We had delivery pizza for dinnera new nights ago.  Unfortunately, they screwed up the order.  Instead of Italian sausage and onion, which is my pizza of choice, they delivered a pizza with sausage and banana peppers.  What a choke!  Is there any lamer pizza topping than banana peppers?  Even when you peel them off, they leave a kind of flourescent residue and a lingering aftertaste.

I don’t mind pepperoni pizza or even plain cheese pizza, but I think some of the new pizza contrivances are just messing with a timeless classic.  Dessert pizza?  Please!  Pizza with no sauce, or no cheese?  Heresy!  Pizza with mozzarella cheese injected into every open space in the crust?  A sacrilegious desecration of the crust, which as any pizza lover knows is one of the most important parts of the pizza!  Breakfast pizza?  Who needs it!  Any college student will tell you that one of the best breakfasts you can have is cold sausage pizza with a glass of cold milk.

For my money, the best sausage and onion pizza is Columbus is made by Tommy’s Pizza on Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington.  I understand that others hold out for Rotolo’s Pizza in Grandview, or Rubino’s in Bexley, but I relish Tommy’s combination of thin, crispy crust, sharply seasoned, almost crunchy Italian sausage, and excellent sauce and cheese, all served piping hot.  We live on the other side of town so I don’t get over to Tommy’s as often as I would like, but when I do it never disappoints.

Lines Of Communication And The Sam Adams Summit

UJ says I always criticize our President — which I don’t believe is true — but in any case let me say something positive about his decision to sit down with Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley in an effort to put the Cambridge incident behind him.  I don’t think that President Obama should have gotten involved  in what is really a local matter in the first place, but clearly he had reached the point where he felt he needed to put this behind him and do something that looked like it brought closure.  Having made that decision, the most effective mechanism was to sit down with the two parties face to face.  The fact that President Obama did so over a glass of beer is not going to hurt his standing with middle America, either. 

I firmly believe that some forms of communication are more likely to lead to compromise and resolution than others.  In my experience, a face to face talk is best because people typically tend to temper their language in direct communications.  When you are sitting across the table from someone, observing their facial reaction to your words, you will choose your words more carefully.  You will recognize the person across the table is a human being with feelings, and most people don’t like to unnecessarily hurt other people’s feelings.  So, instead of saying that the person across the table acted like a stupid jerk, you might say that their conduct was regrettable and led to misunderstanding.  The element of disapproval is still there, but the tone is not so harsh — and in communications tone is important. 

Face-to-face communications are at one pole of the spectrum of communication.  A telephone conversation is next best, because you can hear how your comments are being received and react accordingly.  At the other end of the spectrum is e-mail, where it is too easy to type an incredibly strongly worded statement in the heat of the moment and hit send, only to regret having done so almost instantaneously.  People often will write something that they would never say to another person face to face.  (This is why everyone should take a deep breath and pause for a sip of coffee before hitting the send button on their next angry e-mail.)  It was a good move for President to set up the Sam Adams Summit rather than trying to resolve this particular incident by an e-mail exchange.

The Step-Down Phenomenon: The Ohio State Fair

The 156th Ohio State Fair began this week.  As with every Ohio State Fair, this year’s edition features entertainment acts, performances by children’s choirs and bands, a butter sculpture, and tasty but horribly unhealthy foods, like elephant ears and the enticingly named “fried dough.”  This year’s hot new food option apparently is deep-fried buckeyes — that is, deep-fried balls of peanut butter and chocolate fudge molded to look like a buckeye — which sell for 5 for $4. 

2008 butter sculpture of Ohios presidents

2008 butter sculpture of Ohio's presidents

Interestingly, this year the Ohio State Fair is specifically being marketed  to appeal to people in the grip of the step-down phenomenon — in this case, people who can’t afford to travel long distances or take expensive vacations.  Instead, those people take “staycations,” where they spend a day at some location within a reasonable driving distance.  The Fair’s advertising is emphasizing the Fair’s value, the availability of coupons for Fair events and goodies, and other special deals.  Fair organizers are hoping for record turnouts, if the weather cooperates. 

