Category Archives: politics

Why I don’t care about Critical Race Theory

So the latest nonsense argument about education is Critical Race Theory. What is that? Which is either looking at history with an understanding that race has been a motivating factor in the creation of many government laws and systems which may have outlived the original racist creators (which is just common sense) or a vicious progressive plan to teach all white children that they are evil just for being white. It depends on who you ask. Also, there seem to be people who are claiming it’s every single possible point in between those two extreme points.

Before we get into an argument about what it is, let’s remember that this is the latest in a long line of education issues where both sides take ridiculous positions…1776 project…1619 project…Common Core…New Math..No Child Left Behind…hell, the first of these arguments I remember is from my teens when rage against Ebonics was all the rage.

No matter what the argument is, they are based on this idea that any of these ideas or practices have infiltrated the entire education establishment. The people in charge (either school boards and their Teacher’s Union masters or the corrupt legislators beholden to big business depending on who is doing the irrational screaming) have given orders on high about this or that trend, and principals tell their teachers what the new policy is, teachers go to in-service training, and then every teacher in the school is suddenly teaching that America is always racist or that Shakespeare is irrelevant or that math is entirely new…and of course, every student will hear these unique pieces of propaganda and mindlessly imbibe them going forth for all time repeating the lies of the progress or populist about the evils of capitalism or socialism and forever work for social justice warrior or corporate shills. Again, it depends on who is telling this story…and they seem to switch with almost the regularity of the tides.

The problem is that this has absolutely nothing to do with reality.

And I say that as a veteran of two decades in education, having worked in public school, charter school, special needs schools, and online schools. I have taught almost every high school subject to nearly every grade and education level (from tutor to substitute to AP to Special Education ELL students.) And every place, I have been successful and promoted until there were ethical lines I wouldn’t cross and had to leave—thus I would say I would say I’m an above-average teacher who has a good grasp of how the education system works.

And rather than this monolithic idea that ideas come from on high and are beamed directly into the brains of students, let me tell you exactly how this might go.

Let’s take the much-ballyhooed 1619 Project as a possible example.

A school board votes to adopt the 1619 Project as part of the district standards. If the district has three high schools, one principle will be gung-ho about it; one will care about it only to the limit of the fact he doesn’t want to make waves, one will hate it and try to figure out what is the bare minimum she has to do to make it look like she is following district policy. The school board will likely never check to see if anything is being done. They will tell their staff of the new policy based on how much they care themselves. From here, there will be a small segment of teachers who either really believe in it and are gung-ho as well; then there will the new teachers who think every idea is great and buy into it even though they have no idea what it is; there will be some who hate it and will start considering what information they can also include to undermine the 1619 Project at every turn while still appearing to follow the orders from on high; there will be the veterans who don’t give a fuck what the orders from on high are—they’re teachers, and they know what they will do. Finally, there will be a vast swath who will, as always, do the bare minimum because they have tenure, and they gave us caring about the kids decades ago. Then all the teachers and administrators will be forced to go to in-service training on the 1619 Project—even the people who are gung-ho will hate this because, in the history of teacher in-service training, there has never been a single relevant, important, or interesting said. EVER. Teacher in-service is a scam designed by an idiot to get taxpayers to have these idiots teach teachers irrelevant bullshit. You know what they say, those who can’t teach, teach teachers. (Side note, I have never seen so many hip flasks in my life as when I’m at a teacher in-service…and everyone knows who has the hip flask, and we all gather around them in the closest off-campus parking lot at every break). So then this broad spectrum of teachers, all of whom have learned less than nothing at the in-service, and they will try to teach the students. Now the worst that can be said here is that if a teacher has a gung-ho principle they will probably have to waste time making a show of doing this, but if they have not bought in they will never actually teach more than the key words that any kind of test that might be given out would require.

Now there is a spectrum of students as well. There are those who have been raised to be good little progressives or those who are rebelling against populist parents who will buy into the 1619 project —every word of it—not because of the teacher but because they already looked it up. And there will be good little populists and those rebelling against their progressive parents who will disagree with all of it. There will be the students who want to learn and hear whatever their teacher says for or against and do their own research (maybe with the help of a teacher who cares about a balanced education), but they won’t just buy what the teacher said. These three groups will, at best, make up 10% of the student body. Then you will have another 10% who have mastered not drooling on themselves, not having a consistent thought in their heads, and sitting in their seat—these students when they graduate will become known as swing voters—but like their later stage, these larval forms of idiots don’t retain a single piece of information between each time they blink their eyes. A worst, this will also make up 10% of the student body. Finally, you will have the mass bulk of the student body. They will memorize whatever their teacher says only as long as they need to get the B or C on the test their parents want and then will forget everything that isn’t related to what they think they want to do in the future. None of them plan to be historians so that they will remember exactly nothing of the 1619 Project five minutes after the test.

And what do you end up with, exactly the same number of students who believed in the 1619 Project after the school board’s orders as would have considered in it if the school did nothing.

That is the deplorable state of education.

Teachers have almost no effect on students. Intelligent students are going to learn no matter what. Students who don’t care aren’t going to care until life forces them to learn something. Students who parrot ideas will parrot ideas.

This is a sad statement, but despite the fact that I have probably worked with somewhere around 2,000 students in my career, I can probably count the number of students whose life I have changed on the one hand. I introduced hundreds of smart students to a lot of new ideas…but I probably only hastened what they would have found on their own. Maybe in subtle ways, I’ve improved the lives of hundreds…but in the sense of taking a student who was doomed to never go to college or doomed to be a loser and brought them up to being a fulfilled human being, less than six. And I cherish those few students.

And I think I’ve probably done more than most teachers. But we don’t have that much of an impact on the lives of students–and we certainly can’t change the way students think.

Lots of people look back on this or that teacher as being important because they were there for them or they introduced them to this book or that idea…but the fact of the matter is most of those students who have positive visions of teacher are looking through the exaggerated rose-colored glasses of nostalgia with information gathered by the idiot brain of a teenager (and even the genius teenagers are idiots…because they’re teenagers.). They would have still been successful in life even if that teacher had not been there for them. Study after study after study shows that the values and habits that make for a successful student are set before a child sets foot in pre-school. That’s sad, but it’s true. Yeah, if a school system has a really good series of teachers that from pre-K to 12th, they might be able to change the lives of students. But the fact is that every school system is, in reality, a mishmash of inept, apathetic, competent, and great teachers. Next to no student gets a consistent line of great teachers. (There are a few charter schools that have famously been able to be the exception, but the fact is that they’ll never be able to expand their success to an entire nation.)

And then, of course, there is the problem that all of this is making mountains out of molehills. The 1619 Project has been around for a few years, but I still have not seen a single news article that can point to a school that is using the 1619 Project as the basis for their history curriculum. I’m sure there is a handful out there. And I’m sure this a smattering of idiot teachers who have adopted it on their own…but like all screaming about this or that idea in education, the most you can show is a dozen or so teachers in the whole country who are doing anything for or against. You have an easier job herding cats than finding any consistency in education policy. The Department of Education declared that through scientific research, Phonics is better than Whole Language almost 20 years ago…go into any elementary school in America today and you’ll still anywhere from a third to two-thirds of the teachers still using Whole Language. There is no plan or consistency; it’s just teachers doing whatever the hell they want.

So when people scream to the heavens about Critical Race Theory, I have to laugh. It doesn’t matter. I’m sure some dumb teachers will teach it in its worst form, and some will teach a knee-jerk, equally bad version against it. But on the whole smart students will do their own reading and the ones who don’t care won’t care.

Until you want to switch to an entirely voucher-based system until you want to enforce higher standards for teachers and set basic standards for every school until you want to destroy the Teacher’s Union (along with all public unions) until you want to do a dozen other more important reforms no educational movement (for good or for ill) that the media wants to focus on is very irrelevant because it has no chance of actually becoming an effective policy anywhere.

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The Private Sector Should Handle Social Issues, Not Government

This was a weird week. I actually saw supposed libertarian Rand Paul talk about “fair” in a Senate hearing. This was weird because traditionally, libertarians have been all about what is true, right, or just—these terms, while still not exact, are far more meaningful in an adult life than the concept of fairness. The libertarian position for decades has been, “Children whine about fair. Adults care about what is just.” And this is because we were all told that “Life is not fair” as children, or, at least, I thought we were. But there is some other odd things about these actions from the supposed libertarian.

To put this in context, these comments came during the hearings for Secretary of Education nominee Miguel Cardona. Paul asked if it was fair to have biologically male transgender students compete in athletics against female students. Cardona pointed out that not allowing students to compete can be equally unfair, politely held to the Biden administration line of enforcing discrimination laws for this aspect of public education, and Paul kept hammering on this being unfair.

Now to be fair, this is not the easiest situation. In an ideal world, biology would never mix up and make the brain set for one gender and the body for another. But life isn’t fair. Nor in a perfect world would people be ignorant and need education. But, again, life isn’t fair. And these aren’t things we can’t fix with the wave of a magic wand. We can, however, in addition to attempts of medical solutions, mitigate some of the hell of having your brain and body not agree by trying to be tolerant and accepting of people and judge them only on their character and merit.

But instead, we choose to argue should the government force transgender girls to not be allowed to compete against biological girls or will the government force natural girls against transgender girls. Either way, the government is forcing something.

Wacky idea. Why don’t we stop the government from forcing people to do things? Why don’t we stop paying for this crap in general?

Hear me out here.

In the great lands of socialism known as Europe, sports are pretty much a private venture. Yeah, there’s some basic P.E. education in school, and I’m sure there’s an exception somewhere, but all actual sports like football or rugby are clubs paid for by those who participate or by revenue from fans. I know it’s weird, in America, supposedly the land of capitalism, where we taxpayers pay to train the players in high school and then college and then pay to have stadiums built in our cities (and there are other ways taxpayers are bilked by professional and non-professional sports)…but in most other countries it’s the private sector that pays for sports. I realize that the U.S. has a long way to go to be number one on a listing of economic freedom, but this is just so egregious that it boggles the mind.

So why don’t we do that? Spin-off all competitive sports away from taxpayer-funded schools and rather let the private sector handle it. Private league and clubs would be formed. And not only would they cost less because suddenly it’s not the haphazardness of spending other people’s money, but every league spending its own hard-earned money. I’m sure there would be leagues that allow transgender athletes, and I’m sure there would be ones that wouldn’t, and I’m sure there would be ones in between that regulate hormone levels in the blood or something. And I most certainly trust that the leagues that are filled with bigots would not be popular and not get private funding and die very quickly because as we’ve seen by Parler’s death and a certain moron’s twitter account, the private sector can be a more effective in squashing hate than the government can. We as the public just have to let them know that we support businesses that have nothing to do with hate.

It’s a shame there wasn’t a libertarian there to bring this up.

Now some people are hating the private sector right now. And wouldn’t trust a set up like this. But they also hate that a private company is telling them what they can and can’t trade on that private company’s app. They hate that some companies are telling them what they can’t post on that private company’s program. There are still the fools who hate if a business decides if they want to bake you a cake or not.

They’re all wrong.

We should be praising private companies for being able to decide how they want to do business.

This last couple of weeks has shown that there are huge problems with some of these trading apps and that they allow idiots hellbent on burning the system down. Still, we also see that the apps and brokerages in question quickly responded in ways that would prevent them from having to declare bankruptcy (and probably to avoid being considered a co-conspirator) in what the SEC may decide is malicious and illegal market manipulation. The government would just have let a company they rango bankrupt and then bail it out with our taxpayer money (the names Fannie and Freddie come to mind for some reason).

While the government doesn’t understand that speech has to be free except when it presents a clear and present danger to public safety (specifically when you have a party that wants to silence companies that don’t agree with them while at the same time telling a crowd of lunatics to engage in a coup). Social media companies finally realize they can shut idiots up, and they don’t have to host them. And as it’s not the government, they can do that.

But while you might not be personally thrilled with the policies Robinhood, Facebook, or Twitter, you have to admit that if the government was in charge of these, they wouldn’t be a tenth as effective or a millionth as responsive.

And most importantly, those companies followed their terms and services. No one will be able to sue Robinhood or Facebook, or Twitter because we all agreed to their terms and conditions. What they did was all there to see if we looked.

And that is probably the one thing the government should be forcing other private companies to do.

If you’re a baker who doesn’t want to bake gay wedding cakes, it is better for people to see out front of the store on a large sign.

If you’re a private Christian school that doesn’t want to hire a homosexual teacher, that better be in the big, bold letters in the want-ad.

If you’re a private sports league that doesn’t want transgender athletes, you have to make it clear in the paperwork that the public can see and decide if they want to do business with you or not.

And once you announce you are a bigot you will lose business and once you announce you are against bigotry you will be in a safe place and only have to worry about the usual economic issues.

And I’m more than happy to not only make that kind of disclosure be public…but to make the violation of this not just some sort of fine for breaking a civil code or something you can be sued for…no let’s make not publishing this kind of thing fraud. A full-on criminal violation. So people will have three choices engage in the market and sell or work with people you don’t like, announce you’re a bigot (and hopefully go out of business), go to jail. The only government force here is ensuring truth in the market place, one of the actual functions that any libertarian would approve of.

