Saturday, January 10, 2015

In Praise Of Mario Cuomo

Go here to enjoy Samizdata's Perry Metzger opening a can of whoop-ass and sprinkling it on the grave of Mario Cuomo.  "I encourage all to mourn his loss in whatever manner they feel appropriate."

Good job, sir. 

 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Charlie Hebdo Cartoons of Muhammad

12 people were recently killed in a cowardly terrorist attack on the office of the French satirical newspaper "Charlie Hebdo".    These are the cartoons of Muhammad / Mohammad / that supposedly caused the bombing. 


Compared to works like "Piss Christ", or portraits of the Virgin Mary made of elephant manure, they're pretty tame. 

Has it occurred to anyone else that the more tolerant of religious criticism a society becomes, the more religion tends to flourish there? 

For instance, you can go to New York City and see a musical play where a copy of The Book Of Mormon gets shoved up a Mormon missionary's ass.  The Mormon Church is flourishing in the USA. 

Ditto for most other religions. 

Go figure.  Let's hope France responds with increased satire and liberty, and not with calls for censorship disguised as sensitivity. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Free Market Prayer For The New Year

Sometime around Christmas I went out to eat with some old-time old-school friends that I hadn't seen for a while.  We chose a Mexican restaurant (and the food was amazing). 

I got a massive amount of burritos, tostadas, rice, beans, chips, queso, and I forget what else for only $10.95.  Everyone else got a similar bounty for their bucks. 

My friends at the table are not religious.  They're not even spiritual.  But one of them said "For this food at this price, I feel like a prayer of some kind is in order." 

All eyes turned in my direction....

Here's what I improvised, or at least my rough memory of it.  It owes more than a little to Leonard Reed's immortal "I, Pencil" essay. 

No heads were bowed.  No eyes were closed.  I wasn't talking to god or gods.  It's just what I wanted people to know, and what I hoped we all felt:

"We're grateful for this food.  For the farmers who grew it, for the cattlemen who fed it, and for the workers who harvested it. 

Let us not forget the factory owners who processed it, none of whom knew that we would be here eating today.  May we always remember to be grateful for the truckers and warehouse workers who handled the shipping and transport, despite them not even knowing our names.

May we never forget the tremendous risk undertaken by anyone who tries to open and run a restaurant.  And we are grateful for the cooks, the wait staff, the bus boys, and the cleaning crew.

All of those hard-working wonderful people accomplished this miracle on our behalf for the price of $10.95 each. 

May we all be free from rent-seekers who would interject themselves, uninvited, into this process.

May everyone involved in our exchanges believe that they have gotten the best of every deal, and may we all live our lives in a way that encourages others to trade their dishes for our dollars."

- Amen

(The last part in italics wasn't in the original prayer.  I just thought of it, and considered it too good to leave out.)  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A couple of questions about Jackie

For those who have been in a media blackout for the last few weeks, Rolling Stone magazine (one of the guiding lights of my adolescence), screwed up and published an unreliable account of a gruesome frat-house rape at the University Of Virginia. 

A young lady named "Jackie" was supposedly gang-raped by seven guys.  For three hours.  During a party.  On a floor covered with shattered glass.  And she refused medical treatment.  And the guy she claims to have gone with might not exist.  And etc., etc., etc.... 

Rolling Stone printed every word of it.  The University prez shut down the entire Greek/Frat system.  No judge, no jury. 

A few media groups are now picking apart the story, but they're concerned about not doing violence to the "larger truth" - that there is a culture of rape in America. 

Horse hockey. 

Considering that Jackie's behavior didn't take place in a vacuum, here are two types of questions that real journalists would be asking:

1)  What classes has "Jackie" been taking?  Victimology 101?  Intro to Grievance Studies?  The Western Canon As A Metaphor For Rape?  Advanced Privilege-Checking?

Has "Jackie" been exposed to classroom instruction that taught her that unless she is oppressed, then she is part of the problem? 

I would love to know.  Considering that a frat house has been vandalized, picketed, shut down and otherwise defamed, and that some guys could've gone to prison, I think we all have a right to know the crap that the University Of Virginia has possibly been pumping into that young lady's head. 

2)  The culture of rape schtick has apparently gone from bug to feature, and I'm wondering what all-female universities do with their evenings (without white straight males to fear, protest against, and warn each other about). 

Does anyone else think that Jackie might have been to one to many of the Rape Culture Seminars?  Did she go to any Take Back The Night marches? 

Did some variety of Victim Envy cause her to do this?  There are no effects without causes, and this fable had some causes. 

***********

It's looking more and more like Jackie made up the entire story.  I'm just curious about why she did it, and I wish that more journalists were. 

