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The stupidity of a national min. wage

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 April 2014

The map on this page — What you’d need to make in every county in America to afford a decent one-bedroom — illustrates why a national minimum wage makes no sense. The cost of living varies dramatically from place to place.

The premise of the graph seems to be that the minimum wage should be set so that a person earning the minimum wage could at least afford a one-bedroom apartment. I don’t see any reason to accept that premise.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The boy who cried global warming

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 April 2014

This is a funny article. The global-warming apocalypses that didn’t happen: The defining moment for climate change has come and gone, again

There are consequences to making specific predictions that don’t come true. Or … at least there should be. For some reason people still believe the Watchtower, and the people who still believe the predictions of the global warming alarmists might have similar motivations.

On the same general theme — 13 Most Ridiculous Predictions Made on Earth Day, 1970 — Jon Gabriel

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Those crazy French may be on to something after all

by Greg Krehbiel on 22 April 2014

You may have seen the news that French employees are now prohibited from answering their work-related emails at night. See When the French clock off at 6pm, they really mean it.

To productivity-minded Americans this seems really silly. We value hard work, getting ahead, beating the competition, etc.

But consider it from this perspective. Imagine that we could take all the hours of work that need to be done in a week and divide that by the number of workers, and imagine that we came up with 32. We could (1) fire enough workers that we can get all the work done in a standard 40 hour week, or (2) change the work week to four 8-hour days.

There are arguments for both approaches, but it’s at least worth considering that it’s better to have lots of people employed for four days a week than to have a majority employed for five and a minority with nothing at all to do.

IOW, limiting the amount of time a worker can spend on the job tends to stretch labor across a broader pool of workers.

I don’t know if this is the right solution, but as I said in Who owns the $100 robot, it’s the sort of question we’re going to have to deal with sooner or later.

It’s inevitable that human labor will be less and less necessary. We can deal with that by having one group of people who work a lot, and another group of people who don’t work at all, or we can deal with it by spreading the work around at a lower level.

I think spreading the work around is the better choice.

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-22  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Businesses with standards

by Greg Krehbiel on 22 April 2014

The logic behind the “you must bake a cake for a homosexual wedding” thing is that if you make your services available to the public, you can’t discriminate.

I was just thinking about doing a gig to promote one of my ebooks. In the description of the gig it says …

I reserve the right to refuse any title.

It makes perfect sense for her to do that. She has a twitter audience and a facebook audience and there are subjects she might want to avoid.

I can’t imagine she would object to one of my books, but if she were to, should I sue?

What if she was a Jehovah’s Witness and didn’t want to promote non-JW books? Or what if she was a vegan and didn’t want to promote books about meat? Shouldn’t she have the right to have those standards?

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-22  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“Logical arguments” about belief

by Greg Krehbiel on 18 April 2014

It’s worthwhile to read Why atheism doesn’t have the upper hand over religion and ask yourself whether any of the arguments are actually more logical or rational.

The author appeals to the story of an old man who suffers a rather horrible death to save his son who has Down’s syndrome and asks whether atheism or religion provides a better explanation for such acts of altruism.

Atheists do have theories to explain altruism. Some of them appeal to a version of the “selfish gene” idea — which might explain why we are more likely to sacrifice for close relatives than for strangers — and some of them are closer to “group selection” ideas — i.e., a group that includes some people who sacrifice for the common good might have an advantage over a group that doesn’t include such people. (It doesn’t matter if that’s technically “group selection” — you get the idea.)

The author of the article doesn’t think that explains why we are so moved by such stories or consider them to be so beautiful, and he thinks a religious explanation does a better job of explaining it. He then goes on to give his explanation, which is that altruism appeals to us because it’s a peak into God’s altruism towards us.

Where does that leave us? Is one explanation more logical or rational than the other? Not at all.

I think this shows the silliness of our attempts to say that we believe or disbelieve for “rational” reasons.

Arguments affect us, for sure. They appeal to us in some way. Some people are more moved by one argument and others by different arguments. But it’s a gross caricature to call one group rational and the other emotional (or whatever).

Atheists are fooling themselves if they believe they reject religion on “rational” grounds, just as some believers are fooling themselves if they think they believe for rational reasons. Arguments appeal to us — or don’t — for very complicated reasons that go way beyond whether or not they are “rational.”

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-18  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Where is the right doing this?

by Greg Krehbiel on 17 April 2014

As I read The slow death of free speech: How the Left, here and abroad, is trying to shut down debate — from Islam and Israel to global warming and gay marriage I started to wonder where the right is doing this sort of thing.

Isn’t speech censorship coming almost exclusively from the left these days? Shouldn’t liberals be concerned about this?

It seems to me that liberalism has an advantage in the public square, and that advantage is that it doesn’t have the same restraints that conservatives impose on themselves.

