from England.  Our family does not.  In most of the upper Midwest of the U.S., the main demographic stock that settled this area in the mid to late nineteenth century came from either Ireland or Northern Europe—but not England.  A demographic survey done about twenty years ago of the U.S. as a whole found that only 12% of Americans have an English ancestor that they know of.   But 60% have at least one ancestor who came from Germany, 40% from Ireland, 25% from Italy, and 15% from Scandinavia.  And if that survey were repeated today, it would show that the largest rise in demographic numbers would be in the Hispanic community, thus diluting the English presence even further. The modern United States is a country of English speakers--who came from nearly everywhere except England.  There really is no dialect which represents “correct English” except that any dialect may be considered correct--within its local frame of reference. 
            So as absurd as our English orthography may be, at least it’s a standard that works everywhere.   And since we have not tinkered with our spelling for over two hundred years, the two-hundred-year-old books in our university libraries are still readable.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What Does Rhyme Do?

            Pressed for a definition of poetry, I concluded a while back that poetry was all about cadences, and about imagery. In fact, poetry might be the intersection of cadence and imagery. But what stumped me was rhyme. What does it do?  It must do something, because poets in many languages have used rhyme for millennia—perhaps from the origins of human language.  While some poets prefer not to use rhyme, or have simply found themselves unable to master it, in those cultures where rhyme is used at all, the poets who have garnered a broad public following have generally used at least some rhyme, some of the time.  People respond to rhyme.  Properly used, it delights the ear.  There is some part of our brain that loves to hear it.   But  why?  This cannot be just a cultural preference, because rhyme is found across a broad range of cultures.  What is it that rhyme does to the human brain, and why should we have evolved brain structures hard wired with the software to seek it out and enjoy it? 
            In pre-literate cultures, rhyme can serve a practical function.   It’s a mnemonic—a memory device.  When the history of a whole society had to be passed from one generation to another from memory, this would be an easier task if the lines rhymed.  But much of Western society has been literate now for 2,500 years, yet we still use rhyme.   We like it. We are hard wired to respond to it.  This post will attempt to explain why we like it.
            If there is any one thing that the human brain has evolved to do, it is to identify patterns.  We continually process the incoming stimuli to try to distil patterns from the blur of random events.  If all events were random, then there would be little point in learning or remembering anything.  If what is happening now has only a random chance of ever happening again, then there would be no advantage in remembering what is happening. But in the natural environment, not every event is random. Some things run in cycles.  There are patterns.  And there can be a useful, predictive power that comes from understanding and remembering these patterns.
              When the tides are at their very lowest level, one can obtain shellfish in some areas just by walking on the beach and picking them up.  And tides are not random.  A band of migrant hunter-gatherers might increase its food supply if they learned to synchronize their wanderings to the tides, so that they were always near the beach when tides were lowest.  Annual human migrations would be affected too.  The salmon run next year will be at exactly the same time and place as it was this year, etc.  Observing and understanding even more complex patterns would also be useful.   If our ancestors noticed that when a leopard stashes a kill in a tree, he eats on it for a while, and then leaves—and is always gone for several hours—this would be an opportunity.  It would mean that if, after the leopard leaves, a man were to climb the tree and steal some of the kill, he could get away with it.  He would be long gone before the cat returned. 
            We humans are not the only pattern seeking animals.  Any mammal will do this.  Once we had a mouse problem, so I set some traps-- and I caught one.  When holding the trap with a dead mouse in it, I was at a loss for what to do with it.  So I just threw it out the window, into the flower bed below.  There was a feral cat about, and she found the mouse and ate it. And it happened that the next day, I caught another one and disposed of it the same way. I’m sure the cat was delighted.  Then we found the hole where the mice had been getting in and plugged it. There were no more free mice, but the cat kept coming anyway.  Every morning, she would carefully check the area beneath my window.   Then about two weeks later, we caught one last mouse and the cat found it.  That was it.  Intermittent re-enforcement is the strongest kind.  The cat was hooked forever.  For the rest of her life, she stopped by every morning, looking plaintively toward the flower bed.
            But though many animals seek patterns, we humans do it maniacally, often trying to impose patterns on random events.  In any culture where people do a rain dance in hopes of bringing rain, what surely happened is that somewhere in the dim, distant past, some ancestor noticed that it happened to rain the day after a dance festival.  If this occurred twice in a row, that would clinch it. The rain gods like dance music. An entire religion could spring from the over-interpretation of a few random events.
            So what does all this have to do with rhyming poetry?   When two written or spoken lines end in the same vowel sound, this creates a pattern.  And if the lines are written in the same meter, this creates a very definite pattern.  The little “pattern recognition module” in our brain perks up, and we experience a tiny amount of stimulation and pleasure, as neuro-transmitters are released in response to our switching into the “pattern recognition mode.”  The amygdala, which decides which experiences to remember, also perks up and probably receives a small shot of dopamine and this also excites us.  And why would the amygdala crank up in response to poetry? Random events are generally not worth remembering—but patterns might be. True, the first six lines of a nonsense poem contain no life saving information--but it’s still a pattern.  And our mode of operation is to record all patterns first, and then decide at our leisure whether they are important.
            If one writes lines with statements that evoke some kind of imagery while also using both a repetitive cadence and rhyme, the images will trigger a stronger emotional response. They will be experienced more deeply, due to the mild state of arousal which occurs as a result of pattern recognition activity.   And that’s what makes poetry poetry, though the cadence and imagery alone can trigger the same effect, with no rhyme at all, if used skillfully.  
            I’m sure some of you will damn me for de-mystifying this, but I assure you: The effect of a poem is in no way diminished by comprehension.  A retired earth-science instructor once explained to me, “When I look at a sunset, I know enough about meteorology and physics to know precisely what makes it beautiful. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy it any less." 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The swallows have not fledged nor flown.
They stay within their comfort zone,
Perched in a row atop the nest,
With pale orange banners on their chest,
Awaiting pre-digested food.
(My God! That still seems awfully crude,
But it's the only food they've ever known.)

