TOOTIN’ MY HORN

By Mike Cronin

This blog has been a great laboratory for honing my writing, but it is not the only place I write.  If you like what I do here, I invite you to check out my work on Quora.  I am also elated to post this link to my first bit of paid writing:

https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2017/12/dont-draft-women-dont-draft-anyone/

Please enjoy and share!

 

The Power of “So?”

By Mike Cronin

The 85 Richest People In The World Have As Much Wealth As The 3.5 Billion Poorest

So?  That headline is meant to make us hate the rich and want to see them taxed into submission.  It is meant to create envy and division.  Did those 85 people steal that wealth from the “bottom half,” or did they produce it? If they produced it, it’s theirs.  If they stole it, then prosecute them.  If you want to help the “bottom half” improve their lives, then help them. Appeal to the wealthy for donations all you want, but don’t believe that you can cure poverty by ostensibly playing Robin Hood. He didn’t steal from “the rich” and give to “the poor,” he stole from the government and gave back to the taxpayers!

The Israelis are doing__ against the Palestinians again!

So?  There is a meme circulating that states:  “If the Israelis wanted war, the Palestinians would be wiped out.  If the Palestinians wanted peace, there would be peace.”  It’s not 100% perfectly factual, but there is a high degree of “truthiness” in that statement.

___member of the Trump Administration had contact with Russian diplomats while serving in Congress (or some other governmental or international corporate position) before the election.

So?  That’s what the Russian diplomats are here for!  That’s why we send American diplomats to Russia! It is far better that our leaders have contact with their diplomats than that we stop talking to each other and start rekindling the Cold War in earnest, isn’t it? We’ve already had Vietnam and Korea, and we’ve been stuck in Afghanistan for nearly 16 years.  Syria could easily become the next quagmire if it isn’t already.  Do we really need to increase the likelihood of that happening by not having any dialogue with the Russians?

Sports stars get paid more than military troops and teachers!

So?  Stop paying them! If you think star athletes get paid too much, don’t go to the games, don’t buy the fan merchandise, and don’t pay for sports packages on satellite or cable.  If you think teachers and troops deserve more, write your school board and your congressional delegation and tell them you want to donate more money on top of your paid taxes so they can get a raise. Better yet, gift some money to a teacher or troop of your choice (but less than $10,000, please.  We don’t want to make them pay higher taxes for getting your gift!)

Somebody offended me!

Image result for Whaaambulance

So? Call the whaaambulance and wait for it in your safe space, ya simpering snowflake!  You have a right to free speech AND you have a right not to listen to the free speech of others. You don’t have right to not be offended.

They gave the Best Picture Oscar to the wrong movie.

So? Does that have any bearing at all on your life?  It’s mildly interesting to watch the antics of celebrities, but we only fuel the worst aspects of their personalities by obsessing over their affairs and faux-pas.  Maybe we need that spectacle to distract us from the real issues, which would be fine if that’s all Hollywood did (i.e. produce distractions). But that’s not all is it?

(Pick any Hollywood celebrity) said (something pontificating or pious about national or international issues)

So? How does a career as a professional pretender confer to anyone the bona-fides to provide a value-added perspective on …anything that matters?

Random Matter 2

968361

By Mike Cronin

The tidal wave of angst unleashed by the election of Donald Trump is not wholly explainable by his crudity, political outsider status, media and polling industry failures, hacked emails, possible election tampering, or Hillary Clinton’s campaign style.

For too long, the beltway establishment has been driving this country down a two-lane country road that ends at a cliff: tyranny. When the liberals where at the wheel, the conservatives would call the cliff “socialism” and say the Democrats were racing us towards it, while the liberals would say that conservatives were steering us headlong towards the “fascism” cliff when Republicans had the wheel.

It was always the same cliff.

lowe-cliff1

Now the liberals are howling that Trump will stomp on the accelerator, and the “Never Trump” branch of the conservative establishment isn’t sure that he won’t do just that.  Nor am I.

What I am more confident of is that for perhaps only a brief moment, by electing Trump, the passengers have made ALL of the drivers slow down and take notice of the impending danger. Even if Trump turns out to be wise at the wheel, we may be in for a period of painful adjustment.

***

0094e7c2-675b-4b13-b325-e846ce30e305

Have you ever been irritated by Pecksniffian pipsqueaks who take any statement that does not absolutely validate or corroborate what they say and allege it means exactly the opposite?

Pipsqueak: We have to raise the minimum wage for the poor. (Sips his latte.)

Host: But won’t that mean there will be fewer jobs?

Pipsqueak: Hate speech! What do you have against poor people?  Are you a one-percenter? I can’t believe we still have troglodytes like you in this country!

