Are We Being Punished for our Efforts to Use Less Gasoline?

000In California motorists pay 69 cents of state taxes for each gallon of gas they pump into their cars, more for diesel. Add to that another 18.4 cents per gallon for federal excise taxes, and it could go higher in some counties. In 2009 that generated almost $3.2 billion in revenue for the state of California, most earmarked for the construction and repair of our roads and highways. California is close to tied with New York when it comes to the highest state taxes for the purchase of gasoline.

California, especially in the south, has the unfortunate combination of high population density and concave topography that can trap particulates and create air pollution. To reduce pollution and wean people from fossil fuels, incentives were developed to get people to buy fuel saving vehicles and eventually hybrids and electric cars became popular, and may likely become ubiquitous in the next several years. One such incentive was the right to use the carpool lane with only one person driving their new Prius.

002This was not an easy transition since the economics of buying a hybrid required a lot of miles and a long period of time owning the car before you could justify the premium prices. Nevertheless, many socially conscious people stepped up and happily paid the premium to do what they considered the “right thing.” But the picture is beginning to change and new challenges are cropping up, a result of the ramifications of this sociological, environmental and technological shift.

004Electricity costs are increasing as coal-fired power plants are being phased out. Solar and other renewable energy sources cost more on the basis of producing a kilowatt of power, though the benefits are obvious, important and substantial. But those with the electric cars will be paying increasingly more to charge their vehicles. A few companies (e.g. Kingston Technology) are providing free charging stations at work, but thus far that is the exception more than the rule.

005Now another problem has come to the fore. Gasoline tax revenues have fallen rather dramatically, and the state of California is studying a “pay per mile” tax to make up for the shortfall in revenue for roads and highways. This could have the unintended effect of shifting some of the costs from cars that are gas-guzzlers to the gas-misers. Other countries have innovative ways to avoid this problem. Germany, for example, charges high-polluting trucks and cars more than cleaner ones, so fewer of those dirtier trucks are now on the road. Singapore has cut gridlock by levying a higher road charge during rush hour and on busy roads. Many different ideas can be incubated to get the right combination of revenue balanced by solving for problems such as weaning us from fossil fuels, reducing air pollution and traffic gridlock.

006The governor of California is expected to have completed the study and have recommendations by 2017, so what are some of your ideas?

Noah, Ark and Global Flood: Myth, Maybe or Most Certainly?

00That many geologists are today creating a global flood model may incense those who have already settled in their own minds that Noah and his family, the ark and a global deluge are the stuff of myth and mysticism. Yet the very same strata evolutionists point to – the fossil record — holds clues to another possibility that shows far more evidentiary support for a global flood than for evolution.

Ever wonder about what happens when organisms die? They decay, they return to the same basic elements found throughout nature: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Given enough time, entropy, the second law of thermodynamics takes a well-designed and complex living organism and devolves and deconstructs it into its constituent parts. So how is it that we have extremely widespread strata that contain the calcified remains of marine fossils? Should they not have decayed and left no trace?

0The Theory of Uniformitarianism underpins and frankly necessitates the argument for evolution to have worked. The fortuitous occurrence of accidental circumstances sequenced together over a long period of time is needed to believe that organism complexity today could have happened by chance. But has our planet existed peacefully enough to allow for evolution, or is there contradictory evidence that must be taken into consideration? Indeed the evidence is overwhelming that our planet has survived many cataclysmic interruptions that would have been of sufficient force to reset any evolutionary clock.

1Scientists write of the Permian-Triassic extinction event, when 96% of marine and 70% of the land organisms were doomed to extinction. The world’s forests were literally “wiped out.” In the model of a global deluge, the rapid flows of water would account for the marine life being virtually eliminated, and a large barge (i.e. ark) would explain how some land organisms survived.

2Throughout the world, peoples and cultures have stories of a worldwide flood; there are hundreds of such stories. Certainly these stories have been embellished and changed over the years, but the common denominator is this: worldwide flood. Here is just one example taken from the records of the Hualapai Indians of northwestern Arizona (especially fascinating since the Hualapai were a proud people, despising the ‘religions’ of the white man):

It rained for 45 days, and the whole earth was flooded. All the people were destroyed, except for one old man atop Spirit Mountain. Many days passed and a dove brought him instructions from the Creator to drive a ram’s horn into the earth. The old man obeyed and the waters were drained. He sent the dove forth, and when it returned with fresh grass in its beak, he rejoiced for the land had become dry.