 

Friday, December 12, 2014

The group that killed Eric Garner is protesting against the group that killed Eric Garner

Sometime yesterday, Congressional staffers (government employees) walked out on their jobs to the front steps of the House of Representatives to protest the laws (written by themselves) that led to the death (at the hands of other government employees) who were enforcing the will of government employees. Instead of meaningless symbolic gestures, why don't they protest by making it legal to sell "loosies" without a punitive tax that pays their own (government employee) salaries? Lord have mercy, what a pack of doofuses....

 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WE ONLY HAVE 24 MONTHS TO SAVE THE PLANET!!

Go here. 

Trust me, just hit that link.  I'll be here when you get back. 

(As long as you do it within 24 months, or to be exact, within 630 days, or 15,120 hours of December 10th, 2014.)  We'll all be past the tipping point after that. 

Here's the link again.  I know how you folks are about hitting links. 

If we've passed that horrific date (December of 2016) without taking significant action on Climate Change, we will have passed yet another Tipping Point.

It will be too late to recycle.  It will be too late to stop flying, or to continue sorting through our garbage like raccoons.  It will be waaaay to late to send Al Gore's Kleiner-Perkins Investment Group any money for carbon offsets. 

It will be too late to begin stumbling around in the dark all night like a pack of aboriginal tribesmen just recently down from the trees. 

By December something of 2016, it will be too late to tax the carbon emitters who have made your world an unimaginable paradise (if your grandparents could see you now). 

It will be too late to make governments more powerful. 

I hope you've hit that link by now....

Have you had your giggle?  (I love the sound that Tipping Point deadlines make when we go flying past them.) 

This is like the U.N.'s threat that we'll have fifty million climate refugees by 2010

It's like Al Gore's fake concern that the polar ice caps will be gone by 2013

It will be like all of the other failed climate predictions, and there are a lot of them. 

The climate prediction business (and it's nothing but a business) is much like all the predictions for the return of Christ.  You can be wrong all you want, then just re-arrange the scriptures, come up with a new date, and still not lose very many followers.  And if you drop out altogether, the business will continue without you. 

Sometime after December 2016, the proprietors of the 100 Months And Counting website will look around at the ice caps, the snow, and the rest of the typical wintertime weather, and they'll shut down their Tipping Point Apocalypse website. 

Then they'll move on to the next gimmick and the next marketing/scaremongering stunt, never doubting the righteousness of their cause.  There's a sucker born every minute. 



 

Monday, December 8, 2014

On Firing Drunk Temps

The City Of Fort Worth's Human Relations Commission sent me a letter a few days ago.

It marked the end of a long, tiresome, wasteful process that hit on employment law, civil rights, racism, ageism, skinism, alcoholism, paternalism, bureaucracies, and whether or not I should have the right to purchase the labor of whoever I dang well please. 

It also touches on whether I should be able to stop purchasing someone's labor when it suits me.

I've clipped (and redacted) various parts of the letter so as to protect the guilty. 

Here's the cast of characters:

1)  The Charging Party - an employee that a temp service sent us back in freakin' June.  He showed up around 8:00 a.m., and we sent him back before 9:00 a.m.  (It's not unusual for me to send temps back to Their Mother Ship before their shift has ended, BTW.  We're nice about it, we're apologetic, and we wish them best of luck in all future endeavors.  But there's a good reason that some of those folks don't work for NASA or the Nobel Prize Committee.)  The Charging Party is the guy who sued us for discrimination. 

2)  The Temp Service - many employers now use temp or personnel services to screen their potential employees for 3 months before hiring them.  The temp services generally charge twice what the employee gets paid.  Yeah, twice.  But it's worth it to avoid paying Unemployment Compensation, or risk paying big bucks in an Unlawful Discharge lawsuit.  Some temps don't last but a few days, and there's a huge paperwork cost associated with bringing on a new employee, so after 3 months you have a better idea if the employee will work out or not.  Until three months have passed, the temp employee works for the Temp Service, and not for the facility where he is actually doing work. 

3)  Randy Morales - he doesn't exist. 

4)  The White Trainer who was supposedly drunk - he doesn't exist either, despite your sneaking suspicion that he is me. 

5)  The Respondent - my employer, Jukt Micronics.  The organization that had to respond to, deal with, and be burdened by this mess. 

6)  The Assistant Human Resources Director - the lady who is our Assistant Human Resources Director. 

Another group was kept busy determining our percentages of Black, Latino, Asian and White employees.  Then they had to calculate our ratio of employees older and younger than 54.  Try doing that with 700 people.  More on that later....

That's all you need to know to enjoy the following.    Here's part of the letter. 



Sorry for blacking out a lot of the pertinent case numbers, but I don't want the emissions people, the water inspectors, OSHA, or the noise abatement teams of Fort Worth to start swarming me because I picked on one of their bureaucracies. 

Please note that this process started on June 5th, and we got the resolution letter on December 2nd. 
God help the USA if other nations ever discover free market economics.

