You’ll not want to miss these short videos of an eagle in flight, taken with a 1 oz. mini camera mounted right on the bird.
You’ll not want to miss these short videos of an eagle in flight, taken with a 1 oz. mini camera mounted right on the bird.
So, I was shot a link to this NYT article via email.
Let’s see if I get this…2,100 janitors were each paid about $3.50 per hour with no overtime pay, vacation pay, sick pay, or benefits of any sort. They usually worked 7 days a week, during the middle of the night, and often put in 70+ hours per week. Not a one of them was smart enough to know they could have gotten a much better deal at any number of places that pay the federal minimum wage of $5.50 per hour and time-and-a-half for OT (and often with other modest benefits, like vacation time and holidays).
That’s quite a lot of clueless janitors in one place, isn’t it?
Or, is it perhaps just a little bit more plausible that these 2,100 janitors knew their options, and for whatever their reasons, exercised their freedom to stay with the arrangements they had bargained for? Of course, you’ll get no clue as to what it was that caused them to opt the way they did in an NYT article, that’s for sure.
But here’s the sad part about this. You know, there’s almost nothing in the world that I admire or respect more than the immigrant to America (and I could give a rat’s ass about whether it’s "legal" or "illegal," so long as they’re here to see to a dream; honestly). But, I see crap like this, below, and I just shake my head about how someone with the character to make the journey to America in the first place could be turned into such a sniveling excuse for a man.
"I had only three days off in my whole five years there, and that was because I was very sick," Mr. Lopez, 29, an immigrant from Mexico, said. "I really couldn’t do anything, because if I told my boss he was paying me too little, he would just fire me. It’s hard to find another job, and I have to support my mother and younger brothers."
Like other janitors, Mr. Lopez said he was paid in cash, never had taxes withheld and was not given health insurance or vacation days. He said the contractor gave him orders about washing and waxing the floors, but Vons managers often ordered him to clean storage areas and remove empty cartons.
"I felt very bad about how little they paid me," he said. "One comes to this country with dreams, and when you see the reality of things, you see it’s very different from what you expected."
Now that the class-action lawyers, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the Service Employees International Union have turned this man and his co-workers into a group of wretched victims with the earned respect of no one anymore, they can turn their attentions to whatever their next task may be.
Then, this: The AARP Declares War on Younger Americans.
That’s too bad, because they might be interested in knowing that one of America’s largest and most effective lobbying organizations has just declared war on them. The AARP has now decided that it’s going to fight any effort by President Bush to privatize, even partially, that debacle known as Social Security.
The time will come, though, when these people who today are preoccupied with the grossly unimportant will suddenly realize that they’ve been robbed blind. For their entire working lives they had 14% of their earnings ripped off as a Social Security "contribution." In time they will find out that if they are actually lucky enough to get any of this money back when they reach the age of about 70 or so, they will have realized a return of less than 2% on their "investment.’
Explanation: Divide the people who have been paying Social Security taxes for the past 40 years into four basic groups. White Males, black males, white females, black females. Statistics will show that of these four demographic groups white females have the longest life expectancy; black males the shortest. In 2002 the life expectancy for a newborn white female was 79.9 years. The life expectancy of a newborn black male was 68.8 years. If you were born after 1960 your Social Security full retirement age is 67. This means that a black male can expect to get Social Security benefits for about two years, while a white female can expect to receive those benefits for almost 13 years. You do the math. even if you went to a government school you can figure out that the average white female will receive Social Security benefits 11 years longer than the average black male. It has been estimated that during his lifetime the average black male will lose about $10,000 in income that will be forcibly transferred to a white woman.
The solution? Privatization! If you own your own account it can’t be taken from you or your family and given to some stranger living in a retirement community in Palm Desert, California. If you have the misfortune to die before the law allows you to start withdrawing retirement benefits from your account the money goes to your family. Isn’t that the way you would want it? Wouldn’t you want that money to be spent to make your spouse or children rather than someone you didn’t know and who might not have even given you the time of day if you had known them during life?
When you die the money you earned during life shouldn’t be seized by government to be transferred to another individual you don’t know while your family scrambles about looking for a way to keep their home and pay for your funeral, but that’s exactly what the AARP is fighting for.
Chile used to have a Social Security system that was a virtual copy of ours. Chile, however, didn’t have an AARP. What Chile did have was politicians who realized that their system was doomed to collapse, and who did something about it. Chile privatized every individual’s retirement benefits.
Today in Chile workers pay 10% of their pretax earnings into their own retirement plans. They can elect to pay an additional 10% in pretax earnings if they wish. The companies who manage these funds are prohibited by law from engaging in any other type of business. The sole business purpose of these companies is to take these privately owned retirement accounts and grow them. If they die before the retirement age the money goes to their families. If Chileans live to retirement age they have three options:
- Purchase a family annuity from a life insurance company.
- Leave their funds in a personal account and make monthly withdrawals adjusted to match their life expectancy.
- Any combination of 1 and 2.
The government steps in to guarantee a "minimum pension" for people who have worked at least 20 years and who’s benefits don’t meet the minimum monthly amount required by the Chilean law.
In Chile 95% of workers participate in the private plan. In America 100% of workers don’t have that option, and the AARP is doing everything it can to make sure they never do.
Thanks, AARP. If younger Americans ever figure out what an enemy to their financial future you truly are things may change and you may lose that grip you have on government.
(heads up: Beck)
The right to self defense, in principle, strikes me as perhaps the most universally understood of our rights. This is doubtless due to its "intuitive" nature: when someone smashes you in the face with a baseball bat, you’ve no doubt about your rights in the matter.
