People who don't have important economic skills are worthless and deserve shitty food and bad lives

The notion that higher minimum wage discourages hiring is entirely unproven. In plenty of places, employment is up in the years after an increase. In general, a few years later, you cannot see any difference.

This notion is a conservative canard without merit. There are two huge flaws in addition to the superficial inaccuracy. First is the notion that employment at the current minimum wage is something that should be encouraged. Spending forty, fifty or sixty hours a week at an activity that does not provide enough money to support even one person, let alone a family, is a bad thing for everyone except the employer, both society and the worker are worse off.

The worker is deprived of almost everything that people claim to believe makes us human. Time with family, opportunity to learn, fun, self-improvement, child and elder care, exercise, you name it never happens. Add food insecurity, no preventative health care and it is slavery.

Society still has to cover much of the cost of support for that person and his or her family. Minimum wage workers require subsidized health care, subsidized food and subsidized rent. People at that wage level are often forced to engage in criminal activities to supplement their income so that children can eat so society is also required to spend more on policing and social services. And, where there is crime there are gangs and that adds to the social burden, too.

But, corporations win so we stick with the canard. Somehow we are convinced that there are tons of unskilled workers being employed to do things that the business can live without. The theory is that a business will spend large amounts of capital money to automate jobs rather than give more money to poor people. It is a ridiculous idea. Most low wage jobs are not really subject to automation (have you ever seen a robot janitor?) and, of course, the research does not support this idea anyway.

It is another conservative effort to make sure that workers are poor and afraid. Paying them a decent wage will only make them prosperous and unafraid. Better conditions, better benefits, better hours, better lives. The horror!

Paying unskilled labor a decent wage would demonstrate that people have value beyond the value of their work. Americans don't want that. Americans hate poor people.

So don't clothe your moral distaste for those less fortunate in economic theory. Stick with the real reason: People who don't have important economic skills are worthless and deserve shitty food and bad lives.


One Minute's Delay. How We Almost Lost Our Democracy.

One of the very few criticisms I would make about the conduct of Trump’s impeachment trial is that they did not explore the consequences if he had succeeded. Many assert that he wanted to be a dictator but I suspect that most think it hyperbole, much as few realized the level of danger during the insurrection itself.

Until the impeachment trial, I knew it was bad but thought it was knuckleheads and idiots rampaging. Bad stuff might have, I thought, happened but it would have been a riot that got inside a building. Beatings, damage, shouting, ineffectual destruction and inchoate violence.

We now know that there was an intent to murder. “Where are you Nancy” and “Hang Pence” weren’t slogans, they were the intentions of weird psychopaths and trained militia people with a plan.

(Remember video of soldiers moving through the crowd outside the capitol, in a chain, a hand on the tactical vest of the soldier ahead, moving through the crowd with purpose and efficiency.)

Had the reinforced windows of the capitol failed a few seconds earlier, Pelosi and Pence would have been caught and murdered. Doubtless others would have been caught up in a melee. More people would have died.

What was the goal? The first people into the building shouted, “Where are they counting the votes?” They were there to “stop the steal”.

As Donald Trump well knew, there was no way to change the vote of the electoral college. The only way to change the outcome was to decapitate the government apparatus that would bring about the transfer of power. Hence, the death sentence for Pelosi and Pence.

But it would have been even worse. Just killing them would not insure Trump’s success. Unless the Senate was destroyed, it could reconstitute and certify a new president. Enough violence had to be done to prevent them from doing that. Killing, maiming, threatening the rest was also necessary.

According to the security cameras, this result was missed by less than a minute. They barely got the Senators out by the time the Senate chamber was captured by the insurrectionists. If Goodman hadn’t distracted them. If the windows had failed a minute more quickly. If someone had stumbled and slowed the evacuation. It would all be different.

And now, suppose… Pence, Pelosi and, say, ten senators are dead. Trump sends in the troops. The capitol is under military occupation with blood and death everywhere.

The country is enraged and terrified. Hundreds of thousands are on the streets everywhere. Opponents of Trump are outraged and rioting. Proponents are out with their AR-15s ‘fighting antifa’. Violence is universal.

More troops. Nobody disagrees that something has to be done to quell the violence. The Senate cannot certify the election because many are dead and wounded. The rest are shocked and dazed. All are under the control of a military controlled by Donald Trump. For their ‘safety’ they are sequestered.

January 6 comes and goes. So does the next week and no new president is certified. On the run up to the date of inauguration, there is no certified successor.

Biden’s partisans go to court but, our Supreme Court is conservative. Many are inclined to Trump’s authoritarianism. The majority like a very, very literal view of the constitution. It says the Senate must certify and it has not. They make clear that without certification, there can be no new president.