I gotta make a correction to that 2nd paragraph.  "The Charging Party" wasn't accused of just drinking on the job.  He was freakin' hammered.  Gapped.  Faced.  Blotto.  Some of our notorious alcoholics, guys who spend their weekends with faint traces of blood in their alcohol, they were asking us to send this guy away. 

At this point, if you've been paying attention, you're wondering why I'm involved in this at all, right?  The guy didn't even work for me !!! 

It seems that if you hire a temp employee, then send him away, he can still claim discrimination against you based on "his Race, Black, and his Age", to use the awkward phrase of the City Of Fort Worth's Human Relations Division.  I didn't know that until June. 

The letter refers to a White man who was drinking but was not disciplined or discharged.  It wasn't me.  Swear to God, it wasn't me. 

Back to the letter....



Ok, here's how this thing went down.  Ordinarily when a temp isn't working out, I just tell him that we don't need his services any more, and that he can clock out and go home.  Then I call the temp service and tell them to never, ever send that guy back to us. 

But when the temp is drunker than the Quality Control department at Jack Daniels?  We call the temp service manager in to deal with it. 

When they're that drunk, we let THEM send the dude home.  The Temp Service Manager came in, told the guy he couldn't work drunk, and sent him home. 

Regarding the last sentence in the letter, the one about Randy Morales....  there is no one in our company named Randy Morales.  We've never had a foreman named Randy Morales.  But if anyone named Randy Morales had been around, he would've smelled alcohol on this guy. 


So it was the trainer who smelled of alcohol, but just in case it was the temp smelled of alcohol it was because of his mouthwash and toothpaste.  Lordy. 

Here's a quick summary. 

The drunk temp demanded that the Personnel Service give him a drug and alcohol test.  They refused.  So he went to JPS (John Peter Smith Hospital) in Fort Worth and asked them to give him an alcohol test. 

John Peter Smith is our county hospital.  They treat a lot of low-income, indigent patients, and do a great job of it. 
But you can go in there with an amputated arm and you will still wait for a long, long time before getting treatment. 
This guy got sent home by the temp service, was denied a drug/alcohol test, drove to JPS, waited long enough for small mammals to evolve, and was still feeling a "Buzz".   It had to be hours and hours later!!

To paraphrase Meg Ryan, "I'll have what he's drinking". 

Here comes the part that should make you angry:


Here's why I hope you're angry. 

1)  Yeah, we hire lots of older people.  And we hire Black, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, El Salvadoran, Laotian, and Mississippi Rednecks.  My shop looks like the United Freakin' Nations.  180 people from...Earth. 
But our office employees had to drop everything else and do some racist nose-counting, just like we were separating the Hutus from the Tutsis, and report our racial makeup to the Fort Worth Freakin' Human Relations Commission. 

2)  The guy doesn't even work for me. 

3)  The process took 6 months. 

4)  We're paying the government to investigate this stuff. 
If you get tired of purchasing burgers from McDonald's and decide to purchase burgers from Wendy's, you don't have to do a verbal warning, a written warning, a 3-day suspension, and then formally terminate McDonald's.  You can just switch.  For reasons that I'll never understand, labor doesn't work that way, and most of us live diminished lives because of it. 

Our employers are expected to withhold and pay our taxes, provide our healthcare, take care of child support payments, our retirement, and our 40 acres and our mule.   Employment Law creates a huge burden for companies, increases the cost of goods without providing a benefit, and creates massive HR Departments which cost a fortune, but that add no value to the products the companies were founded to produce.

Think of how much easier it would be for you to go work someplace else if it weren't so much like changing plantations in 1845.   

5)  Finally, this process, designed to ensure racial fairness, often creates racists. 

Yeah.  It creates racists. 

I employ people from all over the world.  Most of them are awesome, personally and professionally. 

But will I now hesitate to hire someone who is of a different race, or of an advanced age?  Someone who could sue me if it doesn't work out? 

You tell me. 

Oh yeah, here's the end of the letter.  We weren't guilty of anything. 


There are days when I want to resign and turn the whole thing over to Randy Morales. 
 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Selling Loosies vs Stealing Swisher Sweets

About 4 years ago, I advocated something called "The Neighbor In A Cage Test" for new laws. 
In short, would you be willing to put your neighbor in a cage if he refused to obey (or fund) your proposed law?  Because that's exactly what happens when your neighbors don't obey laws, no matter how stupid the laws, no matter how few people voted for them, no matter how corrupt their origins.

We've had two good cases for this in the last few weeks.  Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 

We don't often think of Government this way, but....

1)  Government is force. 
2)  Government also writes laws. 
3)  Government uses force to ensure compliance with all of its laws, including the bad ones.   
4)  If you don't agree to obey the laws, or fund them, you will be locked up....
5)  In a cage. 

