Monday, August 17, 2015
When I say 'economic principles,' I don't mean how Wall Street works, or the bullshit voodoo (and it really is!) by which unemployment and GDP figures are rectally derived. I mean fundamental, basic tenets of economic thought. The idea that, in a free society--the type of society in which no man or woman is forced, either physically or by force of law, to provide goods or services to another--one must exchange things of value in order to get things of value from someone else voluntarily. To do otherwise--to compel someone to serve you involuntarily--is to make that person your slave. And their name, by God, is Toby!
The failure to understand or impart this is responsible for the legion of college graduates we now have waiting tables and defaulting on their student loans. These young hopefuls pursued--at great expense (again, trading value for value)--their degrees in philosophy, English, women's studies, medieval literature, and the like, with no understanding that very, very few employers would have need of people with experience in these disciplines, because these disciplines did not convey a skill set that would provide value to their enterprise. These youngsters didn't understand that if they didn't have something an employer needs, something that would contribute to the operation and success of her business, then she would not hire them. This is not because she is heartless, but because she is human. How often do you knowingly purchase something that you don't need, or that doesn't work for its intended purpose? And when you do so unknowingly--like say, a worthless college degree--aren't you upset?
In conjunction with this reality, there is the concomitant reality that the world runs on finite resources, and as such, everything--EVERYTHING--in life is a trade-off. There exists no such thing as a perfect solution, where all needs are met for all people all the time, and as a consequence, we must prioritize those things most important to us.
In economist geekspeak, this is known as "opportunity cost". When you have limited resources (and everyone has at least one resource that is unalterably limited--their time), making choice A means, by definition, giving up the option to make choices B through Z (through infinity, really) using those same resources. In other words, if I spend $20 on a haircut, then by definition, I do not have that $20 available now to go see a movie, buy a shirt, or get a lap dance in the champagne room.
The hapless students above not only went into sickening amounts of debt for a product (education) that did not serve their needs (to get a job), they also spent time that could have been spent more fruitfully by learning skills that would be more attractive to employers. That is time they will never, ever get back.
This conundrum is doubly harsh, because these students not only didn't have the cognitive tools to properly assess value and plan accordingly before, but they still do not possess said tools now. As a result they don't understand how to eventually reverse this setback (through hard work and the belated acquisition of skills), preferring instead to beseech politicians to ameliorate this disaster for them. The politicians, of course, will happily promise to do that in exchange for the votes of their new captive constituency.
I don't pretend to know the solution to the current dilemma. Retroactive education is problematic at best. I can only suggest a course going forward: teach the next generation about economics. Teach these principles early and often, with simple examples at first, progressing toward a more mature understanding later. Lay that groundwork, and give these children the cognitive tools to assess value within the framework of reality. Teach kids, in other words, to think like economists. We have failed to do this so far, and it has led to taking our first steps toward a tyranny born of ignorance. We can still reverse it, but we have to act now. Our future depends on it.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
I'm a firm believer in letting everyone live their lives as they see fit, but I can't help but be reminded of Larry Elder every time I encounter one of these young men (which is literally almost every day). I want to grab them by the shoulders and say something to the effect of:
"Look, you are almost 30/over 30 years old and living with your mom. It does not matter that your music software isn't working. The music business is almost impossibly hard, and only the barest few ever find enough success to live on. It's like becoming an astronaut or a Navy SEAL.
Forget the music, save your money, and use this computer to help get your GED. From there, get a JOB and start learning some SKILLS. Heaven forbid, even go to the local community college or trade school, and learn something marketable that pays a living wage. I *promise* you, that path is about a million times more likely to yield real results for you than monkeying around with beats in your mom's basement. Trust me, you'll thank me someday."
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
To my Facebook family and community: I had a discussion with a less than clever associate who insisted that the reason people spread so much vitriol about President Obama is because he is black. I disagreed, but he asked me why people can feel so strongly, and almost seem to hate this President, when things are getting better. Why do they seem to hate him? So I looked up provable, empirical evidence, easy for anyone to fact check, for anyone inclined to do so, to see if the economy is, in fact, improving. And if so, why would they “Hate on him” if things aren't so bad… If these facts make you feel angry, than maybe there is a problem, since it is good news for all Americans. And if it does make you angry, ask yourself why? Why am I angry at this good news? Take a look:
Unemployment is at 5.6%, well below the 7.8% that it was when President Obama took office in 2009, and the 8.3% that it was during his first MONTH in office. The rate of Job creation for all of 2014 averaged 246,000 jobs per month, the highest since 1999, with Private Sector jobs leading the way by far. Even wages are beginning to rise, although very slightly.