But again, why would we ever look to the free market to fix things when we can go round and round in pointless squabbles for the camera.

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This is a time to reconsider the UBI

Goldwater Reagan Buckley RINOWe were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we’re told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year. Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We’re spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you’ll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among those 9 million poor families, we’d be able to give each family 4,600 dollars a year. And this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running only about 600 dollars per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.–Ronald Reagan, A Time For Choosing

 

In the midst of $1,200 checks and huge unemployment and the utter pointlessness of these attempts at saving an economy that–let’s be honest–was already being destroyed and rotted away by a policy of isolationism, bigotry, and hatred of the free market.  

But on the plus side, this might be a way to bring back an intelligent discussion of the Universal Basic Income. 

Obviously if we instituted it now it would help spare of the worst of the problems caused by COVID-19.  That’s a no-brainer. But this gives us a chance to look at why it could be a long term solution.

 

 

Freidman Hayek
Whenever these two agreed you should probably listen.

In the works of Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and Ronald Reagan you will find an idea called a negative income tax. The negative income tax says that the easiest way to solve the problem of poverty is not to give people housing, and food stamps, and SNAP, and Medicaid…no the easiest way to solve the problem of people not having money is to give them money. It’s so simple only a government could be too stupid to not get it. At the time the negative income tax was the idea they pushed…but I believe if they had considered it, they would have approved of the UBI. 

Mostly because the UBI has an advantage over the negative income tax in that it requires a far smaller and less intrusive bureaucracy.  

 The basic concept of the UBI is that instead of the welfare/entitlement state (food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, the whole swath of all entitlements) being replaced with a $10,000-15,000 payment to every citizen in the US over the age of 21. At least the intelligent version is that–people like Andrew Yang want to put the UBI on top of all the existing programs and that’s just stupid–misses the whole point of the UBI. Properly done, it reduces huge amounts overhead, it actually removes many of the current system’s disincentives to work or get married. It would actually be cheaper and since we believe in the power of the market we have to believe that in most cases individuals will be much better at spending their money than the government telling them how to spend their money. This idea has merit, I deeply respect many of the people who are advocating this, especially Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute (also herehere, here, and here) but also respect some of those who are against it (here and here though I feel these arguments are a bit knee jerk and don’t look at the bigger picture). And it works even better if you match with a completely flat tax. 

If coupled with a $3,500 voucher for private health insurance (and a law requiring all private insurers to have a $3,500 plan that covers all emergency and genetic conditions) you pretty much catch all of people’s financial needs to survive…not thrive, but survive. Which should be the goal. We want people to know that there is always a safety net to keep them on a footing that they can once again pull themselves up the economic ladder. The UBI would guarantee that they have all the basic needs–food, shelter, emergency medical care–but not go beyond that. It costs less than all of the current dole programs and helps more people with a smaller government. But some just aren’t convinced.

The most prominent argument against them the UBI boils down to: “if you give everyone a minimum income they won’t because they’ll have all their basic needs covered.” This is a really stupid argument for two reasons. The first being that most people through the myriad of welfare systems out there can earn $25,000-$50,000 a year if you know how to bilk all the systems for assistance out there. Removing all those programs and offering everyone only $12,000 a year is hardly offering people more of an incentive to be lazy, quite the opposite in fact. It’s providing them the bare minimum needed to survive and giving them the agency to spend it in the way they see best rather than the way a government bureaucracy sees best. Further, getting those full benefits takes time, so we’ve now freed up people’s time to search for a job, and removed all the disincentives to work that current welfare programs have. So while everyone will have a basic income guaranteed to make sure they can meet the bare-bones necessities of life, they’re not going to be provided with any comfort. In fact, this will likely, just in the replacement of Medicaid, Medicare, Welfare, Unemployment Insurance, SNAP, TANF, and Social Security save $600,000,000 to 1 Trillion dollars off the federal budget right off the top.

But there are other advantages to the UBI that many people haven’t considered.

As the UBI will replace Social Security as the fixed income of senior citizens, the Social Security fund will have to be just rolled back into the general government fund. With that comes all the assets the Social Security System has invested in. Specifically, about $3 Trillion in US government debt currently held by the Social Security fund (a little over that when you count Medicare and other retirement funds which would be made useless by this)…so that $3 Trillion in US government debt will go back to the US government. For those of you not picking up on what this means, this means the debt will be erased, as we will just owe it to ourselves. That’s a little over a tenth of all US debt, gone. Completely gone. Now there is other money in Social Security but I assume much of that will be eaten away in the inevitable transfer from one system to the other (you can’t just switch people who are only on Social Security now to a different program without giving them time to adjust).

So no one is in poverty, we’re spending a trillion less a year, and a good chunk of our debt is gone.

Oh, and our interest payments on debt have also been cut. If we were really smart we would use those savings in interest payments to buy back even more debt and further dig our way out of this hole but, we can only hope for so much.

Oh but there’s more. As everyone is now guaranteed a basic level of income, do you know what you don’t need? You don’t need a minimum wage. Minimum wage laws started as a racist way to keep minorities from competing for a job and continuing because of the dumb comment about needing to provide a living wage certainly doesn’t hold water anymore. Now while not every state will get rid of their minimum wage laws, a good many will. That means that employment will go up in those areas and more people will be willing to take lower wages because, hey, they’re starting off with $1,000 a month. That means people will get experience faster as more people will be employed, which has from there a compounding nature to economic growth from increased employment will be astounding.

And, since farmers are now also getting the rewards of basic income, they will no longer need subsidy programs (they don’t need them now, but this will undercut their last excuse). Not only will this mean we can get rid of one of the most useless expenditures of the federal budget, but it also means we don’t need to subsidize corn anymore, which also means we can end the nightmare that is ethanol. This, in turn, will actually drop food prices the world over, and thus that $1,000 a month will actually go even further than you initially thought. And we get to just end the Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Administration.

And now that everyone has income coming in that means job security means a lot less. They can leave a job and still be moderately secure at least for a while even if their income was well above the UBI level. Do you know what this means? It means that while employers can pay less because there is less of a risk of employing someone, it also means employees have greater freedom to leave at any time. That means employers will have to work harder to keep employees they want to keep. That means one of the primary goals of most unions, protecting employees from abuse, is no longer needed. Yes, unions will still need to be legal, but as they will no longer be a core part of employment in America you certainly won’t need idiotic things like the Department of Labor and the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Plus all those rules from idiots like OSHA can go out the window as employers will be too concerned with keeping employees. Granted there will be some need for the state versions of these institutions, but as the need for them will be so few and far between the federal government need will no longer be there.

And since the UBI comes with a voucher for health insurance (which is the reason why we won’t need Medicaid or Medicare), it also means you won’t need the Department of Health and Human Services…and if you just want to double the voucher for veterans you won’t need the Department of Veterans Affairs either. The fact that there won’t be massive fraud in Medicaid, Medicare, and the VA, not to mention the lack of government pricing, the price of all medical care will drop while quality will go up.

And as you’re giving money people for housing you don’t need to government to run housing, which means you can either sell all that public housing or give it all to the states…it also means you don’t need rent control laws. This, in turn, will actually drop the price of housing for everyone. And the Department of Housing and Urban Development can go to. So your bills just went down and that $1,000 goes even further.

So, let’s be clear here, we save on yearly costs of entitlement programs, employment goes up, regulation on business goes down, the debt is cut in half and we get rid of the Departments of HUD, HSS, Agriculture, VA, and Labor (plus a lot of other smaller offices)…and all the opposition has is that people will be lazy if you pay them money (even though they can get more right now under the current system it just comes with incentives to not work that the UBI will not have).

Again, some states will not have the brains to implement the needed free-market reforms that the UBI allows them to do. But the thing is that now people aren’t tied to a particular state’s welfare checks and can use their newfound monthly check to move to a state that is booming because of the free market expansion. Yes I know that under the current system of welfare it is possible to move to a different state, but it’s not easy to do….under the UBI it’s very easy, which means people will go where the jobs are and thus bringing more economic growth in the long run.

Granted, there are millions of ways the UBI could be screwed up as the devil is always in the details. This is a system that can only be set up by amending the Constitution, and while most have not gotten as far as those details here are some things it will need to include: the federal government will not be allowed to give any form of entitlement other than the UBI, the UBI should only be adjusted for inflation every 15-20 years, any increase in the base amount needs to be accompanied by a tax increase (which is why this works best with a universal flat tax so people can see the immediate effects of a 1% increase in the UBI resulting in a 1% decrease in their take-home from their job thus ensuring that few will ever want to use the UBI to enrich themselves beyond the basics).

*I realize that when eliminating these departments there is always one or two offices that will need to remain. Like getting rid of HHS won’t get rid of the CDC because that is still a fairly important thing, but it can be an executive office as so many things are. When I say get rid of the department in reality that will only translate to getting rid of 80%-90% of each department (except Agriculture, you can fire all of those useless idiots without negative effects).

 

 

The assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone, or a sort of floor below which nobody need hayekfall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society in which the individual no longer has specific claims on the members of the particular small group into which he was born. F.A. Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty.

 

 

 

 

Some Further Reading:

In our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State by Charles Murray (free pdf of the book on AEI.org)

 

 

Flat Tax Revolution: Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS by Steve Forbes

“The Case for the Negative Income Tax” in The Essence of Friedman by Milton Friedman

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 3: The Political Order of a Free People by F. A. Hayek

 

Three Reasons for Universal Basic Income

A Budget – Neutral Universal Basic Income

 

Experts Think UBI Is the Solution to Automation. This Year, We’ll Find Out.

The case for a universal basic income

Universal Basic Income: Pilot Programs

What happens if you replace every social program with a universal basic income

 

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No one is thinking

So I found this image the other day. I shared it. A lot of people liked and shared it, but I have come to realize that very few actually believe it.

The problem seems to be that as with most things people have divided into three camps.

Most, but not all, liberals are worried only about the number of deaths from COVID 19

Most, but not all, conservatives are only worried about the economy.

And libertarians are at least consistent in only being worried about everything is going lead to a government takeover of everything.

Granted these terms are always hard to define, especially as conservative nowadays doesn’t remotely mean most of us thought it meant 20 years ago.

Now the COVID death group has, for the most part, never cared about expanding government power (which has always been a problem), but a lot, but again not all, of the remaining NeverTrumpers are falling into this group, and while vocalizing some concern over Trump’s expanding power the=yore not make it a driving force. Further, this group seems to be absolutely idiotic in not realizing that a good economy keeps people alive. Neoliberal economists (and I mean that covering everyone from Friedman and Hayek to the modern Neoliberals which seems to the be the new term for the New Left from the early 1990’s and early 2000’s*) care so much GDP is because there is a beyond heavy correlation between GDP and longer lives, better medical care, higher quality of life, more innovation, more choice, more happiness. It’s not a perfect indicator, but no one has come up with a better one. Economists don’t care about money because they’re Scrooge, they care about it because it buys better lives. And if the economy tanks PEOPLE WILL DIE. More stress causing heart attacks and strokes, more malnutrition, more suicide, more accidents at home, more domestic abuse, more alcoholism, and drug abuse. The longer this goes on the more people will start dying from other things that are not this virus. And to act as if the virus is the only thing to worry about if just preposterous.

But you know what the care only about the economy crowd is equally dumb. Be it the buffoons who are trying to make this out to be nothing—-this is a big thing.

There were 2.8 million deaths in the US in 2019.  We will have more. A lot more this year. Now, I’ll grant that we were always going to have more because it was projected that the Baby Boomers and Gen X were going to be dying in such large numbers that the number of deaths per year wasn’t expected to ever stop increasing until the mid-2050s—but this is going to push those number up more.  But right now you have people arguing that the death rate isn’t that much higher right now…yeah because COVID is mainly confined to New York. It won’t be forever. Flattening the curve may slow the spread of disease but it is unlikely to halt it. NYC deaths are over double what they usually are for this time of year.  When it hits all those communities where we’ve heard about for the last 10 years that are suffering from high opioid use, high unemployment, high-diabetes and in general shitty life…well, let’s just say that if the South had to choose, they would likely be better off picking a second Sherman’s March to the Sea than what is coming for them. Very ignorant people are thinking that because it hasn’t hit their hospital or their community that this is just not going to ever come to them. History tells me that communities during every plague and pandemic throughout history from the plague that caused Athens to the lose the Peloponnesian War, to the Black Death, to the Spanish Flu have had communities that thought they wouldn’t be affect…and then those communities were all but destroyed. Let me make this very clear: UNTIL THERE IS A VACCINE THERE IS NO WAY OF STOPPING THE PROGRESS OF THIS THING. And at best that probably 12 months away. Yeah, sure, maybe if the whole world wanted to shut down for three weeks and we all sheltered in place and had an obscenely limited list of essential employees we could stop the spread of this thing…but only a damn fool could think we could get that done. A lot of people are going to die, and more importantly, a lot of people are going to get sick and that will also have influence on the economy. Further, just putting this out there, worst case is that like HIV we may not develop a vaccine…or just short of that keep in mind we didn’t have a chickenpox vaccine until the late 80s.