When the old man died, the Creator made “a younger brother and an older brother.” In obedience to a dream, the two scraped, cleaned, and laid out canes. Before the next dawn the canes turned into a great population, and older-brother’s rule over them was good. When he died, younger-brother commanded Cousin Coyote to fetch fire for the funeral pyre from faraway Fire-starter. But Coyote was disobedient and looked back, only to see that the fire had started without him. Dashing back to the pyre, he reached into the blaze, snatched older-brother’s heart, and fled with it in his clenched teeth. (To this day, coyotes bear the mark of rebellion in their upturned, disfigured mouths.)

The land became irrevocably “not good” by this act, and younger-brother led the people “across the water” to a new land in the east. Overcrowding soon ensued, and younger-brother chief dispersed the people into three major people groups (Navajo, Mojave, and Hualapai).

There are many more “flood traditions,” stories recorded and repeated around the globe. Science too confirms many supporting theories for a flood, though their discoveries were likely not intended to do so at the time. Here are just a ten among hundreds:

  1. The genealogical records of many of the European kings can be traced back to Japheth, son of Noah.
  2. An analysis of population growth statistics confirms that there was zero population at the estimated time of the end of the flood. This indicates the global demise of humans by Noah’s flood.
  3. Human paleontological evidence exists even in the earliest geologic ‘ages’ (e.g. human footprints in Cambrian, Carboniferous, and Cretaceous rocks). If the layers of rock were laid down by a global flood and then interpreted as evolutionary long-ages, human remains and artifacts would appear to be in such positions.
  4. The most ancient human artifacts date to the post-flood era. This indicates that the earlier hardware could have been buried beyond reach by a huge flood.
  5. Calculations have shown that there is nearly the same amount of organic material present today, worldwide, as there would have been if all the fossils were still alive. This indicates the demise of all living things in a single global event.
  6. Studies show that much of the world’s folded beds of sediment have no compression fractures, indicating that they were contorted while they were still wet and soft. For this to occur on a global scale, and on sediment thousands of meters thick, it would have required a catastrophic global flood.
  7. The uplift of the major mountain ranges are relatively young, based on evolutionary chronology. If the long-age evolutionary time scale is ignored, these processes would have occurred in the very recent past – i.e. as a result of the flood cataclysm.
  8. Marine fossils can be found on the crests of mountains. Apart from mountain uplifting, this can also be explained as the marine animals being washed there and then buried. A global flood could do this.
  9. Meteorites are basically absent from the geologic column. With the large number of meteorites hitting the earth each year, they should be very plentiful throughout the sedimentary rocks – unless much of the world’s sedimentary rocks were laid down in one year.
  10. Hydrologic evidence points to the rapid deposition of sedimentary rock layers. Therefore, the thousand’s of meters of sediment must have been deposited by a catastrophic global flood.

That scientists dismiss the possibility of a worldwide flood is consistent with their dismissal of problems with their Theory of Uniformitarianism. When extraneous evidence contradicts a worldview, it is dismissed, discredited or disavowed, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Thoughtful people who are not intimidated by the scholarship of others are encouraged to investigate these things and draw their own conclusions. The debate is ongoing, but when I see the cavalier dismissal of all of this evidence I can only conclude that some people are simply too frightened to even imagine the possibility wherein God exists, He has spoken to us, and His Words are true and reliable.

r_mann

References

New ancient fungus finding suggests world’s forests were wiped out in global catastrophe. Imperial College London press release, October 1, 2009.

Jin, Y. G. et al. 2000. Pattern of Marine Mass Extinction Near the Permian–Triassic Boundary in South China. Science. 289 (5478): 432–436.

Sephton, M. A., et al. 2009. Chemical constitution of a Permian-Triassic disaster species. Geology. 37 (10): 875-878.

Renne, P. R., and A. R. Basu. 1991. Rapid Eruption of the Siberian Traps Flood Basalts at the Permo-Triassic Boundary. Science. 253 (5016): 176-179.

Thomas, B. Dinosaur Soft Tissue Issue Is Here to Stay. Acts & Facts. 38(9): 18. Genesis 7:11.

What do YOU believe?

Belief – An opinion or judgment in which a person is fully persuaded.00

Did you know that there are 41,000 different Christian denominations or ‘sects’ that can be categorized into five major ‘families’ of churches?

