Walmart vs FEMA

Market Efficiency

Walmart every time.  Why?  Because, mostly Walmart is about selling things people want more than they are about retain power – which is what FEMA, and every government agency, is about.



“Commerce civilizes us.   It makes us more peaceful.  It makes us want to treat each other better.”


Refreshing View of the Missouri University Protests

I have my own thoughts regarding the protests going on around the country at our universities.  But I’ll leave it to a fantastic liberal poly-sci professor here at NC State to sum it up:

Through all the reporting of the University of Missouri situation, I can’t help but think the “offenses” of the University President are not the sort for which one should lose one’s job.  Does anybody actually think for a second that Wolfe condones racism on campus?  Does a college president have to issue an official statement saying “racism is wrong and has no place on our campus” anytime somebody hears the n-word?  Everybody already knows this– right?  And everybody already knows the university president surely believes this– right?  So why does he need to lose his job over this.  Now, it would be one thing if there was something institutional about racism at University of Missouri (that is, more insitutional there than institutional racism is anywhere else, of course), but the events that formed the initial basis of the protests seemingly have nothing to with Missouri as an institution accept for the fact that some of the people who attend it (or at least drive through campus) are racists.

Does anyone think that the administrations of these universities, including Yale for gads sake, are not through and through liberals who are otherwise allies to those seeking racial equality?

Where The Syrian Refugee

Syrian Refugee

Much discussion, emotion and hand wringing is due the issue of the refugee fleeing  home due to the war in that nation.

The question is – “What do we do with these people?”

There is only one answer – “Let them in.”

There can only be one answer that America can offer when the world is confused and is searching for the way forward.  When people everywhere don’t know what to do, when they doubt themselves and others and are in a desperate search for the noble, the honorable and the compassion – they always, whether they like it or not, look to America as the beacon that shows them the way.  That shines through the storm clouds and leads them to safe harbor?

And why is this the case, always the case?

Because it is who we are.


It is normal and easy to be afraid; the desire to close the gate and lock the door is common, understandable.  But we are UNcommon.  Ours is not the easy way – our way has always been fraught with peril and dangers.  And we have always, ALWAYS demonstrated the strength of our will and our way.  It is why people who are afraid come here – it is why the world immigrates to America and not the other way around.

Now, can we take steps to be more safe than less?  Sure.  Should states have rights in who they let in?  I think so.  Are there methods that we can employ to make this easier?  Absolutely.

If we are afraid of the militant – we can require that any refugee be part of an intact family.  We can accept mother, father and children.  It could be said that the most at risk Syrians are the widows and the orphans – the families who have lost their men due to the conflict.  Certainly the widow and her orphaned children can be accommodated?

Further – we know that we can’t take ALL the refugees fleeing Syria.  There are very real concerns that an immigrant population may grow to a size that makes assimilation next to impossible.  It has been forever a unique American experience that anyone can become American.  The corollary to this phenomenon is that there is an implicit expectation that the immigrant make every effort to hustle that process along as fast as she can.  So we take those that we are able and pray for those remaining outside our door.

But we take those that we can.  Because, to fail in this regard is to walk away from the very thing that makes us great.

Truly great.

I am reminded of the charge of the gentle craft that brings me comfort monthly:

Remember that, around this alter, you have promised to befriend and relieve every brother who shall need your assistance.  You have promised, in the most friendly manner, to remind him of his errors and aid a reformation.  These generous principles are to extend further.  Every human being has claim upon your kind offices.

Do good unto all.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill – Volumes and Values

DeepRiver Oil Spill

Last month I posted on the impact of the Deepwater oil spill as it related to food safety.  Commentor Corey C made good point that safety is only one aspect of the catch being impacted; the size of the catch is important as is the value of that catch.

I found The United States Seafood Market Report:

The total volume of fish harvested off the U.S. Gulf coast varied widely during the last five years due to fluctuations in the Menhaden catch. Total landings averaged approximately 634,000 MT from 2009-2013, but ranged from a low of 486,000 MT in 2010 to a high of 813,000 MT in 2011. During this period, the menhaden catch fluctuated from a low of 342,000 MT in 2010 to a high of 634,000 MT in 2011. Excluding Menhaden, total volume declined by 14% from 196,000 MT in 2009 to 169,000 MT in 2013. The entire Gulf region was impacted by the Deep Horizon oil spill, which lowered harvest volumes in 2010.

It turns out that Corey was correct; the volume was impacted due to the spill.  I don’t think that anyone would be surprised by that knowledge – throwing that much oil, that amount of chemicals in the water is gonna kill a lot of stuff.


And the value of that catch?

Despite the fluctuations in total landings, the value of fish harvested in the Gulf of Mexico has generally been increasing. Total value increased by 48% from $636 million in 2009 to $940 million in 2013, primarily due to increases in the prices of shrimp.