And then, of course, there is the consistency of the libertarians in hating government expansions of power and loving the fact that there are many regulations being rolled back to expedite care for people. All well and good. And I don’t mean to let them off easy, I know there are quarters of the libertarians sphere out there that are as always calling for full-on anarchy at this point and ignoring that public health has at least since the Roman Empire been a power of government…but as it’s hard enough to find libertarian voices out there I don’t think many of us are running into that insanity so insulting it wouldn’t do much good. But I will say that fringe does once again miss one of the points of government that some of the other two groups are ignoring: the government is there to help keep people calm and ensure stability in society. Yeah socialism might work on an Israeli Kibbutz, and the world Trumpkins works well in the backwoods of Pennsylvania were those vile inventions of the modern civilization are not embraced, and absolute libertarianism works in an Ayn Rand novel…but the thing is these extreme only work when you have a small group that all agrees to abide by the same rules—here in society you have people too stupid for any extreme, or frankly any sense of moderation. They panic a lot. And idiots cause problems. And you need to keep them in line so they don’t ruin it for the rest of who do have some purpose in life, true on in every nation, on every continent, in every period of time. People are stupid. They ran for toilet paper as if they thought they were going to die on the Oregon Trail. But, at the moment, Trump is making the best case against the expansion of government power that one could ever possibly hope for, so only the most hopelessly mentally damaged (i.e. his supporters…and Bernie’s) are unaware of how terrible government is right now.

Now if you want to talk about what should we be doing that we’re not, that would be great. Because personally, I think we should be plotting for that scenario where vaccines are far off. How? How about starting with the military and medical forces that are not in areas being hit hard right now we start putting people in their 20s into quarantine and then infecting them. Like a good old fashioned chickenpox party that anyone older than a Millenial who got a chick pox vaccine remembers. Give the people the least likely to be harmed the virus, give them immunity to it, hell try some of the safer drugs on them in scientific trials. A very few will die. But what this will do is ensure that these people are now no longer vectors for the disease. Then go through people in their 30s and 40s who have no other conditions that might make them vulnerable. Then move through the ranks of the rest of the government, and maybe then start finding a way for companies that can pay their people to be out for three weeks to do so they aren’t a problem any longer (I’m not a fan of tax breaks in most cases but this could be one of those exceptions). That’s what would protect the elderly and those who have conditions that make them vulnerable—herd immunity. The fast we establish herd immunity the better. Because that is what is going to cut the problems of death and economic at the same time.

Of course, someone might have a better plan, but I haven’t heard of one yet.

Death, the economy, and government overreach are problems. But just yelling that your concern is the big one is not helping anyone.

In the meantime, we need to start dealing with this in a clear risk versus reward way of thinking. Are homemade masks going to stop the spread? Nope. Will they only have be 5% effective? Probably. And 5% is not nothing. And what’s the cost for that 5%, fairly low. If you’ve ever bought a lottery ticket you’ve said you believe in long shots far worse than that 5%. Further, again to the libertarians, we’re trying to prevent panic.

Meanwhile, the panic you could cause by proposing a particular medicine as a cure, which will probably prove to be nothing but a statistical blip could be devastating. Why? Because drugs seldom work on viruses beyond slowing their progress. It’s why we have vaccines because anti-viral drugs are little more than Hail-Mary passes. And really disturbing, we can’t always find a vaccine for viruses…if it were easy then we wouldn’t have been dealing with 40 years of AIDS.

*Side rant here. I know that political terminology is always a shifting set of meanings throughout history, but does it seem that everything has been thrown out and nobody has any consistent set of words we can use that can give us any damn sense of whom we’re talking about. I believe in absolute free markets, personal choice in social concerns, and a strong interventionist foreign policy…Reagan and I would have agreed on 70%+ of things, but I hardly meet any criteria for “conservative” in 2020…WTF?

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Questions that need to be asked about COVID 19

Is it just me, or are we handling this entirely the wrong way?

Let’s state up front that I’m not saying stop social distancing, we’re on this path and it would be idiotic to stop once on it, but let’s start looking at what we did right and wrong here because the is a chance this is going to go in wave and maybe we should think before engaging in this silly policy for a second round.

Probably, the best course would have been for China to be more honest and shut down everything more quickly, but it would have been intelligent if every nation now run by brain dead populists had shut China off when they knew this was going to be a problem and quarantining those who might have been to China early on (we knew it early enough for members of Congress getting intel briefings to know to dump all their stocks, we should have known then to start taking action then).

 

But once it’s out there there are really only two courses of action. Either shut things down to keep “flattening the curve” or to just let the dice fall where they may—the first comes with lower death tolls but large economic problems, the latter with huge death tolls but less economic problems. Every country seems to have decided on taking an idiotic middle path so we can get the death toll of letting the cards fall where they may PLUS an even bigger death toll.
And the real problem here is that no one is thinking. In every discussion of “flattening the curve,” I haven’t heard any discussion of the long term.
What do I mean by the long term? Well, as was so succinctly put in the film the Big Short in quoting research on unemployment “Every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die.” Now with the unemployment rate going up, with a reasonable expectation being 20%+ starting at our current 4% that’s a 16% increase. That’s 640,000+ people dead from unemployment. And that’s before counting in the fact that we all now the suicide rate is going to spike as cabin fever starts to set in.
So the question is how many people are flattening the curve going to save? The way most articles put it, flattening the curve will prevent there from being a shortage of treatment, ventilators, beds, and the grim kind of rationing that we’re seeing in Italy. But I hate to ask because I understand how callous it sounds, but someone needs to ask the question: Is this preventing people from dying or just preventing doctors from having to make the hard call about who can and cannot be saved. Every discussion of flattening the curve seems to suggest that the majority of people will eventually get sick, and there doesn’t seem to be any discussion on how this will lower the death toll, only how it will lower hospital strain. Honestly how many people who get put on a ventilator are going to survive this? Are we letting nearly two-thirds of a million people die in silence so that a half million people who were going to die anyway have a last few days with a modicum of false hope and doctors able to soothe their consciences by saying they did everything they could?

I don’t have an answer to that. Mainly because no one does real reporting and asks these difficult questions.

But it’s a simple question is it going to save more than 640,000 people?

Is it?  I’ve done some rough estimates that say if ventilators will save 10% of the people who are put on them then fewer will die by flattening the curve…but that is made based on so many assumptions due to lack of information I will never have.  But just because I don’t have that information doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have or couldn’t get it, but I know from many years of experience government never asks the right questions.

Because if it isn’t then we picked a policy that will actually kill MORE people.
And worse if reporters aren’t asking this question, then you know for sure none of the sycophantic populist buffoons in the White House, 10 Downing, or any of the halls of power are asking it.
Yeah, seeing elderly people dying in the halls of hospitals in Italy is tragic. But what about all the heart attacks, suicides, strokes and other various ways people die due to the stress of unemployment?
It should be a simple question. Which path kills more people. And right now I’m feeling that the tragedy of the elderly dying in hospital halls is actually a smaller tragedy than the nearly two-thirds of a million deaths.
Granted I don’t have numbers or resources to model which path will have the least death. But I do know that doctors can be very short-sighted and have little understanding of practical costs, so while we may be listening to doctors in their own field, it might help to listen to economists as well and ask which path actually does the most harm.
Now, I certainly might be wrong and this is the best path. But what I am sure of is that no one is asking the right questions

Now granted Trump and his idiot followers who think that the stock market is the economy are just willing to throw people off to die because they don’t like how their quarterly profits are looking. But this is not an argument for that. Trump’s a moron and clearly not acting on anything other than his first grade understanding of how the economy works. But the fact that he’s a blithering idiot whom we all wish will get COVID-19 and spare us having to hear his fascist blather ever again, doesn’t negate the fact that the other side of this is not asking the right questions. Just as when the media ignored Obama’s human rights abuses on the border but only cared when Trump did it. They don’t ask the right questions ever, and so we need to demand that these questions be asked.

How many people will die from all causes if we do not flatten the curve?
How many people will die from all causes if we do flatten the curve?
No one seems to be asking these questions. And we need to. We need to find out which version has the least suffering. And then go with that option.

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Conservative Values versus a myriad of extremists

A government professor of mine once stated that all governments were a balance between three different values: Equality, Order, and Liberty. No one value can be pursued without cost to the other two. The ideal society would actually be the one that keeps these three points in balance. However, as we look around modern parties and political movements, the logic of balance seems nowhere to be found.

Four Cardinal Virtues

Individual have the 4 cardinal virtues: Temperance, Moderation, Justice, Fortitude…but these are the basis for the three political virtues: liberty, equality, order. They all have to work together or not at all.

Liberals, socialists and progressives seek equality at the cost of order and liberty finally reaching their ideal society, a Communistic state where everyone is equal but in the end utterly worthless as equality requires none be higher than others, thus all talent, all incentives, and all goals have been destroyed leaving society to collapse before the equally unimpressive slaves that it has created. In a state where all are equal there can be no order because power cannot be vested (even through law) in another thus nothing can keep law and civil society together thus at best everything is merely slave to the whim of the herd (law by the same methods created reality TV)…and there can be no liberty, as liberty leads to exceptionalism, and no one can be better than anyone else

The growing fascist movements of Greece, the tyranny of Vladimir Putin, and the vile wretchedness of Islamofascism value order above all else. But for there to be complete order there can be no liberty because if people can choose for themselves, they will sometimes choose wrong and this inevitably leads to some level of chaos, some crime, some disorder. And in the ordered state there can be no equality, as equality requires that all are subject to rules, and for the ordered state to work no one can watch the watchers because they are the final authority, otherwise there is no way to control and maintain order.

Libertarians and anarchists view liberty as the end all be all of all politics. But where there is perfect freedom there can be no equality, even before the law, because there can be no law if there is nothing but license to do whatever you want. And there can be no order in the fully liberated state as the law who would hold back those who do not recognize the rights of others cannot exist.

And finally populists don’t particularly view any of these as all that important. Yes populists want equality when someone is doing better than them, which is why businesses and businessmen are evil and need to be reined in…but they strangely don’t care about equality when they’re doing better, which is why even Ron Paul brought back millions in pork to his district. They care about liberty, for themselves…but for anyone else, eh, it’s not that important. And order is important, so long as it’s in my general vicinity, enforced by me, and I don’t care if it’s not in my line of sight. (And please understand why I have been hitting the populists posing as conservatives a lot lately, your average Democratic voter has always been a populist. Their activists and politicians maybe progressives, but the voters are populists who just care about their entitlements and what will be given to them).

Meanwhile there is the real conservative viewpoint. That these three virtues of a society must be held in careful balance. That the extreme of any one of these because a dystopian nightmare (Liberty, Order, Equality…Lord of the Flies, 1984, Harrison Bergeron…or for the less well read, Mad Max, Hunger Games, Divergent…or if you prefer history, Somalia, Nazi Germany, Revolutionary France). That a society without these three to guide them is just as bad as one where only one is followed (I’d give an example but modern politics seems to be it and the last few years of Rome seem to be the only places dumb enough to try such an abhorrent idea in practice). Only the society that balances these forces is a prosperous one.

So what is the guiding star of conservatism that makes it so different from these other ideologies? Well, not to sound like a dozen other blogs on this site but the answer is once again, Aristotle.

Aristotle, for all his flawed understanding of politics (give the man a break, there wasn’t much reliable history to work with in the 4th century B.C. and you can’t expect him to have prescience of what was to come) understood that in politics, as with ethics, it is not a question of ends or means, but a question of ends and means. Those who value equality or order only value an end of making everyone equal or making everything peaceful. Those who value liberty only value the means of liberty not the result of what such anarchy brings. Only balancing both ends and means work.

And Aristotle saw the correct end to focus on. The end to all human life is Happiness. And society, family, education must all be structured to ensure Happiness for the greatest number of people. Now because Happiness requires freedom of choice and personal growth, not everyone will reach happiness no matter what a government/family/society does, but it requires liberty and the ability to exercise free will. But because Happiness requires some ability to plan and control your own life, it requires order to some degree. And because the point is to provide Happiness (or the opportunity to pursue Happiness) for the most people as all are equally human and equally deserving at birth of achieving Happiness. None of these on their own can lead to Happiness, and all must work together.

And this is why other belief systems don’t work; they’re not aimed at Happiness.