I hope the weather is good and this year’s Fair sets attendance records.  I like the entire Ohio State Fair experience — getting there early and touring the livestock barns to see the kids and families taking care of the animals they have raised and entered for judging, walking through the open-air flea market and new product pavilions, having lunch at one of the good, home-cooked food restaurants staffed by members of churches, and strolling along a hot and dusty midway with rides designed to cause people to lose the fried sauerkraut they just gobbled down.   Through all of these activities, the Ohio State Fair is a great place for people watching — which is just another part of the good value people might be seeking in these recessionary times.

A Big Hole In the Sky

A photo of the atmospheric scar left by the apparent comet hit on Jupiter

A photo of the atmospheric "scar" left by the apparent comet hit on Jupiter

Last week NASA reported on an apparent large comet strike on Jupiter that left a visible “mark” on that gas giant’s upper atmosphere.  The object punched through Jupiter’s sky near its south pole, and the notable change in Jupiter’s appearance was first spotted by an amateur astronomer in Australia.

I mention this because I think the photo above is cool and because the white mark left by the object is the size of Earth!  That’s right — the hole in the atmosphere made as the object burned through is the size of our entire planet.  That fact just reaffirms the awesome size of Jupiter, which according to NASA statistics is 1,316 times the volume of Earth.  (Remember the science class where the teacher explained that if Jupiter was the size of a basketball, the earth would be the size of a marble, or something similarly tiny?)  And, get this:  Jupiter has 62 officially recognized moons.  It has so many moons that they haven’t yet come up with mythological names for all of them, and as of moon number 50 they have been given uninspiring names like “S 2003 J2.”

The number of moons just reaffirms why we should all be glad that Jupiter is out there.  Jupiter’s mass and size is such that it acts as kind of cosmic Dirt Devil, sucking up many of the bits of cosmic debris roaming our little corner of the galaxy and keeping them from reaching the inner parts of the solar system and menacing our fair planet.  Jupiter, thanks for taking one for the team!

The Step-Down Phenomenon: Dining Out

A few weekends ago we went out to dinner with friends on both Friday night and Saturday night. Friday we went to a relatively new restaurant in the Arena District and had an exceptionally good meal. Saturday we went to a restaurant at a busy corner in the Short North and had a pretty good meal. At both locations, we noticed how empty the restaurants were. Indeed, on Friday night there were perhaps four other tables filled at a fine restaurant with well-prepared and interesting food, skilled wait staff, and very pleasant surroundings. The turnout was so low that I gave our waitress an extra-large tip to compensate for the fact that she had only two tables to handle during the entire evening. (I would mention the name of the restaurant, which Kish and I would gladly frequent again, but I don’t want to embarrass it.)

There is no doubt that the recession has affected the restaurant business. Overall, the number of restaurants in America has declined, and the drop in business has hit “fine-dining” establishments particularly hard.  In the meantime, restaurants like McDonald’s are doing just fine.  People still want to eat out.  When they go to a McDonald’s, they may not get the highest quality food, but they get out of the house, have a filling meal, and don’t have to worry about doing the dishes when they are done.

This is an instance where the step-down phenomenon has pernicious effects.  McDonald’s , with its overly salty food and bastardized versions of food classics like lattes, will always be with us.  A high-quality restaurant, on the other hand, is to be treasured and savored, and there is no doubt that more of those fine dining establishments will fail before the recession loosens its strangling grip on the nation’s economy.  No business can survive for long serving only four or five tables on a Friday night.

Dixie Electric Company

When disco was king during the mid-’70s, discos sprouted in shopping centers across America like mushrooms after a long rain. During that era, the Columbus disco of choice was called Dixie Electric Company and was located in the Great Western Shopping Center, far out West Broad Street. Behind its unassuming storefront facade it had everything you wanted in a disco — a checkered, light-up-from-underneath dance floor, a disco ball, strobe lights, a smoke machine and siren, and a DJ who could sense the best times to move between fast songs and slow songs and the songs that were best suited to make the transition and could hit the strobe light and disco ball at the crucial moment in Fire by the Ohio Players.

My high school friend JD and I used to go to Dixie Electric Company occasionally, just to see if we could screw up our courage and successfully ask girls to dance. The women seemed to show up in dense, impenetrable packs and sit at the tables nearest the dance floor, while the guys would hang out in the dim periphery or near the bar. If you summoned the gumption to ask a girl to dance, you had to make a long walk to the bright area near the dance floor, and if the woman turned you down after sizing up your hair, clothes, general appearance, and likely dancing abilities it was a very public humiliation. Much better to go up with your friend after spotting a female twosome who seemed like good candidates and ask them to dance at the same time, so if you both got turned down you could share a self-deprecating laugh as you slinked back to your table in the cavernous depths of the club!