The Deficit has fallen sharply. The Stock Market has more than doubled since this president took office. Rates of unpaid bills and medical debt have declined last year for the first time in more than a decade. The growth of healthcare costs has significantly slowed even though millions more people in America now have health care. Many more people are graduating college, gasoline prices have fallen sharply, the worth of your house has gone up...And nobody from the federal government with an Obama badge came to take away my guns…
To my republican friends: Times are not perfect, but they are improving, and we sure as heck are not in a Great Depression by any stretch. We are no longer even in a recession. If you feel angry reading this, ask yourself Why. Do I “Hate on him”? Maybe we can stop. Times are getting better than they were even 6 years ago... You remember. Thanks
Oh, my. Where to start? Well, aside from the fact that he throws out these numbers with no sources or context, let's just take them one at a time, shall we?
Unemployment has been dropping, though at a much slower rate than previous recoveries. That is due less to new job creation, however, than the increase in the number of people who have dropped out of the workforce. (Remember, to be considered in the unemployment figure, you have to "looking for a job.") And of course private sector jobs have led the way, but isn't it odd that it's in Republican states like Texas, not states like Illinois or California? Hmmm.
*more than double*, and still counting.
Healthcare costs have decreased and more people have healthcare? Sure. Tell that to the millions who have had their premiums shoot up as much as 78%, and the millions of others being dumped into the overburdened Medicare and Medicaid rolls, forcing a cutback in benefits to enrollees.
More people are graduating college? Great! Except that the majority of them are graduating with a crippling student debt thanks to government student loan subsidies driving up tuition and fees. Congratulations to the most indebted generation of college graduates in US history.
Gasoline prices HAVE fallen sharply. Okay, I'll give this one to him. He obstructed the Keystone Pipeline, and has been trying to cripple the oil and gas industry since his term began, but he has supported fracking in the past, which is what is responsible for the precipitous drop in oil (and thus gasoline) prices.
In 2008, with 1300 active wells, the US produced just shy of 8 million barrels per day. Thanks to fracking, by 2014, with the same 1300 wells, we produced over 12 billion barrels per day. And, oh yeah, many of the jobs he's boasted about are in that icky oil and gas industry, not in abortive solar ventures like Solyndra, into which his administration flushed $500 million dollars. A Saudi prince was recently quoted as saying that oil prices--currently under $50 per barrel--would never again hit $100/barrel.
No, nobody has come to take away my guns as yet. Obama Justice Department appointee Eric Holder was just selling them to Mexican drug cartels, resulting in the deaths of law enforcement officers, like Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Of course, one thing not mentioned in this little screed is foreign policy. Understandable, since it has been an unmitigated disaster. Between supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, allowing the destruction of the US embassy in Benghazi and deaths of a US ambassador and three others, commanding the hastened withdrawal from Iraq leading directly to the ISIS threat that now consumes half the region, hitting the links while Russian bombers probe American territorial airspace, and the currently-imminent US embassy evacuation in Yemen... there isn't much to crow about, is there?
I could go on, but the point is made. The animosity toward the Obama administration didn't just materialize out of thin air. So, if you're NOT angry reading this, you might ask yourself, "Why not?"
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Imagine this headline: "Iran indicts American over plot to bomb Jewish holy sites."
Of course you can't, because you know for a fact it would never happen.
The fact that the Israelis would go the extra mile to protect Muslims' cultural heritage, but everyone knows damn well that Muslims would never do the same for Israelis, tells you most of what you need to know about the Muslim/Jewish conflict. Still, some people want to pretend that the cultures are just "different," and that one is not *clearly* morally superior.
If you know such a person, slap them. Hard. For the good of all humanity.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
I just had to share this. Some commenter on "The Thinking Atheist" Facebook page challenged other commenters to show how Muslims around the world approve of the violence of Muslim extremists. One commenter by the name of Anibal Mejia Cardenas rose to that challenge with a vengeance. Enjoy the results below!
NOP Research: 1 in 4 British Muslims say 7/7 bombings were justified
People-Press: 31% of Turks support suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq.
