On Being A Jerk

This was a trying weekend.

I have come to the conclusion that focusing so much on the negative, even when I’m “in the right,” is going to wear me down to a nub in short order. It’s not fun, it puts me in fight-or-flight mode, and it’s not really helping anyone.

Here’s an article that’s quite relevant to my situation even though it’s about something else entirely:

I thought all anti-vaxxers were idiots. Then I married one.

Reading that, I realized you could substitute almost any group for “anti-vaxxers” so long as they are intelligent, rational people who:

1. Have beliefs which are not supported by facts.

2. Have a tight network of like-minded believers who reinforce each other’s beliefs.

3. Believe themselves to be an oppressed minority (or secretly a majority.)

The takeaway, in case you don’t read the article, is that mockery is not helpful and will tend to reinforce their beliefs (see #3 above.) Telling people that they’re dumb for believing what they believe doesn’t make them change their mind; it makes them think you’re an asshole.

Ok, fair enough, I won’t deny that particular charge. But, it’s no fun for me or for anyone else to interact on that level, and if this isn’t fun or educational, then why do it? A friend of mine likes to make the distinction between “arguing to be right” versus “arguing to persuade.” That’s a pretty good distinction, and I’ve been arguing to be right, not to engage in any kind of persuasion or understanding. That sucks.

So, my, um, “three-quarter year resolution” is this: Stop that shit. Mocking people for their beliefs, even beliefs which are, by reasonably objective standards “wrong,” is not helpful, not healthy, and not worth anyone’s time. Certainly not mine, and probably not the time of anyone reading this.


I’m making one exception: Politicians are fair game. I will mock the daylights out of them and I will not be ashamed. It’s simply not reasonable to discontinue all mockery when Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton are on stage. To expect otherwise would be silly. I mean, c’mon…

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Final Labor Day Post: Reconciling Christianity and Capitalism

You can’t.

At least, that’s the takeaway from the Gravity Payment’s experiment with paying workers a good wage and letting them share in the fruits of their labor. It hasn’t gone well, at least from a business perspective. Granted, any time a column starts with “Rush Limbaugh was right” it’s probably going to be a load of horseshit. However, the reaction from capitalists has been swift and stern: you’re doing it wrong.

From a capitalist perspective, there’s no question that Gravity is doing it wrong. From a capitalist perspective, paying your workers a dime more than you have to to get maximum productivity from them, you’re doing it wrong. This strikes me as a bug, not a feature, of capitalism. Anyway, I don’t see how you can reconcile this:

“Then Paul indicates that God’s real reason for this command is to instruct employers — employers of oxen, yes, but primarily of human workers — that all who help produce a harvest are meant to share in the rewards.”

(quoted from the first linked article)

If you can figure it out, I’m all ears.


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Second Labor Day Post for my friends at tipped jobs working overtime

Howdy! Do you or someone you know work at a job where you receive tips and, because of that, you’re paid less than the minimum wage? Have you ever wondered how overtime is calculated for tipped employees? Hint: It’s not your sub-minimum wage rate times 1.5. Not all employers know this, though, so I thought I’d show you all how the math works. Yay math!

Ok, let’s see you work somewhere in the United States where you go by the federal minimum wage: $7.25/hour. If you’re a tipped employee, you’re probably receiving $2.13 an hour, but it is important to remember that the minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. The reason you’re getting $2.13 is that the law allows your employers to take a $5.12/hour “tip credit.” This means that your employer is taking $5.12/hour of your tips and then paying them back to you as wages.

The tip credit amount does not change when you go in to overtime. So, the overtime rate is $7.25 time 1.5 = $10.88 minus $5.12 (the tip credit) = $5.76 per hour.  It’s not $2.13 * 1.5 = $3.20. If your employer is paying you $3.20 as your overtime rate, they’re cheating you.

The fact that the $5.12 an hour tip credit is technically a wage and not a tip has some fun side effects. For example, if you take vacation pay or sick leave (assuming you get either of those), your wage is $7.25 at a minimum. Also, and I’m sure you know this already, if for whatever reason, you make less than $5.12 an hour in tips for a pay week, your employer has to make up the difference.