  • Catholic Church [50%]
  • Protestant and Anglican churches [18%]
  • Eastern Churches [12%]
  • Pentecostal churches [12%]
  • Evangelical (non-Pentecostal) [8%]

Besides these researchers have identified that more than 2/3rd’s of the rest of the world that have faith in non-Christian religions: Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 3.19.20 PM

And within each of these non-Christian religions are numerous sects and segments. 3

Sometimes I smile when I receive a social media post or response from someone claiming that they do not believe in religious fables whatsoever, but only in science. Did you know that “science” too could be categorized as a “religion” in terms of its foundational beliefs or underlying reliance, confidence or credence? This particular religion is called “Secular Humanism” and is defined as “the philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.”4

Of the roughly 7 billion people in the world, the number of combinations and permutations of specific sects or sub-sets of any faith must be well over a million. So when someone says “I believe in God,” I always think of the (Bible) Scripture (James 2:19) that says, “You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.” Belief in God, or an alleged belief in God may start an interesting conversation, but that is all, it is only a start, not an understanding.6

Social media is full of vitriol when it comes to subjects such as politics and religion. I am guilty myself. A Muslim friend of mine stated, “I believe Jesus was a good man and a prophet.” I responded by saying, “Impossible – if you read His claims He was either a liar, insane, or the Son of God; but ‘good man’ or ‘prophet’ is inconsistent with everything He said about Himself.

I was immediately ashamed of my insensitive response and began to reflect upon what I today consider an acceptable way to engage people in what we, and they, believe. Here is what I have concluded:

  • If someone asks about your faith, answer him or her politely and with respect.
  • If someone asks you about the “why” of your faith, answer him or her with your reasons, but don’t go into too much detail or send them a link to your favorite faith site.
  • If someone shares their faith with you, respect them, because after all, they may turn out to be right and we may turn out to be wrong!
  • If someone clubs you over the head with the “science” of evolution and the futility and insanity of “religion,” treat them with dignity and offer friendship. They may someday convert you, or you may convert them, but that should never be the primary reason for friendship. Friendship should be based upon the fact that you both like one another.
  • Do not debate. Debate has as its engine arrogance and pride. The reactions you will get are more and different questions, further debate that begins to ‘rathole,’ anger, intolerance or ridicule, none of which you set out to receive in the first place.
  • If you believe in God, love your neighbor as yourself, and if they reject your faith, what do you do next? Pray. And then continue to pray.7

r_mannRodd signature

Piling on President Obama

Economy.

RecessionWhen President Barack H. Obama first took office in January 2009, the financial markets were poised for a monumental collapse. The first to go – and indeed the federal government let them go- was Lehman Brothers, at the time the 4th largest investment bank in the United States. Two years earlier price-earnings (PE) ratios for the overall stock market were 25 times, compared to an historical average of about 16 times. By March 2009, that same PE would sink to 13 times, about half the value of the stock market was wiped out and within a few more months unemployment would rocket to 10%. This was not the internet bubble that popped in 2000, this was far more pervasive, before it would be over the world’s financial markets, especially liquidity, willingness to borrow and regulatory scrutiny, would mark one of the most painful economic periods since the Great Depression.

During World War II, the French were famous for blaming all sorts of inefficiencies and shortages on the war with the all-purpose excuse “C’est la guerre.” Obama’s version of that is “C’est le Bush Administration. He became President, not King, so his ability to either bring good or harm to the problems he faced in 2009 were limited to a) Ability to formulate effective, affordable, durable policy that hopefully could be implemented and impacting quickly, and b) Ability to cobble and compromise in a bi-partisan nature with Congress, while ensuring whatever plans got developed they could stand up to Judicial scrutiny. He tackled the first with fervor, but the second requirement was left undone and only became worse. Rather than building consensus, President Obama chose the unfortunate posture of scolding. He scolded the banks. He scolded Congress. He scolded businesses and others saw all of his scolding as pontificating and alienating.

Unemployment TrendIn 2009 the national debt stood at approximately $12 trillion, representing 83% of GDP. But 2012 the national debt would become approximately 100% of GDP and remain there to the present day, a staggering $18 trillion in national debt. Most of the increase was attributable to the recession and the decrease in income tax receipts, however, in 2012 Obama agree to almost $1 trillion in defense spending. Rather than cutting back on spending both the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the Federal Government ratcheted up financial stimulus to hopefully stave off a worsening economic recession. Somewhat like pushing on a string liquidity remained intransigent, creating an unwillingness of banks to lend without the most pristine of credit history and collateral.