But come tomorrow they'll be gone,
No more to grace my twilight lawn.
Without a star, nor GPS
To guide them, they will go, I guess.
Itinerant insectivore,
Continuing in nature's plan
For catching flies in Yucatan;
Since its ancestral species dawn;
A feathered dart above some distant shore.

P.S.  Not 30 minutes after I wrote this poem,  the swallows nesting beneath my portico roof had indeed fledged.  By tomorrow, they will leave the area for the season.
P.P.S.   Generally, we cats do not write about small birds--we simply eat them.  But on this occasion, Runcible Cat makes an exception.

About Thiamin--Vitamins: Be One!

Thimple Thiamin met a piamin, going to the fair.
Thaid Thimple Thiamin to the piamin, let me taste your ware.
(wholesome grains to grow good brains, and long and thilky hair.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why Supply Side Economics Doesn't Work

            On Friday, Aug 5, The Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece entitled, Small Firms Hunger for Sales, Not Credit.  (Click on link at end of this post.)  The collapse of credit at the very beginning of the recession was, no doubt, a major factor in the downsizing or bankruptcy of many small businesses. Today, lending to small firms still has still not returned to pre-recession levels, but perhaps not because credit-worthy firms are being denied loans.  In fact, they simply are not applying for loans.   According to the article, “In many cases, small businesses don’t want loans. Their sales are so weak they just can’t justify taking on debt to expand operations.”
            This should not surprise us.  John Kenneth Galbraith said in one of his books (I can’t recall which one)  that though credit collapsed at the beginning of the Great Depression,  credit to credit worthy business customers was restored as soon as Roosevelt took over, and remained available throughout the 30s.   Yet there was very little business borrowing or spending. Why? If a manufacturer had half of his factories shut down and his warehouse was stacked to the ceiling with unsold goods, what sense would it make take on more debt to build another factory?  And why would a dept store chain build more stores if they have insufficient customers for the stores the already have. 
            Severely tightening credit will stop the economy, but loosening credit won’t necessarily re-start it.  That is the great limitation of monetary policy.  You can’t push a string. And if you are trying to control an aggressive Great Dane by using a choke leash, if you jerk the leash so hard that it chokes him into unconsciousness and he dies, just loosening the leash is not likely to make him magically spring back to life.
            And this is why “supply side” economics doesn’t work.   The whole rationale of supply side is that giving money to corporations and very wealthy individuals grows the economy by growing private capital, which then becomes available for loans to business. And when business borrows and invests this money, this investment will create jobs.  There’s just one problem. At any time when the economy is so sluggish that we really need jobs, no businessman in his right mind will take on more debt to make additional investments.  So supply side only works when you don’t need it.  It’s like a life boat that works except when you put it in the water. 
            So, would supply side policies work when the economy is in the opposite state--when we have full employment, high inflation, and a shortage of all manufactured goods?  We were in this situation for part of the 1970s, and that is when supply side ideas first became respectable.  But if you actually employ this tactic at such a time, and manufacturers actually do borrow money and invest it, the immediate effect is to fan the flames of inflation even more by creating more demand for steel, copper, Portland cement, plywood, and skilled construction labor—the very things already in short supply.
            If monetary policy doesn’t really work, then what does?   What works is fiscal policy.  Spend more and tax less to expand the economy; tax more and spend less to shrink it.   Since our main problem, at least in the short run, is unemployment, (which is probably over 17% if all those out of work are counted) then the last thing we should be trying to do is balance the budget. It should not be a question of whether we balance the budget by raising taxes or by cutting gov’t payrolls.  We shouldn’t be doing it at all.   Ironically, if most of the unemployed were back to work, the increased taxes collected from them, along with the reduced layout for unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and other welfare expenses would, in itself, balance the budget. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog post, when Roosevelt took over in 1933, he inherited a 25% unemployment rate.  By using deficit spending to expand the economy, by late 1936 the rate had been reduced to 10%.  Then conservatives in Congress convinced him to quit worrying about unemployment and balance the budget. It was a disastrous decision.  By late 1937, the rate was back up to 25%, and were it not for WWII, the depression might never have ended.  We are now making precisely the same mistake.
            If we are to create jobs by taxing less, then what kind of tax relief works?  What we are now doing, just giving more tax breaks to billionaires, is supply side economics, and as we have seen, this doesn’t work.  If you really prefer to use tax relief to create jobs—fine--but don’t just hand sacks of money to billionaires.  Use “demand side” economics, like employment tax credits.  Just extend tax credits to all employers who agree to a net increase in the number of permanent employees.  If any of the new jobs turn out not to be permanent, that is, not last a certain specified number of months, the money is clawed back.
            If you want to use increased public spending create jobs, fine!  Hire someone!  That creates a job. Or you can spend public funds to purchase goods and services that will cause people to be hired. There is no shortage of things needing to be done. The infra-structure effort to convert our country to a post-petroleum economy alone would keep us all working for half a century.
            The general approach I have described is called Keynesianism, and we did it for over half a century, and it worked.  I believe that, if properly done, it could still work.  For an analysis of the limits of this policy,  see:  Does Keynesian Policy Still Work?  in the archives of this blog.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

