Too Much

Bad Government

Look, not all laws and government stuff is ‘bad’, but the amount of bad stuff out there is almost always due to ‘too much’.

For example, in what circumstance would a government care about patio plants?

MANKATO, MINN. — Marty Lewis, owner of Blue Bricks, 424 S Front St. in the City Center of Mankato was shocked to find that he had to close down the patio at Blue Bricks on Thursday, May 28th due to not having enough live plants.

“My managers told me that City of Mankato Associate Civil Engineer Landon Bode came into Blue Bricks on Thursday during lunch hour and told the servers that we did not have enough flowers on our patio and we were out of compliance with the City,” said Lewis “After the lunch crowd cleared, my managers went up to Drummers and picked up some shrubs, planters and hanging baskets and put them on the patio.”

Wanting to make sure Blue Bricks was in compliance, Lewis then called City of Mankato Associate Civil Engineer Landon Bode, who did not answer his phone and left a message.

“Landon Bode did not return my calls and I assumed that everything would be alright,” said a frustrated Lewis “Then at around 5:30 p.m. that day, two Mankato Police Officers came into the restaurant and told me that the patio was closed and we would have to clear the patio because we were out of compliance.”

Many things wrong with this picture, but two stand out:  One – Who thinks it is a governing bodies decision to dictate plant cover in a bar patio and Two – The enforcement of the rule is simply ludicrous.

Proper Use of the Tax Code

Taxes

I’m continuing to weed through my archived stack – came across this one regarding the tax code.

I’ve always been suspicious of those folks who try and use the tax code too achieve some sort of social change.  For example, we can raise taxes on the wealthier folks and then lower taxes on the less wealthier in an attempt to more evenly distribute wealth.

I think that’s bad policy – for two reasons.  One, we’ll never get it right, two, the whole process is wide open to corruption and three (okay – three), it is simply not okay for people to vote to steal money from one man to give to another.

Turns out I am not alone in my thinking:

President Obama believes the federal tax code should bolster the middle class and make the rich pay their fair share. I have a different view: The tax code should make no attempt to differentiate rich from middle-income taxpayers, nor should it attempt to redistribute wealth to middle-income taxpayers.

Right – exactly.  But can the government do anything?

Yes – undo what it’s already done!

Big banks, for example, earn undeserved profits because they are protected by too-big-to-fail policies along with myriad regulations that limit competition in financial services. Doctors and lawyers, too, make higher incomes than their talents alone would warrant because government licensing restricts entry and competition. Scientists and engineers earn excessive incomes because our misguided restrictions on high-skill immigration (the H1-B visa quota) exclude talented foreigners.

Sugar barons get rich because of government-imposed import quotas. Ethanol producers cash in because the government mandates the use of their product. The military industrial complex profits from government-facilitated sales to authoritarian regimes around the world.

In short, instead of making the tax code more complicated by implementing more redistribution, the president and Congress should stop redistributing wealth altogether. Then we can have a truly simplified tax code.

Amen!

The Game of Football

Football

I found this in the Tar Heel Archives and running it today.

The game of football has been my favorite go to sport since I was a kid – and I wanted to play as long as I can remember.

But I sucked.

Part of it might have been that I wasn’t good but part of THAT is that I wasn’t willing to trade getting tackled for scoring touchdowns.  I like to think, in part, that I traded my mind for my body.

That said – I can’t let my son play the game; the trade off isn’t worth it.  And earlier this year a legend of the game agreed with me:

Football great Mike Ditka says that, if he had an 8-year-old son right now, he wouldn’t let him play football. He made the remarks in an episode of HBO’s Real Sports, which will air tonight.

The Chicago Tribune has the exchange:

Ditka: “If you had an 8-year-old kid now, would you tell him you want him to play football?”

Gumbel: “I wouldn’t. Would you?”

Ditka: “Nope. That’s sad. I wouldn’t. And my whole life was football. I think the risk is worse than the reward. I really do.”

The HBO piece will focus on drug use by the 1985 Chicago bears.

There have been numerous stories about the 1985 Chicago Bears, but none quite like this.