They regret the clear language of the constitution and encourage the Senate to act.

One imagines that the killing focused on those who were responsible for ‘the steal’. Those remaining are both terrified (nothing focuses the mind like watching a bunch of people slaughtered) and self-serving.

Maybe Josh Hawley is the new majority leader, they get back into session. This time the objections to the electors’ decisions in those six states are taken very seriously.

They brave the outrage of the liberals, after all, there are now huge amounts of soldiers under Trump’s command in every large city in the country, and only certify ‘legitimate’ electoral votes, ie, those that support Trump.

This scenario came within a minute of being reality. To say we dodged a bullet is understatement.

After putting Trump into office this way, the left would have taken to arms. We would have had a civil war but the big guns are controlled by an unhinged tyrant and would-be dictator who has already shown his thirst for power has no limits. There is no doubt who would have prevailed.

I hereby renounce my complaints about homophobic bakers

So, a small analogy.

For years, when I had to show my ID to buy pseudoephedrine to the pharmacist, I was pissed. I made a point of always explaining that I thought having to identify myself because of someone else's criminality was bullshit.

One day, I was talking about gun registration and had an epiphany. I realized that this was exactly analogous to registering to buy pseudoephedrine. Guns are dangerous and we need to know who buys them. There is no way to know who is innocent so we register everyone... in both cases.

I stopped complaining.

I think today has to be another of those moments. We are happy enough to let the tech companies say, "You are doing something that we consider powerfully against the common good and we will not help you do it."

That is exactly what homophobic bakers say.

On Making it Impossible for Parler to Exist

I want these people expunged, too. However, there is huge danger in establishing more buttons and switches that authorities can press to 'make us safer'. The people who passed the USA PATRIOT act created a bunch of them. One led directly, specifically to children in cages and the horror of the treatment of immigrants in this country.

I don't yet have an opinion about the specifics but I worry very, very much that instrumenting the US government with the ability to control the domain name system a terrible thing to do. It's great when Biden stops parler.com. A lot less great when President Josh Hawley does it for plannedParenthood.com. Perhaps horrific when the domains that Apple uses for iMessages are shut off. Or the ones used for signaling by ATT and Verizon.

When people complained to me about Apple refusing to hack iPhones for the police, I have always said that the police managed to investigate crimes without that throughout history. They can still do it. Same with these anarchist groups.

I am fine with the actions being taken right now to deplatform violent speech. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and the rest are not required to do business with vile people. I am very, very reluctant to have the government control it.

Also, I do not actually think it is wise.

The reason we can shut Parler off and remove command and control (Trump's Twitter) is because they did not feel threatened and did their nasty work with obvious tools. If we make it too difficult for them to exist, they will adapt. Denying them access to tools does not cause them to cease to exist. I will cause them to get smarter and harder to detect and manage.

The fundamental mechanism of evolution is existential threat. If we provide that, they will evolve. I think it's a mistake to imagine that silencing them will work in our interest.

Christmas is a Fake Religion


I been seeing this bit of Christmas revisionism around a lot lately. While I am happy enough for anyone to make up whatever fantasies they need to support their self-image and happiness, my self-image and happiness requires that I take note of the fact that these ideas have no historical merit. They are modern creations.

Christmas trees came to us as first from Yule celebrations as 'yew branches' in the 1700's which then graduated to entire trees, often pine. Though common in England, the fad for trees came to America when magazines started existing and loved to have articles about the spruce trees Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert brought from Northern Europe where Yule celebrations were common. Applying a symbolic death and resurrection to the trees is a completely modern innovation.

Candy canes are shaped that way because the ropes of candy are hung over rods like pasta and harden into a U shape. They are broken into two pieces. One has a bend at top. The other is straight. There might have been some candy company that was thinking religious blood thoughts when they made the red stripes but the white color is the color of the cooked sugar mixed with air. 

Yule, like the Saturnalia was celebrated at the solstice and both were big parties with. Saturnalia was Roman so it didn't have pine trees but they did have wreaths which were probably there because they wanted greenery in the winter season, and like Yule, they also had gifts.

Around the fourth century, the western (Roman) Christian churches moved Jesus' birth myth from the spring (the time of year when the sheep and shepherds mentioned in the story would have been around) to coincide with Saturnalia, probably to coopt it into Christianity.

Interestingly, Christmas was not considered a big deal of a holiday until the 1800's. In fact, it was outlawed as an immoral and dangerous party by British Puritans in the 1600's. It came into it's own, I have read, when the industrial revolution encouraged three innovations.

