No, Uber and GrubHub Drivers Should Not Be Employees (24m) – Episode 267

Episode 267 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: adding calisthenics to his morning routine; the push by a minority of gig economy workers to force Uber, GrubHub, et al, to designate their drivers as employees, and why this is a big mistake; and more.

Listen to Episode 267 (24m, mp3, 64kbps)

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On Gender Expression III

If we are to categorize gender expression as genders, then there aren’t 2 genders, or even 70 genders, but 7.53 billion genders, and counting. Every person on earth has a gender and expresses it in a unique way. Therefore it follows that every unique expression by every person on earth is its own gender. At some point it becomes absurd to count genders, maybe for you its past 20, and for me it’s past 2, and for that person over there, 500. I don’t know, we all have our preferences here. Are my preferences any less valid than yours? Perhaps the gender recognition preference of 2 is just a part of my gender. What am I saying? Of course it is! I am a unique gender, after all. As are you. You may have a unique display of biologically similar-to-mine genitalia, but you too are a unique gender. Let’s celebrate our diversity! And that’s today’s two cents.

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Why Be Good? One (Self-Interested) Reason

Why be good?

People have spilled a lot of ink on this one. And there are countless bad arguments (“god commands it!” or “society says so!”) as well as more good arguments than you might guess.

Some are pretty simple – and while they aren’t full, rigorous systematic answers to the problem of “why” in morality, they’re useful heuristics for getting through life.

You might consider being good, for instance, because you want to be able to see the good in the other humans you interact with.

It’s pretty obvious that we project our own worst attributes onto others. As C.S. Lewis noted regarding vices like pride:

“. . .the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.”

The same goes for any of the traditional vices: greed tends to cast the world in a greedy light, hate in hateful light, and so on. Your experience of the world will be cast in the light you create.*

Fortunately, you’ll have also noticed that you tend to also see the virtues in others (courage, generosity, honesty, etc.) when you have been virtuous yourself. And no one can deny that it’s strongly in our self-interest to hope for these things in our fellow humans and in the world we live in.

Remember when you helped that poor person, visited that sick person, comforted that lonely person? I doubt you went out afterwards seeing more of the badness in humanity and the world. We control our experience of life and program it with our actions, so we benefit by choosing to cast clear light.

Again, not a full answer by any means to the philosophical question of morality. But then, maybe the question is not as complicated as the philosophers think. Self-interest tends to justify itself, and there is plenty of self-interest on the side of the virtues.

Originally published at

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Shutdown Theater: Blame? Why Not Credit?

According to the headline at CNN, “Trump bears most blame for shutdown.”

But according to the CNN/SSRS poll the story is based on, the question asked was “Who do you think is more responsible for the government shutdown?” (emphasis mine).

Those are two entirely different questions. “Blame” is only one variant of “responsibility.” CNN’s coverage of its own poll begs the question by conflating the two, assuming universal belief that the “government shutdown” is a bad thing.

That take ignores a very different viewpoint. Many Americans consider the shutdown a good thing. No, probably not a majority, but enough that they show up on the nation’s newspaper opinion pages and in “man on the street” interviews.

Radical libertarians like me are, unfortunately, a tiny part of the “yay, shutdown!” demographic. We prefer, on principle, to see the government doing as little as it can be made to do. Shut down as much of it as possible for as long as possible!

But there are also Republicans and Democrats who assign responsibility — in the form of credit, not blame — to their own parties or to Congress as such,  presumably one of two principles:

First, the notion that one side is right, that the other side is wrong, and that no compromise is acceptable, on the issue holding up a deal — President Trump’s demand that any spending deal fund his “border wall.”

Supporters of the wall may credit Trump with backbone for refusing any deal that puts off the wall to yet another funding cycle.

Opponents of the wall may similarly credit US Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi with backbone for refusing any deal that funds the wall.

Secondly, notions concerning which branch of government should enjoy primacy. That is, who’s in charge here, Congress or the president?

Supporters of a stronger executive may credit Trump with pushing for power they believe he’s entitled to and a policy they agree with him is correct.

Supporters of a stronger Congress may credit Schumer and Pelosi with resisting executive overreach and trying to counteract this instance of that overreach through Congress’s power of the purse.

While I’m a fan of “government shutdowns” in general, and wish they’d just kind of wander off and forget to open back up one of these times, I agree that these other fights are worth having as well.

Which side will win the current brawl? In my opinion, absent some Hail Mary maneuver (like the “emergency declaration” Trump is publicly pondering), the side which first understands and exploits the phenomenon above.

That is, the side which stops trying to shift blame for the “shutdown” and starts claiming credit for it.

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Good Intentions, or Not

I have no doubt that many “citizen” statists have good intentions. They are misguided by their ignorance but their intentions are mainly admirable. They may even align with mine.

However, that doesn’t apply to politicians.

Especially those who have been around a few years. I no longer give them the benefit of a doubt.

They know what’s up. Through experience, they know better.

Yet they keep doing the same old thing anyway. That they keep using politics instead of the economic means shows me they have no good intentions left. Even if they did, once upon a time.

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Nobody asked but-cept …

“But-cept” is a portmanteau word created (as far as I know) by my first four grandsons in their private conversations.  I intuit that it is a more powerful way of signalling a perceived contradiction.

I was thinking today of a people who went to revolutionary war over a couple of pennies on the dollar in taxes.  The colonists of America grew  sick and tired, purportedly, of being led around by the nosering by a demented king in London, England.  Then the big “but-cept” irony punched me in the side of the head.

It must be a fiction that the colonial man in the streets had any cohesive thought on the matter.  The American Revolutionary War was promulgated by the landed gentry to protect their already-claimed advantages.  They got the peasantry to fight and die, to freeze to death, to starve for the pretty abstraction of freedom.  This war, like all others, was fought for the status quo.  But-cept, how do I know?

I know because today’s peasantry, the persons-in-the-streets, cannot be motivated to do something logical, to rise up against the taxation theft that steals a third — going on a whole — of their output.  They cannot get their but-cepts in gear to rise up against the self-serving ruling oligarchy.  They (we) are too busy chasing fictional butterflies at the border wall.

— Kilgore Forelle

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