Host:  But I was just-

Pipsqueak: I have to go. My limo is double parked, and I’m late for therapy.

***

6189757e341e0250bd04e817c3808ffe

Congress is now considering bills that would make it mandatory for females to register for the draft with Selective Service.  In my opinion, obligatory service of any kind is anathema to freedom.  You cannot protect freedom by taking it away. It is also not very effective to staff a high-tech, professional military with conscripts. It takes an inordinate amount of effort to train, motivate, and discipline people who are potentially there against their will…though it can, and has, been done.

It is far more efficient, effective, and easier to train qualified and self-motivated volunteers.

Wisely, the US stopped the draft in 1973…but unwisely kept the Selective Service, and is now taking a step in the wrong direction, IMO.  Instead of making females register, it should stop requiring anyone to register!

On the other hand, I would be in favor of examining the idea that we stop automatically conferring citizenship by birthright.  The idea that one should have to earn citizenship, with public service being one avenue to that end, has some interesting potential.

Conventional Wisdom?

36180739

By Mike Cronin

A million people can’t be wrong.  Oh, yes they can.  Look no farther than religion. There are dozens, if not hundreds in existence now, and there have been thousands throughout history.  Each believes that all the others are wrong.  They certainly can’t all be right. Don’t go there?  OK, how about: Environmentalists vs. global warming “deniers,” the medical community vs “anti-vaxers,”or “the moon landings were fake” crowd vs NASA?”   Would you believe there are still people who think the earth is flat?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  As an adage for leaving things alone that are working well enough and focusing on genuine problems, this is not bad advice.  However, when it morphs into an attitude it becomes counter-productive.  If humans all held this attitude, we’d still be sleeping in caves, picking lice off our neighbors, and dying of old age or tooth decay in our twenties and thirties.

It’s a free country.  Not as free as it’s supposed to be.  Want to open or run a business?  Get a license, or two, or ten.  Comply with state and local compensation and workmen’s comp laws. Pay estimated taxes every quarter. Want to drill a well or build an addition on your own property?  Do you have the water and mineral rights?  Got a permit? Have you thought about homeschooling your kids?  Again: do you have the right permits?  Are you following the prescribed curriculum? On and on: permits, regulations, licenses, red tape.

The police will protect me.  They don’t have to.  They have to protect society as a whole, not you as an individual. If the police had to protect all of us individually, each of us individuals would have to be a police officer.

Teachers deserve more money. The good ones do. The mediocre ones don’t.  The bad ones should be fired.  Regardless, school districts have no economically compelling reason to pay more.  It’s a simple case of supply and demand.  The overall supply of trained teachers and freshly-minted teaching candidates is roughly double the demand.

Pro athletes don’t deserve million-dollar salaries.  Then stop paying them. Once again, supply and demand is at work.  Professional-caliber athletes are exceedingly rare and highly sought-after, so they command dream-come-true salaries.  If you refuse to buy sports packages on cable, stop buying fan gear, and stop going to games, the teams will lose money and athlete salaries will drop.

We’re fighting a war on __(drugs, poverty, terrorism, obesity, etc…) No, we are not.  Wars are fought against enemies, not chemicals, circumstances, tactics, or conditions.  Generating a “war-fighting” mindset is a tactic used by people who want you to give up some of your freedom in exchange for a little more security – which they can’t really provide.

Not wanting to pay your fair share of taxes is greedy.  1. How much is a “fair share?”  Who gets to decide? 2.  If I am “greedy” solely for wanting to keep what I earn, what word applies to those who think they have even more right to take my money than I have to keep it?

I have a Constitutional right to__.  Nope.  The Constitution protects our rights by establishing a limited government; it does not grant rights.  It seems like a subtle distinction, but it is the thing that made the fledgling United States of America unique in the history of the world:  the first nation established based on the principle of limited, rights-protecting government established in the service of a free people.

Electric cars don’t emit carbon dioxide.  Not directly, but indirectly, the power plant that produced the electricity to charge the car’s batteries most likely did (unless it was nuclear)…and the industrial activity used to mine the ores and smelt the metals to make the batteries themselves sure did.

Recycling is good for the environment. Really? How much energy is saved when you have to produce double the number of plastic bins and operate twice the number of fuel-guzzling, traffic-congesting big trucks to service them? What about the recycling plant itself?

Everyone hates Congress. Then why do Congress members have such high re-election rates over time?  Apparently, we love our own Senators and Representatives and only hate the rest of Congress.

Random Absurdities, Pt. 2.