This surprised me.  I would have thought the value of the catch to fall with the volume – the idea being that volumes elsewhere would have stayed consisted driving the price stable; a stable price with falling catches would have decreased the value.

So, as far as the “seafood” is concerned, the fact that we are seeing diminished volumes is ‘bad’.  That’s assuming the populations rise and fall with the catch – or rather vice versa.  However, the good news for the fishermen is that their take home pay should be increasing.

Upside Down: Wherein The Liberal Agrees With Pino

Upside Down

After all this time, The Atlantic agrees with Pino.

First, the backstory.

For the better part of a decade, and really longer because I’m only counting the time I have been engaged in a structured format, I’ve been frustrated by the debate when discussing events of the day with my more liberal friends.

“We need to raise the minimum wage!”

“I disagree, I would rather that wage remain lower.  After all, we want to empower more and more people to work for compensation they’re willing to work for.”

“You are greedy and hate poor people!”

I walk away frustrated.  Frustrated not because my ideas were shown to be incorrect or flawed, but rather that I lost the opportunity to debate those ideas.  I didn’t know how to interact.

I’ve seen my flaw.  Above, my friend isn’t working to change *my* mind, he’s working to change the minds of the people *listening* to us.  If he can make me greedy and hateful, he can associate that with my policies.   He’s deftly switching policy for intention and has ZERO interest in having an open and earnest discourse.

The trick, of course, is to make explicit as soon as possible that we both have the same intention, whatever that might be.  We just differ on the path.

How delicious then, to see that the inmates are running the asylum:

Hundreds of Yale students are attacking them, some with hateful insults, shouted epithets, and a campaign of public shaming. In doing so, they have shown an illiberal streak that flows from flaws in their well-intentioned ideology.

The only aspect in which I disagree with ‘The Atlantic’ is the manner in which they make this tactic appear like an ‘oops’.  It’s not.  It’s deliberate and it’s horrible.

Musings on Young Leftists

leftist youth

I have virtually no idea what folks are protesting at Missouri – something concerning a culture of fear I think.  Or oppression.  Or bigotry.

All things we should agree to want to see less of rather than more of, to be sure.

But this post isn’t about the cause or the reason or the specific event; it’s about the protest itself, the people that protest and the tactics they employ.

First, watch this video:


Not sure how I’d react if I was the dad of one of those wilting daisies in the video.  At first I was pretty irritated at those college kids in the footage, but having had time to reflect, I can see that these kids are being driven by the adults in the confrontation.

But really, these people, this protest movement; how are we supposed to take them seriously?  How do we interface and converse with people who have completely lost their mind?  How do you have a conversation with people who have NO room for debate?  Any dissension from their perfect point of view is met with HATE and INTOLERANCE.

How do you have a conversation with someone that can’t see a journalism student has the same right to the square as the protesters?

How do you have meaningful discourse with someone who advocates “No bad touch” and yet is quite willing to assault a photographer?

How do you debate the tender mercies of tolerance with someone who has none?

What kind of meaningful conversation regarding institutional intimidation can be had with people who very clearly mean to intimidate?

The answer?  None and you can’t.

The only, and I mean ONLY, upside to this whole thing is the incestual nature of the fight.  We don’t have liberals fighting conservatives or dems and repubs.  We don’t even have the 99% vs the 1%.  Here we have intellectual elite vs themselves.  We have privileged college administrators squaring off with the frankenstein they themselves created.

It reminds me of the old saw: “Mr. President, in a war between Iran and Iraq, who do you root for?”


These university administrators have fostered and coddled this behavior.   They have created it.  And nurtured it.  They own it.  I shed no tears for those administrators that lost their jobs.

Oh, and finally, how do you take this woman seriously:

Dr. Melissa A. Click earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research interests center on popular culture texts and audiences, particularly texts and audiences disdained in mainstream culture. Her work in this area is guided by audience studies, theories of gender and sexuality, and media literacy. Current research projects involve 50 Shades of Grey readers, the impact of social media in fans’ relationship with Lady Gaga, masculinity and male fans, messages about class and food in reality television programming, and messages about work in children’s television programs.

Further goodness from here:

Click’s dissertation for her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst was about the “commodification of femininity, affluence and whiteness in the Martha Stewart phenomenon,” according to her CV. You can read the full dissertation here.

This the woman screeching for more ‘muscle’ to handle the ‘free’ press.


Tropical Storms: Strength and Frequency


Am currently having a conversation regarding the positions of our political candidates hold.  For example, Ben Carson questions evolution – a nuanced debate not meant for this post – and I countered that there are real live breathing human beings that believe tropical storms are increasing both in number and in strength.  The constraints of social media being what they are I am going to make my case here and then post there.

