Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Improve UR: Yik Yak, Racism, and the 1st and 4th Amendments.

It seems to me that every year, the U of R has one major controversy, and this would be the 2014-2015 school year's.  Douglas Leadership House, also known as DLH, is a house on the fraternity quad filled with all black students.  This year, DLH was in jeopardy of loosing their house on the quad because every few years each house has to be re-approved and DLH has consistently been unable to fill their house for the past few years now.

It was almost certaint to every student on campus who had heard anything about this that DLH was bound to loose their house this year, so you can imagine the reaction students had when we discovered that DLH would be keeping their house instead of providing it to another organization on campus who may be able to better fill it.

For those of you who do not know, Yik Yak is an app that allows users to post anonymous comments.  Believe it or not, I am a user of the app.  I don't like to yak myself; I just like to read what others write, usually.  On Yik Yak, the objective is to get as many up-votes as you can.  However, if people dislike what you write, you get down-voted.  If your yak reaches -5, the yak disappears.

In order to attain these up-votes, users typically do this through humor.  However, because it is anonymous, people are more willing to write things you might not say out loud.  Therefore, Yik Yak can be filled with crass, objectionable humor.  A lot of times, there are people looking to push the envelope with their jokes.

As you can see, it isn't hard to imagine some of the comments from the night it was announced DLH would be keeping their house.  Yes, some comments were objectionable, and possibly racist.  I say "possibly" because what constitutes as being racist in one person's book is completely different than that of someone else's book.

Now, the University is looking into getting information students who posted these controversial yaks to possibly try them for violating the University's code of conduct.  Herein, lies my problem.

Do I think some of these remarks violated Yik Yak's terms of policy?  Yes.

Do I think some of these remarks were racist?  Possibly a few.

Do I think the University has the right to the information they are demanding?  No.

Here is why.  I went online and found Yik Yak's privacy policy.  Under the section "How We Share Your Information," this is what the policy states that is relevant in this case:
  • Third Parties and Business PartnersWe may share the information we gather about you and other users with our third party business partners, including advertisers. For example, if you post content that mentions one of our business partners, we may share that content with them. As noted, we dont collect name or contact information (unless you post it in your comment or reply).
  • In Response to Legal Process. We also may disclose the information we collect about you in order to comply with the law, a judicial proceeding, court order, subpoena, or other legal process. While we dont collect your name or contact information, we may share your IP address or other identifier, your location information, or any other information we have collected about you and your device.
  • To Protect Us and Others. We also may disclose the information we collect from you where we believe it is necessary to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud, situations involving potential threats to the safety of any person, violations of our Terms of Use or this Policy, or as evidence in litigation in which Yik Yak is involved.
The University is a business, but not a business partner, and they don't collect names or contact information for this one.  Cross the first bullet off the list.  The University's code of conduct is not part of the legal process.  Cross the second bullet off the list.  No illegal activities took place as I can tell, and if they did, they would fall under the second bullet point.  Cross the third bullet point off the list.

Therefore, the only way I could see anyone receiving this information without Yik Yak violating their own privacy policy were for this to go through the legal system with a court order, subpoenas, etc.  The University would not be the ones receiving this information in that case, either the state or local government would.

Now, I clearly am no lawyer and never intend to be.  However, I do know my basic rights guaranteed to me by the Constitution of the United States of America.  The students who posted these comments, no matter how much you disapprove, still have the rights to make these comments, which are guaranteed to them by the Fist Amendment of the Constitution.  If the University were to go through the state in order to find information on these student's without the proper legal process in place, then the Fourth Amendment would be violated.

There is no way for the University to win in this case.  So what should they do?

First of all, they should not issue any form of "sensitivity training" or seminars of that kind.  That will do more harm than good.  It will be a mockery among students, and the students would be angry at the University and DLH for making them waste their time on something pointless.

Now, let me tell you a story, so you'll better understand my solution to the problem.  Imagine you're in a position where if you say or do something wrong, there will be close to 80% of professors ready to protest for your removal from campus effective immediately and there will be no chance of you graduating from your university. Imagine, also, every time you put up a fliers for your organization, someone tears them all down within 24 hours.

I'm not talking about being part of DLH.  I'm talking about being a College Republican on a liberal campus.

