Tuesday, October 26, 2010

They are evil

On some level, most of us feel like we are being screwed. It's not true of course, but this feeling serves a very important psychological purpose: self delusion. Our ego cannot allow us to feel inferior, so instead of looking within ourselves, we look outward for scapegoats and bogeymen to blame. We think our boss exploits us, that mega-companies charge too much, and that luck is not on our side.

I think most of us intuitively know we are not being shafted left and right. You go to class and see the smart kid in the room. You see her talent and you know she’s special. Every day she works her butt off and eventually it pays off. And even the most cynical among us can’t help but admit, she's earned everything she's got.

Nonetheless, the need for bogeymen persists, and we don't personally know every smart girl in the room. To assuage our egos, we simmer illicit stories of how she became rich. What wrongs she must have committed to rise above us, or how it was just plain luck.

Politics essentially divides itself along two lines. The first takes as its premise that what people have, they earned. The second believes that what you have is not earned, or at least not earned rightly.

Liberalism, the politics of entitlement, is manna to your ego. When you see successful people, liberalism sells the idea that you have been shafted; that they don't deserve their success; that if you give liberals power, they will get you what you are entitled. It's a dangerous philosophy as it pits man against man, and feeds on our innate animal desires.

This is not an extreme view of liberalism. At its heart, liberalism is based on the presumption that your fellow man profits at your expense and this causes conflict by definition.

It's the frailty of our ego that wants to transform smart, successful women into our personal scapegoats. It's the tragedy of liberalism to encourage it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Elevator Manners

I think you can tell a lot about people from little things. Recently I moved to Seattle from Minneapolis and I originally hail from Michigan. I work in an eleven story office building and every day I ride the elevator up to the sixth floor. And every day not one person ever asks me which floor I am heading to, not one person volunteers to push the button for me, and not one person ever asks me to press the button for them.

It's freakin weird. In most places people routinely ask other people which floor they are going to, and they routinely hit the button because it's a nice and friendly thing to do. But here, they are not nice and they are not friendly and it's noticeable.

And I wonder why and I blame liberalism. It might be a stretch, but the way I see it, the reason people are so disconnected, the reason they don't acknowledge your existence inside and outside the elevator, is that it's not their responsibility. It's the responsibility of the state. They pay taxes not because they care, but so they don't have to.

It's not in anyones genes to ignore other people. It's a learned behavior. Liberalism teaches that society, not individuals, are responsible for others. Individuals gradually learn that it's not their job to engage, and it becomes the norm. Every day I ride six floors silently with people who have been taught to shut the world out because it's not their responsibility. Maybe not, but small acts of kindness make the world such a nice place. Let's not teach people to avoid them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Artists wanted

If there are any artists out there interested in having their work posted here, please get in touch.

Food stamps, the road to recovery

Economic illiteracy is rampant and I heard a gem today listening to the Randy Rhodes show. In between lambasting Newt Gingrich for who knows what, she gave the audience a weapon to throw at those deranged conservatives. Apparently, some conservative wants to limit food stamp payments (the evil cold hearted bastard) and this is wrong not only morally, but economically. For you see it turns out that for every 5 dollars spent, 9 dollar in economic activity is generated. It's nonsense, but in case it isn't obvious here's a simple thought experiment to convince you.

Giving 1 person 5 dollars worth of food stamps and generating 9 dollars is a great deal. If I were a businessman I would do it all day, every day. Therefore it makes perfect sense that we should give everyone 5 dollars worth of food stamps! Just think of all the money generated for the economy! Brilliant liberal thinking.

P.S. Remember this when you hear how much each dollar of unemployment contributes to the economy. And when that time comes let your inner inquisitor ask, if 1 dollar of unemployment is good, shouldn't more dollars be better? How about a million dollars?

Basic Economics

Many of our largest and most significant industries still have business models that rely on the use of debt to purchase goods and services. Unless you’re a multimillionaire, it’s difficult to make significant purchases — college tuition, a Viking stove, a Toyota Prius, computers, jewelry, a house — out of savings or cash flow from wages. The renewed willingness and confidence to spend money we don’t have is vital to the continuing recovery.

John Maynard Keynes wrote of the paradox of thrift — if everyone saves, everyone becomes poorer, because demand for goods and services will fall. Here’s another paradox: Running up consumer debt may be a moral failure and a recipe for long-term damnation, but it also contains the roots of our short-term salvation.

Daniel Gross, author of “Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation,” is the economics editor and columnist at Yahoo! Finance.
These concluding paragraphs from an op-ed in yesterday's NY Times struck me as interesting.

First, the author is wrong, regardless of whether you are a multimillionaire or not, you spend what you have or will have. There is never a free lunch. The only thing to remember is that you can spend today and save tomorrow (also known as paying back), or you can save today and spend tomorrow. Regardless, in order to consume, you MUST save. Any notion to the contrary is just nonsense.

The paradox of thrift is not really a paradox. It's true that if people decide to stop trading, there is less value in society, but it's vitally important to realize why. Is it because their is less stuff in society? The answer is no, the amount of stuff produced is exactly the same. Saving only means that you don't trade (spend), it does not make any statements with regards to production. So if the amount of stuff (consumer goods) out there is the same, how can I say we are actually poorer? I'll leave it to someone to comment on.

And a final, personal note. Just because the road to hell is paved with good intentions, doesn't mean we should travel down it for a while and see what great things we can achieve before the Inferno envelopes us.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Leave politics out of the movie theater

So there I was spending a nice, relaxing evening with my girlfriend watching a movie, "Julie and Julia". The movie was pretty good, not great, but enjoyable nonetheless. However, for some unknown reason the movie couldn't resist a constant undercurrent of Republican bashing. And near the middle of the movie, outright Republican bashing. The offending line from the movie (paraphrased)
If I were an evil Republican, I would have fired you.
Apparently, hollywood thinks it's brilliant to insult your potential audience (or maybe those rich Republicans don't see movies?). Regardless, thinly veiled insinuations and their unveiled cousins, ruin the movie. It would be one thing if the nature of the movie were political, but the movie had nothing to do with politics. The only reason I can think of why this dynamic was added to the movie is that these people are so hate filled, that in a fun, light hearted movie, they can't resist every opportunity to twist the knife.

Hollywood, I know most of you play on the wrong team (pun intended, and it's a joke, so relax everyone), but can't you stick to telling good stories about interesting people and leave politics at the door. All us evil conservatives would appreciate it and it might even make you more money to contribute to Al Franken.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The new financial plan

Politically, no one wants there programs cut. So if you want to win, you don't do so by suggesting cutting programs! Here's what should be the campaign pledge for spending. No new spending until the deficit is under control. That's it, keep spending levels constant, don't cut, but don't spend more. People understand that you can't continue to spend like a drunken sailor so they will be for it. They also see that you aren't cutting their precious entitlements so they have a harder time being against it. Finally, it builds on the fiscal responsibility story you are trying to create with your political brand.