January 18, 2014

The End Game

I left this as a comment to a post on Breitbart where Jason Scheurer wrote a lengthy rebuttal of the argument to raise the minimum wage. I thought I would share it here as well.

An extremely thoughtful and utterly useless argument.

The left's obsession with raising the federal minimum wage has absolutely nothing to do with "helping" unskilled labor. They fully understand every fact you presented, and are counting on them.

The influx of unskilled immigrant labor puts downward pressure on wages giving them a reason to call for raising the minimum wage. The loss of jobs due to the increase of the minimum wage gives then another reason to call for raising the minimum wage to help the bottom of the labor pool.

Every increase they can engineer in the federal minimum wage triggers wage increases in union contracts that are keyed to the federal minimum wage. Which means more money going into the pockets of the labor unions. Which means more money going into the pockets of politicians.

They do not care about helping the poor or unskilled labor. They do not even care if they harmed in the process. The end game is money and power. And they play to win.

Ayn Rand wrote,"Don't bother to examine a folly--ask yourself only what it accomplishes."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:32 AM | Comments (29) | Add Comment

January 07, 2014

Boating Inequality

Socialists (Democrat ad Republican alike) are still prattling on about "income inequality." I believe that income is what you earn. People have unequal capacities to earn therefore their incomes will be unequal.

I have a new motivational slogan written on the whiteboard in my office:

You're gonna need a bigger boat

Allow me to explain.

I work for a small business. Small as in the owner, six full-time people and one part time person. The owner has a boat. I don't know any of the details but it's a big power boat (nobody's perfect). Big enough to sleep on in some comfort.

I wrote the Jaws quote on my whiteboard to remind me that I want the company to be successful enough that my boss can buy a bigger boat. If the company is successful enough that the boss can buy a bigger boat, then the company can keep paying me - and maybe even pay me more. Maybe the company can even pay me enough that I can someday buy a small boat of my own.

With sails.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:04 PM | Comments (29) | Add Comment

January 06, 2014

Unquestioned Premises

I had Sean Hannity on the radio while driving home today and true to his format he had on one conservative and one liberal to debate a range of issues. As usual Hannity let the leftist slide on an outrageous statemnet because taking the time to question her premise would have taken away from three points he planned to make when he brought up the topic of  New York's new very left wing mayor. 

The liberal panelist (I did not hear her name and I'm the end it really doesn't matter) was talking about income inequality in the city. She lamented that  increasingly the poor and the middle class could not afford to live in the city and "That is not the kind of New York that we want."

If it were my radio show my next question would have been "Who exactly is we and what gives you the right to decide how New York should be?"

Individuals make decisions based on circumstances and their standards. The result is the city as it is. If the result is not as "we like it" that's too damned bad.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:03 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

December 20, 2013

It's Duck Season

Here's the thing about the whole Duck Dynasty A&E controversy that has sucked all of the oxygen out of the room for the last two or three days; it just doesn't matter.

Phil Robertson had every right to say what he said, and he has every right to say a lot worse. He said what he said and A&E put him on an indefinite suspension.

So What.

Robertson's right to speak his mind does not impose an obligation on A&E to continue to employ him. If the suspension is within the parameters of his contract with the network, they can suspend him all they want. That is their right.

I can think that is a stupid decision arrived at by fear and an overwhelming sense of political correctness and refuse to watch another show on A&E. That is my right. A&E's right to suspend Robertson imposes no obligation on me to continue to watch their programming.*

That's how it works.

*I am actually not sure if I have ever watched a show on A&E. I am sure I have never watched Duck Dynasty.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:56 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

December 18, 2013

The Alphabet of Databases

Do you know why people are upset about the massive database of phone call information the National Security Agency maintains on EVERY person in the United States.

The concern can be summed up in three letters: IRS.

The Internal Revenue Service used to be a politically neutral agency serving the function of collecting tax revenue for the government. Now the IRS has become a tool for the political administration to pressure and silence it's opposition.

It does not take a big leap of tin-foil hat paranoia imagine the same thing happening with the NSA.

Have you ever called a Tea Party organization? Ever called someone who is a member of the NRA? Ever called someone who may have called someone who gave money to the Republican Party?

That's how data mining works. That's how easily you can be flagged as worth a closer look. Combine that with the ongoing efforts to increase regulatory control and financial dependency on the federal government and you have the tools to punish and silence all dissent.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:30 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

December 17, 2013


Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is picking up stakes and moving to New Hampshire so he can run for the Senate there. Because nothing is more important than securing the perks and privileges that come from serving in the U.S. Senate.