 

sisyphus

By Mike Cronin

It’s OK to kill our (human) enemies, but we dare not name them.  On the other hand, we have no compunction about conducting war against all sorts of things that aren’t enemies: Terrorism is a tactic used by our aforementioned unnamed enemy, but terrorism itself is not an enemy. Drugs are a commodity sold by enemies taking advantage of the risk/reward conditions our drug laws create, but drugs themselves are not an enemy. Poverty is a condition often perpetuated by people who refuse to accept that they are responsible for the choices they make.  Poverty is not an enemy, but the “War on Poverty” often treats the most productive among us as foes.

The “Occupy Wall Street” types who made a stink a few years ago railing against capitalism were often seen wearing name-brand clothing, drinking coffee from famous-brand cafes, and calling and texting each other on smart phones.  How can one accept an anti-capitalist argument from spokes-dudes wading up to their necks in the products, goods, and services created at the hands of some of our most effective capitalists?

Scientifically speaking, anything with a carbon molecule is organic. Virtually all of the food items we eat, with the exception of water, salt, and trace minerals, are organic in the most factual sense possible: they contain carbon atoms and molecules in the structures of carbohydrates and proteins.   The idea that a vegetable or box of cookies or a can of soda might not be legally “organic” when they are factually “organic” is a semantic absurdity fostered by the pipsqueaks of panic.

Ditto for “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs).  Virtually every domesticated food plant and animal produced and consumed today is a result of genetic modification that has been going on since the dawn of agriculture.  Here again, the pipsqueaks are pandering to fear.  It makes no difference to your body if a tomato or grape or a chicken was modified over many generations in the field or one generation in a test tube.  You are going to eat the stuff, draw energy from it, and eliminate it, not blend it into your genetic code. Eating “Franken-food” will not cause you to turn into a shambling mutant!

I am reliably informed that airline pilots for most of the big domestic airlines (American, United, Delta) are paid by the hour, from the time the jet is pushed back from the gate at the departure airport until the door is opened at the arrival airport.  Is it not absurd to incentivize your highest-paid hourly employees to NOT be efficient in an industry with such low profit margins that attention to efficiency is essential for financial success?

The concept of “white privilege” has been instigated as a way to induce guilt in white people for (supposedly) causing, or at least not having to suffer, the woes (real or imagined) of every other demographic. It is a racist concept, and it absurd.  It is racist because it attributes advantage to whites solely on the basis of their skin color.  It ignores the fact that there are many non-white people who attain as many, or more, rewards and advantages in their lives than most whites.  It is absurd when applied to Americans because all of us in the US enjoy far more “privilege” (in the form of better living conditions, more freedom, and more opportunities for some, and sadly, also in the form of government handouts for others) than most people in most countries around the world.  The constant stream of immigrants pouring into this country (legally and illegally) aren’t coming here seeking to be oppressed by the man!

We are supposed to take it for granted that income inequality is a bad thing and accept all kinds of wealth redistribution schemes to help resolve it.  There is never any allowance for the possibility that income inequality might be a direct result of ingenuity inequality or effort inequality. That would mean that people are responsible for their own achievements (or lack thereof).  We can’t have that – it would be absurd!

Random Absurdities– Pt I.

By Mike Cronin

sisyphus

Businesses can come under suspicion of discrimination if they don’t hire minorities and the “differently oriented” in proportion to the surrounding population…but they dare not ask what an applicant’s orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, etc. might be, because that could indicate an intent to discriminate.

If you want to keep what you earn, you’re greedy, but if you want to take what isn’t yours so you can buy votes you don’t deserve, you can get elected to high office.

Common Core in math is akin to asking a baby on the verge of walking to learn all of the anatomy and physiology of his little legs and having him explain to you what processes are going on with his muscles, bones, and balance while he is taking his first steps.

The tariffs and taxes on sugar make it twice as expensive here as in other countries.  The tariffs are meant to protect jobs in the sugar-raising industry. Instead, they cause loss of jobs in the industries that use the refined sugar, or force them to switch to high fructose corn syrup.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse…but no one can know of all the laws, because there are more than a person can read.  Worse yet:  even if you are aware of and follow a given law, you may be violating a different, contradicting law.  There is no law that obligates Congress to check whether proposed legislation might contradict current statutes.

Many people have to prove they do not take illegal drugs in order to get hired for a job. Once employed, they will have income taxes confiscated from their paychecks.  Money from those taxes will then be transferred to people relying on “government” assistance to make ends meet – people who don’t have to prove they are drug-free.  In fact, for some, the very reason they are receiving government assistance is because they have destroyed their employment eligibility through illegal drug use!

We send people to prison, comforting ourselves that the guilty are being punished for their crimes.  They will certainly not enjoy their stay, but while they are in, all too often they will learn to be even more ruthless, violent, and/or skilled at criminal activity.  Then they will get out and go right back to their predatory ways – but with a far greater degree of criminal impact.