As long as unemployment remained high and manufacturing capacity utilization remained low, there was no inflation impact to flooding the money supply, a point where economists – throughout the years – disagreed sharply. Now that unemployment is closer to historical averages and manufacturing capacity utilization likewise, continued government and Fed tinkering will likely and finally create inflation. Indeed the 30-year Bull Run on long-term bonds appears potentially catastrophic once interest rates are finally left alone to float with the market. This sets up a conundrum from a policy standpoint, that is, how to unwind the combination of trillions in assets on the government balance sheet and also allow interest rates to rise without a new albeit somewhat different economic collapse.

Health Care.

ACAThe Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 has enabled 11.7 million Americans to obtain medical insurance, three-quarters of them on the federal exchange, which finally seems to be working reasonably well. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that by 2022 fully 33 million will be insured via the ACA process. On the face of it a good thing since prior to insurance these people would avoid going to the doctor until so sick they would show up at the emergency rooms of hospitals. Unable to pay such an expensive bill, the bad debt would find its way into the overall costs for everyone who was buying health insurance.

For those signing up on the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, some 87 percent received federal subsidies to help them afford the monthly premiums. The subsidies totaled $263 a month, on average, leaving consumers to pay $101. These subsidies are at the heart of the next battle for the administration. The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether those signing up on the federal exchange are eligible for subsidies.

Insurance companies can no longer discriminate on the basis of “pre-existing conditions.” In addition, insurers must spend 80-85% of every dollar they receive on medical care (instead of advertising, administration, etc.). The law is expected to spend a bit over $1 trillion in the next 10 years. The law’s spending cuts — many of which fall on Medicare — and tax increases — are expected to either save or raise a bit more than that, which is why the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will slightly reduce the deficit.

War.

WarThe wars begun in 2001 have been tremendously painful for millions of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, and the United States, and economically costly as well. Each additional month and year of war adds to that toll. According to the Watson Institute for International Studies, some of that toll can be summarized as follows:

  • 350,000 people have died due to direct war violence, and many more indirectly in addition to indirect deaths from the wars, including those related to malnutrition, damaged health infrastructure, and environmental degradation
  • New disability claims continue to pour into the VA, with 970,000 disability claims registered as of March 31, 2014. Many deaths and injuries among US contractors have not been identified.
  • 7 million people have been displaced indefinitely
  • Erosions in civil liberties at home and human rights violations abroad have accompanied the wars.
  • The human and economic costs of these wars will continue for decades, some costs not peaking until mid-century.
  • The US federal price tag for the Iraq war — including an estimate for veterans’ medical and disability costs into the future — is about $2.2 trillion dollars. The cost for both Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan is going to be close to $4.4 trillion, not including future interest costs on borrowing for the wars.
  • While it was promised that the US invasions would bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq, both continue to rank extremely low in global rankings of political freedom, with warlords continuing to hold power in Afghanistan with US support, and Iraqi communities more segregated today than before by gender and ethnicity as a result of the war.

direct-deaths-multiPresident Obama has not only ended these two wars, though some say too quickly, but has steadfastly refused to take America headlong into new wars. This has led some to conclude that the U.S. is no longer viewed as a leader and a superpower. Yet it has also had the effect of getting other countries to begin to step up with their resources rather than always expecting the United States to save the day. For far too long, most countries have enjoyed national savings resulting from an artificial underinvestment in military capability. The unvarnished truth is that if China decided to take Taiwan tomorrow the United States would not go to war with China. This new reality changes nations’ policies toward armament as well as treaties and economic ties, rather than expecting the United States to protect them as was the case with Kuwait and Desert Shield.

Religion and Terrorism

ISISTerrorism has been around a very long time. As a little boy watching the 1972 Olympics I was shocked to see the terrorist attack on athletes from Israel. Terror can be organized abroad, it can also be localized; it can be large and well-funded groups and also lone wolf attacks almost no one can anticipate. Generally, though not always, terrorists claim their motivation is religious, that is, God has determined that they must kill in order to bring about change that God desires. This can result in generalizations from the terrorists to larger religions, turning neighbor against neighbor in fear and outrage. When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, setting off U.S. involvement in World War II, we set up “internment camps” for the Japanese Americans, primarily arising from this type of fear.