For instance look at misnamed “social conservatives” (Progressives for Jesus might be a better way to put it). They keep saying that the point of marriage is to have children. As if having children is an end in itself.   And they keep bringing this up as a reason why they opposed gay marriage. Now there are good reasons to get rid of marriage as a legal concept (and replace it with legal civil unions and let religion handle marriage without government interference) but it is not just the Progressive mentality here to have the government take control of everything. It is the missed sense of what the end of things are. They view the family as a means to creating another family. The family, society, everything in the view has no purpose but to serve itself. You have to have marriage to create children. You have to raise children so they lead lives where they get married. They get married to have children…over and over again. There is no point to the individual life (unless you want to get into some bizarre servitude to God, which views God as a master and the individual the slave…but no serious reading of any sane religion even comes close to that.) This is why social conservatives tend to be not only bad at politics but their own religion. Social conservatives should go back and read their Aquinas who makes it clear that “the principal end of matrimony, namely the good of the offspring” and that “the secondary end of matrimony, which is the mutual services which married persons render one another in household matters.” Notice how in the second point it is the betterment of each other (i.e. the individual’s happiness) that is the point of marriage. Just as every social institution is supposed to place the Happiness of the individual as a goal. Parents should be concerned with teaching their children the knowledge, ethics, and character that will allow them to be happy adults. Schools and other societal organizations should be focused on encouraging people to be the best they can be with the goal being individual Happiness. Social conservatives’ problem, like all progressives, is they think society is the end goal, it is not; the good of individual is the goal.

Then you have Libertarians who don’t even consider ends and just, like good Kantian idiots, look at means. And liberty is the only mean they care about. Oh they may say that freedom leads to individual Happiness, but they ignore that just because the exercise of free will is necessary it is not sufficient. (Just as Milton Friedman said that “History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.”) Let’s take a look at what sometimes appears to be the only thing that libertarians think about: The War on Drugs. Okay, I will concede that the War on Drugs has been handled idiotically. I will concede that if a person should be able to use drugs in the privacy of their own home if they’re not hurting anyone. I concede that the power to prosecute the War on Drugs has led to massive costs and an intolerable level of corruption in the name of the War on Drugs. But in all this the libertarians fail to admit some very simple things. They act like the people who take drugs are all just innocent little lambs who are the victims of an unjust police power. prison violent

nonviolent

Oh, look it would appear that as incarceration went up crime went down…shocker.

Let me set the record straight: They’re criminals (whether they get caught and convicted or not, they’re criminals). They have the mentality that the rules of society, their long term well-being, and how their actions may hurt others are of absolutely no concern to them so long as they get a moment of pleasure. At best that is vilely hedonistic, at worst it has a bit of a sociopath in it. Libertarians like to pretend that you have otherwise innocent drug users in one group, and in another you have real criminals. And that the fact that we have a massive prison population proves that this War on Drugs needs to end. The problem is that you don’t have two different groups; you have a Venn diagram where criminals and drug users are often one in the same. Libertarians like to point to the increasing prison population, but they always conveniently forget that as prison populations go up violent and non-violent crime go down. They ignore that often drugs are used to put dangerous criminals away when other more serious charges don’t have as much admissible evidence. So there are benefits to the War on Drugs. But not willing to admit that drops in the murder, rape, theft rates is a good thing, libertarians only care about the liberty to do drugs.   They don’t advocate that we should focus more on the cartels, the gang distributors, and legalize personal home use (all things which would still probably round up the worst real criminals while not hurt the people who can actually handle personal use)…no they have to argue that we should just legalize all drugs. No concern for order, just liberty…and no Happiness for anyone.

The other difference between libertarians, Progressive for Jesus**, and real conservatives. Unlike Libertarians, conservatives understand that laws do need to be structured not just to protect rights but to encourage habits that will typically lead to a healthy society and Happiness in individuals (for instance unless we switch to a flat tax having tax credit for charity; the fact that we can’t just get rid of civil union side of marriage, and that we do need a safety net of some kind***; providing minimum standards for education to make sure all students receive a basic minimum of education) but unlike the Progressive for Jesus we must do so in a way that limits (or at least poses as few limits as possible) to the good that liberty provides (deciding what counts as a marriage and what doesn’t, when gay marriage provides the same benefits; spending money and resources checking on what people do in private that hurts no one; dictating what to include content wise in education; etc.).

Being consistently conservative is difficult. It requires balancing numerous issues of the needs of individuals, the long term good of society, Liberty, Order, Equality. And it’s a constantly shifting point because what creates that balance in one era may be totally unbalanced in another. Proper government needs to be directed toward the Happiness of individuals. It needs to balance our needs for liberty, order, and equality. When it does not do these things it creates bad laws. And it is so easy to get lost in caring only about your own want (populists) or one of the political virtues at the expense of the others. Right now we need a lot more liberty, but we cannot forget that it is the balance and the good of society and the individual that is our true goal—not just liberty for the sake of liberty.

Of course none of this is really new…the people who real conservatives look toward as a guide post made it quite clear that liberty, or order (tranquility, defense), or equality (justice, general welfare) were all equal political virtues that had to be held in balance of each other…

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Did we forget we're conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

*Now I know that I have heard some people have claimed that the FBI is merely shading the numbers—that they’re not counting things the same way to make things look better than they are. I’ve heard that claim from LOTS of people. But you know what I find interesting, I can’t find that claim on any think tank. None. Liberal. Conservative. Libertarian. Nobody. You would think that conservatives would have hit Clinton or Obama for skewing the data, or liberals would have hit Bush. But nobody seems to questions the FBI’s stats…nor is there any jump that you would see if you changed the criteria, it’s a slow progression. So either everybody and I mean everybody, is on a massive conspiracy to slowly skew the crime numbers, or crime really has been dropping.

**You thought I wasn’t serious, but I am. I am using that from now on.

***Libertarians, before you yell at me that we need to get rid of welfare entirely, please remember that Friedman and Hayek both said we need a safety net because having people in real poverty (the kind you see in the third world) creates people who seriously have the choice of steal or die, at which point it becomes a need for them to steal and as we all know from the example of Jean Valjean, utterly unjust to punish them.

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Common Core, why I support it and you should too

 

Common Core State Standards.jpg

So it was pointed out to me that while I have repeatedly ripped apart the Anti-Common Core people showing their positions to be contradictory, baseless or just the worst in typical liberal/populist propaganda, I have never pointed out why I like the Common Core Standards. So here goes.

 

First let’s define what we mean. Common Core Standards (linked here) are a collection of standards drawn up by the National Governor’s Association (NGA). They cover reading, writing, and mathematics. They do not define what will be taught, what goes into textbooks, or do they create worksheets. It does not have anything to do with allocation of resources in the school or how teachers teach. There are some recommendations about how to make math a more pragmatic, real life application approach to math, but most of the complaints in the media have nothing to do with the Common Core math standards. These are based on the current administration and their education department interference – Race to the top.   These two different concepts should not be combined.

 

Before we get back to why I love the standards I can already tell I’ll have some objections to the above paragraph. But I heard Common Core was a federal take over…no you’re thinking of the White House’s Race to the Top program which like the list of the previous 60 years of federal education programs boils down to we’ll require schools to do random things (some stupid, some okay) and throw money at them. Race to the Top does require states to adopt Common Core, but no state is required to follow Race to the Top, just as no state has to adopt Common Core, and many states were getting ready to adopt Common Core before Obama even got into the White House. But I heard Common Core requires this or that stupid text book. No, those textbooks and those text book companies were always stupid. In fact studies have been done that the new text books that say “Common Core Compliant” are actually the pre-Common Core versions (word for word) with a new sticker slapped on. But on the news I saw this terrible worksheet a student had to do and they said it was Common Core. You must not watch the news much as those stupid worksheets have been around for decades before anyone thought of Common Core. But the teachers and school administrators are saying everything they’re doing is because of Common Core. Here’s a hint, most teachers and school administrators are either liars or incompetent (in many cases both)…there’s a reason we had to come up with bare minimum standards for them to follow, namely, they were too dumb to be trusted on their own. Repeat after me Common Core is properly only used to refer to the Common Core State Standards. It is not Race to the Top, it is not textbooks, it is not the behavior of teachers. It is only standards. They may call all these other things Common Core…but if you call a fish a bird it doesn’t mean that it’s a bird. The only thing that is actually Common Core is the Common Core State Standards. Everything else is not Common Core and you should berate anyone who says otherwise for their ignorance.

 

Okay back to the standards themselves.

 

Common Core is a set of standards created out of an initiative from the governor’s council.  It has two main parts Math Standards and English Language Standards (Reading and Writing).  Things like as a Student will be able to do X at Y grade level.

An example standard reads (this is for reading at the 11th and 12th grade level):

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7 Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry); evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)

That’s all it is as can be seen here http://www.corestandards.org . (Again please go read them).

 

It was meant to replace each state’s individual standards so there is more consistency and a higher standard throughout the US.  It also allows for states to use only one standardized test (which saves costs for the states as development costs are now shared for one test) and also allows for us to actually see which states are meeting requirements.  In most cases (but not all) the standards are higher than what the state had before.  Are the math standards high enough? No. But they’re higher than they were before in most cases and states, schools, teachers, and students can always go beyond the bare minimum of the standard.

 

Beyond suggestions of the kind of reading (as in primary sources, or analysis papers) and questioning to be done at each grade level there are no History, Government, Science or other kinds of standards.

 

There is almost no content requirements to be narrow on.  The only Common Core standards even remotely related to Social Studies and Science are the language ones that more or less boil down to “Read Primary Sources”.  It requires only a few works that HAVE to be read by students: They have to read something by Shakespeare, the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Gettysburg and I Have a Dream. That’s it. Other than that it’s pretty much open game for teacher selection so a bad teacher could still choose bad works to try and indoctrinate, but as the standards focus more on the higher level skills (Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis) if they’re actually teaching the standard then they should be teaching students how to question and analyze (after that it’s up to free will of the student).

 

Why do I think this is all a good idea?

Well first of all teachers are like most people. Most of them will do the minimum required of them. As the standards before Common Core were much lower in almost all the states…this at least means that the minimum they have to do will be higher. Some might complain that this will amount to teachers only teaching to the test…but that is a problem with the teacher not the standards or test. A bad teacher will always teach to the test because that is the minimum they can get away with…and if you don’t have a test it’s not like they’ll suddenly go in great teacher mode, no, they’ll show videos and talk about their feelings all day. Great teachers will have no problem with these standards as their teaching is probably already well above the minimum. (Oh, and to the recent string of whiny teachers who thought that anyone should give a shit about their screeds about how education was becoming nothing but testing…you have no one to blame but yourselves. Even if you were among the competent teachers, which I seriously doubt, you were among the teachers who were voting for unions and supporting them when they protected your inept colleagues. Teachers are to blame for not beginning to police their own long before this.) Standards/testing have always been around to determine if everyone is getting an average amount of data from the course – whatever that is – so this statement of teaching to the test is silly.

 

I like this because it is better economics. Not only in the fact that we’ll save overhead costs in not having to have 50 different state tests…but because this will lower a bar for people who have children. If standards are equal everywhere then you never have to worry about “but if we move to this state will Sally fall behind” greater mobility in geography will translate to greater economic prosperity everywhere.

 

When and if the standards are implemented even half-way competently you’ll have a justification to fire bad teachers who can’t even teach to the test to the minimum standards. Further this will be a fair basis by which we can judge which students need to be held back.

 

Further despite bizarre claims to the contrary, these standards are a great thing for school choice movement. These people are apparently not actually paying attention to one of the biggest problems with the school choice movement: bad schools. The central claim of the school choice movement is that bad schools will go out of business …but regrettably that implies that every parent wants their child to learn. Regrettably I can tell you that some parents just want their kid to get a diploma, or worse they’re just looking for a baby sitter…whether they learn anything isn’t even a concern. And thus schools with really low standards that won’t bother them with homework or parent-teacher calls or requests to meet to discuss Johnny’s progress are very popular with this group. And these excuses for schools give liberals ammunition against the entire school choice movement. And independent testing can help separate them…but testing alone won’t do it because you also need high standards. Why? Well there are some alternative schools that are set up to cater to students who have trouble—they look for the students who have flunked out of three or four schools already…as might be expected the pass rates on tests of these schools are rather low…but they did take a group that everyone else got 0% and in turn got 30% to pass…to only look at the pass rate is say that these schools took toxic waste, turned it into water and you want to complain they didn’t turn it into wine. High standards (and the school creating curriculum to match those standards) help differentiate these schools which are seeking to help the high risk student from the paper mills which just seek to give every student a diploma and collect their funding no matter what they learned. These standards will get the terrible schools out of the market and will strengthen the school choice movement as a whole.

 

And on a personal level I certainly won’t mind if elementary and middle School teachers are finally required to teach basic grammar so that I, in Senior English can actually focus on poetry and philosophy…and not, you know, my usual fair of “How to use a comma.”

 

Now the problem is that each state is implementing Common Core in a different way.  Some are adjusting their history and science standards, and some (usually the liberal ones) are adding PC blame America BS into the standards.  Also several companies that make teaching material, handouts, textbooks and such are also making liberal tripe and giving their product names like “Common Core History.” The implementation and the products which bear the name Common Core are in a lot of cases really dumb and should be opposed–Not because it is being called Common Core but it is bad regardless of what you call it.

 

I would compare this to trying to teach Shakespeare.  In the hands of bad teacher the high moral, hilarious comedy, and near libertarian critique of corrupt government could become a diatribe of trite feminism, bad psychoanalysis, and cheap Marxism…but it is the teacher not the Shakespeare that is to blame.  In the same way Common Core is perfectly fine…it’s the idiots trying to put it into practice that are the problem.

