Tag Archives: Fear

Biden’s proposes $15 minimum wage…what should we really do about that?

So let’s talk about Biden’s $15 an hour minimum wage proposal.

I could talk about how this doesn’t need to be in a bill about COVID relief, but those who believe that this is an important issue will take the ‘take advantage of any opportunity opening.’ And since both sides have foolishly engaged in that behavior, there is no chance of arguing for not doing it again because no one wants to be rational and seek polite behavior that will make politics more stable right now.

I could talk about how this will make a moderate increase in inflation and probably a massive increase in the amount of unemployment for those who do not have higher education while also negatively affecting minority groups across the board. But economists have been banging that drum for years, and if you’re not going to listen to their facts in all those previous times, then why would you now.

I could talk about how this will even further increase incentives to mechanize and automate as much as possible as the machines will be so much more attractive as they now have to be worth $14.99, not the $13.49 set by the highest state minimum wage in Washington. Because again, you’re not concerned with economics…or apparently that Biden’s plan doesn’t have nearly enough investment in education to counter the fact this will put a lot of people out of jobs.

I’m also not going to point out that this will kill the economies in all those red states that still are at the national level of $7.25…meaning that vast numbers of those people in those red states are going to move to places that have better economies…meaning the MAGA idiots are going to move into other states and this will probably shift the electoral college map a little more to the red, which, right now, is a terrible idea. (I may have no deep abiding love for the Democrats, but right now, the opposition is a bunch of Nazis, so I have to throw in with the liberal idiots until the opposition can stop being evil).

No, what I’m going to point out is the continual problem all opponents of minimum wage increases have. They don’t come up with better ideas.

Let’s go over how all problems go—housing, minimum wages, unions, health care, climate change. One side identifies a problem. They then blow it out of proportion, making something that is a serious problem only for a small segment of the population for a period of time and makes it seem like it affects almost everyone for perpetual periods of time. This works because people are, regrettably, easily susceptible to fear. People fear they won’t have enough, so they fear they won’t have income or healthcare, They’re afraid of what they can’t control, and the weather is always the thing that none of us can control. They fear they won’t be needed anymore, so they fear an economy that requires constant change and growth. And, of course, there is the fear of the other that dominates the mental processes of too many people. They then suggest a solution that makes the situation worse. The opposition to this lousy proposal then does two things that don’t work (and I certainly have been guilty of this) they either try to argue that the problem isn’t that big. We shouldn’t freak out, and they argue that we shouldn’t do anything because what the other side suggested is a bad idea. The problem here is that if people are afraid, they’re not going to listen to reason. It took me too long to realize this, but at least I have realized it…unlike so many. You can’t reason with a person who is afraid, and if you try, you’re going to lose. And if you suggest that we shouldn’t do anything about the situation they’re afraid of, then you’re going to lose.

However, better would be to propose something that addresses the small issue that people were afraid of and deal with serious issues, and not only soothe people’s fears but fix the real problems.

For instance, when Obama suggested a terrible, bloated, pork-filled monstrosity of a healthcare plan that just exacerbated the problems it was meant to fix, the right should have come out with a that would have solved the existing problems…like every citizen in the country gets sent a voucher for $3000. Every private insurance company to stay in business has to offer a plan covering all major medical, long-term care, and emergency medical costs for $3,000. If you want better coverage, you can pay for it. If your employer wants to negotiate a group deal that employees can sign over their voucher and get a more robust plan through the company policy, they can. And Medicaid, Medicare, and a dozen smaller bureaucracies in the state and federal budget can just be disbanded. Everyone gets coverage, less government, costs less, and no forcing people to buy things (if you don’t want to use your voucher, that’s your call, it would be a stupid choice, but it’s still your choice). But no, they just said, let’s not do that.

And the same with minimum wage.

We could argue why the minimum wage is a terrible idea, why it will hurt economies and growth, and most importantly, the people it is most claims to want to help. But those people who are afraid won’t be comforted by the idea that is remaining with the status quo they’re afraid of.

So what should those who know the minimum wage is a terrible idea be proposing?

We’ll it may sound like beating a dead horse on this website but, the Universal Basic Income.

Unlike a minimum wage that will only benefit some for a tune of about $20K a year (taxed at the federal and state, with social security and Medicare also taken out) with still all the fear that comes with the possibility of losing your job…we could give EVERY adult citizen $1,200 a month, free of all taxes, and relieve not only the fear of not having a safety net but there are so many other benefits. People wouldn’t waste time filling out forms for unemployment or welfare, which can take over forty hours a week and leaves no time to find a job or get the education you might need to get a new job. We could eliminate the boondoggles of Social Security, SNAP, unemployment benefits, or the fear that comes that if you earn too much, you will be thrown off welfare. There would no longer be the incentives in the current welfare programs not to get married or get a promotion—just the security of knowing that no matter what, you will have a safety net.

And as a net bonus, because we would have a Universal Basic Income, that would mean we could eliminate the minimum wage. You know all those reasoned arguments on how raising the minimum wage hurts employment numbers and prevents people from getting experience…well, the reverse is true too. With no minimum wage, employers would be more willing to hire low-skilled workers at younger ages meaning that more people would necessary job experience and opportunities to be promoted earlier in life at lower education levels. If the positive effects of that aren’t apparent, then I think you oppose a minimum wage increase not because it makes good economic sense but because one party promotes it. And that is the worst reason ever to oppose something.

So your options are (A) oppose a minimum wage increase and lose (B) support a minimum wage increase and have ill economic effects (C) support a UBI which would eliminate vast swaths of government interference in the economy, promote growth, and reduce people’s worries about instability. And reducing that fear is one of the key reasons we have a government in the first place because when those fears are left unchecked, you have a second French Revolution.