The first was the magazines mentioned above. Articles about the royal court were very popular among the reading classes in America. So was British royalty. By around 1804, Christmas was fashionable again because Queen Victoria liked it.

The next was that childhood became a thing. Before factories, children were worked in the family business/farm like everyone else. With the industrial era, work required expertise. It also created some prosperity. Children were neither able nor expected to work when little (among the elites, blah blah blah). Consequently, they became entertainment for parents and the notion of 'our precious child' came into fashion.

The last was the production of consumer goods. It was around that time that factories started producing meaningful amounts of stuff that were not tools but could provide amusement around the house. This included toys and other things for children.

These three, the fascination over Queen Victoria's tree centered Christmas celebration, the solstice gifting that accompanied Yule and Saturnalia (even though they had no Magi), and the desire to make children happy combined to produce a uniquely American celebration, ie, a capitalist orgy of buying, giving and consuming. The religious significance was always a distant consideration, if not a mere marketing excuse.

RE: 14th Amendment and Not Seating Texas Litigation Supporters

I believe that there is a case to be made for not seating the bastards. Hell, I believe there is a case to be made for killing them. For me the question isn’t what we can do but what can we do to do some good.

My analysis of the current situation includes the idea that Trump has gotten us all hysterical. The constant antagonism and affront have put both sides, his supporters and us, in a fight or flight mode that is making everyone crazy. There are a lot of people, mostly on his side, that are otherwise reasonable humans who are doing shit that they would never consider at any other time in their lives.

I think that Joe Biden is right. The most important thing right now is to lower the temperature. Sure, we have the right to keep going in the bar fight and we are winning but, if nobody stops throwing punches, it can never stop. I think that it is best right now for our side to take the peaceful option whenever it is possible.

I am under no illusion that this solves anything in a long term way. The haters are still going to hate and those who will be subversive in pursuit of their own power will continue to do be evil. The problems will continue and will have bad consequences. However, we are in a moment when nobody can think anymore and those who are not fully bad people are still in the bar, swinging their fists because they are being told that we are swinging at them.

I do not thing we should, now that we have won the election, start actually swinging. I think that an effort to try to deny representation to people in those districts, even if justifiable, would represent actual swinging. It would encourage continued hysteria on both sides. This is the reason that I also hope Biden’s justice department decides to leave Trump alone. (States are different actors prosecuting for actual crimes that he mostly did outside of being president. I support their continuing efforts.)

I do support denying the people who supported the Texas litigation seats on committees. I believe that is a proportional consequence. It does not deny the people who voted for them representation in Congress.

None of the problems are going away because of this but it does allow a moment of relative quiet during which those who are not as evil can recover their senses. It also allows our side to pause and focus.

It is Right to Close Restaurants and Open Malls

There are three main reasons for the different treatment of malls and restaurants, the physical nature of the spaces, the behavior of the people and the activities engaged.

Malls are huge. They have a lot of air and big, active ventilation systems. Virus particles are diluted by all the air in the space and do not accumulate because the ventilation is so good. Because malls are always large corporations, they have better maintenance and equipment.

Restaurants are not huge. They often have lame ventilation systems and, because many of them are tiny corporations, they are often not well maintained. Particles have been well proven to accumulate.

People visit malls for relatively short periods of time and they are moving the whole time. This means that, even if there are a lot of particles in some spot, the fact that you are only there for a minute means you don't have time to breath in very many.

People sit in restaurants for hours, in one spot. If there are any particles nearby, you are there long enough to make sure to breath them all.

People barely talk in malls and, in decent places, they are masked when they do. Talking (singing, shouting, and otherwise using your breath) significantly increases the amount of particles emitted.

The only thing to do in a restaurant is talk except when eating. The fact that you have to take off your mask to eat makes the fact that you are doing a maximum particle activity even worse.

Which is to say, it *does* make sense to close restaurants and open malls.

Three Faces of Don

Donald Trump is mentally ill. Like, Three Faces of Eve mentally ill. Instead of being forced to kiss his aunt's corpse, he had the brutal insanity of Fred Trump running a house where no kindness was allowed, no kindness ever shown, no one cared about the children at all except to encourage personality destruction at any sign of weakness.

Donald Trump is really living in an alternate reality, like one of Eve's alternate personalities. He not only cannot but does not believe that losing exists for him. Just as Eve's personalities were able to refer to each other as if they were real, for Trump, reality does not include him losing.

To have that as part of his world is to court the end of his ego, not in the grandiose sense, in the sense of his ability to see or know himself. His underlying psychological state is that he would cease to exist as a person if he ever lost. He exists, therefore he wins.

It is sick but it is more tragic than anything else.