Carpetbagging was deplorable when Hillary Clinton did it to become Senator from New York, and it is deplorable now.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:12 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

December 16, 2013

The Party's Over

Politics is no longer about Democrats vs Republicans  or even Liberals vs Conservatives. 

Politics is now us vs them. 

Citizens vs the government.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:35 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

August 09, 2013

Open Letter to a Dick

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin plans to hold Congressional hearings on the topic of Stand Your Ground laws. The laws that say you are not obligated to attempt to flee before acting in your own defense. Laws like the one in Florida that has become a political target because it had nothing to do with the Trayvon Martin case (or something like that).

An organized group of conservative state legislators called the American Legislative Exchange Council was apparently instrumental in getting Stand Your Ground passed in Florida and several other states. Senator Durbin sent a letter to companies that had made donations to ALEC that said:

"... Although ALEC does not maintain a public list of corporate members or donors, other public documents indicate that your company funded ALEC at some point during the period between ALEC's adoption of model 'stand your ground' legislation in 2005 and the present day. ... I am seeking clarification whether organizations that have funded ALEC's operations in the past currently support ALEC and the model 'stand your ground' legislation."

Texas Senator Ted Cruz called the letter an outrage and urged companies not to reply. I think Senator Cruz is wrong. Companies should tell Senator Durbin exactly what they think. If I ran a company and got Dick's letter, this is how I would respond.

Senator Durbin,

We are in receipt of your letter requesting clarification of our position on the issue of Stand Your Ground laws and your wish to have our response read into the official record. Our response for the record is below.

It is our considered and official opinion that you are an officious little twit and a want-to-be petty tyrant. It is our opinion that our position on the issue of Stand Your Ground laws or any other issue is none of your damned business. Further we believe that you should immediately take a one month leave of absence and spend that time reading and studying the Constitution of the United States. We recommend a particular focus on the First Amendment.

Thank you for including our response in the public record.

I guess I would have to call my accountant and tell him to start getting ready for the audit.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:20 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

August 08, 2013

Crony Justice

I'm not sure what Apple Computer did to get on the bad side of the administration. Apple's politics, at least from the executive level, have always been reliably liberal. Maybe the problem is they are just too successful. Maybe they reached that certain point where they had made enough money.

Earlier this year, company executives were hauled before congress to explain why they use perfectly legal financial management strategies that result in the government skimming less of their profits.

Now comes the DOJ proposal for punishing Apple for it's successful iBook Store. The proposal has been met with criticism from almost everyone in the eBook business. eBook publishers filed a motion stating:

The provisions do not impose any limitation on Apple's pricing behavior at all; rather, under the guise of punishing Apple, they effectively punish the settling defendants by prohibiting agreements with Apple using an agency model.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog summed it up rather well, "It really seems like the only winner in all of this is Amazon."

Given that Obama recently paid a visit to a new Amazon warehouse in Tennessee to tout it as a job creator it's pretty easy to see who is on the inside and who is on the outs.

For Amazon, it's good to be the crony.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:46 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

May 22, 2013

Unknown Unknowns

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was famously mocked for saying:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.

He was talking about the "fog of war" at the time but today it is equally applicable to the "Fog of Washington."

Every day we learn something new about each story of corruption. New details have come to light about attempts to smear a fast & Furious whistle blower, new details about Benghazi continue to surface, the scope of the Department of justice interference with journalists continues to expand, and every day there are new details about the IRS abuse of power and another story from the White House.

There are two  plausible explanations for each of these controversies. Corruption or Incompetence. The position of the White House seems to be the incompetence defense. Which convinces me that there is more Unknown Unknown corruption.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:05 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

May 20, 2013

The Good Old Days

Every so often a bit of text makes its way around the web about the things we did and survived as kids that aren't done or are illegal today. There are bunch of different versions but they all follow the same basic format. And for the most part they cover my childhood pretty well. No bike helmets, various daredevil stunts, drinking water from the hose and riding in the back of a pick-up.

Many of those things are experiences my children will never have. They are no longer legally available.

When you combine all of the little freedoms that have been regulated away in the name of keeping us safe from ourselves with all of the big assaults on liberty like: the Patriot Act; the bank bailouts; the federal takeover of healthcare; the use of the IRS as a political enforcement machine; telling manufacturers where they can and cannot manufacture their products; and Department of Justice seeking to silence news reporting, the general trend does not look good.

Hope and optimism are not automatic - unless the hope you have is a vague and undefined campaign slogan. They require that no matter how grim things seem, you look for the bright spot and once you find it you grab it and hold on tight.

The bright spots are getting harder and harder to find.