This also affects your tip share calculation. You know what tip share is, right? It’s the amount of your tips the company takes and then redistributes to support works like greeters and runners (but not kitchen employees, because that would be very illegal and if someone is doing that, please make them stop.) Anyway, it’s not bullshit enough that companies get to pay people less than minimum wage, take a portion of their tips, and pretend like the company is paying it to them. They also can make you surrender part of your tips to pay other sub-minimum wage employees.

Anyway, most states have guidelines limiting how much of your tips they can take for tip share. The fact that the first $5.12/hour in tips are considered wages and not tips is super important for this calculation. You work 5 hours, you make $50 in tips, you have to tip out $10 to the greeters. That’s, what, 20% of your tips. That’s not great, but it’s not terrible. But wait! There’s $25.60 in tip credit in those tips you made (5 hours * $5.12).  That means you only received $24.40 in tips, and you’re giving up 41% of your tips in tip share. In most states, that would be considered an illegal tip sharing arrangement (check out section 3b of this).

Shockingly few employers are aware of the labor laws governing sub-minimum wage employees, particularly owners of small businesses. Please spread this around to anyone you know who works at a job where they make less than minimum wage. And don’t take my word for what the law is. Here are the U.S. Department of Labor’s guidelines: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs15.pdf

The more you know…

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Labor Day Stories)


I watched the movie 9 to 5 the other day and there was an image which stayed with me: The image of an entire room with forty desks devoted to nothing but typists. Thanks to the miracle of automation, works are so productive now that that you might, might see a single administrator whose primary job is typing in an office today. Who benefits from that increase in productivity. Does the single, surviving typist get 40x as much salary? Do they get any more money for doing the work of 40 people? No, they get less, as now there are 40 people competing for that single job. The worker increases their productivity, but the company derives 100% of the benefit.  Yes, I understand that this is not the complete picture, that new jobs are created, and we shouldn’t subsidize unneeded worker, etc., but the key point, I think, is valid: Workers don’t benefit from increased productivity; their employers do.


Speaking of “9 to 5,” anyone else remember when that was what a work day looked like? 9 AM to 5 PM with a one hour lunch. Oh, and there were no cell phones or VPN’s, so when you left the office at 5, that was it. Oh, and if you did have to work outside of those hours, odds are you got overtime for it since most jobs weren’t exempt from overtime.


Remember when the offshoring of jobs started to kick in? The trade-off was supposed to be that, while backbreaking manufacturing jobs were going overseas, Americans would be doing service jobs for the same wages, so there would be an improvement in the quality of life for low income workers. It doesn’t seem to have worked out that way, does it? We’ve reduced the number of jobs available without decreasing the need for work, so of course, wages are moving in the wrong direction (at least, the wrong direction for people making wages. The folks paying them seem pretty happy with the situation.) Now we’re complaining about “burger flippers” wanting to make a living wage for full time employment.


While we’re on the subject of a living wage, there’s a popular meme going around with a quote from FDR. The quote isn’t directly about minimum wage; it’s taken from his signing statement from the National Recovery Act:

In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.

(emphasis mine, of course)

This is an extended version of what you see on the meme and I think this makes it even more clear that Roosevelt meant for this concept to apply to all workings, including burger flippers.


Of course, there are plenty of jobs which don’t play a living wage and yet their workers don’t starve to death, so how does that work? In short, the answer is: Socialism! Businesses which pay less than a living wage are able to do so because your tax dollars pick up the slack. I don’t like to pick on Wal-Mart, but…wait a second, yes, I totally like picking on Wal-Mart, which is good, because I’m about to do so again. Wal-Mart employees are the largest users of food stamps in the U.S. of A. They don’t starve because American taxpayers are picking up the tab.  Companies which don’t want to pay minimum wage are asking for a handout. It’s that simple. They don’t want to pay $15/hour; they want YOU to pay that wage for them.


I’ll finish with another shout-out to Franklin D. I think one good answer to the current job loss would to make more jobs non-exempt and unionize the crap out of every company. That’s not likely to happen, so instead, how about a new Works Progress Administration? If the government is already paying a significant portion of the effective compensation for a lot of low-income workers, let’s get some public benefit out of it. Employee workers to fix our damn bridges, our highways, build public buildings. But don’t just include laborers: Hire designers and architects and engineers and make the infrastructure beautiful, just like in the days of the WPA. Subsidize higher education so there are fewer workers competing for jobs. All of this would provide a public benefit, it would reduce the number of workers competing for jobs, and increase wages. Sure, it might make corporate profits suffer in the short run, but in the long run, things like infrastructure and education are important. I realize America doesn’t “do” long term anymore, but maybe it’s time to start. And, as for those short-term corporate profits, you can probably guess how many tears I’ll cry for those.

