Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What does the Department of Commerce Do?

After looking at numerous statements by people like Gov. Rick Perry and a lot of tweets by Trump supporters, I get the distinct sense that these people don't actually know what the Department of Commerce actually does.

Any idiot can look up the website - so I will leave that to someone else.

I am going to focus on something the average Trump supporter will understand.

The Department of Commerce spends a great deal of resources on something called NIST - the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.

NIST maintains something called the "F2"  - this is a very precise clock that serves as our nation's time standard.

Every GPS satellite has a similar but less accurate clock on board that it synchronizes to the NIST clock.

Every LORAN transmitter does something similar.

Every military navigation system - synchronizes to the NIST time clock.

Every RF transmitter used in a major communication system (cell phones, TV station, Radio station) is synchronized to the NIST clock.

Every internet times stamp is synchronized to the NIST clock.

Every automated trading algorithm in your HFT firm is synchronized to the NIST clock.

Every stock market index reporting service - all those tickers - are synchronized to the NIST clock.

NIST's clock is one part of a much larger set of weights and measures maintained inside the Dept of Commerce.

The system of standardization operated via such measures keeps everyone from your local grocery store to your largest trading partner honest.

Can you imagine what would happen if all that stopped working altogether?

Do you still want to "shut down the Department of Commerce"?

If I was Russian - I would want you to shut down NIST and the Department of Commerce - because that way I could replace all notions of time and weight and distance by whatever I was able to generate at the Russian equivalent of the NIST.

With Russian standards dominating the definition of trade agreements - the US would be reduced to "Rapey Drunk Uncle" status in the world.

I don't know how that could possibly sit well with the #MAGA folks who aren't FSB/FCD/Line(PR) provocations. 


At 11:33 PM, Blogger Nanana said...

Surprisingly good podcast based on US senate hearings. This one is based on a testimony by Kagan et al. Reminded me of a discussion 10 years ago by kgoan (where is he?) on the meaning of power.


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