 

Let’s deal with a few pointed criticisms about the Standards themselves. Some critics claim that the standards aren’t high enough to get students into high end colleges…well no kidding, they’re minimum standards, they’re what every student should learn and every student isn’t going to MIT. Others, usually the same organizations that claim they’re not high enough…please make up your mind…but even if they’re still not high enough (and that is the case in some places) they are almost always well above the previous state standards and I know of no state that adopted Common Core that found their standards dropping.   Besides which you need to start at a basic minimum and then each year you can start raising the bar. This could go a long way to stopping the graduation of students who can not read, write or comprehend English or Math.

 

Some complain that the problem with the standards is that they were written in an undemocratic way without public feedback and comment at every level…yes because all the regulations we have from the government with that level of feedback are just so wonderful…and all documents that were composed without public comment (like the Declaration and Constitution, which the CCSS require students to read) are just so terrible and like Common Core should be abolished because of their anti-democratic methods of being created. Also private companies were hired to help write the standards…and as we are a good capitalist nation we hate private companies…wait, no.   The problem with this set of complaints is that it never actually asks if the standards are any good. They are. It doesn’t matter who wrote them or the process of them being written, unless you can point to me where the standards themselves are lacking this is just a demagogue tactic to whip up baseless hatred of the standards.

 

The Common Core reading list has books on it that are terrible! Yes the suggested reading list has some books on it that I would never teach. But here’s the thing, I don’t have to teach them. It’s an extensive list of suggested works that you don’t even have to follow. All it says is that the books are of the level we’re looking for at certain grade levels, when planning for your English course, try to have the books you pick to be on par with the ones listed here. Yeah the list does include some real tripe, but I hazard to think what any educational institution would have cut if they tried to make the list more restrictive…better to have the list be broad and then have parents judge the teacher’s by the books they pick (and if you don’t like the books get your kid a new teacher or new school) or a new book.   If you cut the list down to just Shakespeare and the other classics it might give truly inept teachers the appearance of knowing what they’re doing. Better to not restrict the freedom of teachers, and even suggest a few pieces of dung, and then you can easily spot the bad teachers by the ones who pick those worthless books.

common core

Yes just look at how terrible some of those suggestions are…clearly signs of how evil the Common Cores Standards are.

 

So to sum up. Just about everything you hear complaints about isn’t the actual Common Core standards. The Common Core standards themselves are fine and will, if implemented lead to some but not all of the reforms we need to make in education (while making some of those other reforms easier to implement).

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April Fool’s Day Post: Secret Documents Reveal Democratic Plan to Undermine the Right From Within

Exclusive, The Conservative New Ager has, this April Fool’s Day, been shown recently uncovered documents that show conclusively that the Republican Party has been infiltrated by liberal moles hell-bent on destroying the Republican Party from within.

 

What’s this you say? Liberal infiltrators within the Republican Party? Yes!

 

And no I’m not just referring to the fact that liberals have been heavily funding “libertarian” candidates to divide votes against conservatives. No the plan appears, according to these documents, to go much further (beginning with the open push for open primaries – we now see the underlying liberal reasoning).

 

While the documents do not list exactly who is involved or where money is being funneled to, the plans and tactics for the double agents are laid out clearly. For instance, one document states:

 

Liberal infiltrators are to always bring up abortion.   Polls show that while Americans are not in favor of the Democratic position of abortion on demand at tax payer expense, the natural American tendency toward liberty finds it even more offensive to claim “”If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”. Gallup studies have shown that despite claims otherwise, 71% of Republicans favor keeping abortion legal in one form or another…yet a vocal minority within the Republican party, which these documents show are on liberal payrolls, are hammering a point that in no way appeals even to the base of the Republican party and certainly not to the majority of voters. Further these documents suggest that DNC forces have also paid off the media to only cover these infiltrators which explain why the media gives these comments so much play and not real fiscal comments from the Republican Party. These liberal infiltrators have started even attacking what the vast majority of Republicans and independents believe is a valid purpose of abortion, aborting children with severe medical challenges to spare them the living hell of a

Dinner?

Hmmm….

life like that. Further these liberal infiltrators are being paid to make Republicans look mentally challenged by suggesting that abortion is the cause of our economic woes with truly brain dead statements like “The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don’t have enough workers to support the retirees. Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies ends in abortion.” Quotes this insane assumes that conservatives believe that children have one purpose – to support the elderly – which if that isn’t the ring of liberal propaganda then what is… there is nothing there about the conservative beliefs in individualism, personal responsibility and freedom of choice – whatever those repercussions are.

 

These documents were obtained in light of the fact that despite being a traitor worthy of hanging for his crimes, Edward Snowden did reveal what liberals consider data security. The field agents of the Conservative New Ager just strolled into the DNC headquarters and asked for access to the computer systems claiming to be tech people called in to repair an unspecified problem. The stoned hippie behind the desk was apparently more than helpful in providing our investigative team with all the documents they needed.

 

As such deep cover agents have been sent into the Republican Party to pose as conservatives, they work tirelessly to offend moderates and even Republicans as liberals are desperate to get votes for themselves or at least deprive Republicans of votes by having those voters veer towards the perpetual waste of a vote known as the Libertarian party.

 

In addition to the abortion issues, similar DNC drafted talking points for these infiltrators include making statements against gay marriage (when the majority of moderate and even conservative voters would rather you just get government out of religion and just have legal civil unions for everyone) or focusing on other issues that any idiot would know would not drive moderates away.

 

It is unclear exactly who in the Democrat Party came up with this plan and who is funding it (or even that anyone at the DNC could possibly have the foresight to think up something this clever)…or who in the Republican Party was too stupid to not notice what was going on. But as insiders begin to comb over the paperwork it becomes clear that this is the only thing keeping the Democratic Party alive as the Republicans would sway the vast majority of independents and libertarians if they were just running on conservative economic values.

 

Documents do not make it clear exactly who these people are but there are clues within the paperwork. For instance one such infiltrator is listed as a former Governor who during their term of office threatened violate contract law (something conservatives hold as sacrosanct) with contracts the state held with private corporations, raised taxes on those corporations, encouraged large federal spending projects to nowhere, advocated that the budget to the Department of Education be expanded, endorses the worst candidates (even liberal scum) whenever possible, and takes government subsidy money for their TV shows. One wonders how moderates could be so dumb to accept such a clearly vile liberal shill as a conservative, but you betcha they are just that dumb.

 

Other infiltrators are suggested to have endorsed arming al-Qaeda in Syria. One even appears to be a massive closet case who never met a government spending program or bribe he didn’t like.

 

To spot these liberal infiltrators according to these documents, the following positions should be noticed:

(1)  They make wild baseless claims about abortion rather than just pushing to end all government funding of it.

(2)  They believe that gay marriage is an abomination rather than the conservative belief that government should get out religion, and only do civil unions for any two consenting adults leaving marriage to religion and religion alone.

(3)  They attack other Republicans.

(4)  They treat conservatism as a belief that can only exist within Christianity despite the fact that the moral basis for conservatism can be found in just about every religion on Earth.

(5)  They attack corporations as something inherently evil or do not hold other basic conservative/capitalist views like the sacrosanct nature of contracts – personal property rights.

(6)  They speak in terms of populism accidentally dropping liberal talking points like “living wage” or feel that competition is a bad thing.

(7)  Having no understanding of the difference between the idiotic federal Race to the Top (Obama’s plan) and the intelligent state led Common Core standards and treating them as if they’re the same thing.

It is almost certain that anyone who traffics in statements like this is clearly on the DNC payroll and following their direction/talking points.

 

When informed of this GOP chair Reince Preibus stated that, “When you think about it this actually makes sense. I mean the only other option would be that the Republican Party was laced with absolutely suicidal morons who don’t understand the principles of real conservatism and have no desire to win….wait what, this is an April Fool’s Day post and none of this ever happened. We actually have a minority of the party that really are that dumb? Well shit. We’re doomed aren’t we?”

 

Well shit indeed. Guess we had better start teaching true conservatives ideals starting with fiscal responsibility.

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Filed under Constitution, Election 2014, Evils of Liberalism, GOP, Humor, politics

How pundits and pervasive lies are preventing us from moving forward…

republicans

We need to get our priorities and our facts in order if we’re going to move forward.

A friend of mine, a person whose opinions I deeply respect, said to me “you know it’s really sad that McCain got more votes than Romney.”  And this struck me as very odd, because, if you go and look up the actual totals you’ll see that Romney (60.933 million votes) got more votes than McCain (59.948 million)…about a million more for any liberals who may be reading this (I know you guys have problems with basic math, so I’m just trying to help).

So yes it would have been sad if a conservative like Romney had done worse than a RINO sack of shit like McCain among Republican voters, but it simply isn’t the case. What is sad, however, is that this vicious lie has been repeated so many times that even intelligent people have begun to believe it (like McCain’s lies about Romney being liberal, or most of what Barry has done to further the philosophy of the Big Lie).

And most responsible for this is a certain group of pundits who seem dedicated to this lie that Romney did worse and the secondary lies that go on to explain why Romney got fewer votes–that we lost because we didn’t focus more on social issues, that we have to become isolationists, that we need to have versions of welfare and cronyism of our own, that the government needs more power in certain sectors–you know the Santorum platform…oh, wait it’s all those Ricky supporting dipshits who are the ones who are primarily behind this lie.   It is the same reason that these pundits need to latch onto the minutiae of actual conservatives and scream bloody murder over small problems, but will conveniently ignore the multiple and serious problems of their new Tea Party darlings…not because they’re doing this out of deep conviction, but out of fear.  The fear that if an economic conservative actually wins at this point then their insane social “conservatism” will be discarded by the whole of the nation.  Fear that at this point if a real conservative wins in an environment that they can do something then their meal ticket of peddling anger will dry up.  They’re afraid of the truth that economic and foreign policy conservatives can win, then all the nutty ideas proposed by these pundits will fall by the way side.

But why am I ranting about this?  I’m ranting about this because this is a very illuminating piece of the conservative movement’s larger problem:  We need to look at what does and doesn’t work in elections for Republicans.  And this is something we haven’t done in quite some time.

Even the postmortem of the election by the RNC Party didn’t really get to the heart of what the actual message needs to be.  So let’s look at the history of the Republican Party and what candidate victories actually are.

The history goes something like this: Republicans don’t tend to do well.  Just accept that.  At least conservatives don’t do well compared to liberals on the whole.  We don’t do well getting people out, we don’t tend to inspire.  This is not because we have bad messaging,  this is not because we have bad candidates, this is because all we have to offer is a lot of what people don’t want to buy.   We offer responsibility.  We offer hard work.  We offer gains through effort, merit, work and trial of blood, sweat and tears.  We offer real gains, but real gains aren’t easy compared to Democrats and progressives just promising the world.  ‘We’ll take it from the rich and give it to you, yes you.’  To hell if it will actually work, it’s such a nice dream that people just want to hear it over and over and over again.

But let’s look at the actual cases.

election figures

Here are the numbers.

Here we have the elections, winners, the number of people who voted for both parties, the percentage of the vote and voter turnout.  But raw numbers like this are kind of meaningless.  And we have to consider all three, because a candidate who loses with a high turnout rate might actually have been a better candidate than a candidate who won with a low turnout rate.   Think of it this way: you have two salesmen.  One salesman only sells 25 items to a group of 100 people, another salesman sells 30 items to a group of 200 people.  Now you might want to say that the salesman who sold 30 items is a better salesman–but he’s not because he only got 15% of the group that he was talking to, the other salesman got 25% of the people he was talking to.   So if we just like a percentage of the votes we’re just looking at the 30 and 25– but if we look at the percentage of the vote in context of the voter turnout it begins to look a little different.

And the numbers go like this from the Republicans who got the largest share of the general population.

Percentage of population

Now who got a larger portion of the population than Romney to come out?  Obviously not most Republicans…but let’s look at the specific instances…You have W.’s 2nd run, Reagan’s 2nd, Eisenhower’s 2nd and Nixon’s first run against Kennedy.  Now while not a firm rule, the fact is that the prestige of being president or being Vice President does help (and you see this with Democratic candidates as well). That leaves Wendell Wilkie (who was running against FDR’s third term, so some of the outrage against the idea of a President running for a third time might be somewhat to blame), and Eisenhower’s 1st run. Now with Eisenhower, you have something almost better than being President, you have the title Supreme Allied Commander.  Also you just have to generally exclude Eisenhower’s runs and Nixon’s first run as they weren’t running so much on a platform of policies, but on the name Eisenhower.

Now you can disagree with my logic of excluding some or all of these, but you have to admit that Romney got a larger portion of the nation to come out and vote for him than most Republicans.

