Archive for month: May, 2018

City States

21 May
May 21, 2018

Listening to the Squirrel Report podcast, the proposal to break California cane up. Alan said that if California broke up, we might see a rash of states breaking up, particularly where one city or small, densely populated geographic area is essentially dictating to the rest of the state.

This gave rise to my latest brilliant idea. Federal city-states. If a city has a population of at least one million in its incorporated or traditional boundaries, it could become a city-state. A city-state would keep proportional representation in the House, but only one Senator.

Here’s the kicker of my most brilliant plan. Either the city can petition Congress to secede from the state to become a federal city-state or the rest of the state can petition Congress to kick the city out.

I know this is a brilliant idea because it came to me at oh dark early when making a bathroom run. All the great ideas happen then.

Tab Clearing

17 May
May 17, 2018

I’m borrowing Tam’s title and clearing out articles that I meant to do full posts on.

Teaching Situational Awareness to Kids – Because I have two in my life, and I’d kinda like to keep them out of danger.

The Economist saying how wonderful universal health care is for all nations. This was one I wanted to fisk, but I’d recommend reading it to understand how the proponents think.

Syrian Metal Is War – Yeah, like I could scroll past that article.

[Finland ends its universal basic income experiment.( I like the concept of a basic income that replaces all other welfare programs. It just doesn’t seem viable in the real world.

Start-ups make an alternative for braces, and the dental groups rent seek. – I hate when businesses use the violence of government to keep others out of the market.

The Volokh Conspiracy has an excellent column on not supporting laws you wouldn’t kill someone to enforce. Honestly, that would be an interesting bit of mandatory language in any law that assesses a criminal or civil penalty. Make the legislators affirm that this is important enough to possibly kill someone over.

A surprising column from The Atlantic on cultural appropriation. I swear to FSM that I would laugh in the face of any person foolish enough to accuse me of that. Or denigrate.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably need to do this again.

Children Doing Dangerous Work

17 May
May 17, 2018

This Bloomberg article on a proposed relaxing of certain regulations is so full of pearl clutching, the damn string should break.

The DOL will propose relaxing current rules—known as Hazardous Occupations Orders (HOs)—that prohibit 16- and 17-year-old apprentices and student learners from receiving extended, supervised training in certain dangerous jobs, said the two sources. That includes roofing work, as well as operating chainsaws, and various other power-driven machines that federal law recognizes as too dangerous for youth younger than 18.>quote

You mean, the jobs that are in demand? And they’ll be supervised? I’m not seeing a fucking problem here.

For fuck’s sake, every state allows sixteen and seventeen year olds to independently operate cars. You know, those two-thousand pound machines that can hurtle themselves down the road in excess of a hundred miles an hour? The ones that routinely kill 30,000 a year? If we can trust them to operate those machines, why couldn’t they operate others?

Rights and Goods

15 May
May 15, 2018

Right to life. Right to property. Right to keep and bear arms. Right to free speech. Right to free expression. Right to healthcare. Right to education. Right to religion. Right to associate. Right to clean water. Right to clean air. Right to privacy. Right to feel safe.

Some of these “rights” are not like the others. Can you spot the difference?

Rights, by their nature, are inherent to sentient beings. We have them because we have ownership of ourselves. So, the very first right – the bedrock of everything else is the right of property. I own myself, and by extension, I own what I create. I own the fruits of my labor or the fruits of my trade. The right of free expression protects my ability to create and trade. The right to self defense protects my ability to prevent others from forcibly taking my property – including my own life.

Because rights come from that fundamental property right, they cannot require the abrogation of others’ lives, labor, or capital. There can be no rights to food, education, and healthcare that are based upon the requirement that others are forced to surrender their time, knowledge, and resources – only the rights to produce and trade for education, healthcare, and food. Et cetera.

Usually at this point, I get lambasted by those who do believe in the rights to other people’s property that I want the less fortunate to be uneducated and die from a preventable disease caused by malnutrition. Or something similar. Because “muh rightz.” If they wanted to commit a straw man fallacy.

This is where social goods come in. By goods, I’m not denoting morality, but rather a product/service that is purchased to further social goals. Such as making sure every member of the society has a minimal level of education, healthcare, and food to function and be productive. Or to care for those who can’t care for themselves. Social goods are not rights. They are the cost of being in a society. As people have differing opinions of the value of market goods, they can have differing opinions on the value of social goods. They can also have differing values of how those goods are paid for and distributed.

My personal preference for social goods should be as much done through private means. Businesses and charities are more responsive to the needs and desires of their customers. Are they perfect? No. Businesses and charities are not some force of nature, but collections of people, and people can screw anything up. At the end of the day though, businesses and charities primary means of engagement is through voluntary exchange with their customers.