Happy Labor Day everyone. If you’re interested in reading more, I suggest P.Z. Myer’s Labor Day post on just what the labor movement sacrificed and what was gained by their efforts. Today’s a “Thanksgiving” for labor. Don’t forget to give thanks.


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A Lesson In Logic Courtesy of John C. Wright

John C. Wright, loser of a record number of Hugo awards in a single year, has a reasonable beef with George R. R. Martin:

For one, Mr Martin would have seemed more sincere had he not parenthetically added “And too many people empowered VD and his slate… either by voting for the work he slated (often unread)…” Which says, in other words, that those who voted for my works in record numbers, giving me a record number of nominations, did not read those works.

The claim is not correct, but it is politically correct, that is, this is the narrative convenient for SocJus, and the mere fact no one could possibly know this is a matter of sublime indifference.

Often unread, indeed, Mr. Martin? And how, praytell, would you or any mortal man know such a thing? The Hugo committee does not quiz the voters on their reading comprehension.

While is, in fact, possible for a mortal man* to know this by, you know, asking people, it seems unlikely that Martin has personally polled enough of Vox Day’s supporters to know if they read the works they nominated or if they simply voted as Day asked them to without first reading the material. Martin’s jibe is probably not supported by direct knowledge and Wright is right to call him out for this.

While we’re on the subject, check out this even more egregious example of stating an opinion pulled out of one’s ass as “fact:”

The Social Justice Warriors did in fact react precisely as Mr Beale predicted, and after the Sad Puppies unexpectedly swept several categories in the nominations, the SJWs used their superior numbers to vote NO AWARD into that category rather than give the award to whichever work was most worthy among the candidates.

This was done purely and openly for political reasons. The mask is torn. No honest onlooker can doubt the motive of the Social Justice Warriors at this point, or ponder whether the claims made by the Sad Puppies were true or false.

This is just whacky. Just as the Hugo committee does not quiz the voters on their reading comprehension, it also doesn’t request a reason for each vote. The writer may have their own bizarre, petty, paranoid reasons for believing that the results of the voting has some sinister meaning behind it and that the writer knows for certain what this meaning is, but, again, as Wright said, “how, praytell (sic) would you or any mortal man know such a thing?”

The punch line, of course, is that the second quoted section is from….John C. Wright’s blog. He posted it two days before his taking George R. R. Martin to task for doing the same damn thing. He called Martin “dishonest” for his statements, so you pretty much have to conclude that, by his own standards, Wright’s just as dishonest.  I’m starting to get the impression that “No Award” was a deserving winner…

* Is there any other kind of man?

EDIT: Frequent readers are probably aware of the fact that I retracted a post about Wright because it felt mean to be dog-piling on a guy with as many issues as him. That’s still true, but by my math, if he starts attacking other people for doing exactly the same things he himself does? All bets are off.

EDIT 2: Zaklog’s comment lets me know that I haven’t made one part of this clear, so let me elaborate a bit. We’ll use an extended metaphor. Those are fun, right? Ok, let’s say you’re a democrat and you’re trying to get a job at a company that’s been hiring a lot of republicans lately. You show up for your interview, and you tell you’re interviewer “I’m a democrat, and I’m pissed that you have only been hiring republicans. So, I got my buddy to shred all the applications from republicans. Also, I think you’re a jerk, your kid is stupid, and your wife is ugly. When do I start?”  Strangely enough, you don’t get the job even though you think you have a really good resume.

If your takeaway from this is “This just proves that this company won’t hire democrats!”…well, I guess you can say it, but don’t expect anyone to take you seriously when you do.


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We failed to win a single battle, but we won the war! (Hugo Awards edition)

Well, we went through a lot of popcorn this year, didn’t we?

I’ll be perfectly honest with you: I’ve never paid much attention to the Hugo Awards before this year. I read the sci-fi I enjoy and I’ve never cared whether or not it won any awards or not. The only reason I paid any attention this year was because of the extremely unusual events related to the Hugos.