Although Obama has presided over the killing thousands of terrorists, most notably Osama bin Laden, many in the United States demand that he take a more definitive and strong stance against Islam, claiming jihadist ideology is an inherent doctrine in the Koran, Islam’s holy book. The President has resisted, seeking to differentiate peaceful Muslims from the perverted ideological claims made by groups such as ISIS. The extreme reaction to the President’s view has been to accuse him of “hating America,” “sympathizing with Muslim terrorists,” and perhaps even being a closet Muslim himself. Some in Congress have even gone on record making these sorts of accusations. The combination of Obama’s resistance to new wars in far-flung places, along with his desire to allow Muslim’s in the U.S. and the world to freely practice their religion unfettered, has had the effect of creating a divisive nation at home, with very strong opinions on both sides of the issue.

Summary.

Report CardWhile this summary assessment is concerned with President Obama, much could be written about the inability of the Congress to be effective and productive as well. That is a subject for another paper. Overall the President has done poorly in terms of building consensus, coalitions, compromise and goodwill among federal government and the general population. In terms of the economy, it appears the Keynesians were right about the so-called “liquidity trap.” As Germany demands austerity (in Greece for example), Europe remains mired in recession even though the example of stimulus in the United States appears to have cut our economic suffering short and shallow. How to unwind the tinkering that has been done will be a daunting challenge; indeed as interest rates finally rise we should expect economic repercussions from asset devaluation (long-term bonds) to high interest payment on our burgeoning national debt, severely impacting the productive use of government income tax receipts.

The ACA had a difficult start and will almost certainly require modifications. Getting millions insured has been accomplished, likely a good thing in the long run. But the jury remains out in terms of overall long-term impact on health care costs and freedom each person had to choose their health care providers. Several more years will be needed before any conclusions regarding efficacy can be written with reliable facts and figures.

The cessation of the wars and the resistance to enter new wars has certainly saved lives, disabilities and dollars. The somewhat new policy has also had the effect of getting other countries to step up their resource commitments toward defending their own interests, certainly an important step in the right direction. But increased investment on weaponry all around the world can also mean another inevitable result: we can expect more wars.

Every president has had a mixed record of accomplishments and failures. No president is ever able to take full credit for great accomplishments, nor should he take full blame for failures. Far too many variables outside his control impact what happens to the United States and the rest of the world. Given all of what President Barack Obama has managed to do, however, it would be unfair to grade him as severely as many are prone to do today. To say he hates the country, supports terrorists, is a racist and a socialist is to overstate the true picture. To say he worked hard and made some progress while doing a poor job at building consensus is a more even-handed approach in terms of grading his performance. The world is a dangerous and violent place, how we navigate the future will require consensus but it will also require tolerance and compassion, of which we seem to have less and less of lately. compassionRodd signature

The REAL reason Sony canceled the release of the movie “The Interview”

The REAL reason Sony canceled the release of the movie “The Interview”

1When Sony’s decision was aired throughout the media yesterday most people thought it was a result of a fear of fomenting terrorist acts. Japan, as well as South Korea and other regional nations well know that the capability of North Korea carrying out terrorist acts on U.S. soil is remote. The regime can make a lot of noise and boastful claims but since 1953 has this country ever been responsible for terrorism in other parts of the world? They are an insular, backward, starving country that will someday see regime change without a shot being fired. South Korea well knows that the threat posed consists mostly of empty rhetoric, oft-repeated claims of setting nations on fire or worse. It never happens. It never will. They are over 60 years past battle-hardened testing, and although hacking might be a hobby for some there, war is not going to be there strong point.

2So just why then did Sony pull this film – a move that will likely cost them at least $90 million in an unfavorable impact to their bottom line? The reason is a bit more subtle. In the past 10 years Japanese companies have been battered by lawsuits originating in the United States. Take a look at a few of the lawsuits that have originated in the United States that were aimed at Japanese companies:

  1. Norman v. Honda

The parents of Karen Norman sued Honda when their daughter died from not being able to escape from her Civic after backing into Galveston Bay. At first, the case sounds somewhat legitimate, until you learn the rest of the facts. For example, the Normans sued Honda because their daughter was unable to hit the emergency release button on the seatbelt. However, she failed to hit the button most likely because she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 and shouldn’t have been driving in the first place. The incident happened at 2 a.m. with passenger Josel Woods in the passenger seat. Woods was able to swim to safety. Here’s the kicker: the jury actually awarded the parents with just 25% of the damages considered contributorily negligent. Thus, the Normans basically sued and won against Honda in spite of their daughter’s obvious irresponsibility for driving under the influence. (See more at: http://www.businessinsurance.org/10-ridiculously-frivolous-lawsuits-against-big-businesses/#sthash.f0tZxVuk.dpuf).