I don't consider that "partisan"-ist, or whatever you would like to call it.  The point is that though we may not all experience racism in our lives, that doesn't mean we don't understand hate speech or even discrimination at some point in our lives.  The best form of coping with it is not to acknowledge it in the first place because for the most part, the overwhelming majority of Americans are not racist, and those who are are typically looking for attention.

If I had a dollar every time I had to hear someone from the political science or psychology department said or implied people from small towns are racists, I'd probably have a considerable chunk of cash to pay tuition.  And if I had a dollar every time someone attacked a Republican, I'd have my tuition possibly paid for by now - although, that would probably put me in a new tax bracket.

Point being: I and my fellow conservatives don't go to the administration or school newspaper and complain about unfair treatment and statements made by those on campus.  Trust me, professors basically outright attacked a Republican last school year for our controversy over the Confederate flag.  You don't change minds by complaining; you change the narrative by showing you are the bigger person and ignoring it, while also showing the community the good you can do.  Lead by example.

If DLH actually wants to make a positive impact on campus, here is what they should do.  Don't talk to the press or school newspaper.  Don't get involved with the administration.  Don't even acknowledge that the situation happened.  If you show that you care about it, people will continue in order to get a reaction out of you for their own personal satisfaction.

Additionally, DLH should leave the fraternity quad.  I honestly don't care who gets the house.  If I had it my way, there'd be no fraternity quad at all.  Think about it for a minute though.  What message does it send to a campus when a group a black students choose not to live with those of another race, but only with those who are similar.  It sends a message that you only want to associate with other blacks.  It sends a message of self-segregation.  What good did the entire Civil Rights Movement do you so that you could once again separate yourself from whites.  Martin Luther King Jr. fought for a world where we could all live beside each other in harmony, not judging people "by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."  It seems to me though, that if DLH cannot look beyond the color of their own skin; how can they expect the others who wrote these yaks to do the same?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Improve U of R: Nothing is Free.

Even at one of the best universities, you will still find economically incompetent students.  Take for example, the new SA Impact page.

Students can now submit petitions that must be taken into consideration once they reach a certain threshold.  I believe it is 250 signatures.  Some of the suggestions I have seen are very solid, practical suggestions, such as enforcing the "no smoking" policy outside the entrances of buildings, improving lighting in certain buildings, and requiring that heavily used pathways must remain plowed.  

However, there have been some very terrible suggestions.  These cringe-worthy proposals usually contain the word "free" somewhere within them, such as free printing or free laundry service.  Although some brave economic-minded souls have tried to explain how this would be counter intuitive logic to save money actually, the petitioners still are unable to grasp the concept.  Therefore, I will try my best to explain it, going much more thorough than a two or three line response one might receive on the site.

Take for example the "free" laundry service.  Currently, students pay $2.50 to wash a load of clothes.  Under the current system, students can take into account their willingness to pay for the next load of laundry.  If you think $2.50 is unreasonable, you do not have to use the service.  You could find somewhere else to do your laundry or simply not do it at all.  Under this system, supply and demand are in equilibrium.

Now, what would happen if there were this "free" laundry service?  When considering your decision to choose the University of Rochester, one of the factors you take into account is the costs you incur is the cost of laundry.  It probably was not even close to the top of your radar when deciding, but it was still there.  Therefore, since that was taken into consideration, that cost would then be absorbed into your tuition under the current "free" laundry service.  Therefore, you would still end up paying the exact same amount.

However, you would only pay the exact same amount the first time the policy was implemented, or if the University were smart, the cost of doing laundry would actually increase when the policy was implemented.  From what I have heard from previous economics issues on campus from economics professors, the University would probably not be smart in this regard.  Therefore, we will assume you would pay the same price the first year of implementation.

Therefore, in the short-run, the cost would be the same as before.  However, in the long run, the cost of laundry would increase.  This is because there is no incentive now to stop washing your clothes when you value it less than $2.50 per wash.  Therefore, everyone on campus has the incentive to overuse the good.  When the good is overused, the cost of the good increases.  In turn, the increase in cost is passed onto the consumer, which is you.  Over the long run, the cost of the good will continue to increase because people will overuse it.  Then, when people see the cost of a good go up, they usually have the mentality to "get their money's worth" and use it even more, which again increases the cost.

