There is no pie

I reject the notion that our beliefs are beyond critique. I firmly believe, of course, that we all should be free to believe whatever we want. But why do we believe it? Are we correct to believe it? Does believing in it help or hurt our own lives and the lives around us?

Religion is in the realm of the unprovable. We can generally prove that certain prominent historical figures really did exist, but we can’t prove miracles or divinity or other religious doctrine such as the resurrection or the parting of the Red Sea. People of faith see faith (in this sense, meaning believing the unprovable as an act of devotion) as a Good Thing™. Within the conceptual or physical walls of their religion, that’s fine. But when it becomes part of a secular, civic debate, it is untenable. Most religious people realize they can’t expect the rest of the world to legislate their belief system. Neither can atheist neo-buddhists like myself. Society requires compromise to function.

Politics is not the realm of the unprovable. Like astronomy, you can’t set up experiments and run them over and over but you can observe “experiments” in progress and “science the shit” out of them to figure out correlations, theories and best practices for a given outcome. Politics is what we call it when we combine our resources and our talents and try to solve problems together. We can’t solve all problems so we work on things that affect us all. We disagree about tactics and even strategies but in theory, when it comes to American politics, we have the same goal: we want to live in a free, fair, prosperous and peaceful country (and world).

Thus, when it comes to things like taxes, the environment, Syria, Russia, jobs, minimum wage, health care and other things you think are important, we can’t think of it like a football game. There is no “our team” and “their team”. There is only one team. You don’t get points for getting your way and being wrong. When we do things like elect the next President of the United States, we should think of it like we own a company and are hiring a CEO. That is to say, it is imperative we make the right choice! Working against each other is cutting off our nose to beat our face.

When arbitrary opinions become off-the-table for discussion, as if they were religion, and facts are dismissed as subjective (and in this case I mean actual facts like “Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State”), we’ve lost the ability to agree on things. The two teams playing Monday Night Football can’t agree to call it a tie and go have a beer instead of playing the game. Competition doesn’t allow for agreement. When we turn a job interview into a contest, we do a worse job. When we consider our opinions to be above scrutiny, we ensure that we are wrong.

In the 2016 Presidential election what “fooled” the media and some on the Left was that we assumed rationale was going to be part of the calculus. There is no rationale that can justify choosing a xenophobic, misogynistic, narcissist, rich, white liar over the most qualified person we’ve seen for President in our lifetimes. This woman-hating culture is the same one that hated gays until it became untenable to do so. They also hate(d) blacks, latinos, immigrants and intellectual longhairs like myself. The aren’t trying to help pick the best person, they are trying to get a little bigger piece of the pie by pushing others away from the table.

First of all, there is no pie. There is a mistaken notion that there is some gravy train that everyone is on except ourselves. That is false. No extra money will be heading towards Trump voters as a result of their vote. Being logical and compassionate towards immigrants (for example) does not take money out of the pocket of your average American. Far more damaging is The Big Short -style theft that goes on daily due to the “less regulation” that people unjustifiably say we need.

Competition is a great model if you can afford to have winners and losers. When you want everyone to win you need to cooperate. In the case of elections for public office, all that means is honest debate of the issues, awareness of data and its implications and a willingness to leave open in your thinking that you still have things you can learn.

I will never understand how intelligent people could make the choice they made. My only theory is that they were trying to “win”. They wanted payback for 8 years with President Obama. They forgot that George W. Bush left the economy in free fall, that the worst recession since the Great Depression was handed to Obama on his first day and he fixed it! He fixed the economy, reduced unemployment, paid down the debt and got us out of the disastrous foreign policy mistakes that Bush made. He also got rid of health insurance denials for pre-existing conditions, among other necessary things in the Affordable Care Act. And the Right wanted payback for that.

The American people betrayed themselves on November 8th, 2016 and we will all pay the price for it. When you consider your opinions to be unassailable religious doctrine you make shitty decisions. It’s time to put religion and politics back on the list of things we talk about!

There is no pie

The Lolife Podcast No. 79: Repeal the 2nd Amendment

In the wake of the Orlando mass murder, a crime enabled by the murderer’s legal purchase of an AR-15, high-capacity clips and ammunition, we would be idiotic not to debate what we should do, as a nation, to prevent future mass murders with guns.

In this podcast I explore the idea that the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution is no longer relevant and in fact creates a fictional rallying cry for people who think that guns offer protection. In fact, guns are a hazard that kill more people in the US than automobiles. The world of automobiles is highly regulated. The world of guns is less regulated than Sudafed™. This is due to a culture that ignores the realities of 21st century America and puts fictional hero scenarios above the reality that accidents, suicides and homicides are a thousand times more common than life-saving actions by armed citizenry.