YNet: One third of Palestinians (32%) supported the slaughter of a Jewish family, including the children:
World Public Opinion: 61% of Egyptians approve of attacks on Americans
32% of Indonesians approve of attacks on Americans
41% of Pakistanis approve of attacks on Americans
38% of Moroccans approve of attacks on Americans
83% of Palestinians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (only 14% oppose)
62% of Jordanians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (21% oppose)
42% of Turks approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (45% oppose)
A minority of Muslims disagreed entirely with terror attacks on Americans:
(Egypt 34%; Indonesia 45%; Pakistan 33%)
About half of those opposed to attacking Americans were sympathetic with al-Qaeda’s attitude toward the U.S.
Pew Research (2010): 55% of Jordanians have a positive view of Hezbollah
30% of Egyptians have a positive view of Hezbollah
45% of Nigerian Muslims have a positive view of Hezbollah (26% negative)
43% of Indonesians have a positive view of Hezbollah (30% negative)
Pew Research (2010): 60% of Jordanians have a positive view of Hamas (34% negative).
49% of Egyptians have a positive view of Hamas (48% negative)
49% of Nigerian Muslims have a positive view of Hamas (25% negative)
39% of Indonesians have a positive view of Hamas (33% negative)
Pew Research (2010): 15% of Indonesians believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified.
34% of Nigerian Muslims believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified.
16% of young Muslims in Belgium state terrorism is "acceptable".
Populus Poll (2006): 12% of young Muslims in Britain (and 12% overall) believe that suicide attacks against civilians in Britain can be justified. 1 in 4 support suicide attacks against British troops.
Pew Research (2007): 26% of younger Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are justified.
35% of young Muslims in Britain believe suicide bombings are justified (24% overall).
42% of young Muslims in France believe suicide bombings are justified (35% overall).
22% of young Muslims in Germany believe suicide bombings are justified.(13% overall).
29% of young Muslims in Spain believe suicide bombings are justified.(25% overall).
Pew Research (2011): 8% of Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified (81% never).
28% of Egyptian Muslims believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified (38% never).
Pew Research (2007): Muslim-Americans who identify more strongly with their religion are three times more likely to feel that suicide bombings are justified
ICM: 5% of Muslims in Britain tell pollsters they would not report a planned Islamic terror attack to authorities.
27% do not support the deportation of Islamic extremists preaching violence and hate.
Federation of Student Islamic Societies: About 1 in 5 Muslim students in Britain (18%) would not report a fellow Muslim planning a terror attack.
ICM Poll: 25% of British Muslims disagree that a Muslim has an obligation to report terrorists to police.
Populus Poll (2006): 16% of British Muslims believe suicide attacks against Israelis are justified.
37% believe Jews in Britain are a "legitimate target".
Pew Research (2013): At least 1 in 4 Muslims do not reject violence against civilians (study did not distinguish between those who believe it is partially justified and never justified).
Pew Research (2013): 15% of Muslims in Turkey support suicide bombings (also 11% in Kosovo, 26% in Malaysia and 26% in Bangladesh).
PCPO (2014): 89% of Palestinians support Hamas and other terrorists firing rockets at Israeli civilians.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
3. With regards to immigration, are you:
5. With regards to charities, many conservative Christians will donate to religious organizations or other organizations with significant religious fundamentals. As a conservative atheist, what conservative charities or organizations that are commonly funded by religious conservatives do you support and/or donate to, and why?
6. Do you feel that education needs to be more regulated, meaning, made more affordable and accessible for all ages, not just college-level? Why?
8. Even though you have no beliefs as an atheist, do you still feel that there should be prayer in schools or that students even as young as primary school-age should be taught religious fundamentals or concepts? If yes, what should and should not be taught?
9. Going on that same concept, should private religious schools receive any state or federal funding, whether in the form of grants or cash funding, or through special tax incentives? Again, explain where the line should be drawn.
|to:|| War On Idiots |
|date:||Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM|
|subject:||Re: Atheism and Conservatism|
a. Additionally, if pro-life, are you also against companies (i.e. Hobby Lobby) being mandated to provide insurance coverage for specific women’s health needs like contraception? If so, why?
|from:||War On Idiots|
|to:|| Jack Parker |
|date:||Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 12:04 AM|
|subject:|| Re: Atheism and Conservatism|
You are, beyond any question, an absolutely brilliant mind.