Although, I find it hard to believe that other students do not see this problem because they experience it every single year.  Students experience this happening through their dining plans.  How dining works is that you pay for your plan, which includes everything from the actual food to the expected costs of stolen food.  There is no incentive to incur the cost of every item you decide to buy or not, only to "get your money's worth" because the plans seem overpriced, which they are.

For example, if I did not have such an expensive dining plan, I would not buy water for $1.59.  I would use the tap water from my dorm, filter it, and carry a bottle or two around with me all day.  However, since I want to "get my money's worth" of my sunk cost, I buy the water.  This is a misallocation of resources.

Additionally, at the end of the semester, many students are left with a large sum of extra money, sometimes even into the thousands.  Therefore, they either buy a large amount of food they don't want currently, incur the time cost of buying the food to donate to charity, or lose the money that they would have not spent if they were able to buy their food at the margin.

Therefore, the solution to the complaint of an "overpriced" university, which I would also contest on economic grounds, is not to provide "free" things.  The solution is to take as many decisions into your own hands as possible.  If you really wanted to find a way to lower how much you pay each year, the solution is to change the University's dining policy.  Students should be allowed to opt for no dining plan at all if they want to.  Therefore, you would be able to take as many decisions about your cost into your own hands.  You would be able to look at that bottle of water and say, "Is $1.59 really worth it?" instead of saying, "Well, I have all this declining to use anyway."  This would effectively save you money and potentially help you lose that freshman 15 you put on because of the current dining plan in place.

"Free" is not free.  Freedom is the answer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wake Up Call, Baltimore! ... America!

We have had it.  The silent majority of Americans are fed up on accusations of racism and police brutality followed up by the burning of cities.  So, all you anarchists fueling the fires and all you rioters need to peacefully protest or enjoy your time behind bars.

We all know and you all know that this has nothing to do with anyone's death.  That went out the window ten thousand riots ago.  This is all about anarchists wanting cities to burn, looters coming in from out of town to get as much free crap as they can carry, and those who wish to attempt to kill some police officers.  It's disgraceful, repugnant, and frankly, a giant smudge on this great nation's history.

An anonymous data mining firm has reported to Fox News that between 20 and 50 of the same twitter accounts that had ties to the Ferguson protests also have ties to the Baltimore ones.  These are either what they call "professional protesters" or anarchists who wish to incite the violence.  This anonymous firm also performs governmental work.  If they wanted to, the government could easily get these accounts shut down.  However, they won't because we have a president who believes that the police forces across America are inherently racist and sympathizes with the feelings of the rioters.  Not necessarily their actions, but their feelings.  In turn, every time an event like this occurs, Obama will metaphorically come out and rip the police force a new one on television while shaking his head at the rioters and saying, "You know, you really shouldn't be doing what you're doing."  It's inexcusably asinine "leadership" as the country prays it can hold itself together until 2017.

As for you rioters though, who the hell do you think you are that you can chuck bricks at police, light their cars on fire, loot stores, set buildings on fire, cut the fire hoses of first responders, and come out saying that the solution is to give you a job?  Who the hell wants to employ delinquents or start a business where it's likely the store or factory will be set on fire?

It's time for your reality check, Baltimore, and any of you other cities in America.  The reason you don't have jobs is because you're uneducated (possibly not even completing high school), you aren't responsible, you expect to be given handouts (like jobs), and when one little thing makes you angry, you light buildings on fire.  The problem isn't racism.  The problem is you.

You've been asking for handouts since the 1960's, and look where we are.  We're right back in the same freaking spot.  You're lighting your own cities on fire.  I mean obviously, destroying what little capital you actually have puts your economic future in such a bright light and brings those jobs you want.  Although, I guess I should be happier that you aren't asking for larger welfare payments, and instead are opting for jobs.

You want to know how we're so much worse than we were in the 1960's though.  In 1960, the out of wedlock birth rate in the black community was around 20%.  Today, that statistic currently sits at 72.3%.  That is ridiculous.  I'm white, and our current out of wedlock birth rate is 28.6%.  I'm ashamed of my own race; image what people think of you.  Come on blacks, that is a statistic that should make you hang your heads in shame.  To have that many children in your communities growing up without fathers I'd say is a pretty good guess where your problems began to spiral out of control.  The destruction of the black family through welfare programs, birth control, and rap music culture is your problem.  Break the cycle.