I have to confess that I liked a lot of the “disco music” that they played at the Dixie Electric Company, even though I didn’t own very impressive “disco outfits” or know any dance steps beyond the beginner-level “Bus Stop.” Still, I thought dancing was a lot of fun if you weren’t horribly self-conscious about it. JD and I had some good times at the Dixie Electric Company, and in recognition of that fact I have called the “disco” playlist on my Ipod “Dixie Electric Company.” The first 20 songs are as follows:

Get Down Tonight — K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Stayin’ Alive — Bee Gees
Funkytown — Lipps Inc.
Lowdown — Boz Scaggs
Got To Give It Up, Part 1 — Marvin Gaye
I Will Survive — Gloria Gaynor
Play That Funky Music — Wild Cherry
Fire — Ohio Players
Neutron Dance — The Pointer Sisters
Turn The Beat Around — Vicki Sue Robinson
Love Hangover — Diana Ross
That’s The Way (I Like It) — K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Jive Talkin’ — Bee Gees
Boogie Nights — Heatwave
Jungle Boogie — Kool & The Gang
Disco Inferno — The Trammps
(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again — L.T.D.
Dazz — Brick
Fly Robin Fly — Silver Convention
Car Wash — Rose Royce

Weighty Taxes And Personal Freedoms

This is a predictable (and predicted) development:  people are now advocating levying hefty taxes on foods and drinks that contribute to obesity in order to help pay for health care.   The underlying concept is that obesity has contributed mightily to increasing health care costs, so behavior that contributes to obesity should be discouraged.  Taxes on cigarettes — which are now being viewed as a principal reason for the decline in cigarette smoking — are cited as a model to follow.  Experts on taxes and behavioral modification argue that, to be effective, the taxes should amount to at least one-tenth to one-third of the item’s total cost.

I’m skeptical of taxes as a tool for behavioral modification because of their inefficiency, but I think the notion of “weight taxes” is pernicious for another reason.  Any time the government gets to decide what kind of otherwise innocent conduct should be discouraged, we have given up significant freedoms.  I enjoy a Butterfinger Blizzard now and then during the summer months.  Why should I pay additional amounts in taxes simply because some bureaucrat has decided that ice cream is a significant contributor to obesity?  If statistics show that joggers are more prone to sudden heart attacks, should athletic shoes be taxed?  If mountain climbers are more likely to be caught in an avalanche, precipitating massive manhunts and search efforts, should mountain climbing be massively taxed to discourage such potentially costly behavior?

Let’s not kid ourselves — if the health Nazis ran the world, we would all be eating raw vegetables and participating in mandatory walking clubs and “wellness” counseling sessions.  Do we really want Big Brother to decide what we should and shouldn’t eat and drink, how we should spend our leisure time, and generally how we should live our lives?  I think a world without bacon double cheeseburgers and Frosted Flakes would be pretty dull, and I’m willing to put up with a bit of obesity to avoid that grim scenario.

The Step-Down Phenomenon: Community Colleges

By all accounts, community colleges are having a banner year. This article reports on 30 percent increases in applications to some community colleges and notes that community colleges are far more affordable than four-year public universities or private schools. It is obvious that, in these recessionary times, many would-be students simply can’t afford to go away to a traditional four-year college and pay the significantly higher tuition costs for that kind of school. But, they still value and need a college education, so they have “stepped down” to community colleges.

A building on the Columbus State campus

A building on the Columbus State campus

In Columbus, the primary beneficiary of this trend is Columbus State Community College, which has more than 24,000 students and is the largest community college in Ohio. The school recently announced an 18 percent increase in its summer quarter enrollment, which follows significant increases in its spring, winter, and fall quarter enrollments. To all appearances, Columbus State offers a quality education for a reasonable price, and the growth of that institution has been good for the city. Columbus State is located in downtown Columbus and it has helped to make the Discovery District of downtown a much more interesting place.

