A Note From Your Exasperated Blogger

August 17, 2017

Dear Readers,

If anyone is a loyal reader of this blog, I’m sure you’ve noticed a dearth of content on this page. The events of the past several months serve as a good explanation for this.

I recently seen a post from a Facebook friend suggesting anyone who is sick of politics right now and doesn’t fight back is guilty of “privilege in action.” The suggestion here is that politics is a binary choice: “us” vs “them”, and if you’re not with “us” you’re the enemy. Zero tolerance.

This “choice” is being defined by the activist alt-right and the activist progressive left. This “choice” as defined by these two sides leaves no room for independent thought, no room for nuance, no room for peaceful engagement, no room for polite disagreement, no room for peace. Us vs them. Zero tolerance.

Per certain members the alt-right, if you have a different nationality, you are “damaging” the United States.

Per certain members of the progressive left, anyone who votes the wrong way is a “Nazi”.

The activists pushing these narratives are driving people away. It’s why I have become more and more disengaged from politics. I’m not a member of the activist alt-right. I’m not a member of the activist progressive left. There is no room for someone like myself in this fight.

I denounce the violence and vehicular homicide that we’ve seen from the activist alt-right.

I denounce the violence and attempted political assassination that we’ve seen from the activist progressive left.

My disengagement isn’t about privilege. It’s about not letting the vile, disgusting, reprehensible, and evil elements of these two sides define my morality.

This is not a farewell post. I’ll blog when I feel the urge. But it might be awhile.

‘Til we meet again.

Sincerely,

Your Humble Correspondent

Baltimore Cops Caught Planting Drugs

July 20, 2017

Unintended (But Predictable) Consequences of Minimum Wage Hikes

July 15, 2017

From Cato:

No doubt some of the law’s supporters were well-intentioned; they also predicted the law would help low-wage workers.

But intentions aside, compelling new research suggests Seattle’s minimum-wage law harmed poor workers significantly. A University of Washington study released Monday indicates that the move from an $11-per-hour minimum wage to a $13-per-hour minimum wage in Seattle was associated with a more-than-9% cut in low-wage workers’ hours.

This is a loss of 3.5 million hours worked per quarter, and translates into a $125 average decline in low-wage employees’ earnings per month. Other estimates in the paper suggest that the minimum wage is associated with 5,000 jobs lost in Seattle.

The NRA’s Support For Your Right To Bear Arms (Sometimes)

July 11, 2017

This is the group that claims to be the only thing preventing the government from obliterating the Second Amendment, yet they’re noticeably quiet about the people doing the most violence to the Second Amendment — the armed, badge-wearing government employees we call law enforcement officers. For all the NRA’s dire warnings about government gun confiscation, the real, tangible threat to gun-owning Americans today comes not from gun-grabbing bureaucrats but from door-bashing law enforcement officers who think they’re at war — who are too often trained to view the people they serve not as citizens with rights but as potential threats. Here, the NRA just doesn’t want to get involved.

More here.

People Will Die!

June 28, 2017

Make America Great By Resurrecting Failed Policies

June 17, 2017

While not the complete reversal it’s made about to be, President Trump changes the terms of former President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba.

The move doesn’t help Cubans. From Matt Welch’s article:

As Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a supporter of Obama’s approach, told Reason in Havana 18 months ago, “These aren’t sanctions on Cubans, these are sanctions on Americans….It’s not a concession to allow your own population to travel. That’s an expression of freedom.”

To support this crackdown on Americans, Trump claimed that “The previous administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and trade do not help the Cuban people—they only enrich the Cuban regime.” But that claim does not survive contact with reality. American tourists give money directly to Cuban Airbnb operators, street musicians, private restaurant owners, and artists, many of whom now own their own property. Sure, those entrepreneurial Cubans have to cough up various tributes to the state, but there is no doubt that their own personal lot has improved. As Flake told us, “You have about 25 percent of Cubans who work fully in the private sector….The big change [since 2001, when he started visiting there] is the number of Cubans being able to not have to rely on government and therefore can hold their government more accountable.”

Trump attempts a “tear down this wall” moment with this quote: “We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.”

Insert your own joke here.