Government-backed student loans, financial aid, and Pell grants are meant to help students cope with the high costs of post-secondary education.  Instead, by making it easier for more people to pay for school, the demand for higher education goes up…which drives the prices up. Put another way: even as Johnny gets his college loan and pays for school this year, the school raises its rates for next year.  Now Sally gets a bigger loan and pays for the higher tuition. The school raises its rates for next year. Now Jenny gets a bigger loan…lather, rinse, repeat.

We are supposed to equate “rich” with “high income,” resent high income earners, and demand that they pay higher taxes. People with high salaries have to pay high income taxes, but people with high net worth can live quite well off of the gains their investments make, and pay capital gains taxes instead of income taxes. (Capital gains taxes are much lower than the highest income tax bracket.) For example, the highest income tax rate is 35%, but the long term capital gain tax rate is 20%.  This can lead to a situation where a person who works his buns off and makes $500,000 in income (a cardiologist, perhaps) pays $175,000 in federal income tax, leaving $325,000. (This scenario is only about federal income tax vs capital gains tax – we’ll leave social security, states taxes, deductions, etc., out of the equation for simplicity’s sake). Now consider a person with $5 million in net worth invested wisely. Perhaps this person inherited the money.  Suppose this person makes capital gains of 10% per year – pretty good in this economy.  10% of $5 million is $500,000 – the same as our doctor’s income.  But capital gains taxes are only 20% ($100,000), not 35%.  That means the wealthy guy living a life of leisure off his investments pays $75,000 per year less taxes than the “rich” guy who worked his rear end off…on the same amount of taxable income!

 

10 Thoughts for 2016

By Mike Cronin

Instead of resolutions, I suggest these 10 thoughts for the New Year:

Regardless of your party preference or which side of the political spectrum you align with, remember that even the politicians you like are more concerned about getting elected (or re-elected) than they are about representing you or your interests. (props to Thomas Sowell)

Similarly, the mass media news outlets exist make profit.  They do so primarily by selling advertising air time. Keeping you hooked is the goal of their programming tactics: dramatic music, constant movement, urgent tones, “alerts,” scrolling updates, etc. None are necessary to impart information; they are hooks. Keeping you informed is less important than keeping you watching.

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes popularized the idea that the Constitution is a “living document.” This notion suggests the founders meant for us to interpret their words in the context of our time, not their own.  In fact, the founders did recognize that times change and the Constitution must be adaptable to those changes.  They meant for us to be able to make those changes by the formal process of amending the Constitution.  Getting an amendment passed and ratified is very difficult – on purpose. But it is possible – that’s why there are currently 27 amendments.  It’s a good bet that any party, pressure group, or court that attempts to re-interpret the meaning of the founders words knows it could never see its agenda come to fruition though the amendment process. The Constitution is not a living document, but it is an amendable one!

Confiscatory taxation: When your neighbors and co-workers use the coercive power of government to steal money from you to pay for laws and programs you don’t want.

When you hear about waste in government spending, you are told about “pork” (e.g. ridiculous projects to study cow flatulence, install “modern art” to “beautify” some government facility, build arenas and bridges, or make payments to farmers not to grow food, etc.). Pork barrel spending is certainly wasteful, but I submit that when a politician says we need to cut waste, then offers pork projects as examples, he is attempting to distract us from the most egregious form of government waste: spending money we don’t have on entire government departments, agencies, bureaus, etc. that do not protect anyone’s rights (the only proper function of government) and thus have no legitimate reason to exist.

You cannot reason with a person who does not value logic. (Props to Sam Harris)

Now that women are allowed in every specialty in the armed forces, there have been calls to require women to register for the draft – in the name of equal rights and equal opportunity.  How about we discuss ending all draft registration and disbanding the Selective Service System instead?  The draft is a form of indentured servitude if not outright slavery. If equal rights are the motivation driving changes in military gender composition, then men should have the same right women currently enjoy: to not register for the draft and to not serve against their will!

One definition of a “license:” When the government takes away a bit of your freedom, then allows you to buy permission to do the thing you were once at liberty to do.

Presidential candidates will make all kinds of assertions and promises about what they will do for the economy or crime control or the environment – but, short of invasion or natural disaster, all he or she can legally do in those areas is make proposals, sign bills into law, and direct the executive branch. The president’s real power lies in foreign relations, not domestic ones.  This is why the Secretaries of State and Defense are more prominent than the Secretary of the Interior, for example.

Some people judge Congress by the number of laws it passes. This is absurd.  The more laws there are, the harder it becomes to be law-abiding, and the easier it becomes to inadvertently break the law.  Supposedly, ignorance of the law is not an excuse to break it – but no one can know all of the laws, because there are too many!