On the other hand, in all but those cases where one is actually subject to attack, application of the right to self defense offers no bright-line rules. On top of that, "turn-the-other-cheek" styled "ethics" and "enlightened" modern society have further muddied the waters to the point that for many, unless they are actually being beat over the head with a baseball bat, they see any use of force as initiatory aggression.
With respect to the war, there are of course those for whom it’s nothing more than a political issue–on both sides. Those who believed that the war would be a winner politically were right (so far) and those who believed it could be made into a losing liability were wrong (so far). But then there are those people of good conscience, on both sides, who either sincerely believe we are doing the right thing or the wrong thing.
For any of those who’ve had trouble articulating a position based on the right of self defense (either way), then perhaps what follows will help. Keep in mind that an application of this principle largely concerns a weighing of one’s respective values. So, one may encounter a situation where self defense is morally justified, but the potential cost of exercising that right is judged to be too great. By contrast, one may be unsure about the moral standing of applyiing self defense in a given situation, but might be persuaded to one side or the other by an analysis of the values involved.
I’m foremost a moralist, not a consequentialist. That means that the moral principle is paramount, not the economic consequences one way or the other. However, having a right to act in a certain way does not obligate me to act in that way, and that’s where an economic analysis can be helpful as a tool, but never as a substitute for moral principles.
So, all that to introduce the "hottest new blog" on the scene, The Becker-Posner Blog. Here’s the scoop:
Becker is a Nobel-prize-winning economist who in addition to scholarly publications on a wide range of economic issues including education, discrimination, labor, the family, crime, addiction, and immigration, for many years wrote a monthly column for Business Week. Posner is a federal circuit judge and also a writer of books and articles in a variety of fields, including antitrust, intellectual property, and other fields in which economics is applied to law, but also topical fields such as impeachment, contested elections, and national-security issues.
Their first two posts (Posner’s / Becker’s), dealing with "preventative war," are up and include some of the cost-benefit issues that might help some work through the application of the moral right of self defense as it applies to Iraq.
We live in a time where everyone is entitled to their own point of view, however unsubstantiated it might be. And in such an era, it is not enough to make sound economic and philosophical arguments if people refuse to be receptive to them. Our problem is more foundational: we must make our culture one that values inquiry and intellect in the first place. Once that’s taken care of, the ideas will speak for themselves.
Of course, the general point is valid.
But I think she misses the point, or the underlying premise anyway. Democracy is not political system designed to discover and uphold truth, and it never has. Democracy is a system that rewards a majority and punishes a minority–period. As such, people adopt positions that they believe will be winning positions. It’s no more complicated than that.
So long as democracy is the law of the land, and I certainly see no end in sight, public policy will remain as far removed from truth and reality as it ever needs to be. Truth, integrity, justice, reason: these things are not final arbiters in a democracy. The final arbiter is merely a majority.
While I certainly hold that it’s absolutely none of my business what substances sufficiently mature individuals choose to ingest, or in what quantities, I’ve also always thought that any genuine advocate of freedom (no, freedom) is stupid to make drug prohibition a central theme of their fight. How can I take someone seriously whose most important issue in life is their drugs?
On the other hand, I can’t help touching on the issue from time-to-time, particularly when such material as conservative Gary Aldrich’s recent Townhall column exists. Anyone who knows anything about recreational drugs should find this screed uproariously funny, in the sad sense, of course. Sure, it’s not Reefer Madness, or anything, but it sure is written to the ignoramus who’s more than happy to mind your business. Here’s just one funny, of many:
Yet selfish, self-centered Liberals don’t care about any of that – they just want their marijuana, cocaine, or whatever designer drug is in fashion. What they won’t admit is that many cannot enjoy their sexual activities without using the drugs – this is the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about. The effects of marijuana and cocaine are often more powerful than Viagra. The Liberal guy pushes drug use because everyone knows drugs sweep away a woman’s natural reluctance to behave like a barnyard goat.
Did I mention that Gary Aldrich is founder and president of The Patrick Henry Center for "Individual Liberty"?
People have differing views of abortion but almost nobody approves of the holding in Roe and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. Between them, those two cases and their progeny establish that abortion is a matter of no public concern under any circumstances. Whenever a woman and her abortionist agree that an abortion is indicated, nobody can constitutionally intervene.
The rules we have are extreme. If the Supreme Court discarded them and restored to the states their power to regulate abortion very few people would notice or care. Abortion would continue to be widely available in most states. This is all that most people who don’t want to see Roe overruled care about.
The legislatures would hammer out compromise regulatory schemes broadly satisfactory to the citizens of each state. Every state, even New York and California would adopt schemes flatly inconsistent with Roe. The left and its Democrat allies would be trapped trying to defend unlimited abortion on demand because that is what they have grown used to. Anything less would be a victory for the forces of life. The left would lose fifty times. It would be a long-running disaster for Democrats.
This process would have stresses for Republicans too. Compromise in this area is difficult. But every conceivable result in a post-Roe world will be a huge improvement for social conservatives. If abortion once again became a matter of political debate, Republicans would be able to satisfy their ideological base without alienating the mushy middle far better than Democrats.
The above is an except from Peter Mulhern. While the entire article is a rather interesting analysis, it has always stuck me as a bit odd that something as personal and seriously contemplated as abortion should end up being such a political football on both sides.
I’ve never believed for one second that either side has even one ounce of genuine concern for either the "unborn" or for the potential mother. It’s all just about a political agenda; who wins and who loses.
I have long maintained that most of what I see in the area of "security," particularly as it concerns the gauntlet we all must endure each time we fly, is little more than an illusion meant to give people a sense of being safer without really effectively making them safer. In a world where beliefs and feelings often trump the reality of things, it’s an "effective" government tool.
I see it nearly everywhere.
Penn Gillette, the famous illusionist, recounts his experience in dealing with airline security.
(via Kim du Toit)