Trump Vs. Immigrants

June 9, 2017

I find the political intrigue with Donald Trump, Russia, and James Comey tiresome. I’m more concerned when this administration carries out policies that hurt people. From Brian Doherty at Reason:

Trump’s immigration enforcement authorities are reopening cases of “hundreds of illegal immigrants who…had been given a reprieve from deportation,” Reuters says, under Obama-era policies designed to focus only on those undocumented immigrants who had committed other serious crimes.

Reuters reports that 1,329 immigration cases have been reopened, relying on data from the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). For comparison, “The Obama administration filed 430 similar motions during the same period in 2016.”

One of the “criminals” the authorities are targeting include “a woman who had her case reopened because immigration officials discovered her criminal history from back home in El Salvador. She had been arrested for selling pumpkin seeds on the street without the proper license.”

More here.

Trump’s “Threat” To Democracy: A Contrarian Take

May 13, 2017

Dan Rather posted that Donald Trump is attempting to “destroy or disable much of the government.” Retired admiral William McRaven said Trump’s hostility to the press “may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.” Headlines from the New York Times and NPR both ask if Donald Trump is a threat to democracy. The Washington Post editorial board unequivocally declares he is a “unique threat.” As does this writer. And this writer. And so on.

All of these individuals seem to have a religious devotion to democracy, and any “attack” on their god is heresy.

I daresay Donald Trump’s presidency is not a threat to democracy; his presidency is a natural by-product OF democracy.

American democracy is voting for people who want to use the levers of power to make other people do things they don’t want to do. Sometimes those levers are used with benevolence. Often its use is corrupt and malevolent. Should it be a surprise that when we hand over the power to act with corruption and malevolence (which we do as we increase the scope of human interaction subject to the dictates of democracy), democracy attracts corrupt and malevolent people? Who then act with corruption and malevolence? And so on.

Donald Trump is a threat to liberty. As was Barack Obama. As was George W. Bush. And so on.

These men have one thing in common: they came to power thanks to America’s democracy.

You reap what you sow.

The United Airlines Incident

April 12, 2017

Here’s the most thoughtful piece I’ve read on this debacle:

Here’s how it usually works: the airline starts offering monetary incentives (could be flight vouchers or cash or other considerations) to get enough customers to voluntarily give up their seat, increasing the offered price until the market for seats has cleared, that is, you’ve found enough people to give up the seat they paid for.

That way everyone is happy, either with their seat or with payment that the person considers sufficient to make up for losing the seat.

My criticisms of United and the police in this incident are not based on general hostility to overbooking, which both makes great economic sense for the airlines, almost certainly makes ticket prices less than they otherwise would be for customers, and creates win-win scenarios for airlines and passengers when the airline is smart enough to actually carry through the Simon policy to a market-clearing result.

In the case of this United flight from which Dao was violently ejected, by all accounts United tried two rounds of offers, and after $800 decided to start busting heads.

There is zero reason to believe that quick increases in the price offered to voluntarily abandon your seat would not have resolved this situation far more quickly and justly than calling the cops on Dao. (And, almost certainly after all the dings in the market and possibly the courts ahead for United, it all would have been far less costly for United as well.)

More here.

Trumpster-RyanCare Flatlines

March 24, 2017

Peter Suderman explains the Republicans’ failure to pass the American Health Care Act:

“[Trump] is more interested in a win, or avoiding a loss, than any of the arcane policy specifics of the complicated measure, according to a dozen aides and allies interviewed over the past week who described his mood as impatient and jittery,” The New York Times reported today.

Trump spent the last two weeks selling the House plan. He met with specific individuals and with various congressional factions opposed to the bill. He personally called the offices of more than 100 legislators. He has cajoled and threatened, telling those who refused to back the legislation that they would lose their seats. He threw the entire weight of his personality and the office of the president behind the vote, saying that he backed the bill “one-thousand percent.”

But he never took the time to explain to either the public or congressional Republicans what the bill actually did. He did not make a case for the bill’s policy merits, preferring instead to describe it using generic superlatives.

By bumbling the repeal of the “Affordable” Health Care Act, Republicans have somehow managed to do something President Obama could never accomplish during his presidency: make Obamacare popular!