First, the question of frequency.  From the scientists:


Above is the frequency of All Hurricanes [top line] and then Major Hurricanes [bottom line].  It’s clear that the frequency of all hurricanes has been on a downward slope since 1997 or so.  And before that they were steady going back to 1986’ish.  While it’s true that the frequency did rise from the period 1973 through 1987, those years represented a diminished number from the recent high seen in 1971 or 1972.  And major hurricanes?  They too have seen a reduction in number from 2002 to present day.

As for force:


We’re near recent lows.  As recently as 2010 through 2013 we’ve been lower than any time since 1975.  True, there are high peaks as recent as 2006, but the most recent decadal trend is down.

Finally data on the frequency not just of hurricanes but  of all tropical storms:


Here any sense of trend vanishes – or rather, the trend is one of remarkable consistency.

In conclusion – there is absolutely no evidence to sustain the concept that tropical storms are increasing in numbers or power.

The Human Condition

Human Condition

From 538 – a site that until recently was a daily must read:

Do people order more-expensive food when they know they’re going to be splitting the check equally (e.g. three friends all give their credit cards for the waiter to split the tab)?

I think we know the answer – and the answer is:

In 2004, a study in The Economic Journal, a publication of the Royal Economic Society, looked at the behavior of Israeli students in different dining scenarios at a restaurant “with numerous delectable categories to encompass a wide range of tastes” (academic writing, eh?). The researchers told four groups of diners (always three men and three women) to split the bill equally among them. They told another four groups to pay for what they had ordered. Lastly, they told two lucky groups that they would get their meals for free.

The results were consistent with the economists’ hypotheses: Those who were getting a free meal spent the most (especially one cheeky person who, judging by this chart from the study, really went all out). Those who were splitting the bill spent less, and those who were paying individually spent the least — costs are in Israeli new shekels.

I’m not sure I have any insight into anything political here other than to suggest that I find most of the policies favored by the left to be “human condition” improvement programs.  That is to say, “we as a society should do better  by our fellow man” is reason enough to enact legislation.

Where I find church – the liberal finds government.

Minimum Wage Loss – Not A Progressive Bug But A Feature

Minimum Wage

It is well understood among economists that minimum wage laws drag employment.  There may be debate surrounding the net cost/benefit analysis, but that isn’t the point here.

I saw this over at Coyote Blog.

The point is that among the Left, the loss of jobs is a BENEFIT in and of itself.  Because you know who loses out when wages rise above productivity levels?  The least productive among us.

Imagine how horrified I was to learn that this was a feature:

Progressive economists, like their neoclassical critics, believed that binding minimum wages would cause job losses. However, the progressive economists also believed that the job loss induced by minimum wages was a social benefit, as it 212 Journal of Economic Perspectives performed the eugenic service ridding the labor force of the “unemployable.” Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1897 [1920], p. 785) put it plainly: “With regard to certain sections of the population [the “unemployable”], this unemployment is not a mark of social disease, but actually of social health.” “[O]f all ways of dealing with these unfortunate parasites,” Sidney Webb (1912, p. 992) opined in the Journal of Political Economy, “the most ruinous to the community is to allow them to unrestrainedly compete as wage earners.” A minimum wage was seen to operate eugenically through two channels: by deterring prospective immigrants (Henderson, 1900) and also by removing from employment the “unemployable,” who, thus identified, could be, for example, segregated in rural communities or sterilized.

The notion that minimum-wage induced disemployment is a social benefit distinguishes its progressive proponents from their neoclassical critics, such as Alfred Marshall (1897), Philip Wicksteed (1913), A. C. Pigou (1913) and John Bates Clark (1913), who regarded job loss as a social cost of minimum wages, not as a putative social benefit (Leonard, 2000).

Columbia’s Henry Rogers Seager, a leading progressive economist who served as president of the AEA in 1922, provides an example. Worthy wage-earners, Seager (1913a, p. 12) argued, need protection from the “wearing competition of the casual worker and the drifter” and from the other “unemployable” who unfairly drag down the wages of more deserving workers (1913b, pp. 82–83). The minimum wage protects deserving workers from the competition of the unfit by making it illegal to work for less. Seager (1913a, p. 9) wrote: “The operation of the minimum wage requirement would merely extend the definition of defectives to embrace all individuals, who even after having received special training, remain incapable of adequate self-support.” Seager (p. 10) made clear what should happen to those who, even after remedial training, could not earn the legal minimum: “If we are to maintain a race that is to be made of up of capable, efficient and independent individuals and family groups we must courageously cut off lines of heredity that have been proved to be undesirable by isolation or sterilization . . . .”


Free Land


Reading over at Carpe Diem when I came across this graphic.

Just a quick way of saying that through technology advances in agriculture we’ve been able to give back to nature 68% of our arable land.