When I think about what the federal government has become over the last 20 years patriotism starts to feel like the nostalgia Ronald Reagan had in mind when he said "...you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:24 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

May 19, 2013

The Nature of Irrelevancy

The White House sent the designated talking points reader of the week,  senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, out to do the round of the Sunday news talk shows. Pfeiffer's assigned task was to spout the approved endless stream of lies obfuscation and pure BS.

Pfeiffer's word of the day was "irrelevant." 

He told one interviewer that it was irrelevant if the IRS broke the law by targeting groups based on ideology. That the White House believes breaking the law is irrelevant, tells you basically everything you need to know about this administration.

On another show, Pfeiffer said that where the President was and what he was doing during the September 11, 2012 attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi is "an irrelevant fact." He also said that the name of the person who crafted the bogus talking points used by the White House following that attack that resulted in the deaths of four Americans including our ambassador to Libya is, you guessed it, "irrelevant."

For a fact to be irrelevant, it means that is has importance. It just doesn't matter. It is a fact that has no impact on the issue at hand.

If the President's whereabouts and actions during the Benghazi attack are meaningless and unimportant trivia: and if the author of the You Tube video talking points is meaning less and unimportant, why not just answer the questions?

If these facts are truly without relevance why is the White House trying so hard to hide them?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:20 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

April 13, 2013

An Unreasonable Idea

I keep expecting (perhaps hoping is a better word?) than one day we will find the collectivist authoritarian idea that is too much for even Barack Obama. His latest assault on individual liberty is buried in the joke he delivered to the Congress under the title, "Budget." It is really just an expansion on the ideas he espoused in 2010:

We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.

This time his concern is not that you may have made too much money, but that you might actually save too much of it for the future. So he is proposing putting a cap on how much individuals would be allowed to save for retirement.

The White House explanation is that some people have accumulated "substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving." So Mr. Obama proposes to "limit an individual's total balance across tax-preferred accounts to an amount sufficient to finance an annuity of not more than $205,000 per year in retirement, or about $3 million for someone retiring in 2013."

How nice of The One to volunteer to dictate what is "reasonable" and "sufficient."


If he keeps thinking that he and the federal government have the authority to dictate what is "sufficient" for the rest of us he is going to have to learn the difference between reasonable and unreasonable the hard way.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:15 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

March 20, 2013

It Can Happen Here

One of the constant refrains running through commentary on the plan to seize a portion of bank deposits in Cyprus is that it can't happen here. This is America and we just don't do thinks like that.

California's top-end taxpayers -- already steamed over a recent hike in the nation's highest state income tax -- are now fuming over a new $120 million retroactive tax grab on small business owners. 

In December, the state's tax authority determined that a tax break claimed over the past few years by 2,500 entrepreneurs and stockholders of California-based small businesses is no longer valid and sent out notices of payment.

These businesses took a perfectly legal tax write-off. In essence they put money in the bank. Now the state of California is going to exprpriate that money.

This is Cyprus via a slightly different mechanism. It can happen here. It is happening here.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:10 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

March 19, 2013

CSI Washington D.C.

The political chattering class is buzzing over the recently released GOP report on what they think they need to do to stop sucking so much. Some are even questioning why the GOP itself is calling the report an autopsy. I have a few possible answers.

It would be most beneficial if it was a post-mortem examination of their now dead conservative principles. Maybe they could find out who killed them and hold them accountable?

I am sure that any thorough forensic examination will reveal that the cause of death will be the removal of the establishment GOP's spine. Which was made possible by the voluntary surrender of their testicles.

If the evidence doesn't indict as accessories John "I trust Obama completely" Boehner and John "if you defend the Constitution you're a Wacko-Bird" McCain then you know the fix is in (and nothing will be fixed).

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:01 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

March 12, 2013

Sweet Sweet Corruption

There is noting so sweet as to work in an industry where the Federal Government will bend over backwards to make sure you succeed. As long as you keep donating to their campaigns.

The U.S. Sugar industry is propped up with huge tariffs  that keep out any imported sugar. But even with that, they still struggle. But they don't have to struggle too hard.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave loans to sugar producers. I don't have the details but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the terms were far better than anything they could have gotten on the open market. If they could even get a loan on the open market.

Despite the heavy handed protectionism not everything is going sweetly

Domestic sugar prices have been trading at about 20 cents a pound, their lowest level in nearly four years, putting companies that make sugar from cane or beets at risk of defaulting on loans they received from the USDA when prices were higher.

But not cry for the sugar industry. The government is coming to their rescue.

