Editor’s Break 119 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: an update on his parking ticket; the definitive article he wrote in November 2018 outlining voluntaryist and real libertarian-based solutions to the immigration and public benefits problem; and more.Continue Reading
Here is further proof that believers in so-called “intellectual property” are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole: an owner of an idea may continue using his idea without ever becoming aware that it has been “stolen”. Try that with a wallet, or a car, or a laptop. Stealing property means removing it entirely from its owner’s ability to continue using it. You might steal someone’s property without them ever noticing, sure, but as soon as they go to use it, if it’s truly been stolen, it’s no longer where it was. It’s gone. Why is that? Because its finite and scarce, and therefore subject to conflict over its use. Ideas are neither finite nor scarce, and therefore not subject to conflict over their use. An infinite number of people may use a given idea simultaneously, all without any other user even being aware of it. “Stolen” and the owner never has to know; how’s that for misleading euphemism? And that’s today’s two cents.Continue Reading
As you’ve probably heard, activists around the country have been fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. While the they focus on legal minimum wages, activists also welcome private employers’ decision to voluntarily raise hourly pay to $15. When you read about desperate American poverty, however, the activists really seem like they’re barking up the wrong tree. Most notably, Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer’s $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America shows that the truly poor have great trouble finding and keeping even the lowest-skilled jobs in the formal sector. Question: If employers hesitate to hire the ultra-poor for $7.25 an hour, why on Earth would they hire them for $15?
“No one can live on $7.25 an hour,” you say? Well, it sure beats living on $2.00 a day. And when Edin and Shaefer’s subjects fail to find a job, that’s precisely what they have to do:
[W]orkers at the very bottom continued to experience double-digit unemployment through 2012, well after the recession was officially over. For low-level positions, there are often many more applicants than there are jobs. Companies such as Walmart might have hundreds of applications to choose from, and it is not uncommon for many of these applicants to have some post-high school education, making it that much harder for a young woman of color with a GED and little previous work experience to make the cut.
How do these companies wade through so many applications? How would you do it?
What should an evidence-based poverty activist do? Well, the main problem is lack of jobs rather than low-paid jobs. So why not actually focus on the main problem?
Edin and Shaefer strongly endorse job subsidies and extra public sector employment. While such programs have notorious flaws, at least they create job opportunities rather than destroying them. (Sadly, despite the preceding quote, Edin and Shaefer also enthusiastically endorse an even higher minimum wage, even though its hard to deny that the ultra-poor would greatly benefit from the opportunity to work for half or even a quarter of the current floor).
But there’s an even simpler remedy available – a remedy that requires no change in government policy whatever. Namely: Instead of pressuring companies to raise wages, activists should instead pressure them to hire more low-skilled workers. Why not abandon the “Fight for $15” in favor of the “Fight for 15% More Low-Skilled Jobs”? If activists can pressure Amazon into raising wages, why can’t they pressure Amazon into expanding the bottom rung of the ladder of opportunity?Continue Reading
This tale has a few holes. I was trying to remember all the details, but I may not have known them all at the time. Anyway…
“Wilson” never had a driver’s license in all the years I knew him. He normally traveled by bicycle. He wasn’t usually in a hurry and it was cheaper than buying fuel. Especially at our local prices.
When he needed to carry a load or make a longer trip he drove his old full-sized van. He avoided being pulled over because he wasn’t a reckless or impulsive driver. But one day his luck ran out when he was a few miles outside of town.
The state trooper pulled him over and asked for his papers. Well, he didn’t have any.
So the goon ordered him out of the van. He complied. The cop wanted to search his vehicle. Wilson refused to consent and started quoting the Fourth Amendment. This was one place where Wilson and I disagreed. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, he believed the Constitution could protect his rights. I wanted to believe it; he did.
The cop didn’t like being informed of his legal limits. He called back-up and a K9 unit, and searched anyway. Wilson sat cuffed on the side of the road to keep him from “interfering” with the cops’ “duties”.
The cops found nothing– which is surprisng. I guess they’d already used up all their incriminating substances that day. The cops didn’t find the pistol in his backpack, either.
But this is where there’s a hole in the tale: I can’t remember how the attack ended, or how Wilson got his van back home, but he wasn’t arrested and the van wasn’t impounded as far as I can remember. I do think he ended up getting the van’s paperwork in order soon after this, so maybe it was briefly impounded. If it had happened to me I’m sure I would remember better.
He was much more reluctant to drive the van after this, and pretty much left it parked until he got the pop-up camper and needed to haul it around. But he still didn’t get a driver’s license.
This confrontation didn’t improve his attitude toward cops and led to another incident, as he was coming out of the grocery store, a few weeks later.
In that encounter, the sheriff grabbed him by the shoulders, shoved him against the wall, and told him to “drop this ‘Constitution’ $#%&;“. This didn’t surprise me, since the local sheriff never saw a right he didn’t want to violate. (That was still the most free place I’ve ever lived, in spite of the vile local Blue Line Gang.) And that threat just made Wilson ramp up his outspokenness to new levels.Continue Reading
I was driving along a beautiful sunlit, golden leaf-gilded neighborhood road the other morning on my way to work. I see this same road every morning, but today I noticed its beauty.
When you notice something beautiful on the way to work, you notice everything about work that makes you *not* notice the beauty.
I became aware of how much time and joy I sometimes let work stresses – all around the reactions, opinions, and demands of other people – take away from me. I also became aware of how much less worthy those other people seemed relative to the simple scene of beauty around me.
It’s not that my colleagues, stakeholders, customers, and superiors don’t matter. They’re wonderful people, and it’s my job to create value for them. But when I really think about how much worry I let myself feel about their reactions and decisions and expectations, I can’t square the circle. They’re just people, with flaws and limitations like me. They’re not more important than a joy-filled experience of life. And whatever their merits or importance, they aren’t good or important enough to have the power of “eminent domain” when it comes to my moment-by-moment existence.
You might ask yourself the same question. If you really think about it, is Bob from accounting the kind of guy you would surrender your most precious birthright to? Probably not. But if you let Bob from accounting keep you on edge every morning on the way to work, you’ve just lost the joy of those tree-lined drives and crisp fall airs from your Mondays through Fridays. And when you lose that, you lose a part of your power to experience the fullness of life. Is Bob worth it?
If you’re shaking your head right now, good.Continue Reading