In fact, in a way, you almost made me feel rather stupid and uneducated with how you broke everything down so intricately. This will take me at least a few days to process everything and even though the viewpoints you’ve posted are mostly in line with progressive and liberal ideologies, you still have brought up a few points at which some conservative-minded individuals will give a nod.
I do have a few points I’d like to clarify, however.
I have not read “Freakonomics,” as I don’t really read as much as I should. Between working two jobs and being a full time student at 31 years of age, I don’t have much spare time for anything, from reading to actually contributing to my own web site. I will graduate from school with my Bachelor’s in IT Management on October 1st, which coincidentally is the anticipated release date of my first podcast. I have two people working on content for the site, and I have now officially given one of them a homework assignment of reading “Freakonomics” from cover to cover. Most of my own personal reading comes from synopses of readings on Penn’s Sunday School, or another small handful of podcasts that regularly stream to my phone at my desk at work. Having said that, another topic I’m working on closely is inner city crime rate spikes with regards to minorities, such as black-on-black crime. (I live in Maryland and work near Baltimore, so much of the culture of the Baltimore suburbs could fit the stereotype that you’d expect.) If Leavitt and Dubner’s claims have any weight, I’m extremely curious to how that could be applied to the aforementioned concept.
Your answer to 1a caught the exact point that I was trying to make. I intentionally worded that question (with the help of someone else’s input) to not imply that Hobby Lobby already provides contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans because there are many individuals who are ignorant to your callout that the coverage exists, but doesn’t extend to all forms of contraception. I’m personally aware that there are only four or five forms of contraception that are not covered because of the company’s “religious beliefs,” but to your point that the legal battle was more to challenge the ACA is also accurate. I have a bookmark somewhere in my research about this topic that shows that Hobby Lobby’s owners had a sudden come-to-Jesus meeting before the ACA challenge was issued. Prior to the challenge, Hobby Lobby didn’t actually have the religion-heavy principles they claimed to have during the various lawsuits. I’ll dig up that link at some point.
Anyway, you actually answered that question correctly, considering it was an opinion question.
Your second answer that leads more toward a conservative viewpoint of a traditional family unit raising a child is actually the answer I was expecting to receive from this questionnaire. Religious fundamentalists will use the Bible to describe marriage between a man and a woman. Conservative fundamentalists who don’t use the Bible as a basis for their ideals will still stand by the “traditional” nuclear family model of mommy, daddy, and 2.33 children per child-bearing woman. Conservatives tend to stick to traditions, even if these traditions are based primarily from religious backgrounds. I’m expecting to see this response regularly from various individuals, and while that sort of incites bias, I’m having difficulty coming up with any other explanation as to why a conservative would be against same-sex marriages.
3a’s response is a rather conservative response, if you line it up with typical conservative values. Truth be told, I’m against the entitlements and handouts that our country offers as part of the amnesty program, but I do have a small soft spot for the less fortunate kids that are sent over the border from the south to find a better life here in this country.
3b brings up an interesting story. Film director Robert Rodriguez told a story on the Opie and Anthony Show on SiriusXM (prior to Anthony Cumia’s firing in early July) about his father being kidnapped for ransom by a Mexican cartel. He was very candid about the story and didn’t seem to be uncomfortable telling some of the details of the incident, but that story kind of changed my feelings on how we operate our borders to the south. The drug cartels and other trafficking that occurs along that border are more out of hand than I think our own government realizes, and while I don’t think sealing the border is the answer, I agree with you that controlling that border more closely is the answer. Instead of spending the money on the extremely liberal amnesty programs we have, we should instead invest that money into controlling the borders, but with careful consideration to the kids that wander toward the border. I don’t think turning them away is the answer, but there has to be some alternative solution. This is a topic that I’ve put on the back burner as it doesn’t have much to do with the religious (or lack thereof) research I’m performing at the moment, but it’s worth exploring later.
3c: I just saw the Family Guy episode recently with the kid whose parents believe that faith will heal him, but Lois kidnaps the kid to get him medical attention. This corruption of moral sense that stems from an extremist’s view of religion is exactly what needs to be addressed. Freedom of religion: absolutely. Freedom of ignorance as a result of religion: fuck no.