In short, a small group of people and an even smaller group of hardcore trolls decided that they didn’t like the way the Hugo awards were run and decided to use a legitimate but asshole-y tactic of lockstep nominations of a certain slate of books to ensure that they won awards. It turns out that most voters disagreed wildly with their tactics and voted not to give an award when the only nominees were on slates.

John Scalzi posted an excellent recap of the results and I agree with the majority of what he has to say:

The Hugo vote against the Puppy slates was not about politics, or cabals, or one species of science fiction and fantasy over another, no matter what anyone would like you to believe — or at the very least, it wasn’t mostly about those things. It was about small group of people acting like jerks, and another, rather larger group, expressing their displeasure at them acting so.

That’s how I read the results as well. I can’t know the intentions of all the voters, but the ones I’ve spoken to have said much the same thing as Scalzi. One person who read it very, very differently is Lou Antonelli:

They proved Vox Day right when they nuked five of the most important Hugo categories rather than let “the wrong kind of people” win them. He said they’d do that all along, destroying the credibility of the award, and they did.

Let’s do a little analogous thought experiment here.  Here’s a one question, multiple choice quiz:

What is the spiciest food in the world?

A) Wonder Bread

B) White rice

C) Frozen peas

D) A potato

E) None of the Above

For my money, the obvious answer is E and I suspect that’s true for you as well. I do not see how it can possibly damage the integrity of the quiz for most voters to select “None of the above.” Likewise, it is entirely possible, I would even say likely, that in every category where a slate was nominated, the best candidate for the award wasn’t on the ballot. If that’s the case, then the only way to maintain the integrity of the award is to vote “No award.”

And as for “proving Vox Day right…” I suspect Antonelli is aware that literally everything in the world proves Vox Day right. Day is the trollish alter ego of Theodore Beale, who may be a lovely person, but his Day character is a piece of work. He’s not a liar; he goes way beyond that to something I’d call “anti-truth.” If a liar punches you in the face, they might say “I didn’t do it!” An anti-truther would say “No, you punched me in the face!” Day will claim victory no matter the outcome in every event because he’s a persona designed to infuriate people, not to engage in thoughtful debate. As such, he has no commitment to any belief or any facts.

Anyway, the idea of claiming victory when all of your nominees are defeated is a little disingenuous. For that to be the case, then having their candidates walk away with awards would have been a defeat, and that’s just nutty. Even a child would see right through that one.  The awards emerged with their integrity intact and the Puppies roundly (and, for the most part, deservedly) defeated.

That doesn’t mean the Hugos are out of the woods Eric Flint’s post-mortem has some very wise words of warning:

Fact Three. Yes, there is a problem with the Hugo awards, but that problem can be depicted in purely objective terms without requiring anyone to impute any malign motives to anyone else. In a nutshell, the awards have been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two. This stands in sharp contrast to the situation several decades ago, when the two overlapped to a great extent. For any number of reasons, this poses problems for the awards themselves. The Hugos are becoming increasingly self-referential, by which I mean they affect and influence no one except the people who participate directly in the process.

This is essentially the complaint of the Sad Puppies before they were co-opted by their Rabid brethren. It’s a valid concern, but I don’t think the fix for a failure to reward popular books with a Hugo is to bulk-nominate even less popular works. That seems to kind of defeat the purpose, doesn’t it?

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Was Ramsey Offside? (Arsenal vs. Liverpool)

Short answer? Yes. Absolutely, demonstrably, yes.

Now, most pundits, as well as referee Graham Poll, say that Ramsey was not offside and that the goal should have stood. They have years and years of experience behind them, but I have geometry and video evidence and there’s really no questioning it: Ramsey was slightly, but unquestionably, offside.

Let’s use the (regrettably low-res) still from the Daily Mail:


This shot is presented as evidence that Ramsey is onside. He appears to be directly level with Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel (or at least Skrtel’s rear end.) Appearances, however, can be deceiving. The lines on the pitch are parallel, but because the camera doesn’t line up with any of them, it’s tricky to determine exactly who is where in relation to each other. For example, the Arsenal player in the foreground appears to be further towards the Arsenal goal than the player on the ball. But…notice that the player on the ball is to the left of the line on the pitch, while the player in the foreground is to the right of it.

In this case, perspective is everything.