I think the willingness of people to look at community colleges as a viable alternative to four-year public and private colleges may be a good thing for other reasons, too. It would be wonderful if the elite colleges and universities in America realized that there is not endless elasticity of demand for degrees from those schools, and that the American educational consumer will take cost into account in deciding where to attend college. For years, our colleges and universities imposed rote 5% annual tuition increases and still managed to set application records, but perhaps this recession will make them hesitate before they implement the next tuition hike. A little price competition and attention to the law of supply and demand in the higher education realm would be a very good thing.

Who To Believe?

It appears that the Senate Ethics Committee is investigating the “sweetheart” mortgage deals that Countrywide Financial Corp. gave to Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad.  According to this article, the Committee recently received secret testimony from a former Countrywide employee who testified that the Senators knew that they were getting special treatment and went ahead with the deals anyway.  The Senators deny knowing that they were receiving special deals.  So, who to believe — the Senators who chair the Senate Banking Committee and Budget Committee and accepted the deals without raising questions, or the dubious corporate flunky who made sure the deals got done?

Mike “Mad Dog” Adams

I made my second trip up to Put in Bay in the past couple of months and got a chance to be part of the “Gangl Gang” (my good friend Keli’s parents, their friends and some of her family). Each year the “gang” goes to see comedian/singer Mike “Mad Dog” Adams (see picture below) at the Roundhouse Bar (known for serving draft beer in buckets similar to a bar called Papa Joe’s on High Street year’s ago).

I really like Put in Bay because it reminds me of my Florida Spring Break days when I was younger, but for adults. You have those of all ages having a few adult beverages and letting their hair down including some celebrities (Elvis, Santa and the Grinch where in attendance when we were there). Most of the people in the “Gangl Gang” were over age fifty while Keli, her sister and both their husbands are in there mid to late twenties.

Mad Dog’s motto is “everyday above ground is a good day” and when he mentions his motto the audience is to respond by repeating it. Mad Dog has been making patrons laugh at the Roundhouse Bar and elsewhere since the early 80’s and he reminds me alot of a modern day Don Rickles. His routine consists of heckling the crowd while playing the guitar and singing a few songs.

Just a few pointers before you go see Mad Dog. Get a seat at the Roundhouse or wherever you are watching him before he starts playing because once he starts he keeps an eye on the door and all those who enter whether male or female will be subject to the question he poses to the crowd, “gay” or “straight” ? Of course, the crowd always answered “gay” to each and every individual who enters.

When patrons are leaving the bar he will often say “Hey wait, don’t leave I can play folk songs” and will break into the chorus of Danny’s Song (even though we ain’t got money) with the audience joining in. When Mad Dog gets a shot of alcohol while singing his songs his response is always “Looks like its time for a toast” to which all reply “Ziggy Zaggy, Ziggy Zaggy, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi” !

Mad Dog is totally hilarious and a very good time was had by all. I highly recommend seeing Mad Dog at least once in your lifetime if your not easily offended. Many thanks to Roberta and Kirk for inviting me !

Fear Of August

A lot of politicians on both sides of the health care reform debate are holding their breath as Congress prepares to take its August recess. They are terribly afraid what members of Congress will encounter when they leave their enclave on the banks of the Potomac and return to their states and districts, there to be exposed to their constituents in uncontrolled settings. O, foul horror! To be required to interact with the grimy, unshod voters, without talking points and instant polls to guide every interaction and aides to serve as a buffer! To be subject to unscripted moments, without caucuses and whips to instruct you on what to do when the people you represent ask you about what is actually on their minds!

It is pretty pathetic when both parties express such concern about what might happen when legislators take a month to spend some time with their constituents. I frankly think we would be much better off if our Senators and Congressmen spent much less time in the Washington, D.C. fantasy world and much more time in the real world, discussing the real issues of the day and the honest concerns of those who elected them. In any case, I am perfectly comfortable with whatever takeaway members of Congress get from their constituents over the August recess. Whatever it may be, it is bound to be more sensible and thoughtful than a lot of what our elected representatives are hearing from the pundits and fellow politicos in D.C.

Leisure Suits, Disco, And The Ford Granada

Lee Iacocca and the 1975 Ford Granada

Lee Iacocca and the 1975 Ford Granada

I’ve been amazed by the steady show of interest on my prior post on crummy Ford cars of the 1970s. Interestingly, all of the attention has been to one particular car — the Ford Granada. We get data on what searches have been used to find our blog, and every week there are multiple searches specifically for the Ford Granada.