The upcoming edition of “Real Sports” (9 p.m. Tuesday, HBO) will feature a report by Bryant Gumbel that chronicles the players on that team using excessive painkillers and narcotics to overcome injuries and get back on the field. The report says that contributed to many of the former Bears players being severely debilitated nearly 30 years later.

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka even said if he had a young son today, he wouldn’t allow him to play football. Gumbel calls the ’85 Bears football’s “ultimate cautionary tale.”

Last May, former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, defensive end Richard Dent and offensive tackle Keith Van Horne were among a group of retired players who accused the league in a lawsuit of supplying them with powerful painkillers and other drugs that kept them in the game but led to serious complications later in life. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of more than 500 former players.

The Evolution of the Family

Family

Recently Jeb Bush has taken jazz for claiming that “we should shame single mothers”.

Public shaming would be an effective way to regulate the “irresponsible behavior” of unwed mothers, misbehaving teenagers and welfare recipients, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) argued in his 1995 book Profiles in Character.

When I read this my immediate reaction was, “Holy man, are you kidding me?  Another dipshit republican stepping in it when it comes to social issues?”

Then I read his quote:

“One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations,” he wrote, “is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame.”

So, yeah, THAT’S different than the characterization that Bush thinks we should trot a woman into town square, tie her up and then publicly shame her like some ISIS punishment.  What Bush is saying is that A) Intact families, complete with mothers and fathers, generate better outcomes for children than households managed by a single parent B) Society has recognized this and built in a method whereby single parent behavior is NOT placed in a positive light.

Nobody, right or left, disputes the body of evidence that claims 2-parent households are better units for kids than 1-parent homes.  We should discourage single moms, AND dads, from running households.  Divorce should present as a social burden on society.  Birth out of wedlock should be viewed as unacceptable behavior.

All of which is different from the meme that somehow single moms should be subject to the formal and organized shaming that the haters are heaping at Jeb’s feet.

Happy People

Happy People

I came across an article some time back describing the habits of Happy People.  I also think it applies to Successful People:

1. Happy people rarely… seek approval or validation from others.

2. Happy people rarely…depend on other people, places, or things for happiness.

3. Happy people rarely… play the victim. Rather, they play the victor.

4. Happy people rarely… live in the past, nor worry about the future.

5. Happy people rarely…hold onto grudges.

6. Happy people rarely… live dishonestly.

7. Happy people rarely…accept negative environments.

Nanny State – Parenting Style

Nanny State

A story that is a little old – but important non the less.

We have what seems to be a set  of decent, hard working parents that love their kids.  However, because they have a different set of expectations regarding the safety of those kids, they have found themselves on the wrong side of the law:

Two Maryland children who received national attention as so-called “free range kids” earlier this year because of their parents’ decision to let them roam alone were taken into custody again Sunday by Child Protective Services.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv’s children, ages 6 and 10, were picked up by police on Sunday at around 5 p.m., and taken to Montgomery County Child Protective Services. A neighbor apparently saw the children walking alone and called 911 to report it. WTTG reported the children were walking about a third of a mile from home at the time.

At 5 I was walking to and from school.  By 10 I had free range of multiple square miles of the town I grew up in.

These kids were less than 1/2 mile from home.

Poverty or Wealth – It’s a Choice

Wealth

Choices matter.  Decisions matter.

We are who we are largely due to the choices we make.  WHY we make those decisions is an interesting discussion, but we are who we make ourselves.

Consider:

  1. 72% of the wealthy know their credit score vs. 5% of the poor
  2. 6% of the wealthy play the lottery vs. 77% of the poor
  3. 80% of the wealthy are focused on at least one goal vs. 12% of the poor
  4. 62% of the wealthy floss their teeth every day vs. 16% of the poor
  5. 21% of the wealthy are overweight by 30 pounds or more vs. 66% of the poor
  6. 63% of the wealthy spend less than 1 hour per day on recreational Internet use vs. 26% of the poor
  7. 83% of the wealthy attend/attended back to school night for their kids vs. 13% of the poor
  8. 29% of the wealthy had one or more children who made the honor roll vs. 4% of the poor
  9. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during their commute vs. 5% of the poor
  10. 67% of the wealthy watch 1 hour or less of T.V. per day vs 23% of the poor
  11. 9% of the wealthy watch reality T.V. shows vs. 78% of the poor
  12. 73% of the wealthy were taught the 80/20 rule vs. 5% of the poor (live off 80% save 20%)
  13. 79% of the wealthy network 5 hours or more per month vs. 16% of the poor
  14. 8% of the wealthy believe wealth comes from random good luck vs. 79% of the poor
  15. 79% of the wealthy believe they are responsible for their financial condition vs. 18% of the poor

There is this belief in America that if we just gave more money to folks who find themselves in poverty their lives would just ‘be better’.