End of a Demographic Trend.

            In my previous post, I touched on a subject which I have since decided deserves a separate posting and a more thorough discussion.  Worldwide, the most significant trend everywhere in the world is urbanization. In China, half a billion rural peasants will have become urban in a single generation.  The same is happening in India, Africa, and everywhere in the world—except here. In the United States, we’ve been there--and done that.
            At the time of the American Revolution, 9 out of 10 Americans farmed--to feed themselves and the other 10%.   Today, the entire food industry uses only 10% of our workers, and farming itself uses only about 1%. During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, farmers squeezed off the farm moved to town and found jobs in industries that mostly didn’t exist in 1790.  And most of them were better off for the change.   While most sociologists who study urbanization study the rural population which migrates to the cities, little study has been given the effect this migration has had on the population of the cities being invaded.
            I’m from Waterloo, Iowa, a manufacturing center located within a vast agricultural area. My own family moved from the farm to the city over a hundred years ago. And since that time we’ve had to compete for jobs with wave after wave of new arrivals.   For the past hundred years, any employer in Waterloo could expect to see a hoard of young high school graduates every summer, applying for jobs and willing to take any job that was offered, at any wage. These were strong, healthy young men and women, used to working 15 hours a day, and graduates of high schools that still taught you something. If they took minimum wage jobs, they would eventually realize that they couldn’t live on such a wage, and they would either find a better paying job or leave the area.   But it took a few years for them to figure this out, during which time they ruined the job market for the people who lived here, by bidding down wages and making labor organization more difficult.  At the time my family moved away from the farm, I’m sure they thought of themselves as boldly perusing the American Dream.  Yet to the townspeople whose jobs they were about to take, they probably seemed like a plague of locusts, devouring every job in sight.  But no more!  The flood of labor being forced off the farm is now coming to a halt, simply because farms are now so large that there are only a few farmers left. These last farmers are all over age 50 and their grown children are long gone.  In the future, if Waterloo employers want manpower, they will have to raise their wage offering to a point that will persuade Iowans who have already left to consider returning.
            So the effect on the job market of the off-farm exodus which began two hundred years ago is over, and is in rebound. While this off-farm migration began in places like Massachusetts, it persisted longer in Iowa because Iowa is nearly 100% tillable, and therefore had a higher density of farm families. Iowa reached its peak population in 1911, and our population has declined ever since.  In 1911, we had thirteen congressmen—today, with the latest re-districting,  we will have four.   But if the trend has run its course in Iowa, then it’s finished everywhere. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is Technological Change Predictable?