Why is this so? What is it about the Granada that continues to attract people like moths to a flame, more than 30 years after the first Granada was sold, lumbered clumsily down American roads, and immediately began to rust? It there something in the boxy shape that is intrinsically appealing to the American psyche? Are some American drivers just constitutionally opposed to aerodynamic qualities in their cars? Or, did drivers like the wide-eyed headlight design with the oversized grille that evidently served as the model for the Family Truckster that Clark Griswold was talked into buying in National Lampoon’s Vacation? Maybe it is the “Ghia” design package which — as on the shiny blue and chrome model that Lee Iacocca is posing with — consisted mainly of the cheap, pebble grain plastic cover on the roof of the car that immediately faded in the sunlight and cracked?

The interior of a Ford Granada

The interior of a Ford Granada

What about the interior of the Granada? Did its design elements satisfy the same high standards that Ford met with the body and exterior? My recollection is that the inside of the Granada could be summarized in one word: velour. The attached photo suggests, but cannot fully capture, the stunning amount of velour used on the seats and along the doors. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of driving a car with a velour interior on a hot summer day, you need only know that the velour interior of a Ford Granada captured and radiated heat with extraordinary efficiency and also managed to become both sticky and smelly when the outside temperature exceeded 70 degrees. The seventh circle of hell may involve driving a Ford Granada while wearing shorts on a muggy August day. The interior also featured lots of rubbery plastic, usually in “earth tones,” oversized dials outlined in plastic on the dashboard and, in my case, an 8-track tape player. Let the party begin!

Finally, there was the actual driving and handling of this awesome machine. My Granada was horribly underpowered, so there was no thought of impressing your date with a little rat racing when the stoplight changed. The Granada did not exactly hug the corners as you turned. Instead, it was likely a stately steamship trying to modify its course, leaving driver and passenger alike with a sick, “here we go” sense of drift until the massive front end cleared the corner and pulled the rest of the car after it. And, the Granada’s fundamental lack of aerodynamic design ensured that the billboard-sized grille would be plastered with the pulverized remains of every kind of bug native to the Midwest, and occasionally small birds as well.

So, why are people still interested in this dismal example of the American auto industry’s hubris during the 1970s? Perhaps for that very reason, or perhaps because the ’70s are in right now, and no car epitomizes the decade more aptly. It was a time of bright plaid leisure suits, bad haircuts and long sideburns, white loafers with gold buckles, disco music — and the Ford Granada.

The Step-Down Phenomenon: Foresaking Vanity

Some months ago I heard a report on NPR that described what I have come to call the “step-down phenomenon.” The phenomenon addresses what people do when times get tough, family budgets become leaner, and belts are tightened. In effect, people “step down” from more expensive items to less expensive items, rather than cutting out an item entirely. Since I’ve heard that report, I’ve noticed a number of examples of the phenomenon, which I’ll write about in the next few days.

A recent report on the sale of vanity license plates in Ohio is a good example. In Ohio, any special license plate costs an additional $35. In 2008, when the recession was just beginning to be felt, the number of “vanity” plates fell by 277, and my guess is that the numbers will fall even farther in 2009. Nobody “needs” a vanity plate, and it is easy to “step down” to a regular license plate and save that $35. Families make these kinds of judgments all the time, when they decide what is really important and might cut out some activities, or scrimp on others, in order to save up to pay for a child’s education or take a special trip. If only Congress had that same kind of decision-making ability!

The extra $35 is a painless way for Ohio to raise additional funds; last year vanity plate fees produced an extra $20 million in revenue.  Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing fewer of them on the road. Vanity is not an attractive quality, and vanity plates often seem to live up to their name by being annoyingly egotistical and narcissistic. Is it really necessary for the Prius driver to have a plate that says “GR8 MPG,” or the BMW driver to have one that reads “MY BEEMER”? And I’m sorry, but I doubt the plates that read “1 BUX FAN” or “TOP DOG” are accurate. This is an instance where the recession may be having some positive consequences by eliminating some of the irritations found on the morning drive.

Squirrel Superheroes

I was surprised to see this article about squirrels being horrible pests, because in our backyard the squirrels are a source of significant entertainment and, frankly, some pride.