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Filed under Budget, Government is useless, UBI, Welfare

Best Halloween Cinema #30: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

So begins the list of the #30 best things to watch for Halloween (I by no means claim this is a definitive list and the ordering is rather arbitrary).

We start this month of horror films off with a TV show. But not just any TV show, the single greatest TV show in the history of human civilization (at least up to this point…Whedon could easily come out with something new that would surpass it in a few years). That show is of course Buffy The Vampire Slayer. High tragedy, high comedy, deep understanding of the human condition, skill in writing, acting and directing, and of course a hopeful view of humanity that forgiveness is possible and that people can grow and improve themselves. There is simply no show in the history of television that has dealt such profound philosophical themes without being heavy handed and with characters who were human and never just two dimensional cutouts who were allowed to followed a predictable pattern.

The reason such a great work of art gets put last in this list is that it’s really not a horror story. Yes there are vampires and werewolves and monsters of all stripes. But even though it has all the tropes of horror, it is not focused on death as any good horror story is, rather Buffy is focused on life, specifically the growing up part of life. And in this respect it works as a good counterbalance to everything that’s going to come after, but that does not mean it does not have its horrifying moments.

So let’s do a quick rundown of some of the more terrifying episodes.

The Gentlemen from “Hush”

“Hush”: Possibly the most horrifying episode of Buffy. Corpse like emaciated men dressed in 1920’s style suits come to town, steal everyone’s voice and rip out their hearts. It’s frightening for several reasons. The first is the villains, The Gentlemen. The scariest monsters are always the ones that look human but are just a slight bit off, the fact that they were so concerned with manners and courtesy in their actions toward one another just adds to the horror because it is so out of place when you’re about to cut out a live and awake person’s heart. The other reason that it’s such a terrifying episode is that it takes away from the characters something they take for granted: their voice. The idea of not having something we have been so dependent on that we take it for granted, like our ability to communicate brings up the simple question in our minds: “what would I do in that situation?” It’s not a pleasant question. We use our voice for so many things and the idea that we should have to live without it–not a pleasant thought. And of course there is the fear of death. Few episodes have shown people so helpless as this episode when being killed, they’re restrained almost immediately so they can’t run away; they have no voice so they can’t scream for help and then they feel everything as their heart is cut out. One of the things that frighten people so much about death is that they think it is something out of their control, that it will come in the night without warning or rhyme or reason and there is nothing they can do about it, and they are utterly powerless in the face of the unknown. It’s powerlessness against it that frightens them (it’s why waiting for the diagnosis of cancer is worse than the diagnosis itself, when you know what it is, you have a name, an MRI, an idea you can fight against or give into, it’s your choice—but when you’re waiting you still have no choice about anything). It is this powerlessness that the scenes of death in this episode capture so well, and remind most of us of our own fears of death.
Helpless: People run a lot in Buffy. But either they’re one episode’s extras whom we’re not really all that invested in, or they’re main characters and we know Buffy will save them. But when it’s Buffy who is doing the running because she has had all her powers taken away, that adds a lot more terror. The safety net of “Buffy will save the day” is gone, and being Joss Whedon, we never had any reassurance that he isn’t willing to kill main characters, so there’s not that usual safety net either.

“Restless”: There is something terrifying about the unknown and the bizarre to most people. If they can’t understand and make sense of it, it frightens them. So putting our four main characters in a rather symbolic and random dreamscape with an unknown assailant killing them, is quite terrifying. Oh and there’s cheese (if you’ve seen the episode you’ll get that).

“Fear Itself”: Finally my favorite Halloween episode in Buffy. The Scooby Gang faces off against a demon who makes them live out their worst fears and then face the fear demon itself. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This episode shows how foolish that is. Why? Because the fear demon is three inches tall, which is possibly the most insightful and genius representation of fear I have ever seen in of all of literature. Fear is something small, something insignificant, and something if you use reason isn’t worth worrying about…yet we let it control us because we refuse to look at it. If we did confront it head on we would probably find that most of our fears are so small and so insignificant that they can just easily be squashed and ignored.

Xander: Who’s the little fear demon? Come on, who’s the little fear demon? Giles: Don’t taunt the fear demon.Xander: Why? Can he hurt me?Giles: No, it’s just… tacky

Honorable Mentions:

None these are exactly great films (not that the top 30 are all Oscar Winners) but they get trotted out every Halloween and I would say they do meet my criteria of an unhealthy obsession with death.

Constantine: An epic battle between good and evil with a poorly executed story of redemption.  Fun but ultimately pointless.

Stigmata: It’s not exactly a horror film, (and I’ll probably deal with it later in my blogs about movies for New Agers) but with all the blood and suffering it has many of the tropes of a horror film.

Bless the Child: Certainly not as dense and preachy as the novel it’s based on, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still just a little preachy.  And then there is just the rather low quality direction.

The Shinning (TV movie 1997): You know the Nicholson/Kubric version of the film is actually well done, the problem is that it seems to completely ignore that there is actually a great book that it’s supposed to be based on. The TV movie, while not without its flaws was more true to theme and characters of the book and thus I prefer it to the older version.

Fringe: Again it’s not really about the fear of death, but there are some truly horrifying moments.  Like in the first episode where everyone’s skin is melting off, that’s frightening at levels I can’t begin to describe.  And that 3rd season episode where they guy is playing with a corpse and through levers and pulleys make it dance ballet, that’s disturbing at a level I seldom see.

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Filed under Art, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Death, Faith, Fear, Free Will, God, Halloween, Joss Whedon, Movies, New Age Movies, Popular Culture