Posts Tagged ‘ignorance’

And Then My Head Exploded

Posted: March 22, 2013 in Politics
Tags: ,

guncontrol01A friend of mine (acquaintance, really, but I like the guy – he always seemed nice) recently posted this on Facebook:

I am not surprised by Sen Harry Reid’s treatment of “the gun bill.” Afterall his job is to get bills passed that are of interest to the Democratic Party and, in his case, the NRA’s thousands of dollars in Mr Reid’s campaign war chest. “The gun bill” will indeed be a fight up a very steep hill requiring continuing strong moral conviction, stick-to-it-tive-ness, convincing oratory, genius, and memory of the murdered children of Sandy Hook.

This time we had better not let our Congressmen go it alone. They need continuing encouragement and input from the rest of us. Join me in letting them know we want a US without killer weapons in anybody’s hands but the military and police. Remember the children.

I try to paint people in the best possible light – and so I nearly convinced myself he was being ironic, satirical or sarcastic. But it’s pretty clear: my friend is an idiot.

I nearly responded publicly to his post. I did not – not because I am afraid of repurcussions, but because I did not want to hurt my friend, or be seen as attacking his opinion. I typed a few things in as a reply, and good sense prevailed and I canceled my attempt at reason. You cannot change someone’s mind when they have their head that far up their ideology.

guncontrol02My favorite non-posted reply: “I cannot join you in your misguided dream of a US without “killer weapons” in anybody’s hands but the military and police. Tyrannies bloom and thrive in that atmosphere. Ever heard of China? Do you have the slightest idea how many millions have died because of that disparity of force? Even the most altruistic government will soon degrade into despotism if there is no barrier to it. Our founders understood this, largely because they had lived under a despotic ruler – and hoped to prevent his kind ever gaining a foothold again. You want a US in which only the government has weapons? The mere idea horrifies me.”


Occupy Best Buy?

Posted: November 24, 2011 in Life, Politics
Tags: , , , ,

I found myself driving to Best Buy on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving because my printer had run out of ink, and Best Buy has a regular Wednesday printer ink discount. This in itself is brings up an annoying memory. The last time I had to buy ink was on a Tuesday about a month ago. The under-educated teen at the register was friendly enough, and chirpily informed me of their weekly Wednesday ink specials – but not until after she had already rung up and bagged my purchase. File that under “information I could have used five minutes earlier.”

So in this distracted state of mind I approached the store and found these occupiers camped out on the sidewalk in front. Three thoughts flashed through my mind in a second: a) store display – Best Buy sells camping equipment?  b) the occupy movement hates Best Buy because the evil corporate profits and the quasi-religious holiday pandering is fully embodied in their “Buyer Be Happy” slogan?  c) there are people with nothing better to do than to camp out for two days to save $50 on a crappy made-in-China television set?

I found my ink, went to the registers and asked the cashier (not the same one as before, but her spiritual twin) about the squatters.

Cashier: Find everything?
Me: Yeah, I –
Cashier: Are you a Best Buy Rewards member?
Me: No. Did you –
Cashier: Would you like to become one?
Me: Uh, no. Are those kids out front waiting for Black Friday?
Cashier: (nods amicably)
Me: Is there anything in the store on Friday that isn’t here already?
Cashier: (shakes head amicably)
Me: So, why are they out there, exactly?
Cashier: (shrugs amicably and hands me my bag)
Me: Thanks. Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend.
Cashier: ‘K. Bye!

I have had more stimulating conversations with store clerks than that (I’ve had more stimulating conversations with my cat, now that I think about it).  But I knew that she was an intellectual giant compared to the concrete campers out front. That’s a given if they were actually “occupiers”, but even if they were shoppers it becomes quickly apparent. Being a cashier, she can presumably do this sixth grade math (and I’ll be very generous with the numbers in this example): $150 savings divided by 30 hours equals $5/hour.

So I have the same question for them whether they are there to “occupy” or for Black Friday: Isn’t there anything more useful (or as some would say, profitable) you could be doing with yourself?

This quote is from a 9/25/10 AP story on the GOP “Pledge to America”, PBO’s predictable response and the philosophical differences between the Dems and the Repubs:

“Perhaps the biggest difference was on taxes, where Republicans want to extend all of George W. Bush’s income tax cuts permanently — at a cost of some $4 trillion over 10 years.”

“Cost.” Says who? Keeping taxes where they are will cost $4 trillion? Partisan bull.

There is an element of our population that does not understand the simple economics of this discussion, but I hope most Americans get it. The left does – at least those who don’t have their heads so far up their ideology that they can’t hear the howls of outrage of the electorate. The rest of them will stick their fingers in their ears and remain willfully ignorant when this is explained because they know it undoes their agenda.

