Monday, December 9, 2013

A Plano Moment: Marcuse at Little League

Over coffee one day I lamented to a friend about a young man I knew who could not see past his Corvette and Ducati.  My friend told me I should read "One-Dimensional Man" by Herbert Marcuse.  The book was right on the money.  It was published in 1964 and 40 years later it was still true.

I was reading the book at Little League practice and one kid's grand-dad told me it was a good book.  I like that.  I can take a book by Herbert Marcuse to a Little League practice in Plano and the book is recognized.  I love Plano!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Federal Reserve and Our Future

Your future, my future, and our children's future are in the hands of the Federal Reserve, America's central bank.  The Fed under Alan Greenspan created the housing bubble that burst in 2008.  Now Ben Bernanke is continuing the zero interest policy of Greenspan and creating a stock bubble.  If this bubble continues to inflate and then burst, the Fed has no ammunition to combat the crash.  It is already pushing interest rates to zero.  It is already doing Quantitative Easing (QE). If we have a huge stock market crash, the Federal Reserve will freeze like a deer in the headlights.  It will feel locked into the zero interest rate and QE.  The zero percent rate is hurting the savings and retirement nest-eggs of the American people.  We already have a generation of young people who have never seen interest paid on savings.  This has to stop.

We need to have both the zero interest rate policy and the Quantitative Easing policy reversed.  Both policies only enrich the Wall Street banks who use these programs to invest in other countries.  These policies do not help you and me, they hurt us.  And if we end up in another great depression, these policies might ruin our children's lives.  America caused the last Great Depression, which spread throughout the world in much the same way as our 2008 banking crisis spread throughout the world.  The last Great Depression brought down governments in Germany, Japan, and Italy and led to a world war with millions of deaths.  The Federal Reserve is playing with fire, it can cause another world wide Great Depression. In the same way we had a World War II we can have a Great Depression II.

Ben Bernanke is leaving the Fed in a mess he helped make.  We need a new Federal Reserve chairman who believes it is time to change course.  The President's nominee, Janet Yellen, wants to stay the course.  She could bring us all to ruin. I am emailing my senators and asking them to vote no to Janet Yellen.  I am suggesting they ask the President to nominate someone like Richard Fisher, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.  On CNBC (Nov. 12, 2013) he said that quantitative easing cannot continue forever:  This is the kind of leadership we need.

The Senate turned down Larry Summers.  It is time to turn down Janet Yellen.  Please join me in emailing our senators.


PS: in Texas you can reach your Senators thusly:
Senator John Cornyn
Senator Ted Cruz

More on the low interest rate policy:  You can Google "Giving Credit to the Rich" by Matthias Rieker, Wall Street Journal (Saturday December 7, page B10) to see an example of how a rich investor could borrow $5 Million at such a low interest rate that it was easy to turn it into a profit.  The low interest rates are a gift to the rich, while the low rates destroy the returns the middle-class needs for its pensions.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mastering Fractions for Your Child's Future Success

The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday September 25, 2013, on page D1, ran an article about children learning fractions:  "Pop Quiz: Why are Fractions Key to Future Math Success?" by Sue Shellenbarger.  The article says that mastering fractions is a "crucial stepping stone to progressing in math."  Computer programs are being prepared to help teach the concepts of fractions.  The article goes on to describe professors conducting studies to find better ways to teach the concepts of fractions to children.  The article says, "Teachers using the new method wait to introduce problem-solving until after students understand what denominators and numerators mean."

This is a racket.  Societies have known for thousands of years how to teach fractions. Professors and corporations are blowing smoke in order to make money contriving ridiculous methods.  We have been alerted that fractions are important and that schools often get stuck on concepts.  Now we parents need to oversee our children's education on fractions.

The Saturday September 28, 2013 Wall Street Journal, page C1, ran an article, "Tough Teachers Get Results" by Joanne Lipman that says traditional methods and rote learning are more effective than many educators admit.

Work with fractions starts at 3rd grade and continues until 7th grade.  By 8th grade it is time for Algebra 1.  I recommend going to a bookstore, buying math work books, and making sure you work with your child on fractions if you want your child to do well in math.  The Spectrum Math series of books was helpful to my children.  They are sold by grade level.  Later I started using workbooks called Singapore Math.  You can also buy these books online.  The key is to get a reasonable amount of practice working problems with fractions.

I do know many parents shy away from math and will rely on the schools.  Mastery of math will be increasingly tied to higher incomes in the future as our country gets increasingly competitive.  If we want our children to succeed, then we will remember to watch over their progress with fractions.


PS:  If you have friends with children in grades 3 through 7, you might forward this article to them.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Money for the Sake of Our Families

We work hard to take care of our families, and we are paid with money, not gold coins or bushels of soybeans.  Most of us work at a job to earn our money.  I have friends who have lost their jobs due to our bad economy.  I have friends who have been hit with a 20% furlough from the Federal sequestration action.  And I think everyone is waiting for the economy to improve.  We are still in tough times.