So not only did Romney get a larger number of votes than McCain, a larger share of the population than McCain,

This man knew what he was doing. It wasn’t perfect in all ways and he was up against an opponent who promised the world and cheated to get what he couldn’t get through giveaways…but Romney provides us the model for the kind of candidate we need.

and a larger share of the population than most Republicans throughout recent history, let’s not say Romney failed because let’s look at the fact he beat out Reagan’s first run for presidency.  Romney got a larger share of the population to vote for him than Reagan did.  Romney did better than Reagan did in 1980.  Think about that.  Also think about the fact that Reagan almost didn’t win the election in 1980. In 1980 there was a third-party challenger who took away a lot of votes from Carter, and that’s why Reagan won, not because Carter was such a bad president—no the American public is kind of stupid in that respect, they won’t even vote out a terrible person??—no it’s that a challenger came in and stole some of the Democratic Party votes.   Just as Republicans won in 2000 because Ralph Nader came in and stole votes from Gore, just as Bush lost in ‘92 because Ross Perot came in and stole votes.  The sad fact is that in ’80, ’92, and 2000 it wasn’t so much because people liked the winner so much it’s because the incumbent had a challenger siphoning off some of their votes.   And that’s a sad fact, had there not been a challenger, in 1980 we would’ve been stuck with two terms of Carter.  It’s not an idea per se that people are voting for, sometimes it’s just to feel that they can be different.  (It doesn’t appear that (the perpetually appearing to be stoned) Gary Johnson siphoned off enough votes to make a difference, but who knows how many people he convinced to at least stay home, so thanks Gary go fuck yourself.)

So I don’t want to hear that Rodney was a terrible candidate because Romney pulled out people in a way that no other Republican in recent memory seems to be able to do.  And one of the reasons he was able to do this was because Romney didn’t really focus on social issues.  Yes he said he was personally socially conservative but in no way, shape, or form did he ever give the impression that he was going to legislate on that. Notice that he was not going to stand in the way of law.  He did not feel it was the government’s responsibility, especially the federal government’s responsibility, to change and dictate morality in laws.  Romney got people out because he talked about the only two issues that are important: the economy and foreign-policy. Liberty here and liberty abroad.

Now yes you can claim that social issues did come up in the form of idiots like Todd Akin (the man should’ve taken Karl Rove’s advice and shot himself)– but that, an issue with social conservatism, if anything, lost Romney votes.  Social conservatism and those who preach it are the worst enemies of economic liberty and international peace, not its greatest defenders (they’re also their own worst enemies because good economic policy will create the institutions in society that social conservatives love…and they’ll do it without forcing it via law)

‘But, but, I was told by a single idiotic pundit (who shall remain nameless) that had only the Christian voters come out Romney would’ve won.  It’s the fact the evangelicals stayed home, the conservative evangelical voters stayed home and Romney lost.  Actually if you look at the breakdown that’s not quite accurate.  And in fact most of the groups dipshit pundits  want to point to as having been driven off by Romney, actually did better with those groups.  All these claims that Romney was a RINO (made only by people too illiterate to actually read his record) or that we needed a more socially conservative candidate are based on the myth, no, not myth, bald face lie, that conservatives stayed home and didn’t vote for Romney.  I can’t find any actual evidence that can substantiate the claim that the social conservatives did not turn out for Romney.  So anyone who talks about conservatives staying home, and not turning out and not getting out the vote is full of crap.  Now granted we may not have been able to make as many moderates come out, but the fact of the matter is, let’s be honest here, Obama was just manufacturing votes in a lot of the swing states.   In addition Romney’s grand get out the vote program ORCA seems to have crashed (a little too conveniently on Election Day) which hurt in getting out those otherwise moderate voters who leaned towards Romney (but a lot of these problems seemed to have been resolved through RNC efforts in the 2013 governor elections).  The long and short of it is that no one should ever be claiming this bullshit lie that the psychotic populist pundits want to keep proposing that Romney, couldn’t get voters out. He did.  People should not be buying this lie that because he wasn’t a social conservative we lost.  That is not the case.

We lost for a few other reasons.  As I’ve stated before it wasn’t because social conservatives hurt us…so whining to crazy social conservatives or lunatic libertarians is not the answer.  The answer is to get another economic conservative like Romney, and do better on the ground game.  Do better on getting people out…and this is not entirely the responsibility of the candidate.  We cannot be the party of individualists but think that the party on high is the one responsible for winning this thing.  We have to be better at being a grassroots party…and thus I am going to start (hopefully weekly, but you know how I get) suggestions that every single conservative should do to help get conservatives into every level of government to help shrink the size of said government.

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Filed under Conservative, Election 2012, GOP, Long Term Thinking, Mitt Romney, politics, Tea Party

Movies that understand economics #5 and #6 Other People’s Money and Pretty Woman

Movies that understand economics #5 and #6 Other People’s Money and Pretty Woman

Now I have covered both of these movies before, but Pretty Woman and Other People’s Money, so no need to waste your time on a summary of the plots, cover one of the most important economic concepts that people tend to misunderstand: Creative Destruction.

Other People's MoneyIn general, creative destruction is when a company that is not producing as well as its competitors is removed, for one reason or another, from the economy, and the resources it once had are taken up by more innovative and productive members of the economy.  In more practical terms it is when a company begins to fail and stops making profits, when it no longer has any new way to innovate and refuses to change with a changing economy, that investors or venture capitalists come in, buy up the company and sell the pieces to companies.  In short liquidation.

And never have I seen such a perfect description of what economists call creative destruction than in Other People’s Money:

Amen. And amen. And amen. You have to forgive me. I’m not familiar with the local custom. Where I come from, you always say “Amen” after you hear a prayer. Because that’s what you just heard – a prayer. Where I come from, that particular prayer is called “The Prayer for the Dead.” You just heard The Prayer for the Dead, my fellow stockholders, and you didn’t say, “Amen.” This company is dead. I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me. It was dead when I got here. It’s too late for prayers. For even if the prayers were answered, and a miracle occurred, and the yen did this, and the dollar did that, and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead. You know why? Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence. We’re dead alright. We’re just not broke. And you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure. You know, at one time there must’ve been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let’s have the intelligence, let’s have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future. “Ah, but we can’t,” goes the prayer. “We can’t because we have responsibility, a responsibility to our employees, to our community. What will happen to them?” I got two words for that: Who cares? Care about them? Why? They didn’t care about you. They sucked you dry. You have no responsibility to them. For the last ten years this company bled your money. Did this community ever say, “We know times are tough. We’ll lower taxes, reduce water and sewer.” Check it out: You’re paying twice what you did ten years ago. And our devoted employees, who have taken no increases for the past three years, are still making twice what they made ten years ago; and our stock – one-sixth what it was ten years ago. Who cares? I’ll tell you. Me. I’m not your best friend. I’m your only friend. I don’t make anything? I’m making you money. And lest we forget, that’s the only reason any of you became stockholders in the first place. You want to make money! You don’t care if they manufacture wire and cable, fried chicken, or grow tangerines! You want to make money! I’m the only friend you’ve got. I’m making you money. Take the money. Invest it somewhere else. Maybe, maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll be used productively. And if it is, you’ll create new jobs and provide a service for the economy and, God forbid, even make a few bucks for yourselves. And if anybody asks, tell ’em ya gave at the plant. And by the way, it pleases me that I am called “Larry the Liquidator.” You know why, fellow stockholders? Because at my funeral, you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a few bucks in your pocket. Now that’s a funeral worth having!

Creative destruction is often depicted by people who don’t understand economics as evil.  But as shown in both movies, the victims of liquidation are not just randomly picked companies that are targeted just because some evil businessman wanted to hurt someone.  In both films it is made clear that companies that become victims of the kind of takeovers that end in liquidation are not the victim of the investors and liquidators…but victims of failing to change with the time, victims of bad managements, victims of not adapting as any business must to survive because, with the exception of Coca-cola, no company has discovered a recipe for success that should never be changed and subject to innovation.

And both speak to the fact that the goal is not just to hurt people (in Other People’s Money, as shown above he points out pretty-woman-1how creative destruction leads to investments that will benefit people, and in Pretty Woman in describing how the employees are not just going to be thrown out).

And while creative destruction usually works by allowing more productive companies to use the equipment, land, and human capital more effectively, both of these movies show that it can take other forms.  In Other People’s Money it is in the form of changing the operations of the company to fit the new economy, in Pretty Woman is it putting the company under new and more competent management (don’t kid yourself, that’s what happened—old management was destroyed and new creative management under Richard Gere’s company was taking over, if the owner’s name on the letter head wasn’t changing is irrelevant).

Economies are a lot like ecosystems. In both the rule is adapt or die.  And in both you need carrion feeders who can allow the dead material to work its way back into the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.  Some people who don’t understand his important function may view the work of liquidators in economics, or carrion feeders in nature as repulsive, but only because they don’t understand the valuable and needed process that they perform. If you do not have something that can take the dead and dying companies and move their resources to where they can be of more help (like, oh, by saying this or that company is too big to fail, and thus preventing it’s needed death) you only get systems that continually get worse and worse and a drain on the economy and as it so happens the taxpayers and it will fail again given time because it did not change – sometimes smaller works out better – more competition more innovation.

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November, movies, and being thankful for property rights

It’s November…which means Thanksgiving (and Chanukah this year) and as with every year I remember this video about what we should all be thankful for:

Now I can give you one great educational video after another on the beauty of economics in action, like this one…

Or I can regale you with long and detailed, well thought-out arguments by Friedman, Sowell, Hayek, Williams, or myself….but let’s be honest, you’re reading this blog, you already get it…but most people don’t get economics. “The Dismal Science.” Most people don’t know anything about it beyond that rich people are evil and that the Dow Jones number on Wall Street and the unemployment numbers are all you need to know about. Maybe also something about the debt. Maybe. And where do they get these terrible ideas (besides willful ignorance in an age of information)…why popular culture, of course.

And who can really blame them with such thrilling examples in pop culture as Justin Bieber telling a reporter that it was such a shame that his body guard didn’t have enough insurance to pay for all of his pregnant wife’s needs and had to pay out of pocket, which is why we need more government healthcare (shame that the bodyguard didn’t work for someone who, I don’t know, could afford to give his employees better healthcare). Or even when it’s not the functionally retarded you still see a complete lack of understanding about economics, as in the case of the show Once Upon a Time…the town has been there for 20 years, and no one from the outside world can find it, yet somehow the technology, the cars, the fashions, and even the news all seems to come from the outside world (that is one hell of a curse to constantly be providing all of those supplies and resources). I could list more examples of popular culture having no conception of economics than Scheherazade had stories.

Keynes

This is more or less how Hollywood sees economics…

This is a problem. Because while it is easy to get people to see the light of reason once you make at least one in-road…with the majority of culture showing something quite different than the realities of economics it becomes rather odd to see something correct. However, there are a few films and TV shows that show a bare minimum understanding of economics and over the course of this month, leading up to our wonderful Thanksgiving, I will be going over a couple dozen movies that actually do show the correct fundamentals of economics that when understood can only lead to capitalism.

I not only hope that you read and enjoy but that you begin to share a few of these to help others understand what real economics are is.

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Real Change in Education: Part I

 

There is a lot of brouhaha over Common Core right now. Education Personally I am tired of idiots blaming every stupid Obama Administration policy, every idiotic Dept. of Education directive, every factually incorrect statement made by a book publisher, and every dumbass move by an individual state on the Common Core.  The Common Core is minimum standards dealing with math, reading and writing and a nation wide test that comes with those standards.  Is it as high as we really need?  No, but it is higher than what most states used to have. …but guess what, any state that adopts Common Core can put in standards that exceed it.  Also the Common Core standards were a state pushed initiative, not a federal one, so stop saying this is overreach by the federal government—it isn’t.

We are conservatives, we’re supposed to be the informed and educated people…but if we keep stupidly blaming things that have nothing to do with the Common Core on the Common Core then we appear uninformed.

This link above goes to the actual Common Core standard.  Read them before you attack them. 

We don’t blame science because liberals shout their BS religion of global warming.

We don’t blame the Constitution for the fact that liberals violate our rights in the name of the Constitution.

Common Core State Standards.jpg

Common Core Standards are good..the problem is that any idiot publisher can put the words “Common Core aligned”

Then why should we blame the Common Core standards, read them there is nothing wrong in them because some idiot liberal states are doing a lot of things that aren’t in the Common Core (but using its name).

The standards are fine.  Read them and tell me if you find anything objectionable…it’s certain that liberal states and the way they’re implementing them/adding to them that is the problem.

If we don’t attack the right thing, if we don’t understand who the enemy is, then we won’t win.

But since some people need to attack something in education let me suggest 9 other things we could focus on that would actually lead to better schools.

 

1.Get Rid of Useless Professional Development

Tied to a lot of complaints about Common Core is the whining about it will cause teachers to teach to the test.  This (A) assume that one on can only teach the standards and nothing else and (B) that teachers can only teach in one way.  In reality there is a simple truth—Bad teachers will only ever teach to the test, good teachers will always teach what is on the test and go beyond. The reason you have standards is that you’re trying to limit the damage done by bad teachers.  I know everyone likes to point out all the terrible points of No Child Left Behind (and there are many) but the fact is that putting in testing put in a lower bar that even bad teachers had to meet.  This was a great thing because you at least had a standard, any standard, in some parts of the country finally and not just bad teachers skating students without any concern for whether or not they learn anything.  And teaching to the test is teaching the minimum standards which is what we want if the standards are high enough.  Tests are supposed to reflect the items learned – duh!