I’m very cautious about what social goods I think should be provided by government. Unlike businesses and charities, the government doesn’t require voluntary exchange. The government has the ability to enforce it’s (or more to the point, the people in power’s) desires through violence. That difference means that the government is not as responsive to its customers or efficient in the use of its resources.

Metal Tuesday- Classical Month – Gustav Holst – Mars Bringer of War

15 May
May 15, 2018

You want some good ominous music? Forget the Imperial March from Star Wars. This is the one you want.

I would also highly recommend listening to the entire suite if you’ve got an hour to kill.

Income Inequality- Bogus Statistic, Real Issue

14 May
May 14, 2018

I was listening to the Reason podcast with Jonathan Rauch was being interviewed about his new book. Of course, I’m going to recommend that you listen to the whole thing. I found it very enlightening about the nature of happiness, particularly for those hitting middle age.

One item that came up during the interview dealt with how most people view income inequality. In my opinion, I’ve always considered income inequality a bullshit metric. Something used to gin up the masses and sell papers and clicks. IMHO, the far more important metric is how are the people doing year over year or over time. It’s not like the economy is a closed system. As long as people’s lives are consistently getting better, then why should it matter if some segments are increasing more than others?

This is not normal human psychology. People tend to base their happiness on how they are doing compared to others. It really is important to keep up with the Jonses. When people don’t think they are improving as fast as the rest of the world, unhappiness abounds. This becomes intensified with all the media streams blaring out conspicuous consumption of the various media whores – I mean, celebrities.

This unhappiness is what unrest is made of. Or at least, one thing that can contribute to a restless population. It also appears to contribute to the rise of populists – on both sides of the traditional political spectrum. Note the rise of Trunp and Sanders. Both of them tapped into the unhappiness of the population by promising the people to make their lives better. To either bring the people’s livelihoods up – or bring down those the people think are doing too much better.

I’m not going to pretend that there’s an easy solution. It’s a psychological issue, and nothing about psychology is easy. People are just too fucked up. IMHO, there are some things that should be done. We need to look at economic policies that help increase people’s standards of living. My personal hobby horses are free trade, low taxes, and limited regulations. I don’t see how trying to redistribute wealth by taxing the top earners would help grow the economy and increase standards of living.

Although I still think it’s a bullshit metric, I’m going to take a more careful look into income inequality – but more as a gauge of the populace. This may be one of the leading indicators of a real civil problem. One that might require me to make sure I’ve got enough ammo and storm shutters on my windows.

Ride Sharing Scams

11 May
May 11, 2018

I found this Reader’s Digest article via Active Response Training. I’ve only recently started using ride sharing services, so I took a look.

Most of the scams are drivers asking for cash to double dip the fare. The biggest takeaway from this was if you’re paying through the app, and the driver demands cash, report him/her to the company. I would also recommend that you listen to your intuition. If something seems off, end the ride or don’t get into the car.

Fix Roads? Let’s Blame an App Instead

10 May
May 10, 2018

From Reason, comes this article on how local governments are trying everything they can think of to punish drivers for using navigation apps like Waze to escape congestion. Everything except maybe adding more roads and lanes.

The cause of worsening congestion, says Moore, is pretty simple: more people wanting to drive on the same amount of road.

This description fits Los Angeles pretty well. In 2001, Los Angeles County boasted 21,085 lane miles of maintained highways. In 2016, that number had not budged much, growing to only 21,826 lane miles. In the same period of time, the number of vehicle-miles traveled by Los Angeles commuters rose by some 10 million per day.

Even though the number of vehicles is surging, road availability barely increased. Which forces drivers onto roads not designed for heavy volume in order to try and shave some minutes off of an onerous commute.

Of course, I’m sure that the answer the local government wants will be more mass transit. Except mass transit is inefficient in using taxpayer dollars, in addition to not being available on demand like a personal vehicle. Autonomous cars will help, but they’re at least five years away, and probably closer to a decade before full implementation.

So, here’s an idea – private highways. Let firms build highways that they can collect tolls on. My biggest concern would be rent-seeking, but I don’t see how that would be any worse than what we have now.

We Should All Have Security

09 May
May 9, 2018

At the NRA Annual Meeting, there was a new group of protesters led by actress Alyssa Milano. They don’t want guns in private hands to prevent “gun deaths”. Of course, she has no problem with all guns in private hands, particularly when they’re protecting her.

My issue with these people who demand we give up our weapons is that they can’t connect their need for security with the same need by others. I will be the first to admit that high profile people like actresses and politicians have a need for armed security teams. They face unique threats that I don’t. However, that does not mean I do not face just as lethal threats in my environment.

I want Ms. Milano to be able to have the security she needs to protect her from the threats she faces. I just wish she would understand that I should be able to have the means to protect my life from the threats I face.

Metal Tuesday- Classical Month- Grieg – The Hall of the Mountain King

08 May
May 8, 2018

Nordic bombast at its best, as well as the basis for some very good metal.