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Rich People, Rich Companies, Rich Government, and Jobs

June 15, 2012

There’s a peculiar dichotomy in the discussion on “the rich” creating more jobs by getting tax cuts.

When we talk about the wealthy, we have to be aware that “taxation on the rich” takes two very different paths; one is regarding tax upon the upper-level management that’s getting paid in millions of dollars regardless of the performance of the company. The other is tax on corporate profits.

Clearly, if an individual is sitting on a pile of cash, then there is no job creation going on there. If the money is invested in stocks, it’s accomplished little more than raising that stock’s artificial value for someone else. This is not job creation. Two stock owners can buy and sell stock back and forth until the stocks have doubled in price. All they’ve succeeded in doing is tying up their profits in inflated stock prices. When the stock market is doing great, cash is being tied up to inflate the prices; this cash is not creating jobs.

Likewise, the concern about taxing profits on companies is totally irrelevant if the company is actually using their extra money to create jobs. in which case their profits will be very small and they will pay very few taxes.  If you think about it, high corporate taxes could, in fact, encourage corporations to reinvest heavily in themselves and in job creation – they maintain corporate growth, new jobs, and thus investors to jack up their own stock prices.

But if we look back over the last thirty years, the tax on the wealthy has been lower than ever so there’s been less of an incentive to dodge taxes by reinvesting in job growth without the company. The job situation is worse than ever. The government, collecting less money, has the worst deficit problem ever, escalating every year for the last 30 years or so (excepting Clinton’s time in office – we can only assume he raised taxes). The jobs that the government created by taxing the wealthy went away with their tax cuts.

Contrary to conservative beliefs, lowering taxes eliminates jobs. The government tends to spend ALL of the money they bring in, as everyone has noticed, and when they spend it, they create jobs.

So if CEOs have a pile of cash to burn, what are their choices? Sit on the cash, that’s an option. Invest in stocks, inflate stock prices, thus tying up the cash? Or expand their companies.

Expanding their companies only makes sense if there’s a demand. So in a depression or recession, there’s zero incentive, no matter how low you make their taxes, to invest in creating jobs. Think about it…put yourself in the CEO’s position. It’s pretty simple math.

So what options are we left with in  a recession? Tax breaks for the rich…no, that clearly doesn’t work. Compare unemployment when peak tax rates were  90% to current times. Pretty obvious, isn’t it? And if the government has this tax money, what do you think they’ll do with it? Put in in stocks, spend it in China on cheap labor, or make jobs for Americans?

Silicon Based Lifeforms vs Creationists

July 23, 2010

Ever since the ground-breaking experiments of Urey and Miller, who proved it was possible for amino acids to spontaneously arise out of a laboratory-controlled “primordial soup” of inorganic chemicals, scientists have been racing to take the next step and find out just how the amino acids can become self-replicating organic strings. The importance of this is obvious. This would give us a continuous lineage from rocks to humans. Evolution in a nutshell, a complete package end-to-end with which to torment creationists.

Unfortunately, lacking this final detail in the string of continuity, mutation, and speciation, creationists will cling to this last vestige of their delusion like a drowning man rubbing a rabbit’s foot. Of course, they will do that anyway, even with absolute proof that evolution can stand on its own, and continue to perpetuate the lie that evolution is still grounded in Lamarkian concepts. Anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a Jehovah’s Witness tract knows just what I’m talking about – their sum total knowledge of evolution comes from the latest theories of the 1880s and the rants from their apparently uneducated pastors.

Even if scientists complete the experimental foundations of the RNA World, there will still remain skeptics who will blame the results on contamination from external sources, unless, of course, the carbon-based replicating organism is completely alien to anything that currently exists. But the odds of that are considered low; carbon compounds like to react with other carbon compounds in very specific ways that restrict the options available.

But why go this route? Why not select a version of life that can’t possibly be contaminated by Earthly life forms? For example, silicon (versus carbon) based life? Something that will provide incontrovertible proof that life can arise spontaneously in some of the nastiest conditions the universe can lob at us.

I’ve read a bit about the possibility of silicon-based life forms. Most people don’t think it’s possible, usually based on speculation about how silicon bonds with oxygen and can’t properly build long, strong chains like carbon does (not completely true – look up polysilanes). Most of these articles assume certain things; that oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and other low-level atoms are still going to be around for silicon to bond with, and that the temperature of the silicon-based chemistry will have to be about the same as our own. Silicon doesn’t do well at this temperature. Too hard, too short a chain, blah, blah, blah.

But to create a true silicon analog of the carbon based world, we have to eliminate the whole top line of the periodic chart (barring lithium – we need that). This might seem to be a crazy task until we look at Venus, which at a mere 600 degrees C, and with the aid of ultraviolet rays, has lost most of its hydrogen and oxygen into space. It has very little water left. However, for a silicon analog to exist, with no carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen or helium to pollute its atmosphere, we would need a fairly small planet with a surface temperature of over 1000 degrees C. Taking a look at the next row down on our periodic charts, we can see that the analog to H20 would be Li2S, oceans of dilithium sulfide (not to be confused with dilithium crystals, which are used in starships). This happens to melt at about 950 degrees C. The second row in the chart below nitrogen is phosphorus. P2 gas forms from P4 at over 800 C, which works just great for us as our analog to N2 in our own atmosphere. An atmosphere consisting mostly of phosphorus might be hard on us humans, but it’d likely be just fine for the siliconites. The analog to C02 would be SiS2, silicon sulfide.

I’m not sure how silicon would do as a chain at 1100 degrees if it was isolated from lower-level chemical elements. Probably not as well, after all, you are dealing with a valence shell that’s one shell further away from the nucleus than carbon. But once you eliminate all these reactive impurities, who’s to say?

What I’d love to do is build a nicely insulated ceramic chamber, dump a lot of these second-level elements into it, heat it up to 2000 degrees to vent off the light elements, then let it cook for a few years around 1100 degrees. Make a “freezing side” of the box at 900 degrees, and a hot side at 1150 to give it a nice thermal gradient. Add a spark-gap generator. Then watch and see what grows. Repeat Urey and Miller’s 1-week experiment, but on silicon. Would we get analog-silicon amino acids? I’d bet on it. Analog RNA? Analog life? Who knows? But it would sure be cool to find out.

Hi, Folks.

January 16, 2010

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