Here’s a crop of the area near Aaron Ramsey, blown up 400%. This makes for a lousy image, but it’s better for our purposes:


It still looks as though Ramsey is barely onside and if one didn’t both to correct for perspective, one might think the linesman got it wrong. But how to correct for perspective? I’m going to use the easiest, ugliest way possible. First let’s select the unoccupied area at the bottom of the image.


This is a section of the penalty box line. It is exactly the same angle as the line at the top of the penalty box. Now, let’s hastily and sloppily remove most of the grass:


This is the angle of the line we should be using to determine Ramsey’s position relative to Skrtel. Actually, it should be a little more severe since Skrtel and Ramsey are further away from the center of the camera than the penalty box line, but it’s by a pretty negligible amount. Now, all we need to do is paste this line between Skrtel and Ramsey:


First of all, note that this line is exactly parallel to the penalty box line. The inside of the line touches Skrtel’s rightmost point (nope, I’m not gonna say it.) Then notice that the inside of the line hits Ramsey is to the left or Ramsey’s rightmost point. His shoulder, and part of his chest, are closer to the goal than any part of Skrtel. Let’s go ahead and draw a thin red line and extend it just to be sure:


A line parallel to the penalty box, drawn from the tip of Martin’s Skrtel’s buttocks, goes right through Aaron Ramsey and actually hits him about where his neck meets his shoulder. Based on the photo on the Daily Mail site, Aaron Ramsey is offside.

The reason I chose this simple method was because it’s super-easy to reproduce. I didn’t do anything to create the result I was aiming for. Anyone could do the same thing, and they’d come up with the same result.

Or, if you were lazy, just skew the image 12 degrees to the right to make the penalty box line a vertical line, then drop a vertical line on Skrtel’s kop end:


Same result. Ramsey is slightly offside. Honestly, it’s so close, I don’t know how a linesman could be expected to get it right. I don’t think either club could seriously argue the call. It’s really that close. But, so many people are piling on about the call being “wrong” that I just wanted to point out that the evidence says otherwise: The linesman got it right; Poll and others got it wrong. Ramsey is offside.

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Republican Debates: Good television, good work from Fox, unfortunate group of candidates

Well, that was surprisingly diverting, wasn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t expecting the aggressive nature of the questioning. It wasn’t anything remotely resembling a debate, but it was interesting and, in the end, I think a very profitable evening for the GOP. I think Fox did a good job working with a group of candidates ranging from mediocre to bizarre. Yeah, I said it: Fox did a good job.

Megyn Kelly was the biggest winner, in my not even a little bit humble opinion. She’s the only Fox employee who can ask tough questions of Republicans and get away with it (who can forget her withering remarks to Karl Rove on election night?). The tactic of asking difficult questions of the candidates this early in the campaign cycle is, in my opinion, a slyly clever strategy. It gets the candidates’ weaknesses out in the open so they aren’t subject to “gotchas” when it’s time to take on the Democrats.

Interestingly, many of the candidates took issue with the line of questioning after the debates. The Trump, Paul, Cruz, Christie, and Walker fans all felt like their candidate had been singled out for especially rough treatment. Of course, there’s this weird tendency for pro-establishment candidates (and conservatism is nothing if not pro-establishment) to try to run as maverick outsiders, so maybe they were just trying to position their candidate as “they guy the insiders are afraid of!” If so, it came off as a little disingenuous. I hate to invoke bogeymen at this early stage, but if you’re financed by the Koch’s? You ain’t an outsider and no one’s afraid of your candidacy.

Don’t ask me to tell you which candidate “won.” They debate format was so scattershot and each had such different agendas that trying to declare a winner seems like a pointless exercise. For the most part, they stayed in character: Trump blustered. Paul raged. Kasich and Carson were calm and reasonable. Jeb! was Jeb minus the exclamation point. Huckabee and Cruz both sounded reasonable while saying some seriously batshit stuff. Christie was the Jersey Giuliani. Walker acted like “being selfish” is a family value (he scares me more than any of ’em.)  They were very much themselves. Everyone appealed to the people who already liked them. I doubt any of them made inroads with people who weren’t already behind them.

The ratings for Fox last night were fantastic. They should hope with all their might that Trump sticks around because he brings an audience if nothing else. I think it was a good night for the Republicans. They got challenged a little more than they expected, but they had a huge number of eyeballs and none of them flubbed their lines enough to drive away their supporters. Sure, it was a terrible debate (as far it being an actual “debate” is concerned) and I agreed with approximately nothing that was said, but I think they achieved their goals.