  1. The feds reached a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota Motor Corp. after a four-year criminal probe into the giant Japanese automaker’s handling of a spate of sudden accelerations in its vehicles. The investigation focused on whether Toyota was honest in reporting problems related to the unintended-acceleration troubles, which led to multiple accidents and fatalities. Toyota faces hundreds of lawsuits over the acceleration problems, which gained public attention after the deaths of a California highway patrolman and his family that were reportedly caused by the unintended acceleration of his Lexus, which is made by Toyota.

Starting in 2009, Toyota issued recalls for more than 10 million vehicles for various problems, including faulty brakes, gas pedals and floor mats. From 2010 through 2012, Toyota paid fines totaling more than $66 million for delays in reporting unintended-acceleration problems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration never found defects in electronics or software in Toyota cars, which had been targeted as a possible cause by many, including some experts.

  1. Takata Prepares To Take $440 Million Hit From Airbag Recall

Reuters reported that Takata airbags, which found their way into 4 million Hondas, Toyotas, BMWs and other cars worldwide, will likely result in a major loss for the company going forward. This one is just the latest.

3There are many more examples of U.S. based lawsuits against Japanese companies that in spite of flimsy, scant and even highly questionable evidence, have resulted in monumental judgments the Japanese companies have had to pay in order to continue to do business in the United States. Japan is a country lacking natural resources, unlike North America, Africa, China and South America. They must export in order to survive. So pay they will.

If “The Interview” was released into U.S. theaters on Christmas Day, and so much as an unrelated incident of harm occurred to any movie-goer, Sony would be sued and sued for a lot of money. The plaintiffs would likely prevail given the fact that Sony had duly been provided ample warning that such a terrible outcome could be expected.

4The U.S. is a litigious society. If you are scalded by hot coffee you purchased from McDonald’s you can make a lot of money by suing. In fact, Americans spend more on civil litigation than any other industrialized country, according to a study in the Economic Journal – and twice as much on litigation as on new automobiles.

So just why did Sony pull their upcoming film “The Interview?” Had they not, they anticipated far greater than $90 million worth of settlements from lawsuits blaming them for anything even remotely connected to someone getting hurt in a U.S. movie theater while watching this particular movie. The decision was based upon a cost-benefit model, and the business decision was probably a good one.

Is Education to Blame for the STEM Skills Gap?

1Up until about 2014 virtually all of the research related to STEM skills shortages (especially) in technology companies was done quantitatively, with the instrument of choice the survey method and the respondents that were selected employers, businesses, technology firms. The research was conducted by government organizations, business associations and all of the large consulting firms. Pick any one of these studies and you will find consistent agreement in the methodology (quantitative), the instrument (survey) and the respondents chosen (employers). Some of the studies were conducted by Accenture (2012), Boston Consulting Group (2013), Congressional Budget Office (2011), Deloitte (2011), Manpower (2012), McKinsey (2012), President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (2012), Price Waterhouse Coopers (2012), and the US Chamber of Commerce (2006). The conclusions were all the same, that is, that the education system was failing to provide STEM-qualified job applicants to industries that needed these skills in order to grow and innovate.

2Along with the survey conclusions, all of which contained high Cronbach’s (alpha) that measure internal consistency, recommendations for how to retool the education system to better inculcate STEM skills in students desiring to enter the workforce were suggested, explained and elaborated upon. Quantitative methods such as these are universally considered scientific; indeed evidence-based, positivist methodologies are only re-examined to the extent that the samples taken were (preferably) random, and sufficiently large enough to yield confidence to at least two standard deviations each side of the mean (95%). The researchers dutifully reported their survey results, along with every confirming statistic to support the validity of their conclusions. Consulting houses piled on to mimic their competitor studies and they all came to the same conclusions. Therein lies the rub.