The USDA plans to by as much as 400,000 TONS of sugar on the open market so that sugar producers can afford to pay back their loans to the USDA.

What does the USDA plan to do with 400,000 tons of sugar? Sell it to ethanol producers who really don't want it.

But U.S. ethanol producers don't have much use for the sugar. Most use corn as a feedstock, and while plants can include some sugar in the mix, renewable-fuel makers earn extra money from the byproducts of corn ethanol production.

How are they going to get ethanol producers to buy the sugar they really don't want? Since there is no Affordable Sugar Act mandating that they buy or pay a tax/fine to the IRS, the USDA is going to sell it to them cheap. They will the sugar they bought at $.20 a pound for $.10 a pound.

Sugar producers make money. The USDA collects it's loan payments. Ethanol producers get cheap feedstock. Everybody wins!!!!

Except the taxpayers who have to fund the loss on the sugar sale. And anyone who buys sugar or anything that contains sugar as they will continue to pay artificially high prices.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:15 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Missing the Point

Living in the greater NewYork area, I've been able to read and hear a great deal of commentary and debate about the Bloomberg Soda Ban. What I find more annoying than a petty left-wing tyrant wannabe trying to control his subjects lives, is the utter failure of virtually everyone on the other side if the issue to make the counter arguments that need to be made.

The primary argument from those in support of this affront on individual liberty is that it needs to be done to reduce the healthcare costs to society. Of course by "society" they mean the government.

There are two counter arguments that should be made to this assertion. The first is cheap easy and fun. Mayor Bloomberg was recently quoted as saying:

When it comes to the United States federal government, people do seem willing to lend us an infinite amount of money.

If we can borrow an infinite supply of money, why do we need to worry about the cost of healthcare?

The second far more serious and necessary counter argument is to ask the question why? Why is the cost of an individual's healthcare government's problem? Why are someone else's poor dietary choices my problem? Why  should I pay any price either financial or in loss of liberty for the personal individual decisions of people I do not know and do not chose to support?

Government's involvement in providing, paying for and subsidizing health care are ultimately means of control. The Bloomberg soda ban is just the one of the more egregious examples.

Bloomberg was stopped for now but he and those like him who believe they know better how to live our lives and are willing to use force to make us obey, will be back to try again.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:23 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

March 11, 2013

You Want Fries With That?

Hoist a big gulp in celebration of a small victory for individual liberty.

The asinine soda regulations put in place by the asshole Mayor of New York City have been given a firm kick in the ass by a New York judge.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal:

The city is "enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling decided Monday.

The regulations are "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” the judge wrote. "The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole….the loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule.”

Mayor Bloomberg, being the asshole that he is, plans to appeal.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:40 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

March 09, 2013

No Comment

I don't know if anyone has noticed, and based on the rather pathetic levels of site traffic, the possibility is slim, but a few weeks ago I grew tired enough of deleting large batches of SPAM that I disabled comments altogether.

Since that time mu.nu has made some improvements to its spam filters, so I turned them back on.

If anyone notices.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:32 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

February 18, 2013

You Say You Want A Revolution

I have become something of a slow reader of books. It can take me a month or two to get through a book that in my younger days I would have burned through in a few days. What has happened it that I simply lack the time to just sit and read. Thanks to iBooks and the Kindle app on my phone I read in stolen moments. Sitting in a waiting room, standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for the stragglers to get to a meeting, and of course sitting on the toilet. I am often reminded of a bit of dialog from The Big Chill (from memory)

"You can read War and Peace in the bathroom."

"Yes. But not in one sitting."

For the last several weeks I have been nibbling my through Free Market Revolution by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins. It's an excellent book and a wonderful refresher on the principles of the free market and the individual vs the collective. Their deconstruction of the entitlement state is clear, concise and brilliant. As I read through it I found myself trying to capture the message of the entire book in a brief statement that did not sound like a mediocre paraphrase of the oath from Atlas Shrugged:

I swear by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

The best I could come up with is "What I have earned by the application of my abilities is not yours to take on the basis of your need."

Brook and Watkins provided a more thorough summation with this quote from Dean Alfange:

I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon—if I can. I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. . . . I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, this I have done. This is what it means to be an American.

If you believe that individual liberty and free market capitalism are the best and proper principles to guide mankind, read  Free Market Revolution. You will find in it's pages a wealth of intellectual ammunition with which to confront the culture of need.

If you believe that one person's need gives them a claim on the lives of others and that the state should take care of all, please read  Free Market Revolution. If you do so with an open mind you might learn something, and the might be some hope for you yet.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:51 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

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