It isn’t true.

Signals Matter

Hoodie

Society signals.  It’s how we manage our way through life and protect the ‘herd’.  And like it or not, criminals signal in the same way that non-criminals signal.  So, should we ask our cops to focus on those signals or not?

And if you don’t think we signal by dress, lemme ask you this:

Why do we dress like this for an interview:

job interviewLike this for clubbing:

clubbing

And like this for a football game:

football game

The signals we send are powerful – and we should, as a society, accept that we signal as a matter of course.

Why Waco And Baltimore Are Different

Race Relations

I recently read an op-ed over at CNN.  In it the author, Sally Kohn tries to make the point that one of the reason we are still struggling in America when it comes to race relations is that we  have yet to break the ‘white privilege’ that exists here.

She may be right – I don’t know – but I am pretty sure that the examples of Waco and Baltimore [and Ferguson] aren’t examples of what’s wrong.

Her story and my comments:

(CNN)On Sunday, just after news broke of a shootout in Waco, Texas, involving “rival biker gangs” as The New York Times alert phrased it, the political activist Shaun King wrote on Twitter:

“I’ll wait (and wait and wait and wait) to hear someone on the news call what just happened in Waco ‘white on white’ violence.”

When reporter Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times responded, “do we even know the race of the bikers yet?” activist Deray Mckesson tweeted:

“If they were black gangs, we’d certainly know by now. That’s the point. Waco.”

So, I live in North Carolina, a ‘Confederate’ state, and we have news stories all the time describing rapes, murders, robberies and all manner of crimes and I never hear mention of the race of the suspect. 

Race is rarely reported.

One of the most distinct characteristics of white privilege is the privilege to be unique. When white people commit violent acts, they are treated as aberrations, slips described with adjectives that show they are unusual and in no way representative of the broader racial group to which they belong.

One of the distinct characteristics of being white is that I don’t identify with being white.  Now, and I admit, this might be due to the fact that the world doesn’t SEE me as white, so I get that.  But my point is that I don’t feel any sense of “community” with other white people.  So, to me, a white person committing crimes isn’t an indictment of “my people”.  In fact, the concept of “my people” is foreign to me.

In fact, in much of the coverage of the Waco shootings, the race of the gang members isn’t even mentioned, although pictures of the aftermath show groups of white bikers being held by police. By comparison, the day after Freddie Gray died in the custody of police officers in Baltimore, not only did most coverage mention that Gray was black, but also included a quote from the deputy police commissioner noting Gray was arrested in “a high-crime area known to have high narcotic incidents,” implicitly smearing Gray and the entire community.

I don’t think that this is true.  The actual news coverage of Freddy Gray being arrested and then having died is remarkably void of race mention.  The ensuing RIOTS and their source of anger IS mention repeatedly.

The crime and tragedy of Freddy is not about race – the violence that followed is.

How did press reports quote the police in Waco? “We’ve been made aware in the past few months of rival biker gangs … being here and causing issues,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said. Causing issues? Cops were reportedly so worried about the bikers gathering in the Waco strip mall that they had 12 officers as well as officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety stationed outside the restaurant.

I fail to understand her point here.  Yes, local cops had reason to believe that criminal activity was possible and stationed forces accordingly.  Nothing to see here.

Now there’s word that the biker gangs have issued repeated threats against the police in the aftermath of the Waco “melee” as The New York Times headline called it. During the uprisings in Baltimore, I saw a flurry of tweets about black people disrespecting property and throwing rocks at police. Now that these biker gangs have issued actual death threats, why am I not now seeing tons of Twitter posts about white people disrespecting the lives of police?