However, that is on you.  It's not my problem.  No matter what I could try to do, I cannot fix it.

Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  How many times must you do the same thing over and over again before you realize that it isn't working?  Here's my suggestion.  Stop having sex outside of marriage.  Start a family only if you are financially able to do so.  Keep your children in school.  Teach your children some manners and respect.  Stop electing the same liberals who preach policies that haven't helped you since the 1960's, and in the end, know that the world owes you, just like everyone else, nothing.

You want a job?  Prove your the most qualified.  You don't go to the streets and set cars on fire while chucking rocks and bricks at police to get a job.  If you want to prevent any business from ever starting in your community, congratulations every business will be pulled out of there in weeks.

You want to destroy where you live?  Fine,  Just don't come crawling to the silent majority of America for a handout when you're living on a pile of rubble.  We're sick and tired of this.  There is no sympathy.  Live in the fires that you light.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sorry... You Don't Understand Basic Economics.

I really try with people (not so much politicians) not to call them or their ideas idiotic.  Usually, I'll try a "maybe they meant this..." or a "well, at least this part is correct..."  However, in this case, I must say that this person is flat out, utterly wrong on so many levels that I cannot sit back and let this slide.

You may know that I've already written once about one of Prince Ea's "songs" (if that's what they are called) because it was so wrong, but I must do this again because another is spreading, and it simply does not stand up to economic scrutiny.

I'll let you take a look before I bite in.

Dear future generations, I'm sorry - sorry we left you with people who think they know everything without probably even haven taken a course on the subject.  Sorry these people think just because an idea makes sense in their head, that it must be a fact.

I'm sorry that you have to listen to this man who knows nothing about economics.  I'm sorry he doesn't understand the history of economies to know that though the worldwide tree population may be down, the United States's tree population has been growing.  In fact, the tree population in America is higher than it was 100 years ago because with the wealth we accumulated, we were able to change our preferences of demand for more scenery and more landscape.  And I'm sorry that he doesn't understand that as continents like Asia and Africa and South America catch up in the future decades, their preferences too will change.

I'm sorry he also doesn't understand the basic foundations of supply and demand.  We will not run out of trees.  Trees will be here, more likely to outlive the human race than become extinct among us.  That is because of supply and demand.  If what he is saying is true - that our demand for a product would run it into extinction - then explain after all these years how cows and chickens, in such high demand, are in no danger of extinction.  When consumers demand a product, there is an incentive for producers to continue producing that product.  I'm sorry he doesn't understand that trees aren't being destroyed for money, but are actually being saved as a species because of it.

I'm also sorry he doesn't understand technological changes.  I'm sorry he doesn't take into account the digital revolution that has taken over much of the world and will continue into the future, which I am sure are excluded from his calculation.  That is, if he performed any calculations at all before opening his mouth.  I doubt it.

I'm sorry this man doesn't understand how the dollar has helped improved people's lives.  Profit is not put above people.  Profits are due to the demand of the people.  Therefore, collecting a profit is, by design of the system, providing people with the goods and services they need and desire, and therefore the dollar is not destroying humanity, but improving it in so many more ways than groups of individuals and activists like him ever could.

I'm sorry this man thinks we will seriously "poison the oceans so much you can't even swim in them."  I'm sorry he doesn't understand the sheer value of the beach and beach front property not only in the US, but across the globe.  Additionally, someone may need to inform him of how vast the oceans are.  71% of all the Earth is covered in water.

I'm sorry this man doesn't see how this isn't destruction, but is progress.  The progress of human development that has made our lives so better off than they ever were.  Because if we seriously were to emulate the Native Americans, such as he did, and live like them, we would be underweight, large groups of the population would die off each winter or any time we came in contact with another tribe that had some disease we hadn't been exposed to, and live to an average life expectancy of about 40, if lucky.  I think we can call our history progress, not destruction.

