Thursday, May 12, 2016

Charleston Cheers

Where does everyone in Charleston know your name?  Cafe Craft, on Dorchester Rd. in North Charleston/Summerville.

Any night you go there, you will find a core group of patrons who know each other.  Take the time to say hello, and you will suddenly find yourself a part of this group.

It's a small place, with a great beer selection on tap, and on the shelves.

Tonight, a Thursday, from 6 to 8, they had a tap takeover from Sierra Nevada, and the brewery rep could not believe how many people showed up, and how many knew each other.

This is a bar where you can relax, drink great beer, and socialize with awesome, friendly beer lovers.
And the owners, Emily and Wes are just good people.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Something Made me Think about Checking my Privilege

This is a very poorly thought out, rapidly written post based on things popping into my head.  They may not stand up to sober reflection - so judge lightly...

"I've stood, baffled and frozen, when a stranger groped me in a bar."

More and more, I hear things like this, and realize it happens more than I ever thought it did.  I always wonder how someone doesn't end up in jail or beaten up.  I can't put myself in the shoes of someone who has this happen.  That said, this is a crime, and should be dealt with as such.


I wish I had more useful things to say about this.

Here's the link to the article where I read it:

Thing is, it was just a thrown in line in an article about calling women "crazy".  I can't imagine living a life in which that statement just gets thrown into an article about words.

Part of me wants to think that this writer is "crazy" and throws that statement in to add weight to the article.  To think that it doesn't happen as often as she implies.  But I'm pretty sure that even if she's exaggerating her experience, it happens a lot more than I'd ever like to think about.

Another part of me wants to judge her for not immediately calling 911.  After all, it's sexual assault - to me, a VERY BIG DEAL!  Part of me wants to say that that makes her partially to blame for assholes thinking they can get away with it.  After all, if everyone who did this kind of bullshit got a visit from the cops, men might get the message.

But I can't do that.  I can't put myself in her, or any other woman's shoes.  I can't even get close.  I simply don't have the life experiences to judge what she, or any other woman does in this situation.

I know what I'd do, at least I think I do, but that's something that's of very little use to her or any other woman.

All that said, if you are a man who has done this, will do it, or thinks it's okay...Fuck you.  Fuck you straight to hell.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I Agree with Bernie Sanders - Money and Politics are a Corrosive Mix

As usual, I agree with the problem.
It's the solution that's crap.
In fact, there is no solution to the inexorable corruption of government officials in the face of money and the lure of personal power.
Our founders knew this.
Power corrupts.
There is, literally, no way for the government to craft laws to limit the corrosive power of money in politics.
Fox - guard this hen-house!
The only practical solution for limiting the effect of money on politics, and the effects of a a corrupt government is to limit the power of government.
Only by preventing government from exercising power over every aspect of our lives can we limit the damage government corruption sows.
Of course, right now the only check on government power, the Constitution, is being actively subverted.
Who's doing the subverting?
A branch of government!
The Supreme Court.
It's no surprise that the watch word of this election is "3 nominations!"
Each party wants to ensure they get the power to make those nominations.
Does either party want justices to limit the power of government?
Hell NO!
They want justices who will validate THEIR notions of what power the government should have.

We're all fucked.


As a Gary Johnson supporter, I guess it's time to tell you all how I feel about drugs.  This post represents my current beliefs.  I'm going to start with some very specific policy proposals, and then maybe spend some time talking about them:

At the Federal Level:

1.  The Federal government should lift the ban on all illicit drugs, and on the abuse of "medical" drugs, effective 1 year to the date from passage of this change.
2.  During that year the DEA should be disbanded, and it's budget shifted toward some combination of deficit reduction, mental health treatment  drug abuse treatment and education, and the next suggestion.  Most of this should occur at the state level.
3.  Also during this year, the sentences of non-violent Federal drug offenders should be reviewed, and parole, commutations and pardons issued as appropriate.
4.  The 1 year waiting period will be used by the States to craft their own drug policies.
5.  Streamline FDA approval process, and allow promising drugs late in the approval phase to be used by patients with informed consent.  Limit drug company liability for approved drugs, or informed consent drugs unless there is willful failure to disclose detrimental effects or cheating in the approval process.
6.  Provide clear study results with drugs indicating plain English risk statements with comparison to other common "risky" activities.  (ORM approach for you military people).

At MY (SC) states level (you do what you want in your state):

1.  Make marijuana and it's derivatives legal for anyone over the age of 18.  Only regulations based on prevention of use by minors.
2.  Decriminalize the possession and use of all other illicit drugs at amounts appropriate to indicate personal use vice trafficking.
3.  Limit enforcement of drug trafficking laws and refocus effort and funding on treatment and counselling.  Enforcement efforts should be focused on keeping drugs away from children, and on violence associated with trafficking.  Essentially, if you are a trafficker who keeps it out of the hands of children, and doesn't engage in violence, you could expect to be left relatively alone by the police.
4.  Based on the effects of marijuana legalization, consider legalization of other drugs, with phase in and testing periods (heroin and the like kinda scare me as to whether full legalization will work).

I'll get back to this post with discussion after I let it marinate on Facebook for a while...