Again, the author is missing he comparison.  The arrest of Freddy Gray was not the national spectacle – the “uprisings” were.  Now, if white Waco began to riot because the local police department officials were targeting “white gang members” that would be different.

But that’s not happening here.  I suspect that white people in Waco SUPPORT their cops targeting white gang members.

In the comments on one news website, someone — presumably sarcastically — wrote, “More white thuggery. When will whites take responsibility for their decaying culture?”

As it pertains to Freddy Gray, the verdict is still literally out, but the events in Ferguson have been adjudicated.  Michael Brown robbed a store and then assaulted a cop. 

If there were such a feeling among whites as to label us a community, we might say, “We don’t condone the violence or criminal activity of one of our own”.

If the white people of Waco protested that white gang members were arrested not because they were innocent but because they were white, THEN her arguments would make more contextual sense.

“Race literally has nothing to do with this situation,” another commenter replied. Exactly.

So why is it that in cases such as Michael Brown and Freddie Gray — and so many others — race is made central to the story, even in instances where the black and brown people involved are victims of police violence?

The answer is that in Brown and Gray race ISN’T an issue UNTIL the protests and riots occur.

Research shows that implicit bias against black and brown people is real, as is white privilege. And studies show that white people greatly overestimate the share of crimes committed by black people. Is it any wonder, given the racialized nature with which we cover crime? According to one study, television stations covered crimes committed by black people in greater proportion than their actual share of criminal acts in the city.

Here the author is confusing pronouns, she was ‘we’ confused with ‘I’.

On some level, the commenter is right: Race has nothing to do with crime. We know that people of all races commit crimes and are victims of crimes in America and the most sensible among us know such cause or effect has nothing to do with skin color. And yet our perceptions and attitudes about criminality have absolutely everything to do with race.

When one Muslim person even threatens violence in the United States, it’s treated as terrorism of crisis-like proportions. As we saw in the case of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, even when black men are the victims of violence, the burden of proof is placed upon them and their families to show that they didn’t deserve it.

When a crime occurs and the suspect is Muslim NO mention of terrorism is mentioned, but when the suspects admit to being members of terrorist organizations and those organizations claim they have ‘soldiers’ in multiple states – yes, they are reported differently.

A counter example might be the murders of the three Muslim students in North Carolina.  The suspect sounds like an equal opportunity asshole to me but he’s immediately made out to be the perp of a hate crime for the only reason that his victims were Muslim.

When was the last time you saw an incident of a white guy going on a shooting rampage produce calls for soul searching and recrimination on the part of the white male community? Maybe it should. But how can that happen when even after nine people are dead and 170 arrested in a shooting rampage by a criminal gang of bikers, we’d rather not mention that they are white?

Because. 

We teach our kids that such activity is bad.  Joining a motorcycle gang is bad, getting tattoos and dropping out of school is bad.  Dressing like an asshole is bad.  We teach our kids that if you do those things bad things will happen

We use the incident as proof positive that mom and dad are right.  We do NOT riot when biker gangs are arrested.

Here We Go Again

Housing Bubble

As if it wasn’t bad enough that we suffered through one government induced housing bubble and then burst – we’re back at it:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTC) announced an option for qualified first-time homebuyers that will allow for a down payment as low as three percent. Building upon Fannie Mae’s successful lower down payment program offered through state Housing Finance Agencies, the 97 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) option will expand access to credit for qualified first-time homebuyers that may not have the resources for a larger down payment.  These loans will meet Fannie Mae’s usual eligibility requirements, including underwriting, income documentation and risk management standards. These loans will require private mortgage insurance or other risk sharing, as is required on purchase loans acquired by the company with greater than 80 percent LTV.

“Our goal is to help additional qualified borrowers gain access to mortgages,” said Andrew Bon Salle, Fannie Mae Executive Vice President for Single Family Underwriting, Pricing and Capital Markets.  “This option alone will not solve all the challenges around access to credit.  Our new 97 percent LTV offering is simply one way we are working to remove barriers for creditworthy borrowers to get a mortgage.  We are confident that these loans can be good business for lenders, safe and sound for Fannie Mae and an affordable, responsible option for qualified borrowers.”

Just as before, political pressure to move unqualified borrowers into homes is too much to resist.