Conservatives, for example, may hate the way the BLM is treating ranchers in Nevada, but they believe in the rule of law, so they’ll admit that Bundy is in the wrong. IOW, while conservatives have policy goals and objectives they would like to pursue, they temper these things against a broader array of concerns.

Clearly not all conservatives behave this way. Some will grasp onto any reed-thin justification for “their side.” But I see this sort of principled restraint on the right far more than I see it on the left.

Liberals don’t seem to be constrained by such things. They’re not thinking about free speech rights as they shout down the campus speaker. They don’t care about accuracy and honesty when they demagogue on women’s pay, or gun control. Barack Obama can be against gay marriage, and two years later accuse people who are against gay marriage of being bigots, and somehow that makes sense to a liberal.

Here’s how I understand this. If you have a better explanation, please enlighten me.

“Progressive” really is the better word for liberals, because everything is about moving towards some goal. The means don’t really matter. If we have to trample on some people in the process, or break some rules, well … you have to break some eggs to make an omelet.

Shouting down the campus speaker makes sense because they’re trying to create a world in which such ideas aren’t considered. This vague concept of “free speech” is far less important than the immediate concern of eliminating hate, or … whatever.

-- 9 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-17  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Maybe this is why we can’t export representative democracy to the Middle East

by Greg Krehbiel on 16 April 2014

We’re not one ourselves.

The US is an oligarchy, study concludes

Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying oragnisations: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.”

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-16  ::  Greg Krehbiel

It would be nice to say this is unbelievable

by Greg Krehbiel on 16 April 2014

Right when we are in the middle of a transformation of our health care system, right when good data is more important than ever, the government is changing the rules.

Is Obama Cooking the Census Books for Obamacare?

But why … would you change [the census] in the one year in the entire history of the republic that it is most important for policy makers, researchers and voters to be able to compare the number of uninsured to those in prior years? The answers would seem to range from “total incompetence on the part of every level of this administration” to something worse.

It’s hard to put a positive spin on why the administration would do such a thing, or why Congress would let them get away with it.

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-16  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Why political moderates are important

by Greg Krehbiel on 15 April 2014

One thing I like to advocate is taking a look at the other side of an argument before you’re too sure you’re right about something. People are so quick to read one perspective and think that’s the whole truth — especially if it’s from someone they agree with.

Just as you should check out before you post some outlandish story, you should see what the other folks have to say about a political issue before you make up your mind about it.

Yesterday I realized one problem with this, which is the tendency to read the looneys from the other side.

Imagine that you’re a radical conservative and you want to “get the other side” on affirmative action, so you go read a bunch of stuff on critical race theory. That stuff will be so foreign to your way of thinking that you might as well be reading gibberish. It won’t sink in at all. You’l just come away even more convinced of your radical conservative perspective. Worse, now you’ll believe that you’ve “given the other side a fair hearing,” so you’ll be even more convinced of your own position.

Or imagine that you’re a radical liberal and you want another perspective on the minimum wage, so you go read Glenn Beck. It’s not going to help. He’ll seem like such a nut that you won’t pick up anything useful. Rather, you’ll be tempted to conclude that everybody on the other side is crazy anyway.

“I tried it. I tried reading the popular guys on the other side, and eventually I realized it wasn’t worth my time. They’re all nuts.”

Sure. To a liberal the popular conservatives are nuts, and to a conservative the popular liberals are nuts. A conservative shouldn’t go read Rachel Maddow to “get the other side” and a liberal shouldn’t go read Sean Hannity. They should read the moderates, like Juan Williams or David Gergen, or …. Who?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a market for moderates. The way to make a name for yourself — or to get eyeballs on your TV show — is to throw bombs and say outlandish things.

We need more moderates on both sides or else we will continue to polarize into opposing camps who don’t understand one another at all.

-- 5 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-15  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The problem with government solutions is that they can enforce their will at the end of a gun

by Greg Krehbiel on 12 April 2014

I don’t know who to side with in the Nevada grazing dispute, and honestly I don’t particularly care who’s right. I think Neil Kornze, the director of the BLM, should be praised for avoiding a violent confrontation. We need that kind of restraint from our elected officials.

The lesson of this whole thing is clear to me. When there’s some issue or problem to be addressed, it’s best not to look for a government solution, because the government can come in with their guns and do what they want. They may apologize later, but that’s only after people are dead.

When you allow the government some new power, you are giving them yet one more reason to go shoot somebody. People like Neil Kornze have the sense to exercise restraint, and thank God for that. But there are other officials who won’t.

Remember Ruby Ridge? Remember Waco?

I’m not defending Randy Weaver or David Koresh. But I think excessive force was used in both cases, and that is precisely the danger when we put the government in charge of something.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-04-12  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2014-04-10 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
The conscious / subconscious divide
2014-04-10 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Prudent people recoil at the idea
2014-04-08 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Wooing wiki women