Here's how it works in theory.  This is from noted Yale Law Professor Stephen Carter:


On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.
I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t. Whatever your view on the refusal of a New York City grand jury to indict the police officer whose chokehold apparently led to the death of Eric Garner, it’s useful to remember the crime that Garner is alleged to have committed: He was selling individual cigarettes, or loosies, in violation of New York law…..
The problem is actually broader. It’s not just cigarette tax laws that can lead to the death of those the police seek to arrest. It’s every law. Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right. I often tell my students that there will never be a perfect technology of law enforcement, and therefore it is unavoidable that there will be situations where police err on the side of too much violence rather than too little. Better training won’t lead to perfection. But fewer laws would mean fewer opportunities for official violence to get out of hand.
BTW, a "loosie" is a single cigarette.  The New York Police Department had an "opportunity for official violence to get out of hand" (in Professor Carter's words), and supposedly choked Eric Garner to death.



Garner had been selling loosies.  (The rationale for selling these single cigarettes is that retailers have to charge an ungodly tax on packs of cigarettes.  Those who are willing to sell individual cigs usually don't send additional inflated cut to the IRS.  Hence the illegality, even though the tax was already paid by the first purchaser of the "broken" pack.) 



But that's the theoretical part of it.  Here's an interview with a NYC police officer, explaining the difficulty of enforcing bullshit laws:

What do you think about all this? I mean, honestly — that video. Eric Garner looked so scared.
Well, Garner was in bad health, and Pantaleo said it wasn’t a chokehold; he was just trying to take him down so they could arrest him. The thing that nobody hears about in the media is that Garner had been arrested for this before. The store owners, they had been … saying he was taking away their business. These people pay their taxes; they pay for tobacco licenses. They wanted him gone.

Right, but he wasn’t fighting the cops. He was just standing there with his hands up.
Yeah, but he’s a big guy. He could have been holding up his hands, or he could have been threatening them. All I’m saying is that cop needed to arrest him. Once that was decided on, they had to take him in one way or the other, and he didn’t want to go … but maybe there was excessive force used. I won’t say there wasn’t.

So you don’t think this is a race thing?
No, it’s not a race thing. It’s a Ray Kelly thing. (Ray Kelly was a veteran NYC Police Commissioner.)  That man singlehandedly ruined this department. When I came up as a rookie, you were assigned an older cop who had been around and knew what they were doing. We were taught that you catch more flies with honey. Basically, if you let the small things go — like the guy selling loosies or weed or whatever on the corner — then when the big shit happens, like homicide or burglary, those are the same guys who will tell you all about it. If they hate you, they won’t tell you shit.

But this is happening everywhere. I mean, Ferguson — there have been so many of these cases for so long.
All I know is New York City. Nowadays, since Kelly’s Operation Impact, rookies are taught one thing: Write tickets, do searches, make money. They’ll have a quota they have to fill. They’re not supposed to, but they do. They come up not knowing their asses from their elbows. These rookies don’t understand how to let the small stuff go. They'll be on your back for a bag of grass.  So when things happen they overreact.   
There you have it....
The theoretical problem from Yale's Stephen Carter. 
The practical problem from a NYC cop. 
Which leaves the rest of us with a problem. 
Would you be willing to have someone strangled to death for selling loosies?  If not, then don't ask someone else to do your dirty work.

How would that work out?  Where does one draw the line? 

Well, take the case of Michael Brown. 

(If you've been living under a rock, Michael Brown, a black teenager, supposedly did a strong-arm robbery of a convenience store, walked out with some Swisher Sweets, was stopped by a white cop, then something happened that we'll never, ever, ever figure out, and Michael Brown got shot.  Dead.) 



Here's a video supposedly showing some of the last moments of Brown's life.  If you're in a hurry, the last 20 seconds are the key moments. 



Would I be willing to shoot someone to keep Swisher Sweets from being stolen?  I don't know, and I hope I never have to find out. 

Would I be willing to outsource that job? 

I can only answer with a very reluctant.... Yes. 

That's one of the Big 3 legitimate functions of the state.  (Protect the borders, provide a courts system, and protect property rights.)  Even if the property in question is a $40.00 box of cheap cigars. 

But would I willingly pay someone to shoot the people who sell loosies?  Heck no. 

Libertarianism in a nutshell is "Don't hit people and don't take their stuff."  Hitting people (except in defense) and taking their stuff is a job reserved for the state.  Michael Brown took a convenience store's stuff and hit the clerk. 

Eric Garner didn't take anyone's stuff, and it doesn't look like he hit anybody. 

Brown and Garner are both dead. 

Another Libertarian clutch-phrase is "If there is no victim, there was no crime". 

Who was the victim in these two cases?  Brown?  Garner?  The convenience store clerk?  The IRS? 

Please discuss.