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Minimum Wage is Actually Zero

This is the unpleasant fact that most people who support the minimum wage fail to realize or refuse to accept.  The minimum wage guarantees everyone (mostly) WITH A JOB, a minimum wage PER HOUR.  It doesn't guarantee you a job, or a minimum number of hours.

The Minimum Wage sounds good, which explains why it has so much support, but if you can't get a job - you get zero.  More specifically, if you can't provide a value per hour of productivity that is more than the minimum wage, then you can't get work.  You are structurally unemployable.  Funny thing is, the people most likely to be unable to provide this value are the ones we are trying to help with the minimum wage.

And that's just the beginning of effects of the minimum wage.  There are other alternatives to an employer just eating the higher wage out of profits: cutting hours, raising prices, demanding more from workers, automation, going out of business.  Plus there's the affects that never get seen: businesses that never start because the regulations are too onerous and make profitability difficult, impossible, or simply not worth the risk (there's a reason bug, established companies support the minimum wage - they can pay it, their potential competitors can't).  There's also the fact that someone who can't provide enough value at the minimum wage now is unable to take advantage of the best way to learn skills that will allow them to provide that value in the future - by working!

Sure, you can cite studies that say these effects aren't real, or that they're minimal, or that they're offset by the increase in wages.  The problem is that for every one of those studies, there are several that point out the obvious, inescapable economic fact that when you raise the price of something, ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, you get less of it.  I capitalized that because it explains why every minimum wage hike doesn't cause unemployment to go up.  To make a simple example: employment trends up over time - the minimum wage doesn't always reverse this trend, but, in a vacuum, it will slow it down.  You can show me study after study, but the burden of proof is high when you say that employment violates a fundamental law of economics - supply and demand - it just doesn't add up.

The question isn't: "What is the state of the economy now?"  It's: "What would it be if we hadn't been artificially inflating wages for almost fifty years?"  It's: not: "What effect does the minimum wage have on minority employment?"  It's: "What would minority unemployment be now if we hadn't been pricing many of them out of employment for the last 50 years?"

There's racism of thought, action and effect.  The minimum wage is racist in effect, and pretty damn effective at it as well.  Hell, there's a lot of evidence that this was the PURPOSE of the minimum wage!  If you want to improve the lives of minorities and the poor, freeze the minimum wage.

And stop demonizing minimum wage opponents as anti-poor.  We just believe in economics.  We may be wrong, but our hearts are in the same place yours are.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Shut Up! You're Wrong!

and racist, and stupid, and evil, and the very words you say are so hurtful that to merely hear them is an offense against all that is holy.

This is the state of polite discourse in this country.  We are so unwilling to accept the slightest possibility that everything we believe in is 100%, totally right, that we just shut the opposition up.  In my mind, if you can't even engage an argument, then the other side wins by default.  If your opinion is so weak, that you can't even listen to what someone else has to say then it's you who needs to shut the fuck up.  I really don't care how vile, wrongheaded or stupid the other side is - hell - if they're that stupid, the debate should be short.

I'm not talking about some Facebook comment argument that goes in circles 57 times, or someone who repeats the same thing over and over, or resorts to name calling.  I'm not even talking about politely not wanting to talk about a particular subject at this, or even any, time.

I'm talking about name calling, trying to get people fired, not letting people speak, shouting people down, banning speech, hate speech laws and all the other ways people try to shield themselves from opinions they disagree with.  Worse, trying to shield other people from hearing that there might be another side to the argument.  I think gays should marry, but there are a shit ton of people that think otherwise.  Calling them names, refusing to let them speak, calling for their firing...none of these are going to change their minds or heart.

I am 100%, solidly convinced that the minimum wage is incredibly harmful to exactly the people it is supposed to help, but I'll engage in debate about it anytime I have the time.  I can even accept that I might be wrong - that's why I want to keep talking about it!  To learn, and to educate (and to be able to better crush your argument when someone else brings the same thing up.)

Here are some things I'm talking about:

Since moving to the South I've learned a lot about racism.  I've learned a lot about prejudice.  You meet someone, get to know them, find their a good person, and then the "N" word drops.  Was I wrong about this person?  Are they evil?  No, not generally, they've just been raised a certain way, exposed to certain things, and never really been challenged in their beliefs.  I often learn that their beliefs are pretty shallow as well.  I know someone who would give the shirt off his back to anyone, black, white, gay, straight, trans...anything.  But he also had this nebulous, prejudiced idea about African Americans.  And he used the "N" word.  I was flummoxed.  Then you figure out that there's a lot more to it.  It seemed it was always either blacks he'd never met, or assholes who happened to be black that drew his ire.  It was ingrained, reflexive and completely invisible to him.  Over several years, and lots of conversations, I've not "fixed" him, but he thinks one hell of a lot different now than he did then.  Because I, and other people engaged with him.  I didn't judge his heart based on those beliefs.  I didn't belittle him or shun him, I talked to him.  I also didn't talk down to him about it.  Just because I found his beliefs to be repugnant didn't mean they weren't very real and very important to him.  They came from family, friends and loved ones.  You can't root out this kind of stuff with hate and anger and belittlement.  It just doesn't work.  And he's a great guy.  He just has some flaws, like all of us do.

**** (these means the following was added after the initial post)

An additional thought based on some Facebook reactions I've seen:  It seems like the line between someone you think is passionate and caring and someone you think is angry and deranged is your level of agreement with them.