19 December 2014

"Blue collar workers are people with brains, too!" a young academic realizes...

Your Waitress, Your Professor - NYTimes.com: If my students can imagine the possibility that choosing to work with their hands does not automatically exclude them from being people who critically examine the world around them, I will feel I’ve done something worthwhile, not only for those who will earn their degree, but for the majority who will not.
I think her conclusion is good, but these sorts of revelations by the academic set are always very amusing to me. (Remember when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton blurted out that we need to realize waiters are people, too?)

Who was it that ever taught or believed that "blue collar workers" were incapable of critical thought? Who was that ever believed education was only valid as a means toward better-paying, and less "dirty" work?

"Why, when I was a boy..." my teachers all had other jobs in the summer; not because teacher pay was so scandalously low, but because why would you not? Work is noble, it is what adults do to sustain themselves and their families. Because idle hands are the devil's workshop.

My geometry teacher was a carpenter and handyman. He once built a pergola at my uncle's house. My speech teacher had a wallpapering business in the summer. My shop teacher painted houses with his son.

Not one of them was in any way ashamed of this work, nor did they try to hide it. The geometry teacher used his work to answer that ageless question from his students, "when will I ever need to use geometry in real life, anyway?"

Try to measure and cut wood for framing without geometry!

I do hope young Brittany Bronson teaches her students not to be narrow-minded, elitist snobs. I am even more heartened that she finally figured this out for herself, and I dearly hope that she goes back to teach her own mentors this lesson.

12 September 2014

What's the real reason we should be outraged by what Ray Rice did? And what's your reason?

There is a reason that Ray Rice's offense shocks us. There is a reason he deserves special opprobrium, and a reason he can hardly any longer participate in polite society, or even, it would appear, in professional football.

But what, exactly, is the reason?

As a thought experiment, let's imagine all the facts, and the video evidence were exactly the same, except that the player involved is Michael Sam. Not because Michael Sam is likely to do this sort of thing - he seems like a perfectly pleasant fellow - but because if it were he, his spouse would also be a man.

Man or woman, I'd like to think we'd be shocked that one would knock a person out cold, then drag that person from an elevator, asking hotel security not to call the cops. But we'd also have noted that the spouse had struck Sam first, and multiple times. In other words, he didn't just hit, he hit back.

So what would Sam's offense be in this hypothetical? Abuse? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't call it that, unless maybe I called it "mutual abuse." Would his offense be that he "won" the fight? Because he clearly did not initiate the physical altercation (at least as far as the videos and his spouse's testimony indicate.)

I can't say for sure, because of course it's only a hypothetical, but I think most of us would conclude that this is a relationship with a lot of problems; dysfunctional is a term that springs to mind. I suspect most of us would also conclude that it's none of our business.

So why is it different when it's Ray Rice and his spouse (then fiance?) The simple fact is that men have a great deal more strength than women; men are larger than women; men have more muscular bodies that can take punches better than women; and men are supposed to protect their loved ones, not hurt them.

Let me simplify that last paragraph: what Ray Rice did was especially bad because men and women are not equal, and they should be treated differently.

At least that's why I think Ray Rice did a terrible thing. I really can't tell you why the usual outrage machine is all worked up. You should ask them.

14 January 2014

The uninformed carry water for government regulation...

Commenters on a Washington Post article about the recent chemical leak in West Virginia perfectly encapsulate the fantasy world Liberals inhabit. A sampling:

"I wonder if they're still making fun of tree huggers?"
"I'm surprised free market forces didn't have this problem fixed years ago."
"This is what happens when corporations run wild."

It's quite amazing when you think about it - a chemical plant that makes, stores, uses and disposes its chemicals only where, when and how government regulations allow leaks chemicals into a water system that is literally owned and run by the government; the contamination is undiscovered until individuals report a smell in the water. The back-up plan once government shuts off water is for private stores to increase bottled water inventories for people to find and buy on their own.

But to these commenters, the only possible culprit is private industry? The only conceivable solution to a problem that occurred amidst thousands of intertwined government regulations is to add more of them?


Sadder still, numerous uninformed commenters suggested that those who think private industry can be trusted ought to Google "Love Canal." Unfortunately, the true story of Love Canal doesn't exactly make the case for trusting government.

20 December 2013

I've never watched Duck Dynasty and never read GQ and the numbers suggest you haven't either

Apparently some guy on a reality show that 96% of Americans don't watch was interviewed in a magazine that 99.7% of Americans do not read and he said something that has sparked outrage among people who don't read the magazine or watch the show, and have never previously cared about either.