 I'm sorry this man has it so wrong on "climate change."  Attack Fox News, the gloves are coming off now mister.  First off, though this is clearly not a scientific piece of work, you cannot equate faulty climate models as a causality for 5 million people who settled on land less than 10 meters above sea level that has always been prone to flooding during March to September when their snow melts, the rain starts pouring, and it becomes monsoon season.  There is no causal link because there have always been problems in Bangladesh.  Additionally, 95% of the global warming models from the 90's were proven wrong in 2014.  Additionally, Al Gore - you know the man who invented the Internet - predicted there would be no ice caps in 2014 for us to find that the ice caps had reached their all time highest ice covering in 2014 since 2006.  Moreover still, NASA declared 2014 was the warmest year on record, but it was discovered they used equipment highly prone to a larger margin or error because all the other measurements couldn't prove that fact.  Therefore, NASA was only 38% sure of something they deemed fact.  Just what I want my doctor to tell me - "I'm 38% sure you don't have cancer."  Um, you don't sound too confident doc.

We conservatives and Fox News viewers do not dismiss the idea of climate change.  However, we have serious doubts over the theories when the climate models do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.  Especially when there are extremely perverse incentives that drive climate scientist to scare the general public in order to receive government funding for their projects and live the high life on the American taxpayers' dimes when the funding could be going to better uses, such as finding cures to cancers or heart disease or paying down our own national debt.

Additionally, I'm sorry he also doesn't understand the economic concept of a discount rate, and that when taking this discount rate into effect, the foreseeable economic costs of global warming (assuming these faulty models are correct) will not even begin to have real effects until 400 year for now.  Applying the discount rate to these cost, the externality we create today reduces to $0 in today's dollars.  Therefore, there is no externality today of our actions.

Furthermore, I do not even want to get into the complications of actually reducing CO2 emissions and the economic complications and game theory applications that arise because he probably doesn't even understand up to this point, and the complications of reducing CO2 emissions is quite a complex problem that I don't even think I fully comprehend it yet.

However, in doing what he is advocating for, I must apologize to the future generations.  I must apologize that if we follow his methodology, you will not have as good of lives as you can have.  If we follow his ideas, we'd cut production, reduce investments, and thus slow economic growth.  We'd smother technological innovation, and therefore not provide you with the better lives you could and deserve to have.

I'm also sorry that this man took a cheap shot at Sarah Palin because he was running out of things to say.  First of all, Sarah Palin said she loved the smell of the emissions because she was at riding in a parade of motor cycles from the Pentagon the the Vietnam War Memorial, and who doesn't love the smell of gasoline?  However, to answer his unrelated point, it is good that children in China wear face masks walking to school.  At least they have face masks to wear, unlike American children during the Industrial Revolution.  I'm sorry he doesn't understand the history of how economies have developed into first world nations, and as I've previously addressed,  how people's preferences change once they have acquired wealth.

I'm also sorry that he equates ISIS to melting ice, which we have established is not actually melting but grew in size recently.  ISIS has plundered the Middle East, savagely killing men, women, and children, Christians, Muslims, and religious minorities.  The total deaths from melting ice don't even pale in comparison to ISIS.  Want to know what the biggest killer of all humanity has probably been?  Cold weather.  Yes, freezing water.  Either cold weather, or it takes a close second place behind communism.

I am sorry this generation has so little education in economics.  As a professor of mine once said, economics is the only subject where people never study it, but think they are experts on it.  I am not sorry for saying you are wrong, because when there is a false statement, it is up to the economic students of the world to correct it.  Do not let the bold ignorant destroy our well-being because they can shout the loudest.  When they shout, respond louder with facts.  No matter what you're fighting for, it won't matter if we're all equally poor.

Sorry.  No, I'm not really sorry.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Look So Far at the Presidential Contenders.

As I will have my full list of Republican presidential contenders out shortly, I think it is important to look back at the first four presidential contenders.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz was the first to announce of anybody on either side of the political spectrum.  It's looking like he's going to have the money, but the support is likely not to be there.  The reason Ted Cruz announced at Liberty University was due to his plan to create a coalition of young voters.  If that is the game plan for Ted Cruz, he might as well just drop out now.  That is not his coalition.  Ted Cruz's coalition is much older, religious, and of the Tea Party type.

I am still under the impression that Ted Cruz is the fall guy for the Republican candidates.  My idea was to stick Sarah Palin in there as the one who would be attacked by the media, but I believe that baton as been passed to Ted Cruz.  He isn't well-liked, even on his own side of the aisle.  His reputation is too tarnished to even have any serious contention at the White House, and his polling in early states puts him close to the middle-bottom of the pack.