3The bias lies not in the survey purpose, sample size, or design. The flaw is in the respondents chosen. Although it may seem intuitive to select employers as the respondents – after all, who better to judge the STEM skills it takes to be successful on the job? The qualitative studies that followed these methods have debunked, demystified and completely derailed the validity of the quantitative survey conclusions. Research question: What if employers had an incentive to blame education and the root cause of the problem was actually in the domain and under the control of the employers themselves? How would a researcher conduct a study to determine whether validity exists for such a theory and hypothesis?

4Dr. Peter Cappelli (2014) wrote his dissertation based upon all of these studies, plus a lot of tangential (tertiary) research, mixed in with data from government (Department of Labor for example), education, and industry. Rather than cross-sectional and quantitative, Dr. Cappelli approached the business problem with an historical lens to see how technology companies went from no STEM skills gap to an alleged STEM skills gap over a period of time (longitudinal). Qualitative researchers are criticized for lacking an evidence-based approach. Lacking experimental methodologies, randomized samples well-controlled and quantitative metrics, it is difficult for the interpretative researcher to garner the respect of colleagues in the peer-review process. Research methods have not matured yet to the point of comparability regarding credibility (internal validity), evidence, transferability (external validity), confirmability (objectivity) and reliability (dependability). Yet qualitative research methodologies in the interpretivist tradition, provide far more latitude when many nuanced exogenous variables, changing over the course of time, can bring a “best” persuasive description and explanation for what is going on with the business problem at hand based upon thorough exploratory research.

5The skills gaps surveys utilized skill classifications. Dr. Cappelli, in his research approach asked questions, developed strong inductive and logical support through case examples to answer these questions, then bundled the entire package to illustrate and portray an entirely different set of dynamics that accounted for the alleged STEM skills gaps. Coincident and following his initial research, others (Charette, 2013) have approached the problem with similar tools and questions, the outcome of which has buttressed Dr. Cappelli’s seminal work, laid the ground for new theory, and consequently and likely qualifies Dr. Cappelli’s work as seminal in nature. In simple terms Dr. Cappelli searched the literature and found that problems largely caused by employers themselves were at the root of the STEM skills gap.

Case after case, data upon data, and analysis over time yielded the following results, all well supported by the careful sifting and interpretation of the evidence:

  1. Employers are unwilling to pay market-clearing wages for STEM skilled workers.
  2. Employers have largely abandoned their internal company training programs that were aimed at preparing new recruits for success on the job.
  3. Employers have increased their hurdle rates in terms of inflated educational and experience requirements for jobs that used to be performed by less educated, less skilled workers.
  4. Employers have a vested interest, an incentive to continue their practices above and to push the responsibility and problem solving unto the educational system. For example, these employer claims have the effect of cajoling the government toward a policy of increasing the number of H1-B visas granted so lower compensated STEM skilled recruit can be found in other countries.

References

Accenture. 2012. “Solving the Skills Paradox: Seven Ways to Solve Your Critical Skills Gap.”

http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/Accenture-Solving-the-

Skills-Paradox.pdf.

Boston Consulting Group. 2013. “The U.S. Skills Gap: Could it Threaten the U.S.

Manufacturing Renaissance?” https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/lean_manufacturing_us_skills_gap_co uld_threaten_manufacturing_renaissance/.

Cappelli, Peter. 1995. “Rethinking the ‘Skills Gap’.” California Management Review 37(4): 108- 124.
Cappelli, Peter. 1999. The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market-Driven Workplace. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Cappelli, Peter. 2003 “Will There Really Be a Labor Shortage?.”Organizational Dynamic 32(3): 221-233.

Cappelli, Peter. 2012. That Pesky Skill Shortage in Manufacturing. HR Executive. http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/view/story.jhtml?id=534354686.

Cappelli, P. (2014, August). Skill Gaps, Skill Shortages and Skill Mismatches: Evidence for the US. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w20382

CBO. 2011. “CBO’s Labor Force Projections Through 2021.” Congressional Budget Office.

http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12052/03-22- laborforceprojections.pdf.
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Charette, R. N. (2013). The STEM crisis is a myth. IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved from http://www.k12accountability.org/resources/STEM-Education/The_STEM_Crisis_Is_a_Myth.pdf

Deloitte. 2011. “Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing.” Manufacturing Institute. http://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/~/media/A07730B2A798437D98501E798C2E 13AA.ashx.

Manpower 2012. The Talent Shortage Survey. http://www.manpowergroup.us/campaigns/talent- shortage-2012/pdf/2012_Talent_Shortage_Survey_Results_US_FINALFINAL.pdf

McKinsey. 2012. “The World at Work: Jobs, Pay and Skills for 3.5 Billion People.” McKinsey Global Institute.

http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/employment_and_growth/the_world_at_work.