My experience with our backyard squirrels began when I decided to try to keep our bird feeders stocked with bird seed this year. We have two curved iron poles on which we hang the bird feeders under one of our trees.
It quickly became apparent that the bird seed I was putting out was, in part, ending up as squirrel food instead, because we easily had the most well-fed squirrels in the neighborhood. One Saturday I decided to watch the feeders to determine, first hand, what was happening. Sure enough, within minutes after I filled the feeders and left the backyard a stout squirrel appeared. After sniffing around and carefully analyzing how to get to the seeds in the feeder, this animal Spiderman shinnied quickly up the four-foot wrought iron pole, clutched the pole with three paws, and batted the feeder with his free front paw, knocking seeds to the ground and alarming the birds nearby. Then he dropped quickly to the ground and vacuumed up the seeds that were of particular interest. In the meantime a portly fellow squirrel strolled out onto the branch about two feet above our other bird feeder, hurled himself deftly on top of it, knocked still more seeds to the ground, and then leaped back up to the branch and scampered down to the ground to claim his reward. My backyard squirrels, like the redoubtable Twiggy in the YouTube video above, clearly would be fully capable of waterskiing and, probably, leaping over a few barrels and through a flaming hoop of fire in the process.

My original idea this summer was to provide some seeds that would bring colorful songbirds to our backyard. That has happened, but I’ve also attracted my squirrel friends and encouraged their hard work in the process. I’ve been impressed and am not going to begrudge them a sunflower seed or two.

What If India Won’t Play Ball?

India not only is balking at agreeing to limitations on carbon emissions, it also apparently is challenging the science underlying global warming theories. This development is noteworthy, because if India and the other growing economic powers — China, Brazil, and Indonesia — refuse to participate in some kind of binding worldwide effort to reduce our carbon footprint, it puts the United States in a terrible predicament.

Efforts to reduce carbon emissions involve both a scientific component and a geopolitical one. As I have written before, I am skeptical of the science underlying global warming and its heavy reliance on computer modeling. In any case, the geopolitical component is at least as important as the scientic. I do not mean to downplay the significance of getting agreement from countries like Germany and Japan on capping and eventually reducing their emissions, but at least part of that reduction will be achieved by the ongoing general population decline in those countries. Japan’s population, for example, is projected to decline from 128 million in 2008 to 95 million in 2050. Germany’s population is forecast to fall from 82 million in 2008 to 71 million in 2050. If a country is going to experience significant reductions in the number of people who drive cars, it is necessarily going to reduce its carbon emissions, without making any lifestyle sacrifices or handicapping its industry with regulations that raise costs and therefore prices.

What about China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, those four countries and the United States are the five most populous countries in the world. And, unlike Japan and Germany, the populations in those countries are growing rapidly. India, which had about 1.1 billion people in 2008, is expected to become the most populous country in the world by 2050, with 1.7 billion carbon-consuming and carbon-emitting individuals. During that same time period, China’s population is projected to grow from 1.3 billion to 1.4 billion, Indonesia’s population is expected to grow from 240 million to 343 million, and Brazil’s population is forecast to grow from 195 million to 259 million. The population of the United States, on the other hand, is projected to grow from 304 million in 2008 to 438 million in 2050.

If countries like India and China refuse to agree to reducing greenhouse gases because they don’t want to saddle their growing economies with the costs that would accompany that effort, the impact of those decisions would obliterate any carbon emissions reductions achieved in Germany and Japan. Obviously, if any significant percentage of the 600 million new Indian citizens uses electricity generated by coal-fired power plants, wears clothing produced in smoke-belching factories, or drives a car powered by fossil fuels, the impact on India’s carbon footprint will be tremendous.

What does this mean for America? Perhaps it means that we should not charge blindly ahead with legislation designed to force our industry to comply with difficult regulations that can only increase the costs of the goods they produce and try to sell in the global marketplace. Our businesses already have to comply with significant wage and hour, safety, and environmental regulations that are not found in other countries. If we add carbon emission regulations that are rejected by other economies, the only immediate impact will be to make our companies even less competitive with those in India, China, and elsewhere. In an era of significant global economic challenges, taking unilateral action that cripples our industries and makes them less capable of employing Americans seems ill-advised — indeed, almost suicidal.