Additionally, his campaign got off to a rocky start (as we'll see is a trend).  It was discovered that the speech he gave at the University had forced attendance.  It wasn't that memorable of a speech, and he was trolled by Rand Paul supporters in the background of him in a lot of shots.

Polls can easily change, especially give the amount of time between the Iowa caucus, but Cruz is not looking very viable at this point.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul announced in his home state of Kentucky, and the speech was very well received along with his fairly humorous online store.  However, his campaign got off to a rocky start when he got into a spat with a reporter on Today.  Although analysts say at this point all candidates just want attentions, so it should not really hurt him in the long-term.

What I'm not understanding about Paul is where some of these commentators and analysts are pulling some of their predictions from.  For example, Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight.com seemed like it was in an anti-Paul mode all week, writing article after article trashing Paul's contention for the presidency, but most of them did not make any sense based on the current situations of polling.  For example, an article was written describing how Rand Paul was losing his father's base, but provide very misleading arguments to draw this faulty conclusion.  Then, another article was written about how many people have libertarian views, but that won't help Paul at all.

However, if you look at actual polling right now, Paul is in 3rd in both Iowa and New Hampshire.  Granted, there is still plenty of time to move up or down.  Even more so still, Paul is performing best on the GOP side when looking at the general election versus the likely contender, Hillary Clinton.  Paul is leading Clinton in swing states such as Iowa, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, and that poll came out before he announced his candidacy, so he didn't even receive his bump in numbers from the media attention.

If Paul stays on message, he has a good chance of winning the nomination, despite what others say.  Yet, I feel some want to write him off, or boost him up, to create this self-fulfilling prophecy, because they don't, or do, want Paul to receive the nomination.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton finally announced yesterday, and even she, who is set to raise $1 billion, cannot avoid a bad rollout of her campaign.  She's been criticized for not actually announcing in person.  Yet, I think it was smart because she is not a good public speaker.  She was also smart for choosing to put herself in as little of the video as possible because her track record shows that the more she speaks, the less people like her.

However, she ran into a few snags along the way.  First of all, what is with her campaign logo?  It seriously looks like some third grader got inspired by the UPS truck design and decided to make a drawing using Microsoft Word.  Who did she pay to do that?  I want that job.  Additionally, the logo's arrow is red and points to the right, which many have taken as a sign of the country going in the right, or Republican, direction.

Even more damaging though, since Hillary Clinton did not deliver an address, she put out a press release which contained the horrible typo, "she's fought children and families all her career."  I think the statement is more accurate than the actual message she was going for.  Although, I wouldn't ask me about that, I'd ask the girl who was raped at 12 years-old in 1975 and Clinton laughed about getting the rapist two months instead of life only after lying about the 12 year-old in court documents.
Yet, don't you know Hillary's a champion of women's rights?

The most damaging to Clinton may have been this SNL skit, which has been viewed more times than her own announcement video, about 10 times more.  For the first time in a long time, it might actually be easier for SNL to go after a Democrat than a Republican simply because Clinton has such a long record that they have a vast amount of material to work with.

Marco Rubio

He will announce today, and we'll see if he can be the first to successfully go snag free in announcing his candidacy.

The way I see it is that Rubio is a contender, but will most likely not receive the nomination.  He's currently polling in the middle of the pack, but he's a good public speaker, so we should expect his numbers to rise.  However, I just don't see conservatives voting for him after the gang of 8 immigration bill that he supported and then didn't support, but he wrote it.  I see this as a sign that he'll flip-flop.  We're not going to be sure which Rubio will show up.

Some see him as the most viable contender.  I just don't.

Overall Thoughts

-Rand Paul, by far, has the best website of any of the candidates.

-Hillary Clinton really needs a new logo.  I still can't believe her team thought that was a good idea.

-Don't expect Ted Cruz to be getting a nomination anytime soon.

-If trend continues, Marco Rubio will have a stumble after he announces.

-We need to stop saying Hillary is rusty.  If you have run as many campaigns as she has and you still cannot get a launch correct by this point, you aren't rusty; you're just a bad politician.

-SNL is going to be great this election cycle because we're finally going to get some political humor for the entire political spectrum.

