Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Maybe it's time to stop helping

Dave has this interesting post about the differences between Wal Mart and Costco and their net effect on the poor. His post brings to mind one of the main complaints I have about liberals, that is, that they are very interested in doing something, even if it hurts more than it helps.
My wife (the good Democrat) is railing after me because she is going to support the increase in the minimum wage, and I am not. She learned from Oprah that there are 30 million people who are subsisting off of minimum wage, and she wants them to get a raise. I pointed out that the numbers mean that 90% are living above the minimum wage right now, but that is superflous to her, because she is a kind and caring person. Now, you have to remember that we are comfortably middle class, and the least that our three kids are earning right now is $13 per hour, so we have no immediate stake in the outcome of the referendum.
However, when I point out to her that an increase in the minimum wage will probably result in about 10% or 3 million people losing their jobs, she just snarls, "Whatever!" and is happy that 27 million are getting a raise. I know that she is a compassionate woman, and she is not happy to see 3 million people lose their jobs, but this way she can feel good abour herself, much like the general principals/principles of the Democratic Party. Too bad if you are one of those 3 million though.
But to examine this problem to the fullest extent, are people really getting a raise? If you consider that someone was making 6$ an hour before the increase in the minimum wage, will they get an increase as well? If not, do their experience and longevity go unrewarded? You can continue the increases all along the line. But no one asks the question "Where does the money come from?"
The answer is from the employer, who passes the costs along to the consumer, resulting in higher inflation, because the increase in wages is legislatively driven, not productivity driven. So, with more minimum pay, that means the increase is eroded proportinately, so that there is no real increase in wages, but 3 million people are out of work.
Some help. Maybe we shouldn't always be so quick to help.
Of course, I always complain about carpers who do nothing but point out a problem, and offer nothing to solve it, so I am obligated to offer a solution to the 30 million people that are living on minimum wage. How about this, government funded education that will enhance an employee's assets to the business? Send someone to school to learn how to do spread sheets, or word processing, or whatever it is that the employer requires to maximize output and productivity. This will result in better skilled employees who can command higher wages based on their abilities and contributions to the bottom line.
Hmmm, nah, makes too much sense.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Silence of the Blogs

If you really listen carefully, you will hear the breeze making a soft whistling sound as it blows across keyboards all over this land, dangling from their cords below the computer desks of bloggers across the middle and right of this fair land. Why the quietude? Why the lack of passionate arguments? Hard to say really.
Dave included this post which shows all sites are having a reduction in traffic. But it is larger among the center and right blogs, even though left blogs are also experiencing a reduction.
One answer might be that the beauty of summer has drawn us away from providing insight or even questions, into the outdoors to enjoy the halcyon days of the joy of life. But maybe, there might even be a different answer.
I think that the blogosphere has finally evolved to the level of real life. That is, we no longer actually discuss anything anymore. We shout out our opinions, and if the other side fails to be impressed with our volume, we simply relegate them to the great unwashed "idiots/criminal fools" that we always knew the other side to be.
There is almost no intelligent discussion. Instead, there is the presentation of a point of view, and the denigration to the point of questioning any opposing commenter's lineage, rather than a discussion of the points rasied.
There really seems to be a lack of curiosity in seeing the other side's perspective on an issue. Instead, anyone out of the poster's line of thought is considered to be a heretic, and unworthy of salvation after a few feeble efforts to rehabilitate them.
Compounding this problem are the trolls. Those who lack the courage or intellect to make their own blog, (they're free you know) but choose instead to populate another's blog with witticisms more appropriate for a kindergarten playground for juvenile delinquents.
My favorite example is Larry Kradj, the self proclaimed environmental ranger, who trolls the blog Left in the West. Larry loves to make fun of people's names, a wonderful technique for debating an issue. He further expounds on his service to his country giving him full authority for challenging anyone who is not quite as deranged as he is, even though he probably only spent his tour in Viet Nam stoned to the gills, and visiting the local ville to get a child prostitute every payday.
The real problem with Larry is not just his infatile postings. The problem is what do you do with such an obnoxious beast? If you take him on, he inevtably drags you down, since he cannot rise to the level of civil discourse. If you ignore him, he has an influence well out of proportion to his argument, as witnessed by many of the letters to the editor.
Reading Larry is a lot like being forced to sit on the flight from Missoula to Minneapolis with a four year old having a tantrum the entire way. There is no reasoning with the child, they simply want to have a fit. There is no way that you can make the child appreciate how odious their behavior is by acting the same way, because the child like Larry and his ilk lack the capacity to see beyond their own ego. Thus you are forced to sit and suffer while the obnoxious brat carries on, unable to say or do anything that will have any meaningful effect.
I hope with the cooler weather to come, we will see more of the intelligent debate that I used to read. Of course, that doesn't include discussion of football teams. That is a discussion that is really one sided. Football is of little real consequence but it does provide amusement.
I wonder if that is what has become of political discussion.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The beginning of the End?

Interesting take on Kos being coy about his success in ousting Lieberman. Couple this with the commentary by our former Congressman Pat Williams who misses the irony of calling for the removal of "partisan Rebublicans" and their replacement with (partisan) Democrats, and I am beginning to see the end of the Netroots community as a force in the Democratic Party.
What's that you say? Are they not at least successful in the CT race? Probably will be, and thanks to missteps by Conrad Burns, will pick up his seat as well. They may even have enough success to recapture at least one of the chambers of Congress. So much for 2006.
What will happen next, is that Kos and others like him will begin to target those who are not the "true believers" and the internecine combat will begin. It doesn't matter that you are 99% in my camp, I will find someone who is 100% and remove you from tainting the purity of our ideals and goals.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, this will mean that they will be seen by the 35-40% who do not see politics as a blood sport, and who will reject the over the top hyperbole (I know, redundant, but nonetheless, necessary and apt) of the Kossacks and crew.
2008 will probably see a Democratic challenge to Baucus, and his eventual replacement by a Republican, since Montanans seem to prefer divided government. But for 2 years, they may have their say.
Too bad for them.