We need to watch out for the economy getting worse instead of better, and there are a few things we can do to keep our economic recovery on track:  (1) we can understand the threats to our economy and (2) we can write our representatives, encouraging them to take prudent action.

The Federal Reserve Did Nothing to Prevent the Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

A recent newspaper article in the New York Times said that Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve did not know the subprime mortgage industry was going to collapse; supposedly, they were as surprised as everyone else.  The American people learned of the collapse of the sub-prime market when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008.  But in 2007 Edward Gramlich published "Subprime Mortgages, America's Latest Boom and Bust."  Dr. Gramlich had previously been a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and he knew the subprime mortgage market had gone bust, publishing a book about it a year before Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Early in 2007, Fabrice Tourre at Goldman Sachs was selling the Abacus 2007-AC1 CDO, a collection of mortgages assembled by John Paulson that he was betting would failJohn Paulson made billions of dollars short selling subprime mortgages in 2007.  The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department have some of the best information available on the American economy.  They knew the subprime market was collapsing and did nothing about it because there were people making money as the economy went down by short selling.

We are Not Out of the Woods Yet

Lehman Brothers collapsed five years ago, but Adam Davidson in "Did We Waste a Crisis?" (New York Times Magazine, August 11, 2013) reports that it is still hard to determine if the financial industry is healthy.  On top of a shaky financial system the Federal Reserve has been pumping money into the world economy using a program called Quantitative Easing.  The problems with the Fed's program are that (1) it puts the value of our money (yours and mine) at risk of dilution and inflation, (2) it creates asset bubbles that can burst, leading to another down turn, and (3) the big banks borrow the money and invest it outside of America, so we taxpayers take risk but get no reward.

The value of the Indian Rupee nose-dived recently on the fear that the U.S. Federal Reserve would cut back on its quantitative easing:  the fear that money from the Fed would quit flowing into India.

The American Interest, January 2012, pages 5 to 12, has the article, "The Death of Money" by Peter Hartcher.  On page 12 he writes, "Even though some members of the Fed itself aren't sure that hyper-liquidity will restore the U.S. economy to health, there's one thing we can be pretty confident of:  America and the rest of the world will pay a price for it.  If recent history is any guide, hyper-liquidity will lead to another bust in asset prices and another downturn in the economy."

If the Federal Reserve Makes Mistakes, You and I Pay the Price

Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, launched the quantitative easing program at the Fed, but has not wound it down.  Maybe he has the talent and skills to turn on and then turn off the money spigot without causing harm, but he is retiring from the Fed and will not be there to wind down the money flow. If the wind-down goes wrong then the value of our savings and our income can diminish and put us all in a financial bind.  We work hard for our money, but it is the big shots in Washington and New York that roll the dice with our life savings.

The next chairman of the Federal Reserve could really hurt us.  One of the leading candidates for the position is Larry Summers, the consummate insider.  If he becomes chairman of the Fed, he will not be an objective college professor like Ben Bernanke.  Dr. Bernanke taught at Stanford and Princeton.  Larry Summers has received between 7 million and 30 million dollars from various Wall Street firms.  It is my opinion that he cannot be trusted to regulate the institutions that have enriched him.

You should form your own opinion of Larry Summers.  The New York Times on Sunday August 11, 2013, had a cover story on Larry Summers:  "The Fed, Lawrence Summers, and Money" by Louise Story and Annie Lowrey.  This is one source for your reading.

What Can We Do?

I have already contacted my senators about the next Federal Reserve chairman.  The next chairman could wipe out your life savings.  I encourage you to form an opinion about Larry Summers and share that opinion with your senators.

The firewall between investment banks and federally insured deposits was removed when Senator Phil Gramm repealed the Glass-Steagall Act.  The banking system will not be safe until a form of Glass-Steagall is put back in place.  Senators John McCain and Elizabeth Warren, along with others, have sponsored the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.  I have contacted my senators to share my opinion on this legislation, and I encourage you to do so as well.

The money we use for the sake of our families is not safe.  If the value of our currency collapses, it will be too late for us to act.  Now is the time to act.  I encourage you act now and email or write your representatives.

Thank you,

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Your Child a Millionaire

Your child or grandchild can become a millionaire.  Software is the best way for young people to get rich.  Everyone has heard of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, but he is not alone.  David Karp started programming as a teenager and got rich as a young man.  Nick D'Aloisio became a millionaire while still a teenager with his product, Summly.  We will consider David Karp and Nick D'Aloisio in just a minute.  First, let us discuss the child prodigy.