*Update: Marco Rubio's stumble so far - his site has crashed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fear Not the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

There has been much controversy swirling around the Religious Freedom Restoration Act just signed by Governor Mike Pence in Indiana as well as another proposal in Arkansas.  At this point, all the arguments are speculative because no religious freedom act has ever been used to deny service before in court.  Therefore, we have no way of anticipating what could happen, as this legislation could set a new legal precedent if challenged in the courts.

But, let's entertain the thought that this could allow businesses to discriminate based on skin color, sexual orientation, religion, belonging to certain organizations, etc.  Would allowing discrimination result in such a terrible outcome for society?

Whether you want to believe it or not, it would not be very hard for certain professions to discriminate against individuals, even with anti-discrimination laws in place.  Take for example a wedding photographer.  If he or she really didn't want to perform the task for a certain couple because of whatever reason, it would be easy just to tell the couple he or she was double booked.

Others would be more difficult.  Take for example a restaurant.  If an individual really didn't want a certain group of people in his or her restaurant, he or she could make sure as to provide terrible service to those individuals to drive them away.

Therefore, whether simple or complex, discrimination can still occur in society fairly easily.

However, take a little economic background into the mix, and you will see it is very difficult to discriminate from a business perspective.  I'll spare the long explanation and instead continue with the examples.  What happens when a restaurant chooses to discriminate in such a way?  They get bad reviews.  They drive people away.  Additionally, they drive away the entire group they discriminate against, and then maybe some, into the arms of their competitors.  In the long run, this firm would run a negative economic profit and be forced to leave the industry.

Therefore, how could a business continue to operate while still discriminating?  Economics tells us the only possibility is that the consumers must demand it.  A common example used in economics textbooks is a firm that hires only blondes and no brunettes to work as waitresses.  This would be discrimination in the labor market.  But why would a restaurant do this?  The wages for blondes would therefore be higher than that of brunettes.  Wouldn't one restaurant just hire all brunettes at a lower wage and make larger profits?  That answer is no when the consumers have a preference for blonde servers.  Therefore, the only way for discrimination to exist is for the general public to have discriminatory preferences.

For all those arguing that Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act could allow discrimination, that argument is still up in the air.  Some scholars say yes and other say no.  However, the only way for discrimination to exist is for the consumers to have prejudices.

After the emancipation of all slaves, anti-discrimination legislation and action was necessary because you had large chunks of the country where blacks could not receive services, but times have changed. Although you may see the occasional story of some racist comment on the news, for the overwhelming majority of the population, we have agreed to a social contract that establishes discrimination as morally wrong.

Therefore, in believing that we are not prejudice ourselves, we should have no fear that discrimination can exist in a free and open society.

A perfect example is this BuzzFeed story.  Apparently, some pizzeria in Indiana is alleged to have stated they will deny service to gay couples, and the reviews that poured in are terrible for business.  There is almost no doubt that, if true, this shop will be out of business by the end of the year.  That's the power of the free market.

Wouldn't you rather companies outright state policy like that, instead of trying to beat the system to discriminate?  In that case, you would know exactly what the business stood for and decide whether you would want to eat, shop, etc. there.  Instead, you might not even know you were supporting such a business.

Additionally, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that discrimination is bad for business.  I don't take this argument as being against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but for it.  Since businesses know that discrimination will drive them out of the market, they cannot discriminate.  In my opinion, it should not be the government's responsibility to tell a business how it must operate.  Because, obviously, the government is so good at turning profits and being on the cutting edge of new innovation.

Even more so, if that is the objection these individuals have, why now get mad at Indiana?  There have been no laws on the books protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination before now.  So if this is such a major topic that he and others care about, why wasn't this outrage shown before a bill that essentially restates federal law signed by Bill Clinton and the laws of 19 other states was signed?

The actual outrage here over the new law in Indiana is nothing more than political theater, in which politicians shout over each other as to show who can be the most outraged.  What I am discussing is a theoretical economic argument that has stood up to experiments and empirical data, but what politician would listen to that?

*Update: Less than 24 hours after the pizzeria said it would refuse to serve gay couples, the restaurant is shut down for the time being, unsure if they will ever open their doors again.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Right-Wing Extremists" More Dangerous than ISIS According to the Obama Administration.

There comes a point where you say your government is utterly useless.  We reached that point long ago.  We've now reached the point where government is counterproductive by producing a false narrative for political reasons.