Anyway, the cable TV channel fired him or something, so now a bunch more people who've never watched the show or read the magazine are mad about THAT.

Personally, I've never seen the show, was only marginally aware that printed magazines still exist, and I'm tired of all the phony outrage both by people who ought to respect free speech, and by people who ought to respect at will employment.

To be clear: I don't care. I don't care that you care. As usual, I don't even understand how the big fake news event for the week got selected.

So shut up already.

18 December 2013

"Inequality Does Not Matter" says Williamson. Read it.

Kevin Williamson has a good one today over at National Review. Here's a sample:

Mr. Barro and many other commentators on economics often write as though there were buckets marked “Income” and “Wealth,” the contents of which are ladled out by some agency or agencies according to a set of rules and procedures. There is in fact no such thing as income distribution — “distribute” is a transitive verb, and here it has no real direct object. What there is is the occurrence of income. The argument that inequality causes income stagnation or decline for those who have been worse off in recent years assumes that if the rich were earning less then the middle class and the poor would be earning more, which in most situations is not the case. If Goldman Sachs earns less money this quarter, that does not mean that some quantity of money is therefore liberated from their foul clutches to float about until lower-wage workers can claim it. High incomes at the top do not cause low incomes at the bottom, or vice versa. To assign economic agency to the abstraction that is inequality assumes the opposite.
Inequality Does Not Matter is the title, and, of course, I think you should read the whole thing. Williamson takes on the inequality mantra that the good Democrats of Stepford seem to have instituted as their current rallying cry, along with the economic fallacies of some of their prescriptions to "fix" that problem.

13 December 2013

I know it will shock you to learn this, but Obama was fully aware #Obamacare was designed to cause people to lose coverage

Now that "if you like your plan you can keep it" has been named PolitiFact's 2013 "Lie of the Year," let's revisit its origins.

Back in February of 2010, before ObamaCare was even passed into law, the President hosted a Bipartisan Summit on Health Care Reform. Present were Congressional leaders from both parties, along with President Obama. At the meeting, Obama pretended to be interested in getting Republican input and ideas to improve the bill and gain support from Republicans.

One topic of discussion was the fact that the law would cause people to lose coverage that they had and liked. As House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R, VA) put it (emphasis added):
But also, Mr. President, when we were here about a year ago across the street, you started the health care summit by saying one of the promises you want to make is that people ought to be able to keep the health insurance that they have.  Because as we also know, most people in this country do have insurance and an overwhelming majority of people do like that coverage; it's just too expensive.
Well, the CBO sent a letter -- I think it was to Leader Reid -- about the Senate bill.  And in that letter, it suggested that between 8 million and 9 million people may very well lose the coverage that they have because of this, because of the construct of this bill.  That's our concern.  And so, as we are in -- as we are in the market -- in the section of this discussion about health insurance reform, I note, Mr. President, that you have suggested strengthening oversight of insurance premium increases.  Because we want to make sure that there aren't excessive insurance premium increases that take place.
The problem is when you start to mandate all of the essential benefits, there are going to be some insurance premium increases.  None of us really want to see them.  But if you stop them, who is going to pay for it?  Well, then we get back to the fact that businesses won't be able to pay for it and people are going to lose their coverage.
So I guess my question to you is, in the construct of this bill, if we want to find agreement, we really do need to set this aside.  And we really do need to say, okay, the fundamental structure is something we can't agree on, but there are certainly plenty of areas of agreement.  And because I don't think that you can answer the question in the positive to say that people will be able to maintain their coverage, people will be able to see the doctors they want in the kind of bill that you're proposing.
Got that? Republicans were not just running campaign commercials, they were addressing the President directly in conversation with their concerns that the bill would, in fact, cause people to lose coverage and to lose the ability to see their preferred doctors. I guess Obama just mis-judged, right? He didn't think their predictions were correct?
Well, let me -- since you asked me a question, let me respond.  The 8 to 9 million people that you refer to that might have to change their coverage -- keep in mind out of the 300 million Americans that we're talking about -- would be folks who the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, estimates would find the deal in the exchange better.
Wait, what? He didn't deny it? He knew perfectly well that people would lose coverage? That was part of the plan? Yes, I get it that he is saying the exchange plans will be "a better deal." That is not the same thing as "less expensive," and it is certainly not the same thing as "if you like your plan you can keep it. In fact, it's so far from the same thing that there ought to be a word for it. Oh, right, there is one: it's the "opposite."

Lest you think I am taking things out of context here, please read the entire transcript for yourself at the well-known right-wing site, whitehouse.gov.