A post-2nd Amendment world could still allow for hunters, target shooters, collectors and people who truly require personal protection to have guns. We would simply restrict gun ownership to people who demonstrate they are responsible, trained and have the aptitude and background to own, handle and store guns safely. We would only “take guns away” from people who cannot demonstrate these attributes. Law-abiding gun owners should have no problem with a highly regulated gun market and should agree with the goal of reducing the availability of guns to people without the training and aptitude we collectively require.

The notion that you can defend yourself against the US Government is demonstrably false. The notion that guns protect you is false. The people you love are the most likely victims of the gun you own, through accidents, suicide, domestic violence and homicide. The least likely thing your gun will do is protect you.

Can we put away the failed strategies of inaction and rhetoric? Let’s look at the facts and meaningfully address a senseless hazard made ubiquitous by a bankrupt ideology of the Old West.

Listen now: No. 79: Repeal the 2nd Amendment

More podcasts: The Lolife Podcast

 

The Lolife Podcast No. 79: Repeal the 2nd Amendment

Geithner nails it

How short the memories of the electorate.

When the president took office, the American economy, the envy of the world, was falling off the cliff. Growth was declining at an annual rate of about 6 percent. We were losing three-quarters-of-a-million jobs every month. The American financial system was in freefall.

People were wondering whether they should keep their money in banks, whether they should buy treasuries, the first time since the Great Depression that happened. That was the reality when this president came into office. And there was no way out of that, except for the president, working with the Fed and the Congress, to go take aggressive, strong, bold actions to arrest the freefall and start the economy growing again. And that’s what he did, and that’s what’s happened.

From PBS.

Geithner nails it

A rejection of extremes

It is an amazing thing to watch your generation take over the world. The President of the United States is 4 years older than me. The positions of power in industry, government and culture are being occupied by people my age. It makes you think — what are our responsibilities to future generations. What are our responsibilities to ourselves? What will our legacy be?

My hope is that we get rid of these policies of extremes: zero tolerance, no negotiation, maximum return, lowest cost. We seem to value even ridiculous extremes at times.

With this is the rejection of false either-or’s. Conservative or liberal, the environment or industry, socialism or capitalism. These turn debate into contests instead of a process of discovering the truth. What if the government enacted (or repealed) some thing that made a big positive difference to everyone involved. Would you care which ideological category it belonged in? These bi-polar arguments are contrived and unproductive.

My hope is that our generation puts aside some of this pointless vitriol and tries to actually solve problems. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic.

A rejection of extremes

Norm Coleman is a piece of shit

And you can quote me on that.

He apparently thinks if he claims victory somehow it is his to lose. No, Norm, an automatic recount has been triggered and YOU ARE NOT THE WINNER YET. I personally hope we send you back home to reinvent yourself into a kinder, gentler piece of shit. Maybe you could become a Democrat again? The wind is blowing that way, you know.

Norm Coleman is a piece of shit

Righties — lighten up

First let me say that I think most people who didn’t vote for Obama are being gracious and hopeful that we will live in good times in the coming years.

It’s funny to me, though, that the general sentiment I’m sensing from the disappointed Right is that they need to hold on to their checkbook. They think that they will be paying for new spending in higher taxes.

First — the debt is $10 trillion. Our GDP is about $15 trillion. So our debt load is 2/3 of our GDP. That is getting out of hand. Our budget is about $3 trillion, so our income should be $3 trillion and thus our debt is more than 3 times our nominal income. We gotta get this house in order. We need to do it by growing the economy, running a surplus budget and paying down the debt. If, at my company, we had 3x our gross income in debt, I’d be shocked and worried.

We need to run a surplus budget. We have to do it. Some balance of less spending, higher taxes and growth of the overall economy is the solution. We can’t raise taxes so high that we curtain economic growth. We can’t cut spending so much that programs and services are starved to inefficiency. The liberal solution to growing the economy is investment in shifting the entire bell curve of the standard of living, thereby giving a return on that investment in the form of a more robust economy. The Right still seem to believe in trickle down economics.

Second — the Right doesn’t necessarily do better under Republican administrations! They think they do, because capital gains taxes do tend to be higher under Democrats, but one needs look no further than 8 years of George W. Bush to see that alone is not a good measure. Would you rather pay a little more on capital gains and have your economy not tank? I think you would.

I think the unwillingness of affluent Americans to pay taxes is one of the least patriotic things I can think of. They want to have the world’s most powerful army and they do have the world’s most powerful economy and they still can’t do the math the reveals how crucial progressive taxation is to our success in these areas. It’s vital, it’s working and rather than be grateful for the privileged lives that they lead, they whine about taxes. It’s sad, really.

So lighten up, Righties. You’re going to be fine.

Righties — lighten up

God Bless America

I often say “bless you” to people, like when they bring me a cold frosty Summit Extra Pale Ale. I like the phrase, even though I’m an atheist. But I just want to take a moment to say THANK YOU JESUS! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

The United States of America did the right thing. We made history tonight but more importantly, we chose an excellent man for the job.

God Bless America.

God Bless America