Political polarization in America has been growing for quite some time, but I don't think any American thought we would reach the day in which one political party would accuse the other of being domestic terrorists.  However, that seems to be the narrative Democrats have been playing since 2009, but has been growing in prevalence recently.

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security released a piece in which they entailed what they thought were the dangers of "right-wing extremists" to the United States government.  The piece was immediately criticized by the Secretary of DHS, Janet Napolitano.  Then, DHS classified returning US Veterans as potential terrorist threats.

Joe Biden has likened Republicans to terrorists.  Nancy Pelosi has called us "legislative arsonists," and a political ad from a Democratic candidate in San Antonio this past election cycle called Tea Party Republicans "terrorists who want to take issues into their own hands, harming kids and families with violence, and firearms on the border."

Now, the Department of Homeland Security, which might I remind you falls under the Executive Branch, is trying to say once again that domestic "right-wing extremists" pose more of a threat to national security than ISIS. 

You may be asking on what premise they are basing these claims.  DHS thinks these "right-wing extremists" pose a significant threat to national security based on 24 attacks since 2010.  They classify the people as those who believe they can ignore laws because of individual rights infringements.  These usually happen at routine traffic stops where citizens would exchange gunfire with police.

Now, let me get this straight.  The Department of Homeland Security believes there is a significant national security threat because of 24 attacks on police since 2010?  That is less than 5 attacks per year.  Go to the south side of Chicago, and I could probably find you 5 people shooting at police every night.  Any sane person who can read and understand facts without injecting their political bias into the equation would know that this is an utterly false and misleading story line presented to us by our own government.

I still cannot wrap my head around this theory that less than 5 attacks per year possesses a significant risk to the entirety of the US Government.  If DHS really believes this, it reminds me of a quote from The Hunger Games in which Katniss tells President Snow, "It must be very fragile, if a handful of berries can bring it down."  Our government must be very fragile if 24 police shootings can bring it down.

Yet there is another ironic element here that may be missed by many.  Liberals love to argue that conservatives love the military and police.  Therefore, how can they also argue that conservatives would kill the police?  It is a hypocritical argument that cannot be ignored.  Based on the description of these people, they would not be considered right-wingers, but in fact anarchists.  It could be argued that anarchists fall in an extreme, almost non-existent faction of Libertarians, which usually fall under the Republican Party.  However, if you were to gauge this on a two-dimensional political scale, a right-wing conservative would be extremely far removed from an anarchist.  Therefore, either liberals are making a hypocritical argument, or these are not right-wingers.

Putting that aside though, how could DHS possibly make the argument that these 24 attacks are more of a threat to national security than ISIS or any other real terrorist organization?  It is important to remember that these encounters would have been categorized by the Department of Justice, headed by Eric Holder.  We all know how much Holder loves Republicans.  Additionally, we know the Department of Justice's classifications have just been spot on accurate, such as when they classified the Fort Hood shooting as "workplace violence."  Therefore, how am I to know that these 24 incidences were actual incidences, and not just Eric Holder's DOJ being Eric Holder's DOJ?

With that in mind, we know who ISIS is.  They are Islamic terrorist, raving the Middle East, slaughtering Christians, gruesomely beheading journalist, burning pilots alive, raping women, and marrying their "soldiers" to children.  Don't even try to make the argument that these 24 incidents nobody has ever heard of before hold any significant weight against these actual terrorists.  If so, you are a shameful, misleading, politically blinded liar.

Moreover, if this is the work they are doing at the Department of Homeland Security, it needs to be terminated immediately.  They aren't protecting us as Americans, but simply working as politically polarizing institution, ginning up a false narrative to aid their boss.  It isn't bad enough the government is already unconstitutionally spying on Americans and infringing on our rights as they take a shredder to the Constitution, but they waste our money in the process.  And on your way out, you can take the Department of Education, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Energy.  While we're doing that, we can also privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs so our veterans don't die on secret waiting lists and actually get the care they deserve.  Then, we can gut all the waste from the other departments.

This is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable.  We won't attack the views of others in the world who threaten our democratic way of life, but our nation will consistently attack conservatives at every level possible.  It's completely asinine that my political views aren't accepted at not only a University level and not only a state level, but now also a federal level.  Get it together, and stop attacking your own people.  "Remember who the real enemy is."