Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Forum on Cognitive Dissonance

As a libertarian, I have a responsibility to court both sides of the political spectrum to look for allies and help people see a different perspective, while also broadening and better informing my own. A while back, I attended a local Republican committee meeting on the Common Core with that in mind, and last night I attended a forum hosted by The Center for Western Priorities on public lands management. While the topics were markedly different, the sentiment was mostly the same at both: the other side is wrong - dead wrong - and we must not allow them any medium for their message.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Situational Leadership and our Presidential Candidates

After the horrific events in Orlando over the weekend, there was the usual rush to judgment as to the causes of such a heinous crime, well before any kind of thorough investigation had been conducted. And while we expect such things from the media, what we found this time was that the two major party presidential candidates were all too happy to join the bandwagon. Their chosen narratives were well suited to the early details that trickled out, and with great pomp and conviction, they told America just what was wrong and how they would fix it.

The trouble is, both of them are now proving to be quite wrong.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Sanders Revolution Fails Itself

Bernie Sanders’s ride has come to its end. Finally. Or has it?

When Senator Sanders launched his nascent bid for the presidency last year, my initial thoughts were not complimentary. Here was a perennial outsider and nonconformist (qualities I actually could respect), who had charmed my home state of Vermont into thinking he could accomplish something in the Senate, casting aside any notions of political independence in signing on to the Democratic party machine. Why? “It is the only way to get elected,” he claimed at the time. If that were true, then Jill Stein and Gov. Gary Johnson would have to be at the party doorstep, would they not? The truth is, that was never the reason.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Movin' On Up: The 'shrinking middle class' fallacy

Twenty years ago, as most of my friends prepared for graduation and the next steps in their lives, I was a college drop-out - flunk-out really. I was making barely over minimum wage and working two jobs, sometimes three, to pay bills. There were a good many reasons that I found myself in the predicament that I was in at the time, rather than fitting myself for a cap and gown, but none of them were external. In the intervening time period, a lot of things have changed. Which is why when I hear Bernie Sanders talk about the disappearing middle class, I just have to shake my head.

Bernie is looking at a number in isolation and saying ‘there are less people in this group than there were 30 years ago’. And his followers eat it up, because they want someone to blame for the malaise that affects them: college debt, poor job prospects, flat-lining wages. All of these things are because of the 1% on Wall Street, Bernie will tell you. They hold all that wealth! But wait just a second… If those people aren’t middle class anymore, exactly where did they go?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How the New Overtime Rules Will Hurt Everyone

Today, the Obama administration took the long-expected step of amending the overtime regulations as they apply to all labor.  In a quaint video uploaded to Facebook, they outline just how this will work: that by doubling the threshold over which individuals are exempt from overtime, they will magically relieve all of those over-worked and underpaid Americans of their burdens, using Sam and Mattie as avatars of Americans facing such challenges.  But the video also goes to great lengths to ignore practical reality and the fundamentals of economics, which tell us simply that in the face of increased costs, employers will simply employ fewer people.

The video seems to think that now, because it will be more expensive to pay Sam or Mattie overtime, the number being fixed nationwide regardless of regional cost of labor variations, employers will just either a) raise their pay so they aren’t overtime eligible, or b) shift the extra workload to other employees to keep their workload down.  Let me tell you what will really happen, because you see: I’ve done both Mattie and Sam’s jobs before.