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. 2012.

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PWC. 2012. “Facing the Talent Challenge: Global CEO Survey.”

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 2006. “The State of American Business 2006.” Washington D.C.

Innovation and the History of Data Storage

Difficult to predict...

Difficult to predict…

The history of technological breakthroughs enabling the storage of data has had a run approaching one hundred years. Throughout this time, ever new technology was considered entirely new and unique, disruptive, and breakthrough. One could argue that people working in the data storage industry, from scientists to manufacturing operators to sales and marketing have become accustomed to only one constant: Whatever is the latest and greatest storage technology will not last longer than a few more years. The art within the science of data storage technology breakthroughs is which “horse” to bet on, since a plethora of new ideas in research and development are continuing.

Here are just a few of the developments in data storage since the 1920’s according to Zetta.net (2014):

  • Invention of the magnetic tape drive in 1928
  • Magnetic drum in 1932
  • Electrostatic cathode ray tubes and delay line memory in the 1940’s
  • Hard disk drive (HDD) in 1956
  • DRAM in 1966
  • Floppy drives in the 1970’s
  • CD, CD ROM, DAT and DDS in the 1980’s
  • Flash memory in the 1990’s
  • HD-DVD, Blue ray, Flash cards and holographic in the 2000’s
  • Cloud (today)

One thing data storage has always had were almost insurmountable challenges in terms of barriers to entry: Huge scientific leaps were required, huge amounts of capital were also needed – a semiconductor fab today will run upwards of US$5 billion, with plenty of issues getting from the drawing board to mass production. Certainly not for the faint of heart, but exciting nevertheless.

Where do we go from here? What comes next after the cloud? Most people don’t understand how to describe the “cloud” or even what it is. Basically the cloud’s tangible properties are server farms, data centers in far-flung places that very few people even knew existed. When you save your tax return or your Capella University assignments to the cloud, you are entrusting the storage and protection of your information to a massive array of networked server hard drives, tape back up, flash and software. The good news is that most of this information is in turn backed up, or mirrored, in another similar facility but at an entirely different geography, perhaps on the other side of the planet. The bad news is that if hackers do manage to get into your tax returns, well your problems have just begun.

According to Chen (2013) “The increasing adoption of cloud services is demanding the deployment of more data centers. Data centers typically house a huge amount of storage and computing resources, in turn dictating better networking technologies to connect the large number of computing and storage nodes. Data center networking (DCN) is an emerging field to study networking challenges in data centers.”

So what to expect over the next several years? While speeds and feeds and capacities continue to grow in flash memory and hard drive products, a lot of investment is going into data warehousing, data processing, data mining, network efficiency, fast internet connections and global capability to send and receive information from any place on the planet.

So is that it then? Not at all! In background are holographic storage and who knows? This 3D storage technique could be the next big thing. And in the world of flash? According to Villa (2010) ““Phase-change memory (PCM) technology is the only one of the proposed alternative technologies that is demonstrating the capability to enter in the broad NVM market and to become main-stream in the next decade.” Phase-change memory, Memristors and similar technologies are expected to replace flash entirely. And DRAM, flash and the controller technology necessary to run them together is now packaged into a single multi-chip which in turn is soldered to the motherboard.

What can keep up? One thing is certain though. Technology companies tend to trade at high stock price-earnings ratios. This is because some of them will break out and rocket to the moon. Most of the others will simply whither away, unable to keep up. And it is this phenomena that accounts for the very high volatility in stock price earnings ratios of the tech stocks traded on the NASDAQ exchange. No one is 100% which horse to bet on.

References

Bez, R., Camerlenghi, E., Modelli, A., & Visconti, A. (2003). Introduction to flash memory. Proceedings of the IEEE, 91(4), 489-502.

Villa, C., Mills, D., Barkley, G., Giduturi, H., Schippers, S., & Vimercati, D. (2010). ISSCC 2010/SESSION 14/NON-VOLATILE MEMORY/14.8.

Zetta, Inc. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.zetta.net/history-of-computer-storage

 

 

 

 

 

Chen, M., Jin, H., Wen, Y., & Leung, V. C. (2013). Enabling technologies for future data center networking: a primer. Network, IEEE, 27(4).