Monthly Archives: January 2014

My Conservative Apostasy: The post office

I support this.

State owned enterprise, and that’s socialism, but not Marxist socialism, right?

A side note: I shop on Gunbroker, and have picked off some real peaches from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s as fellas liquidated to buy ARs, that sort of thing.  Among the sellers you often have to deal with right wing cranks (did I say that?  I mean moreso than me).  Invariably, they want payment in a postal money order.  Not a bank check, but a postal money order.  Not a gas station money order, but a postal money order.

This is… paradoxical, in many ways.


Income Inequality & immobility: $100k is the new $30k

With ‘income inequality’, I think some of my crankiness / recalcitrance is the disgust of constantly being goaded into an argument that is not ‘the’ actual argument.

The President is going to raise the wage floor on federal contracts to $10 an hour apparently.

Fine.  But this will not remediate income inequality.  What the President and the Democrats want is significantly more income redistribution from modestly affluent households on up.  This perhaps would remediate income inequality, given suitable scale and payouts.  But the Democrats won’t acknowledge a debate on that premise, because it exposes them as fairly politically radical.  So what we get is this insipid argument where the existence of low and minimum wage jobs = income inequality.

Being an “income inequality” skeptic I find is as difficult as being a ‘climate change denier’.  People will slap you down with various Gini coefficients that are ostensibly backed by consensus research.  The denier’s job of asserting that doesn’t mean much is very difficult.

I’ll take a shot at that here, with the breadth of some observation.

Minneapolis Punch Pizza was featured in the SOTU for paying its lowest workers a minimum of $10 / hr.

This is laudable as well, and the business owners get some props for being great guys.  You read this article though, and you note there’s a potential for restaurant managers to earn $60k / yr and general managers to earn $100k / yr at Punch

For these workers, I would doubt that Punch is paying a premium wage over restaurants in its eatery sector.  For full timers, that’s too big an expense for a class of worker they don’t need to overspend to attract (my wild ass assertion).  Which is to say, I think those are representative wages quoted from the top of scale.  So we’ll say restaurant managers are commonly earning $40 – $60k these days, with general managers earning $75 – 100k.

My knee jerk reaction:  We think of restaurant workers as low paid, but $50k a year is professional money.  An industry where restaurant managers earn $50k a year is not one that suffers from an inequality.

If restaurant managers earn $50k a year…. Then I don’t think we have a systemic economic mobility problem either.  Restaurant managers are made on the job, not minted by universities.  What we do have is an invalid premise.  And the invalid premise we have is kind of obvious:  that everyone needs to be a STEM worker.  We don’t.  STEM work is no more laudable than anything else.

Add as well (if I have my facts right…) these punch Pizza guys started this chain as young men, from nothing.  It’s ostensibly a low 8 figure enterprise now.  I don’t want to make the exception the rule here, so I’ll assert that I see this sort of thing go on often enough to say …. that this sort of entrepreneurship is also an example of there not being a systemic mobility problem.

The ascending insight of Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’ve been skimming the Atlantic webdaily for years, and I read Coates often. 

I’ve not been all that into his observations about racism and white privilege.  It may speak for itself.  I’m a recalcitrant conservative.  He’s a black writer with a great focus on racism and white privilege.

Coates has been on a jag in recent months, contemplating what went on in Europe from 1900 – 1950. I’ll sort of inelegantly bullet point that for sake of reference:  the wars, Ukraine, the Holodomor, the Holocaust.   That kind of thing…the tens of millions who were killed.

There has been some reflection in his threads what it means to be a black person who steps outside his milieu to feel the visceral pain of European / Caucasian history.  It was remarked on, and I guess it is remarkable, to some extent.

I think this point is by now unimpressive in comparison to Coates’ actually empathic reaction.  What’s obvious in his writing his anguish for the destruction, pain, and death of these 20th century Europeans.

It’s interesting to me…. Because I have this anguished reaction to thoughts of 20th century European history.  You know, and I wasn’t there, and wasn’t alive then.

Don’t know what point I am trying to make, but I do I find this ability to feel this distant anguish an odd thing.  New to me, as I get older.  Coates is a terribly impressive writer.

“Log” jam: log is a euphemism for penis, get it?

People are taken aback by the absurdity.  People must be forgetting this comes out of what was the capital of Bachmannistan, amirite?

I kid.  I’m from Stillwater.  If not in the most literal sense (a neighboring berg to be exact), but Stillwater was the center of our social, scholarly, and commercial lives.

So no, I never had this sense of Lake Wobegon-ness where someone would object to the possibility of an obscure allusion to a slang term.  Scratch that.  As an ethnic Catholic, I always had some sense Stillwater was a Lutheran town.  And maybe that’s not literally true, but it was prosperous enough to be WASPy by temperament.  And it did have a robust strain of evangelical weirdness coursing through here and there, that of a sort that couldn’t tolerate a ribald joke or pun.

Maybe I am describing Bachmannistan.

Hypocrisy Watch Watch: Chaitred

I read Jonathon Chait.  He’s an interesting writer, which is more than half the battle.  He consistently makes elaborate observations that are true (…and uses them for conclusions I disagree with).

So having learned from his writing in the past, it’s losing that utility for me lately.  Generally now, his aim seems to be to call Republicans and conservatives out for hypocrisy.  Often this is in service to an assertion that Republicans would support liberal policies if they weren’t merely being obstructive (…because they’re racists, yada yada).

This is, I think, obtusely simplistic or worse.  Chait is no doubt smart and not obtuse, so I lean toward ‘or worse’.  But in any event, it’s getting repetitive here in year 5 of the Obama administration.

Here today, Chait critiques a recent Matthew Continetti long form article on Washington clubbiness and nepotism.   At issue is Continetti’s antipathy to a Jacob Weisberg piece in Vogue describing the marriage of Sam Kass and Alex Wagner.

Chait acknowledges Continetti’s evaluation of the Weisberg piece as basically correct, but then quibbles with Continetti’s correctness given that Wagner’s success is not an obvious example of nepotism.

The Wagner point is small ball. Inasmuch as Chait is correct, he’s pro forma, nit-picking by rote.

To conclude his piece, Chait delivers the goods, detailing that Continetti attained his position as editor of the webzine Washington Free Beacon by nepotism.  In this case, Continetti married Bill Kristol’s daughter, with Kristol having then guided Continetti’s career at various points.

If true, what this means is Continetti is a hypocrite.  What’s to be gained by calling Continetti a hypocrite when there’s not an obvious practical tie to GOP legislative obstruction (…and then racism?).  I’m not sure.  Figure, it’s just Chait’s knee jerk reaction these days.

Chait happened to be wrong though, and had to update his column with an appending paragraph that accurately transcribes Continetti’s career.  Seems Continetti started his work in the Kristol publishing business some years ago, ascended through it, only to marry Kristol’s daughter last year.

The premise of a Chait column being entirely invalidated by Chait is kinda priceless.  He’s one of these extreme certitude guys.