If you actually want teachers to not teach to the test then get better teachers, don’t get rid of the test.

And how do you get better teachers?  Well the first thing you need to do is get rid of the things that drive good teachers out.

One of those things is professional development.  What is professional development, you ask?  Standards vary from state to state, but professional development is a requirement that to keep your teaching credential you have to take so many hours of professional development or courses so that you can continue to improve as a teacher.  It sounds like a good idea, that teachers should continue to refine their craft.  But while it sounds really nice, it isn’t.  What it turns into is taking state approved courses on teaching strategies that no competent teacher would ever use or lectures on information that has no discernable use in education.

For instance I had to take a two week professional development course last year on “Structured English Immersion” to keep my Arizona teaching credential.  Structured English Immersion is fancy teacher speak for “how to teach English to kids who don’t speak English.”  It cost me several hundred dollars to take this course.  I teach high school and not a single thing discussed in this waste of my time and money could ever even theoretically be used in a high school course. Professional development is supposedly there so we can learn the most up to date research on child development and teaching practices…but strangely enough the most recent study listed in the course material was published during the Bush Administration (no…I don’t mean W.). Yeah real cutting edge right there.  Not to mention the entire tone of the course was that you have to coddle children who don’t speak English and not encourage them to actually learn English, speak in English, read English and use English in every aspect of their life (you know, what actually works).

All other professional development is like this.  For instance I’m also going to have to take a few college courses between now and then (again out of pocket) to keep my credential up.  Now while I’m going to try and pick courses that relate to my field, most teachers pick college courses that relate to Education…Education courses are a lot like the above described Structured English Immersion…outdated bullshit that will never help you reach students.

And we charge teachers for this…because teachers make so much money that they can just easily drop money on things like this without any worry.

Or maybe a lot of good teachers realize they can get jobs in other fields that don’t attempt to fleece them at every turn (you don’t want to see my fees that I also have to pay to keep up my teaching credential).

But, some schools pay for their teacher’s professional development, so it’s not like every teacher is getting fleeced (they’re just losing time).  A lot of public schools have in-service days every year to ensure their teachers get their hours.  On average they’ll hold about 5 of these days a year…now let’s say your school of 700 students has 20 teachers, each teacher making $52,000 a year on average (over the course of about 190 contract days, or about $273.68 a day), so to have those teachers take out 5 days out of the year for this sort of in-service professional development costs the taxpayer $27,368.42 a year for a school of only 20 teachers (plus of course the costs of time it took to set this up, to bring in someone to do the training or have a teacher trained to do the training, and the costs that administrators will also participate in this stuff…so let’s round it up to $30,000).  $30K a year for each school in America paid with taxpayer dollars (2009/2010 – 98,817 total public schools = $2,964,510) wasted on irrelevant information that won’t help you be a better teacher.

How about this, let’s just require every teacher to get a subscription to the Journal of Higher Education and Kaplan which will actually keep them abreast of research in education and save about $29,000 a year by not having this bullshit.

The fact is this is a scam.  It’s a scam for states to make money off approving the courses, off of charging teachers over and over again, for the colleges that make money after forcing teachers to participate.  In all my years teaching I have had nearly a month of my life taken up in professional development…not one iota of it was worth a damn.  Teachers get better by teaching, by observing other teachers, by talking with their colleagues and by self-reflection.  THEY DO NOT LEARN BY SITTING IN STUPID COURSES HEARING OUTDATED MATERIAL THAT IS NOT RELEVANT TO THEM.  This is a scam for states and colleges to make money and nothing more.  It wastes taxpayer money and drives out competent people from the field who have better things to do than deal with this stupidity.*

 

2.  Fire Administration.

Administrators are something that schools tend to pile on.  Superintendents. Assistant Superintendents.  Principals.  Vice Principals. Deans. Counselors.  This list could go on for a very long time.  In fact since 1970 non-teaching staff has grown by 138% while student enrollments have grown only by about 8%.  Any test standard you want to look at for quality of education has remained about the same in that time.  So all those paper pushers seem to do nothing…but they do get paid. And if you think teachers getting paid 52K a year is high, you should see what administrator’s charge.

I think it is safe to say that 90% of school administrators and non-teaching staff are there only to fill out federal/state/local red tape.  Get rid of the red tape and get rid of most of the administrators.  They serve no real purpose.  And the few that do serve a purpose are grossly overpaid.

And more often than not they serve as a hindrance to good teachers rather than help.  The fewer administrators you have I promise you, you will see an improvement in the quality of education.

At the very least the next time your local school tries to pass a bond or tax ask them how many administrators have been axed and how many have taken major pay cuts.  If everyone doesn’t fall into one of those categories then vote anything they want down until they make serious cuts of useless people.  Do it for the children.

 

3.  Hold Back Students Who Aren’t Making the Grade

This year Arizona is making a lot of news by saying they are probably going to hold back a whole 1,500 third graders who aren’t ready to move onto 4th grade. 

Lots of people are whining about how this hurts the poor students who are already struggling…What people should be bitching about is that we’re not holding students back in grades K-2 and 4-11 as well—and in all 50 states and all U.S. territories.  If children don’t understand something they need to be held back in the grade they were having problems in until they get the needed understanding.  I don’t care about complaints of self-esteem…trust me students will feel much better about themselves if they aren’t constantly behind and constantly feeling like they’re too stupid to get it.  And holding them back a grade can help in preventing this.  Not everyone progresses at the same rate mentally and some students (a lot of them in fact) need to be held back.

And the added bonus is that teachers in higher grades will now no longer be wasting time going over concepts from previous grades because half the class should have been held back at some point or having to waste half their day on the kid who should have been held back two or three times.  This means all the students will get more out of every single course.

Coming tomorrow suggestions 4-6

 

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Filed under Capitalism, Conservative, Constitution, Education, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid, politics

GOP, Let’s ask what worked and what didn’t…

Do you ever wonder…

If Republicans would spend as much energy and time on attacking Democrats as they do their own party, if they might actually get somewhere?

So the last couple of weeks have once again revealed that the Republican Party’s perpetual need to shoot itself in the foot.   This of course is a side effect of who is in the Republican Party.  Unlike the Democrats (and people who voted Santorum, and Paulbots) most Republicans (both the conservatives and libertarians in the party) tend to be free thinkers…which means we don’t march lock step with the commands of the party and/or our chosen savior to blindly follow.  Unfortunately, while usually a good thing, this does lead to a little bit of a problem when trying to organize. We are all going our separate ways while our opposition, while idiotic and wrong, marches to the beat of a single drummer and provides a single, constant, well defended wall that we cannot break by not working together.

Does this mean that we should all just march lockstep just like they do?  No.  But it does mean we should try to think more long term than they do and work toward our long term goals rather than doing what feels good at the moment.

The shutdown is a good example. We should have never made this about Obamacare because even just a bit of forethought would tell us that if we did that then the only way to win was to hold a shutdown all the way through until the new congress is sworn in in 2015 (because we know damn well that Obama and Reid are too damn stupid to admit that their law is a horrific nightmare), and this only works if (A) Republicans hold firm (which we know isn’t going to happen) and (B) that the American people see that it’s the Democrats who are at fault and the House is doing what it’s supposed to in using the power of the purse (these are the people who voted for Obama, do you really think they’re going to see that?).  If we want to get rid of Obamacare then the first, thing we need to do is get rid of the Senate.  Nothing happens until then.  Nothing.  But we had short sighted fools going their own way saying we can stop this here and now (exactly how when we don’t hold the Senate, White House or Supreme Court is a bit beyond me… I actually saw a conservative commentator complain that the GOP is giving in even though the GOP “is in a stronger position than it was during the partial government shutdown in 1995/96.”  Yes right now with control of one house we’re in such a better position than in 1995/96 when we controlled both the House and the Senate and had Dick Morris screaming in the White House to give into the GOP.  We’re in such a stronger position now than we were then.  (What the hell are some conservative pundits smoking?)

But no, some genius thought that Obamacare was the line in the sand to draw—to hell if Ryan’s work on saving the budget would actually lead to more long term good, to hell that letting Obamacare go forward would be its own worst enemy, no let’s draw a line in the sand on this silly item.  So we shut down everything over Obamacare, and thus we killed all our other options.  Good call.  But once we were in the shutdown we should have not budged an inch.  Yeah getting there was dumb, but, a lot like getting your girlfriend pregnant, it may have been a series of shortsighted choices that got you into this situation, but now for the sake of intelligence and character you only have one option.  Did we hold firm? No.  Why?  Because again we can’t hold a united front.   When we were holding firm we had people insulting Republicans that they were RINOs and were going to get primaries out (so if you’re a Republican who really does believe that you will hold the line better than the Democrat who would trounce your Tea Party replacement, if you really believe that you’re doing what is best for the country you have to make a deal to ensure you keep your seat and that a Democrat doesn’t take it…not saying everyone was this noble but I’m sure one or two were).

Then we were even more stupid.  We had Republicans vote for the damn compromise (that gave us nothing).  This I don’t quite understand. It could pass the Senate without a single Republican vote, and it could pass the House with only a few Republicans voting for it (or just staying home and not voting at all).  Did we organize anything like this to at least be able to say that ‘We did not vote for this crap, this is the Democrats and all the Democrats.”  Nope, we didn’t even organize that well.

And as I hinted above, it’s not just the elected officials.  We attack our own, shout everyone down as RINOs at the drop of a hat.   Now some will say that I’m attacking the Tea Party…actually I’m only attacking part of it.  I’m beginning to notice there are two parts to the Tea Party. One is the “let’s shrink government in power, size and expenditure” let’s call this the Values Tea Party…then there seems to a second side, the “Everyone who does not agree with me 100% is a goddamn RINO and must be purged from the party.”  Let’s call this the Ideological Tea Party.  One side wants to win and is willing to make logical concessions if they need to but is just tired of the GOP ALWAYS making concessions even when they don’t need to…the other side wants the goddamn Spanish Inquisition (which I really wasn’t expecting) and purge all non-believers from the ranks of the Republican party (of course as it’s a constantly shifting set of values it’s hard to say what is and isn’t real conservatism to these people…but if you don’t perform a miracle right now and end Obamacare, overturn a hundred years of bad court decisions, revoke 200 years of bad executive decisions, clean the tax code, impeach Obama, destroy all terrorists, and turn water into wine you won’t vote for them…and anything short must be because you’re a filthy RINO and not, oh I don’t know, because you’re only in control of one half of one branch of the government.)

What I think some people don’t realize is that we need Republicans from all parts of the country to win (even blue states) which means that those Republicans have to be more moderate than say a Republican from a completely red state.  There are Republicans who are moderate on some things (mainly social issues).  There are Republicans who come from very blue states but believe they should honor their constituents beliefs on certain things (I don’t particularly like people who feel this way, but I find the people who bitch the most about these Republicans are the same ones who use “the will of the people” as justification for why legislatures should do this or that…pick one and only one, should legislatures use their own judgment (a republic) or should they be beholden to the will of the people (a democracy).

Goldwater Reagan Buckley RINO

RINOs as defined by some in the Tea Party right now.

By the standards that the pundits are now setting up William F. Buckley Jr., Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater would be considered RINOS (let me remind you that Reagan as governor passed more liberal laws than Romney, for much the same reason, because he was dealing with a very liberal legislature, and as president he cut LOTS of deals with the Democrats).

Do you think perhaps, that as a voting block we’re beginning to get a little strange?

Yes there are few very legitimate RINOs who will sell the party out at the drop of a hat.  McCain, Graham, Christie.  I’m probably forgetting a couple more.  BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF GOP actually do believe in what they are doing, they may be wrong in that belief, they might get a better deal if they held out, but just because they are wrong in a tactical belief doesn’t make them liberal.

Establishment vs Tea Party

This picture should not even exist. We have bigger problems, namely liberals. Until they’re gone we should not be attacking each other.

So first off to anyone talking about putting up a primary challenger to any Republican they disagree with I want you to ask two questions.

First.

Will the Tea Party candidate you’re supporting win in an election against the Democratic challenger in that state/district?

And you need to be very, very honest here.  I liked Sharon Angel and Christie O’Donnell…but they were bad calls for Nevada and Delaware…and if you don’t think it would have been better to run a more moderate Republican and remove Harry Reid from office, you’re crazy.  Absolutely crazy.  This is the old Buckley Rule: Vote for the most conservative candidate who can win.  Because even the most moderate Republican is better than scum that is Harry Reid.

Now this may not be enough.  Because let’s be honest there are scum that jump ship when the Senate gets to that 50/50 mark.  And again you need to be honest here when you ask:

Will this the elected official you’re trying to get rid of jump ship if given a chance?