There are fields where the child prodigy can exceed the capabilities of mature adults.  These fields include mathematics, where Carl Friedrich Gauss and Blaise Pascal were child prodigies, music, where Mozart was one of many prodigies, and chess, where Sammy Reshevsky is a fine example of a child prodigy.  I believe that computer programming has enough in common with mathematics, music, and chess that we should have wunderkind programmers.  Perhaps there are wunderkind programmers and we have not heard about them. Perhaps if enough young people are exposed to computer programming at a younger age, then the wunderkinds would start to appear. Are David Karp and Nick D'Aloisio programming wunderkinds?

David Karp at Tumblr

David Karp was a teenager when his parents decided he could drop out of school and focus on computer programming.  You might have heard of Tumblr, the product he developed that made him a millionaire.  If you are unfamilar with Tumlr, check out this website, McKayla Is Not Impressed:

Tumblr is a blogging website, not unlike this Blogger website, although Tumblr seems more oriented towards posting photos than posting articles.  Tumblr was purchased by Yahoo and David Karp's take is estimated at $250 million.  That is as much money as Mitt Romney made at Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm, after a lifetime of work and a Harvard MBA. David Karp is just 27 and dropped out of high school.

Here are two articles about David Karp.
Before Tumblr, Founder Made Mom Proud. He Quit School

Weekend Confidential: David Karp
by ALEXANDRA WOLFE, Wall Street Journal

Nick D'Aloisio at Summly

Nick D'Aloisio started programming at age 12.  At age 15 he started working on a a newsreader app, Summly, which he sold to Yahoo for an undisclosed amount, estimated to be in the tens of millions range.  At age 17 Nick is estimated to be worth millions of dollars.  He had help from SRI International, a California think tank, in developing algorithms for summarizing articles.  His product is more sophisticated than Tumblr, and he had a number of investors, so he has to share the money.  The moral of this story is that complex products are not necessarily more profitable than simple products, like Tumblr.

Here is an article about Nick D'Aloisio and Summly from the Wall Street Journal Online:
At 17, App Builder Rockets to Riches From Yahoo Deal

A Blog to Assist You

If your child is interested in computer programming, he or she might hit it big and become a millionaire.  If your child is interested in computer programming, I have started an entire blog to assist you.

Canright on Software and Programming

Good for Your Child, Good for Texas

Developing a greater supply of computer programmers is good for Texas.  I have described the importance of software and the supply of programmers in these posts:

The Texas Software Initiative  Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Texas Young Programmers Project  Friday, January 4, 2013

If your child is interested in computer programming, do not discourage him.  There are many paths and many resources for a person to pursue programming at a young age.  It is not unusual for programmers to start while they are teenagers or younger.

Robert Canright

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Importance of Sound Leadership

The entire world economy went into a tailspin in the financial meltdown of 2008.  The meltdown was not an accident.  It was not a normal business cycle.  It was a failure of leadership and it was avoidable.  The failure was not isolated to 2007-2008.  In 2011 the company MF Global Holdings failed under the leadership of Jon Corzine.  Since Mr. Corzine had previously been CEO of Goldman Sachs, U.S. Senator for New Jersey, and Governor of New Jersey, you would think he would have been a success at MF Global.  But former FBI Director Louis Freeh accused Mr. Corzine  of "acts and omissions" over several months that were "grossly negligent" and a "breach of fiduciary duty" that led to the company's collapse in a 61 page lawsuit (Corzine Sued Over Collapse by AARON LUCCHETTI, JULIE STEINBERG and JACQUELINE PALANK, Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2013).  Bad leadership led to the 2008 meltdown, just as bad leadership led to American failure in Vietnam.

American leadership is dragging our country down, but we can do something about it.  We can quit accepting failure.  We can recognize the fruits of bad leadership and reject bad leadership, and keep rejecting bad leadership.  The old school board put Plano schools into decline so that our neighbors (Richardson, Frisco, and Allen) all had better academic results in their schools.  But we saw the problems and voted out the old board that was up for re-election.  Now it is time to vote out what is left of the old board and support those members of the new board who are up for re-election.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Please join me in voting for these wonderful people who are running for the Plano ISD Board of Trustees.  Our children deserve the very best!


Early voting has already started.  Here is a link to early voting schedules and locations.  Please ask your friends to join us in voting for sound leadership.

Robert Canright

Sunday, March 17, 2013

School Board Election is on the Way

Plano ISD school board elections are now held every 2 years.  This year is an election year for the school board.  This year the positions up for re-election are Places 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7.  The positions on the board are called "Places."  Here are the election choices:

Tammy Richards (incumbent)
Tammy Hooker

Place 2
Paul P. Kaminsky
Allison Johnston
Carrolyn Moebius (incumbent)
Mark Hanna

Place 3    
John Caldwell
Nancy C. Humphrey (incumbent)

Place 6    
Patty Harris
Marilyn Hinton (incumbent)
Yoram Solomon

Place 7    
Missy Bender (incumbent)
Steven Kravit

Election day is  May 11.  I hope you follow the campaigns and vote in the PISD election.  Parental involvement is important for successful school districts.  You get to vote for all 5 Places.

Robert Canright