Three Mile Island Lessons for COVID-19: FEMA and Me

Forty-one years ago this summer I was a young investigator working in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a big federal investigation chaired by Dartmouth Professor John Kemeny, who is best known as the father of the BASIC programming language. I learned a lot that summer and fall not only about nuclear accidents but about how governments and industries respond to crises. Some of those lessons apply to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is also being poorly managed. This may surprise you (that 41-year-old lessons can still apply) but governments, especially, change at a glacial pace.

The two […]

My first two predictions for 2020 — IBM and Trump

For 20+ years I’ve been writing predictions every January and I guess I’m doing another set now. But this time will be different for several reasons. For one, January is almost over, so it will slough over into February. For another, I always start by going back to the year before and grading my previous year’s predictions. I’m the only guy in this business who does that. But this year I am going to bury the score a bit because I need to start with a prediction or two simply because both are immediate and really can’t wait.  So I’ll do the scoring on Monday, but today I have two 2020 predictions to […]

Looking back at Y2K from the Trump Era

Recently I came across an old column I wrote a decade ago on the 10th anniversary of Y2K. You can find it in my archive along with a thousand more, but I am also reproducing it, below. For those who have forgotten Y2K or are too young to remember it, the crisis was Climate Change for an earlier era. It was a very real global problem that turned out to be anticlimactic only because we as a society took heroic efforts to handle it. We should be so lucky today.

The column holds up fairly well, I think, and its major lessons are worth remembering. If anything, it’s even more relevant today because we are living in the Trump era of bombast […]

Prediction #3 — 2018 foreign profit repatriation is a $591.8 BILLION taxpayer ripoff

When I started this series of 2018 predictions I said the recently passed U.S. tax law was going to have a profound impact on upcoming events. Having had a chance to look closer at the issue I am even more convinced that this seismic financial event is, as I wrote above, a $591.8 billion taxpayer ripoff. This is not to say there aren’t some possible public benefits from the repatriation, but it’s fairly clear that the public loses more than it will ever gain.

In case you don’t follow these things, multinational U.S. companies have, since 2005, squirreled away about $2.5 TRILLION in profits overseas because U.S. tax law […]

Will Trump avoid military action against North Korean ICBMs?

We’re just a blind man and an 11 year-old boy, but Fallon and I have been learning a lot about North Korean ballistic missiles and the news is sobering for a world already in crisis. Not only does North Korea have missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, that has been a well known fact in intelligence circles (not just at our house) since early 2016. The North Koreans probably have a 10-20 kiloton nuclear device of deliverable size and even if they don’t it’s easy to send a dirty bomb instead. Our capability for monitoring such activity from space isn’t as good as we’d like or even as good as we already […]