For people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, yeah vote them out.  They’ll backstab the Republican Party every chance they get and will switch to Democrats if they’re offered enough if the it ever gets that close (As say when Jim Jeffords back stabbed the Republicans, changed parties and gave the Senate to the Democrats in 2001). They’re Democrats already for all intents and purpose because they have no character (oh, I would like to thank Sarah Palin for supporting McCain over the Tea Party candidate…thanks Sarah, you really helped the Republic with that move.)

So if it’s yes to both answers, sure get a primary going.  Even if it’s yes to just the second answer, get rid of the idiot. But if they’re just a moderate Republican who doesn’t always vote with the party but will give us control of the Senate or let us keep control of the House, they’re better than a Democrat. As we have learned, who controls the houses of Congress has massive authority and it is better that we dethrone Harry Reid even if we have to have every seat go to a moderate. Standing on principal when it will only hurt your cause in the long and short run isn’t standing on principal—it’s idiocy.

So just as a little reminder

There’s an election about a year away.  We need to hold onto ALL of our seats in the Senate (which means it might not be bright to primary out a moderate if that means the libs will pick it up…even a moderate Republican can still give us control of the Senate, which we’ve learned can be a very powerful thing) and we need to pick up at least 6 more seats.

Now might be the time to remember that as much as we hate some in our party we hate the Democrats even more.  We can purge the party when we’re in a position to…in the mean time I might actually like to not have to see Harry Reid’s stupid face for another few years…

Schmuck in Cheif

This man and all he represents is what we should be working against…not each other.

Or did you want to have Harry Reid in charge of the Senate if, god help us, another Supreme Court Justice needs to be replaced?

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Some thoughts on term limits

So last night I posted on tumblr my concerns about term limits.

Tumbrl post

My original comments.

The fact that after enacting them in California and Colorado seem to have gotten worse.  I admit that there are a lot of factors there and term limits may not be responsible.  But my request was that, surely there had to be some study of states upon adopting term limits and what the effects were.

Did it raise or lower corruption and graft?  Did it improve or worsen the fiscal situation?  Was there an increase or decrease in the severity of gerrymandering?  Things like this.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

All I can say is the last 24 hours have been enlightening, but in a different way.

Some idiot who claims to represent a PAC pushing for term limits started harassing me with talking points but refused to actually show any proof for why his side was something I should adopt.

His argument boiled down to a few points.

1) Term limits are popular.  Great argument. Lots of things have been popular, Socrates drinking hemlock, crucifixion, Nazism, Communism, Obama, Obamacare…all popular at least at one point or another. But there’s this little point, what is popular is not always right.  Granted democracy and looking to what is popular is in many cases the best of bad options (but you’ll notice that our system of government is designed to specifically ignore the tyranny of the majority).

The worst argument a supposed conservative can make is that “well 70% of the people want it.”

We’re conservatives, we’re the party of logic and reason and ethics.  We supposed to know that the whims of the people are fickle and what is despised one day is popular the next, and vice versa.  We’re supposed to make the argument that it will work, that evidence shows, that it’s what is right.  If we can’t do that, if all we can appeal to is the whims of the hoi polloi being on your side at the moment, like liberals do, then we admit we have no proof for our argument.

2) There is no proof because looking at how it worked in states is irrelevant.  This one is particularly stupid as that’s what state laws are for.  One of the true virtues of federalism is that we have 50 little legislative laboratories, what works in one state is adopted by a few, what works in a few is adopted by the many, what works for the many might need to be made federal law (not always, something could work for all 50 states and still shouldn’t be a federal issue).  So to just say that what happened in the states doesn’t matter, is either unspeakably naïve, or, as I worry, the evidence actually shows term limits might not be the answer.

3) Career Politicians are bad.

The argument goes that all career politicians are bad, thus we should get rid of career politicians.  The argument that if something is bad, then change is good. And not wanting change is bad because it’s giving into fear, and we should be hopeful…

…and I’m sure we all know what happens when you only care about hope and change and not, you know, will it work, or asking “Yes this is bad, but is there a better way or is this just the best of bad options.”

The worst laws in history are mostly the result of people saying ‘this is bad’ and changing it for the sake of change and not stopping to think will change actually be better.

Here is my problem.  Let’s say you have 100 politicians.

Now you are left with only two logical positions.  Either they’re all bad, or you have a mix of mostly bad and a few good ones (I’m not stupid enough to consider the possibility that they’re all good)*.  Now if they’re all bad then this is just a pointless argument, because then there is no point in caring about how you select them.  Let’s for the sake of argument be very hopeful (and because I like round numbers) and say that in our group of 100 politicians, 90 are bad and 10 are good.

George WIll

This is a nice thought…but it could just as easily mean the corrupt will just be more corrupt to get their payoff in a short amount of time…show me proof whether my thought or Will’s prevails…

Now we have to look if politicians get worse as they stay in office longer.  And when you think about it, it’s hard to find anexample of a great politician who became worse with time.  Think about it, John McCain is a worthless piece of offal, but not because he’s spent his life in politics (I think everyone forgets he got caught taking bribes in his first term as Senator).  He’s always been a corrupt politician.  It just seems that politicians are more corrupt for two reasons (1) because the longer they’re there, the more chances we have to catch them at the corruption that started on day one and (2) the longer they are there the more they learn to work the system and with that comes making deals to get something in return.  Now some politicians make deals to enrich themselves (more than I can name, these are usually the one who were corrupt from day one) or they are making deals to get something they do actually believe is good for the nation but ideologues only look at the compromise and not what they got which makes even the honest attempting to do good seem bad in the eyes of the most knee jerk commentators.  So when you think about it very few politicians become bad the longer they’re there. It’s not that power corrupts, it’s that power attracts the corruptible.  So a good politician, a Romney, a Goldwater is not necessarily ruined by their time in the seat.  And even some of the questionable ones are still to the benefit of the public because of what they have learned over time…I may have issues with Newt Gingrich on a lot of points, but you can’t deny he was an effective Speaker who relentlessly pushed for conservative policies and got us a lot of what he promised…and he could do this because of his experience.

So the amount of good turning to bad probably isn’t as high as we think.  Let’s say that over time 2 of the 10 good ones go bad…because politicians are apparently like milk left out overnight (at least in the mind of people pushing for term limits).

But let’s put term limits in.

Now of the 90 bad ones…since their constituents already elected a terrible politician we are almost guaranteed that they’ll be putting another idiot in.  If we’re very lucky we’ll get one good one.  So we have 89-1.

But let’s look at the 10 good ones.  You term limited out the 10 good ones and now it’s a crap shoot again if you can even get a good candidate.  In all likelihood your 10 good ones are replaced by the law of averages with 9 bad and one good politician (as I feel the 10 good ones will, by simply statistics have candidates with the 9-1 split running, so I just feel it’s statistically unlikely that they all be replaced by good ones).  So now instead of 10 good politicians to the 100, you have 2.

Delete them all

No, because there are a FEW good ones in there.

And you see this in California, which went from occasionally having Republican control of the house in the legislature to never having control since 1997(term limits passed in 1990).  Granted demographic shifts could be responsible, so I’m in need of studies to show what actually happens for states I’m not as familiar with when term limits are passed.

Now maybe I’m wrong and the statistics hold across the board and we still wind up with a 90-10 split.  Which would mean that we’ve wasted time and money on term limits to have zero effect.  Money and time to get a Constitutional law passed which changes nothing.  Not seeing the upside here.

And I just can’t see a logical situation which makes it more likely that bad politicians will be replaced with good ones. I see term limits replacing bad with bad and good with bad.

So just because its career politicians are bad, doesn’t mean that getting rid of them is good.

Now I could be wrong.  Term limits could lead to better government.  Hence my call for evidence on what happens.  I did a quick search and couldn’t find any.  And the fact is that the person who was pushing term limits so hard had nothing but these three bad arguments.

Now, it may simply be that this idiot was not well informed and there is evidence to the contrary, but show it to me.  Otherwise I see actually limiting the power of government (so that whoever is in will have less ability to ruin our lives), and Voter ID and raising the voting age (because it matters more who is electing the politicians than the politicians) as being a more effective avenue to put our time and effort into as any of these would require nothing less than a Constitutional Amendment…and if we’re going to exert that kind of effort it better be for something that will actually work.

But again if you have any study or evidence that term limits actually do lead to better government, less corruption, and more fiscally responsible legislatures (or any improvement other than new names) please share it with me and I will trumpet it over every social media avenue I have.

*This should really be on a sliding scale of good, okay, eh, bad, horrible, Obama.  But that would get too complicated to calculate, the general rule still holds.

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Filed under character, Congress, Conservative, Constitution, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid, politics

Basic Math for Liberals

I am tired of arguing with idiots about unemployment numbers.  Stupid people (liberals) seem to think that so long as the unemployment numbers drop that this shows the economy is growing. Now I know those of you who know something about economics and statistics are about to have an aneurism over how stupid that is, but let me go over the basics of how we get unemployment numbers…and what you should really be looking at.

Minimum WageNow I’m going to try and use round numbers to help make this as simple as possible (and I’m going to gloss over a few complexities so we can get to the heart of the matter).

Let’s say you have a population of 200,000 people.

100,000 people want a job.  That means you have a job participation rate of 50%.

Now let’s say that 95,000 of those people looking for a job have a job, and 5,000 of those people don’t have a job.  That means your unemployment is 5%.  And let’s say of those 95,000 employed, 5,000 (5% of the those in the work force) of those are working at part time jobs but want full time jobs.  These people are called underemployed. The underemployment rate is the unemployment rate plus those who are underemployed.  (Under employment is usually calculated as the percent of underemployed plus the rate of unemployment, but to keep the numbers separate and simple we won’t add them together here).

Now, what idiots look at is the unemployment rate.  This is dumb, and let me explain why.

Let’s say the government does something monumentally stupid (so, status quo) like raise the minimum wage.  This will cause employers to pull back on hiring.  The first thing that will happen is that employers will either through firing the most inept or through simple attrition (when somebody leaves you don’t fill their position).  This will cause the unemployment numbers to go up.  Let’s say that there are now only 94,000 jobs, or an unemployment rate of 6%.  And idiots will be rightfully concerned…but not for long.

Why?  Because the first ones hit by minimum wage increases are young people who, without experience aren’t worth the higher wage the employer has to pay, and older people. Those who have a business are not willing to put in the money for training as it will not work as a long term investment.  And since these groups know they can’t get a job they will either continue living with mom and dad or go live with their kids and just stop looking for work.  Let’s say 2,000 people just give up looking for work. So that now means you have 98,000 looking for work, and 94,000 with a job.  Guess what unemployment is DOWN TO 4.1%  !!!! Isn’t that great! Raising the minimum wage lowered unemployment from 5% to 4.1%!!!  Of course since the participation rate dropped form 50% to 49%, that means that 1,000 fewer people are employed now, but the unemployment number dropped!

And then it gets worse. The rise in minimum wage causes inflation (as it always does) and that means companies that aren’t employing minimum wage positions will have to lay off employees or use attrition practices.  So they lay off 1,000 employees. Now we’re at 98,000 looking for work and 93,000 employed.  Back to 5.1% unemployment.  But don’t worry those 1,000 will soon find minimum wage jobs and kick out 1,000 other less qualified people from those jobs. So now you instead of 5,000 people underemployed, you now have 6,000. Underemployment has jumped from 5% to 8.8%!  But don’t worry because another 1,000 people are probably going to give up looking for work (probably more actually but let’s keep the numbers nice and round).  So now only 97,000 want to be employed.  Oh look unemployment back to 4.1% and underemployment is now only 6.1%.  It’s a miracle the unemployment numbers and underemployment numbers dropped.  Things must be doing great!

But no.  In this situation while the unemployment rate started at 5% and dropped to 4.1%, that masks the fact that there are 2,000 fewer jobs. And a 1,000 more people are earning less than they would like.  (And let’s ignore the inflation that’s going on and the fact that most of the other employed people probably aren’t getting raises – but their personal costs just went up.)

So we can see the unemployment rate is very misleading and what is important, first and foremost is the participation rate and followed by that the underemployment rate.

So when Obama touts the unemployment numbers are down keep in mind a few things.

The participation rate is at its lowest level since 1978! From a peak of just over 67% we are down to just over 63% (a 4% drop, keep in mind my example only included a 1% drop).  And this drop in participation does not seem to have come anywhere near to an end. 

 

Second keep in mind that underemployment (this is the calculation of both those underemployed and those unemployed) has gone from 7.0% in 2000 () to 17.4% (a 10% increase, and my example only had 1.1% increase).

So don’t tell me that the economy is doing well because the unemployment number is down. It’s not.  It’s doing terribly.

And it’s not just raising minimum wage that does this (and yes raising minimum wage always does this)…it’s regulations and taxes and oversight and red tape.  All government action increases the factors that make employers want to hire fewer employees. And this may be not so great for depriving people of income, hope, and jobs….but as we’ve seen it can be great for getting the unemployment numbers down. I mean if everyone would just give up looking for work, we could have 0% unemployment.

 

 

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