            Yesterday, I had a long talk with one of my nephews--the one who’s a computer guru.  He’s one of a few people who, at age 55, can actually claim 45 years experience working with computers. Yes, he really did start when he was 10.   He’s an interesting case.  He lived in Minneapolis when that city was an early hotbed of new digital industries—Control Data, Honeywell, and several others. The parents of some of my nephew’s neighborhood friends were involved in advanced research, and they thought it was cute to have a 10 year old interested in computers, so they supplied him with some old parts and showed him how to get started.  By the time he finished high school, he was already involved in cutting edge technology, and he was afraid that if he took 4 years off to get a college degree, he’d just be 4 years behind when he graduated and would never catch up. So today, though he often supervises college trained people, he himself is totally self-trained, except for a few college credits in math. In my family, this is not unusual. We have been autodidacts for at least four generations.
            Since I spent 40 years doing industrial wiring, and was in satellite communications before that, my nephew and I have many common interests.  Yesterday he read my recent blog post, Does Keynesian Theory Still Work? and we discussed it.  The gist of my point is that whenever we try to pump up the global economy to a level with less than 10% unemployment, we are stymied by the fact the amount of oil needed for such a level of global economic activity is slightly greater than the maximum we can now produce. The economy expands till it hits the oil limit, and then rising demand bids oil price up to a point that shuts down the economy.
            While my nephew did not really deny this phenomenon, he seemed to feel that the real threats to full employment were certain emerging technologies.  He cited three in particular which he thought could play havoc with the future job market: nano-technology, 3D printers, and artificial intelligence.  He said that while it is not certain that all three will materialize, any one of the three could replace massive amounts of human labor.  And if they all come to pass, they could replace 95% of the labor now used to do the things we now do. So, he worries:  Will we have to choose between having 95% of the population on welfare--or 95% unemployment?
            Well, I thought about it for a while, and I concluded that if this were to be our future, then we would have a fairly high class of problems.  All we would need to do would be to reduce the work week to two days, instead of five.  This would create enough new leisure industries to absorb all remaining workers except the 5% still needed to do all that we now do. What’s not to like about that?   Unfortunately, our problems will be a little more complicated.
            So, let’s take the questions one at a time.
            First:  Will these technologies really happen in our lifetime?  I have spent many decades listening to predictions of radical changes that will change my way of life.  But the changes which actually occurred were generally not the ones predicted.  Remember how nuclear power was going to provide “power too cheap to meter”? And how we wouldn’t have to worry about waste, because the next generation of reactors would be fusion reactors.  (Nuclear fusion was just twenty years away.   Guess what—it still is.)  And in the 60s, when emerging African nations were replacing the colonial powers, everyone warned that as soon as the Africans overcame their tribal differences and became a solid political unit, they would become the most powerful nation on Earth.  And, in the worst case, if they joined the Soviet bloc, we were doomed.  Well, the Africans never overcame their differences, and the Soviet Union does not exist.  Did anyone predict its demise?
            Second:   If these technologies were to come about, is this our most important problem?
All my life, I have seen the introduction of new technologies that allow one worker to produce radically more of everything.  In fact, that's what I did throughout my entire working lifetime--design, build, install and repair complex systems which displace human labor. But until very recently, none of this did much to change our dependence on fossil fuel. In fact, the more advanced our industry became, the more oil it used.   Now, finally, we are beginning to see technologies that may help lift our dependence on oil, but only if we use them.  Computer controlled fuel systems allow cars to get better mileage.   Computers and lithium batteries make hybrid cars possible. Advanced silicon PV cells make solar power more feasible.  Computer controls make wind turbines more efficient and smart grids smarter. But we’ve yet to employ these things on a large enough scale to make much difference.  And if we don’t do so fairly soon, no amount of clever digital toys will save us, because we’ll be starving, since our entire food industry is massively dependent on petroleum, the supply of which is already in decline. (Today's Wall Street Journal reports that nearly all major European Oil companies report double digit declines in oil production, compared to just a year ago.  See Europe's Big Oil Sees Output Fall, page B3, Aug 1, 2011.)   
            Third:  If some new technology replaces human labor for most of the things we now do, will we run out of things that need doing?  I doubt it.  At the time of the American Revolution, 9 out of 10 Americans farmed--to feed themselves and the other 10%.   Today, the entire food industry uses only 10% of our workers, and farming itself uses only about 1%.   So, if in 1790, most people were ploughmen, do we now see large numbers of unemployed ploughmen, standing idle with their teams of oxen along country roads with signs that read: WILL PLOUGH FOR FOOD?  No!  During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, farmers squeezed off the farm moved to town and found jobs in industries that mostly didn’t exist in 1790.  And most of them were better off for the change.  
            Just the changes in energy infra-structure required to get free of our oil dependency could use most of the population for a couple generations.  Does this mean that no one will be unemployed?  No.  In the 1930s, Keynes pointed out that people were unemployed, not because there were no tasks that needed to be done, but because we lacked the political will to spend the public funds needed to do them. Most of the massive projects needed to convert our country to a post petroleum economy are of such a scale that only government can do them.  And to pay for this work, only the very rich could be taxed enough to raise this kind of money, because they have nearly all of the wealth.  That’s why it doesn’t happen.  We have unemployment because of a failure of political will.  Or, to put it bluntly, it’s a failure of balls.  We have unemployment because we lack the balls to tax the rich--to hire people to do what we already know has to be done.