What If?

Feb. 15th, 2015 05:59 pm
scott_sanford: (Daria proofreads)
Recently I got into a discussion and it prompted this essay which I've copied over from Facebook. A hyperlink for the APF has been added and a name removed to obscure the identify of a Fox News watcher. I hope I've hit a correct combination of right-wing buzzwords and tropes.

[NAME REDACTED], the other discussion about minimum wage went strange but you got me thinking. Your criteria to make Americans wealthier but not increase wages limits the options, but theorists have tossed out a lot of wild ideas over the years and there are some that match what you asked for.

Proposals vary but here's how one might work: we give people money. It sounds stupidly simple but follow along. We already can get dividends by owning stock in companies, why not by being part of a country? A citizenship dividend would go out to every American citizen, period – you, me, Bill Gates, everyone. Read more... )
scott_sanford: (Daria proofreads)
Last week I got into a conversation about last year's minimum wage increase in Seatac Washington. As some of you may know, this has annoyed and even outraged some people who object to people who work for a living getting paid good money for their efforts.

I passed along this Addicting Info article that, in an admittedly snarky way, chronicles the total failure of Seatac to implode into a Mad Max style wasteland of poverty and exotic fetish gear. Naturally I got an excited response telling me that raising the minimum wage would put many companies out of business and that Seatac's economy really was failing quickly because of the extra expense. (This does not seem to be the case on my planet.) So far I haven't been convinced by any of the vigorous allegations that raising the minimum wage can't work, though I've been told that things that don't or can't work include raising the minimum wage, socialism, Keynesian economics, democracy[1], Marxism (okay, no argument there), and unions.

*facepalm*
Read more... )
scott_sanford: (Daria proofreads)
Conservatives have been praising Ronald Reagan for a few years now, as their model of what a president should be. Lately it occurred to me to ask why.

If our current conservatives like Reagan's policies they should approve of our current president's similar positions, and they don't; many dislike him because he's of the wrong party, and some because he's the wrong color, but overall it doesn't sound like a policy choice at all. It's not that Reagan had a great presidency, either; he didn't. Americans saw corruption charges, an exploding deficit, etc.

Eventually it occurred to me that they're pushing Reagan because he's the only one they've got. Look at the Republican presidents over the last fifty years: the crook, the nobody, the actor, the spy, and the drunk. Of course they're going for the actor. Let's break down their options. Read more... )
scott_sanford: (Default)
So I noticed that today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, which I hope has been pointed out by many people in the media - I only knew because I read up on it, but it's the sort of thing which could pad out a news broadcast or newspaper article. And most of us are aware that Cinco de Mayo is a bigger deal in the US than in most parts of Mexico.

But the US has a neighbor to the north, too; why don't we have a Canadian holiday? This may bear pondering.
scott_sanford: (Default)
Oh, you may think your government is full of crazies and drunkards but...um, you know, never mind. The point is you're not alone. (Okay, if you've been following our Republican primaries you already knew that.) But did you know the State of Arizona sold off its own capitol building?

Now, I'm not sure how it occurs to somebody to think this is a good idea. For that matter, I'm not sure who'd buy such a thing. What would you do with it? Rent it out to a new and upcoming state government? Haul it off to another state so they can have two capitol buildings? In Arizona, the answer was to lease it back to the original tenants - you know, the people who'd been there in the first place, only now the government had to pay money to occupy the building they'd constructed for themselves. Arizona now wants to buy it back, and if I'm reading the article right someone's pocketing over twenty million dollars in this little caper, and it's not the taxpayers.
scott_sanford: (Default)
That's the title of this article, found in a discussion of the recent articles about a circulation scam at the Wall Street Journal. If you're not into math it may make your eyes glaze over, but take this to heart: after a report of the Wall Street Journal lying about money, this is worse.

Not as immediate, though, and there are no fingers to point at specific malefactors. Rather, it suggests that there are a number of people doing tricky things in the corporate world, and the numbers presented to the public are not always good representations of what's really happening.
scott_sanford: (Default)
I've got some friends doing a road trip who should be crossing Montana in the next few days, probably along I-90/I-94. Does anyone have some suggestions for interesting things to see or do that aren't far off the highway or time intensive?
scott_sanford: (Default)
As happens in my city periodically, a number of military vessels have come in to let the sailors get some R&R and to show the flag to the civilians ashore. This Sunday I spent a few hours going along the row of ships downtown and took a few tours.

I got to visit three USCG vessels of various sizes and one ship of the two Canadian Navy vessels down here (hello, HMCS Saskatoon and Whitehorse!) and let me say that I had a pleasant experiences aboard all four vessels. The crews - and the other visitors - were pleasant, the lines were not impossibly long, and I recommend the experience to anyone who gets the opportunity to try it.

You'll notice I don't mention the US Navy. There is a reason. Some years back, perhaps in response to 9/11, they started tightening up 'security' for such tours, and trying to keep such dangerous things as pocketknives off of their ships. Someone in the Navy has apparently visited an airport since then, as they now have metal detectors, armed guards (with rifles, that is, not just the ships' weaponry), and check ID. Also, the wait to get aboard is apparently longer.

This contrasts with the US Coast Guard and the Canadian Navy method, in which interested visitors line up in an orderly fashion and are shown the ship as sailors become available to escort them through and answer questions. The Canadians might be granted some reasonable concern, as they're in a foreign nation, but they seemed happy with a warning sign (essentially, 'we reserve the right to search you if we think we need to') and a quick safely lecture ('hold onto the rail on ladders, and speak up before you touch any buttons'). I'm unclear about the USN attitude towards photography - I was passing as an officer was warning a woman about something involving her camera but got too far away to hear details - but the USCG and CN invited folks to take pictures, and crewmen would even pose with tourists.

I'm happy to report that every sailor I talked to was quite happy with their time in Portland. It seems we're being good hosts in turn.
scott_sanford: (Default)
Over on Rocketpunk Manifesto I ran into this comparison:

The downgrading of the Shuttle program thus turned out to be part of a larger political shift, which has affected American space activity ever since. NASA had, and retains, a sufficient base of public and interest-group support that, like Amtrak, it could never be eliminated outright, but it has been kept on a sort of starvation diet, the root cause of many of its failings. If you provide just enough funding to keep a program from dying outright, you keep it alive but ensure that it will be suboptimal.

True enough, and some Americans are fans of both. There doesn't seem to be any good way to get more funding into either, although if you chat up a supporter you can hear of many useful things that could be done if the budget weren't so painfully restricted.

I think our priorities are not those of most folks.
scott_sanford: (Default)
Possibly the best troll baiting headline of Pi Day: Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus.

There's a long history of saying outrageous things in order to get attention. Phil Zuckerman actually backs it up with something related, so good for him.
scott_sanford: (Default)
For a friend (she knows who she is): a trip to HAARP! Read more... )
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Found more or less at random on Facebook (like everthing else on Facebook)...

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