Imagine a produce stand. It makes enough in sales that Farmer Brown can support his family. His wife gets the idea that she’d like to add a swimming pool to the old homestead, so she convinces him to raise his prices – tomatoes, for example, are now $15 each. He is surprised to find that his sales have dropped off to nearly nothing, even though he’s the only produce stand for miles around. In one week, he sold only 2 tomatoes, so he’s made $30 on his tomato sales. He’s experiencing a seriously sluggish micro-economy, and now he can barely afford to keep the lights on at the farm.

He wants to lower the price of his tomatoes from $15 each to $1 each. Still outrageous, but not as hopelessly overpriced. Based on last week’s sales figures, his wife calculates that when they sell the 2 tomatoes this week that his low price plan will “cost” them $28 in lost revenue.

But an amazing thing happens – sales go up, and he sells 50 tomatoes (still a far cry from the glory days, but an improvement nonetheless). He can now happily put $50 toward his electric bill and keep the lights on. His sales went up $20 in just one week. But his angry wife points out that if he’d left the price alone like she wanted, they’d have made $750 on those 50 tomatoes! She’s so preoccupied about the $700 he “let get away” that she can’t get her brain around the simple cause-and-effect scenario – that lowering the price caused the higher sales, and that charging too much chased the sales away. Her $750 sales day could never have happened.

Will lowering taxes (prices) cost the government (farmer) $4 trillion ($750)? Or will it generate more income, like it has in every credible example ever recorded?

Watch out for AP statistics that use “static accounting”, which is a fancy way of saying that they assume a change in one variable will not trigger change in anything else. A change in price will affect sales at the produce stand, and a change in our tax rates (or even uncertainty in future tax rates) will affect our GDP.

The real question is whether the “Tax! Tax! Tax!” ideologues will give up on this failed and faulty path we’re on before the bank forecloses on the farm.

Georgia is suffering short supplies of gasoline this week and last, and the idea that I might not find enough fuel to get to work has been a little frightening. But as in any other crisis, this one serves as a background to highlight how stupid some people can be.

From the USA Today:

The pipelines that supply the region are operating at less than normal capacity, due largely to storm-related power outages at Texas refineries, said Kenneth Medlock, energy fellow at the Baker Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank at Rice University in Houston.

“In isolation, neither of these storms would have been that big a deal, because there’s enough inventory (at stations) to make up the shortfall,” said Medlock. “But there was a three- to four-week period of refinery capacity not operating. That’s basically a month when nothing’s being produced.”

Panic buying — drivers topping off every time they happen across a station that actually has gas — made the problem worse, said Marylee Booth, executive director of the Tennessee Oil Marketers Association.

“If people saw a tanker drive up to a station, they’d start lining up. The panic has died down. It’s getting a little better every day.”

From WJBF News Channel 6 Reporter Joy Howe:

…experts say all of this mess is over when we, the consumers say it is… topping off does not help the problem.

Dr. Mark Thompson, ASU Association Professor of Economics: “When you’re at half a tank, you really don’t need it… Put it into perspective for the person who is at that quarter of a tank or the red light is on. You want when you’re at that point to be able to get gas, so don’t take somebody else’s gas when you’re at that half tank.”

“Topping off” does not, mathematically, affect gas supply. That is just ignorant. I’m angered by Dr. Thompson’s implication that the crisis is entirely the fault of the consumers. Ms. Booth is equally wrong if she thinks it “made the problem worse”, unless she’s only referring to the problem of long lines at the pump. The shortage is a real problem; long lines are just an inconvenience. But the shortage has not gotten worse due to people topping off their tanks.

Imagine a restaurant with two banquet tables and a banquet that is expected to go on for hours. The waitress at one table fills each diner’s water glass only when the glass is nearly empty. The waitress at the other table tops each water glass after every sip. Assuming both tables are equally thirsty, which waitress runs out of water first?

The waitress who tops off after each sip will be much busier, her activity giving the appearance of greater need, but the amount of water poured depends entirely on consumption – the rate of depletion – not the frequency of refill. Each waitress will run out of water at the same rate over the course of the banquet.

When the dinner guests begin to stash water in their purses, salt shakers and soup bowls in the expectation that the waitress will fail to serve their table – that’s hoarding, and it does directly affect the availability of resources.

I have heard several (badly researched) news reports claiming that this shortage is being made worse because drivers are filling up when they “really don’t need it.” Topping off makes the lines at gas stations longer, but does not actually cause gas to run out sooner. It’s the clowns like the woman Carol saw Wednesday night last week filling up milk jugs and orange juice cartons that are causing the problems. It’s the idiots who have not changed their consumption habits during this shortage. But most of all, it’s the lack of supply that’s created this mess.

So hold your nose, fill up when it’s convenient, and in a few weeks we’ll have all forgotten what the big deal was, anyway.

Monday September 29, 2008 – 10:32am (EDT)