The Religious Freedom Death Wish Society


ARTICLE HERE

The term essential involves a calculation of risk and benefit. Campgrounds are housing for some category of people, their owners will go broke without customers and as outdoor facilities, the are very, very low risk.

Risk in this case derives from some combination of proximity, time and expected behavior.

People pass through liquor stores and banks for minutes at a time. Same with most businesses characterized as non-essential. That lowers the risk a great deal. From that perspective, you cannot distinguish them from grocery stores.

While I think it's ridiculous, my insurance company considers acupuncture a sufficiently important health service that they pay for it. That puts them on the positive side for benefits. Though the experience takes time, as a medical business, mask compliance is expected to be high. Lower risk.

Churches are like bars. People go there, stay a long time and engage in risky behaviors. Any mask that is not professionally fitted is going to allow plenty of virus laden particles out of each person when they are speaking in tongues, singing or whatever other stuff they do.

Close proximity means that someone else can readily (again, unless the mask is professionally fitted it's a risk reduction) not elimination) that someone stands a decent chance of inhaling it.

Further, liquor cannot be made at home. Nor can food or bicycle parts. God, otoh, can be worshipped anywhere. Your imam can council you with zoom. The calculation of essential includes, or should include, whether or not the good or service can be made available otherwise.

Also, the economic harm to the proprietor. Synogogues might have a claim of harm over high holiday ticket sales (an appalling practice) but I've not heard of many others selling tickets for services.

I think that Sunstein is right. This is not an important advance of conservatism. It is much less awful than decisions for Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of Intolerance, etc.

However, it does signal two awful things. First, it shows zero deference to local authorities in dealing with a life threatening pandemic. (If this was in the future and the test positivity rate was not skyrocketing around the country, a different balance would occur even to me.)

It was implemented as a preliminary injunction exempting religious types from public safety rules. This is usually done based on some idea of irreversible harm. They have just said, "Sure you say you're so-called scientists say this is important to avoid death but death is only bad if you can't go to church." Fuck off, atheists, live in their pandemic.

Second, the establishment clause has become like the second amendment, a death wish for democracy. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has to be repealed for democracy to function. Gun control has to be possible. We have to find ways to stop these lunatic interpretations of the constitution.

None of this will happen because the Supreme Court, while not signaling a new conservative extremism today, has signaled that human lives do not matter compared to observing the faith. They have made clear that practicality plays no role in their justice. It's easy to imagine that the machine gun prohibition that was perfectly legal in the nineties will be overruled if it happens today. I have no doubt that it is now legal to shout Fire! in a theater.

They have signaled that they think it just and fair that all of us die for principle, even insane ones, as long as you can tie it back to something they love. Freedom of religion never seems to include my freedom to worships zero-religion unimpaired.

i'll add finally that they also chose to prohibit this as a preliminary injunction done without a fact record. Had they asked, Cuomo's experts could doubtless have explained real facts instead of my ignorant and imaginary rationales. The emergency isn't dying sick people. The emergency is that people can't go sing religious songs at each other. It ridiculous.

The real emergency is right-wing religious nuts taking over our country.




False Equivalence



Donald Trump made clear for every moment of his campaign that he hates Democrats. That he has no political philosophy beyond domination. His campaign rhetoric was vicious in a way not heard in our lives.

Donald Trump made clear, well before he took office, that he had no thought of being a 'president for all Americans'. He disparaged liberals, made fun of us and openly embraced the 'snowflake' and 'liberal tears' memes. He promised to jail our candidate.
And, he lost the popular vote.

The "he's not my president" meme of that era was well deserved and completely, extremely, diametrically different from the views of the Trumpsters.

Then, we were reacting to abuse, actual and predicted. To cheating in the campaign that was obvious to most of us and proven later to be correct. Trump made clear his intent to never allow a single compromise that would benefit my side.

Joe's rhetoric was, by historical standards before Trump, anodyne and respectful. He rejected the very idea of cheating. He has been clear every single moment of this campaign that he hopes to find a way to work with those who oppose him.

And he won the election, both popular and electoral college, decisively and fairly.

The disprespect and skepticism shown to Joe Biden and his election victory are based on pure fabrication, undeserved without an ounce of truth. It is a cynical invention to inspire hatred about a person who has been clear that he has benign intentions toward the opposition.

Comparing it to the chagrin we expressed about Trump's viciousness, the dishonesty of his campaign and his attitude about us liberals, is, well, it is truly awful.

The people who are 'rejecting' the legitimacy of Joe Biden's election, who are taking a 'not my president' attitude about him, are un-American. It is a vile, anti-democratic viewpoint.