3d was more to instigate the topic of “I shouldn’t have to learn your language if you come here; you should learn ours instead.” The United States does not have an official language. English is not the official language of our country, contrary to the belief of conservative extremists. The statement of “I shouldn’t have to press 1 for English” is a completely invalid argument because of this premise of not having an official language, and the movements that are pushing to make English the official language are ludicrous at best.
I’m thinking about rephrasing question 4 since it deals more with fiscal conservatism than social. I’m trying to word it so that I can get a conservative’s response about why they’re against renewable energy sources. I know there isn’t much of a tie to religious backing here, but I intend to use it as a benchmark. I’m curious to hear your input on this.
Question 5’s response touched on community-based charities, and that reminds me of The Chive. Yes, The Chive is a group of people who focus on gorgeous women, great beer, and a culture of “Keep calm & chive on” mentalities (with the occasional douchebaggery that comes with sausage-fests), but with that culture comes the frequent occurrences of RAKs, or “Random Acts of Kindness.” The Chive has state-specific chapters who organize charity drives for various causes, which reminds me of your local neighborhood charities or “mutual aid societies.” If other groups existed like The Chive, I feel that these mutual aid societies would grow and flourish if enough individuals would participate. Growing that mentality to encourage participation in these groups is the real challenge, especially with the growing Welfare State that we’re experiencing.
The education dilemma in question 6 is a full novel of opinions, facts, and suggestions that are far too much to type out in an Outlook window after I just got done working a 12 hour shift at my office. I’ve read your response to that question two and a half times, and I really need to analyze and dig deeper into your response. I see your point though about the regulation, but that’s why I implied more regulation in education: to incite a response against the regulation that conservatives typically will fight against. I was told once, if I can’t afford the education, to simply not get said education. Today’s society doesn’t allow for young adults to hold career positions without that 11x14 piece of parchment, which is why I’ll be 32 years old when I finally obtain that piece of parchment. I’m $50k in the hole because of my education, which is why I so adamantly fight for education reform.
Capital punishment has its flaws, but less today than decades ago. DNA evidence that was found after a convicted murderer was executed has been proven to exonerate these individuals from their crimes, but it’s only been the past decade and a half that this technology has become extremely accurate. Throwing a guy on death row is more expensive than just locking him up for life, but that same logic applies to housing homeless people with subsidized housing rather than caring for those on the streets… subsidize housing for those who refuse to work (I firmly do not believe that people can’t work, I feel firmly that they choose not to work) and give them the entitlements of living for free, or let them die on the streets from their laziness. Compare that to throwing someone on death row and have decades of appeals and taking up the tax dollars for prosecution, or lock them up for the rest of their lives and let them die in an 8x8 cell… it’s a highly unusual situation with valid arguments on both sides from an economic standpoint. Morals, however, shouldn’t apply since the scumbag had no morals when he committed his crime.
Religious teachings in schools get a little hairy, as religious studies should focus on the multiple interpretations of religion, not the opinion of the person writing the curriculum. Ironically, I feel that religion should be taught by an atheist, someone who has no bias, but is educated in religion. More to come on this topic.
Religious private schools are generally reserved (at least, around here in Maryland) for those with the funds in their personal bank accounts to send their kids to these schools. An argument exists that those less fortunate should still be afforded the opportunity to send their kids to the overpriced private schools through some kind of voucher program, but the inaccurate statement of private schools providing better educations than public schools will cause parents to overflow the private schools and create the same problem that public schools have in some areas: overcrowding. For this reason, I don’t feel that vouchers are the answer, but both sides of any political spectrum will argue both sides of the argument simultaneously… ergo, the catch-22 of subsidized schooling.
Much more can be said about all of these topics, but you’ve given me significant content that I need to pick apart and digest before putting it all into a more formal report, once I receive more data from other sources.
Lastly, you are absolutely welcome to post these emails on your site, provided that any identifying information is removed. For the time being, I’m trying to keep all of this anonymous until I can compile all of this information. The podcast and website that I’m putting together are also somewhat based on anonymity, and contributors will only be identified on a first-name basis, sometimes a false first name if requested. While I intend to cause controversy in my posts and statements, I don’t feel ready just yet to expose my identity on this site as published words can always come back to bite a person in the proverbial ass. If the site and podcast attract a decent audience, I may identify myself… but for now, I’d rather stay unknown.
Please keep in touch with anything you feel would be of valuable contribution to this concept. I’m always willing to accept content from all sides and sources, provided the content is legitimate and any claims can be backed up with credible evidence.