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Taking a deep breath before returning to the fray

You may have noticed that the year-long election season is starting to pick up steam.

You may also have noticed that the Republican debates are set to being Thursday.

You may even have noticed that Donald Trump, of all people, is the current leader in Republican polls.

Now that the Hugo Awards voting is ended and the Rabid Puppies have been unmasked as unremarkable trolls who don’t actually believe anything, the next item on the agenda is watching the circus of the GOP nominating process. I do not take this responsibility lightly. I just needed a breather before embarking on what is sure to be the silliest of silly seasons.

I’m up for this. Who’s with me?


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Jeb! Bush May Be The Best Gift To Unions We’ve Had In Years

You’ve probably seen the Jeb!* Bush quote making the rounds on the Interwebs this week, but let me go ahead and drop it in here just to make sure we’re all on the same page:

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours” and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Wow. He packed a whole heap o’ wrongness into one statement, didn’t he? Where to start? So many choices!

Let’s start with the idea that American workers need to be more productive. The New York Times noted:

From 1973 to 2011, worker productivity grew 80 percent…

Worker productivity is already at a high-water mark. Call me crazy…wait, no, call me “someone who can recognize really obvious things,” but if the premise is that the economy stinks and productivity exceptionally high, then “more productivity” may not be the right answer.

Now, is “workforce participation” at an all-time modern low? Well, only if you narrowly define “modern” as “post-1977.” Otherwise, no. Now, it is trending downward, so even though Jeb!’s statement is false, it hints at the truth.  If productivity is up, then each worker is doing more work per hour which tends to reduce the need for more workers. There are strong reasons to suspect that productivity and workforce participation are inversely related.

He then applies the Limbaugh-esque conclusion that the solution is to “work more hours.” That is, of course, the opposite of what the situation he’s describe calls for. If workforce participation is already too low (and I agree that it is), then asking the people who are already in the workforce to work more is going to reduce the amount of work available. This is not terribly complicated.

The best bit, the cherry on top, is the claim that increased productivity will lead to more income for their families. You’d think so, but you’d be oh-so-very wrong. Let me complete that quote from the New York Times:

From 1973 to 2011, worker productivity grew 80 percent, while median hourly compensation, after inflation, grew by just one-eighth that amount, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group. And since 2000, productivity has risen 23 percent while real hourly pay has essentially stagnated.

That makes sense if you think about it in a capitalist mindset (and it would be un-American to do otherwise): If one worker can now do twice as much work, and there’s no increase in demand, it makes no sense to pay them twice as much. The smart move is to ask one worker to do the work of two, and then fire the second. This is super-duper important: Increased productivity, in a vacuum, decreases workforce participation and does not increase earning power. It’s great for the job creators, but the job doers kind of take it in the shorts.

Look at it this way: Let’s say you are a wheat farmer and someone comes up with a process that doubles everyone’s yield. So hurray, everyone produces twice as much wheat. Unfortunately, there’s not need for twice as much wheat, so all you’ve accomplished is cutting the price you get for your wheat in half, thereby getting paid the same amount for producing twice as much.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Jeb! is sending a coded message to the captains of industry that he “gets” it and he’s on their side. I honestly don’t think it’s anything that sinister; I think it’s just an incredibly tone-deaf and naive bit of campaigning. It’s disappointing in the sense that he’s supposed to be the moderate, level-headed one, and he’s prescribing a cure that would have seemed needlessly cruel in a Dickens novel.

The good news is that most every news outlet has picked apart Jeb!’s plan and said that this is pretty much the opposite of what a good policy would look like. The question is: What would a good policy look like? It would encourage more people to work, it would protect jobs against the temptation to cut them when productivity increased, and it would reduce, not increase, the hours each person worked. And, it would increase demand by increasing the amount of money in the hands of the people who will spend it, rather than increase the wealth of those who won’t. That, my friends, is what unions do. It doesn’t necessarily follow that if Jeb! is wrong, unions are right. But it makes a whole lot of sense, doesn’t it?

* I hate that we have so many Bushes in the American political scene that we have to specify which one we’re talking about. Please let’s not have Chelsea Clinton go into politics as well.

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