Mixed Feelings in Singapore

First of all:  do I have an excuse for two months of silence?  No.  There’s been little worth remarking on.  A dead-end governor’s race (I’d like to congratulate Lt. Governor Todd Lamb on his inevitable victory) a marijuana question that will probably be successful but is also bogged down in regulation, and so on.  Joe Exotic can’t even run a zoo (seriously, have you been to that place?) but thinks he can run the state.  Worth writing about?  I’m not convinced.

However, Singapore has caught everyone’s attention and perhaps their imagination.  What does the future of that region look like?

I think that a lot of people are impressed, myself included, by the historical magnitude of the moment.  I think we were underwhelmed by the vagueness of the agreement signed, and the mystery of what was discussed behind closed doors.  We were hoping for something a little more substantive than the “goodwill,” “potential for future talks” and the “momentum.”  Seems like diplomatic hot air, but you have to start somewhere.

It is certain that they have blisters from shaking hands so much.

It is also certain that this would not have happened if it weren’t for Donald Trump.  However, I think it will be the relaxing of cultural regulation that brings North Korea back to the rest of the world, as happened with the Soviet Union.

Already there is a hunger for capitalist/foreign goods and culture among the upper class of North Korea.  These goods are sold on an open black market.  Build a McDonalds in Pyongyang and start showing western movies and the swing of the pendulum will be unstoppable, no matter what politics will have to say about it.

So while I think we’re underwhelmed by this particular meeting, it was never destined to be very substantive to begin with.

Don’t even begin to whine about how Trump can be all friendly with the murderer Kim Jong Un.  Changing things requires diplomacy.  The prior administration met with all sorts of communists and dictators;  and that’s fine.  What, you want them to get into a boxing match?  You think that’s going to de-escalate things?

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A short history of Extortion…

Today, there is universal arm chair social media outrage over Rep. McDugle’s video post.  I watched it – what was so unreasonable?  Please advise.

It is concerning to me that nobody is questioning the teachers, in the land of supposed conservatism.  They are a special interest, like any other group lobbying at the capitol.  I’m not writing this to be edgy; i’m genuinely puzzled that there seems to be no questioning the teachers demands.

If at the outset, the teachers had come together and said, okay, this is how much we need to educate your kids, that would be a start and we could negotiate from there.  But they didn’t, to my knowledge.  Therefore, the discontent could be perpetual.  As I pointed out in my last article, what dollar figure would magically make everything better?

No matter what the legislature budgets, the teachers can always demand more (as they have already) because they are in an ideal position to do so.  Also, we’re under republican leadership and it’s always fun to kick sand in the eyes of republicans, right?  If the democrat party was the majority party, there is no way that the strike would be permitted to happen.

A few photos of some tattered textbooks on social media is enough to convince everyone that the school system is physically deteriorating before our eyes.   Is it realistic?

Posts and interviews to this effect are calculated to receive an emotional response.  Give us what we want.  We want more.  

A $5-10,000 pay raise, and increased classroom funding.  Not enough

For nine days, schools in West Virginia were shut down due to similar demands, and because the state government allowed it to happen.  This emboldened the teacher movement in our own state.  Honestly, why is the state permitting this?  Sure, it was fun to let the teachers have their day where they made cute signs and had their picket line, but anything more than two days is absurd.

I hope it does not happen, but what will we do five years down the road when this is forgotten and teachers decide again that it’s not enough?  We’ll give in, we’ll raise taxes, anything for the teachers.   Teaching, a nine month job with Christmas and Spring breaks, will become the most lucrative job in the state…

 

 

 

It isn’t good enough – or ever will be

Teachers today descend en masse on the Capitol.  Why?  Even after getting what they wanted, a considerable pay raise – the temper tantrum continues.  They have their soapbox, people are listening, and it’s clear they are going to milk it for all it’s worth.

Not that a pay adjustment wasn’t deserved, especially given the length of time and the increase in inflation since the last teacher pay raise.

What dollar figure would magically make everything okay?

Attempting to satisfy a hunger that can never be satisfied will only lead to waste of taxpayer dollars.  And these taxes are not sustainable; and it’s something we’ll forget about later, so they can nickel and dime us again.  But the real problem here:

It is clear that teachers exert a lot of influence over our children, and perhaps this is regrettable.  What are the teachers of Oklahoma teaching our children today?  Simply: if you don’t get what you want, skip out on your responsibilities and skip work until you do.  And even if you do get what you want: skip your responsibilities and throw a tantrum anyway.  For attention!

 

A few points:

  •  No one is under any illusions that teaching can make one rich.  Surely when all these teachers signed up for education degrees, they had to have looked into numbers and statistics regarding pay rates.  If they did, they knew about low pay rates, and have limited room to complain.  If they didn’t, well, that’s almost worse…
  • If people in my peer group knew about this article, i’d be roasted on a spit.  My only consolation is that people in my peer group don’t read these articles.  People worship at the feet of teachers – and yes, of course, there are great teachers.  But by and large, teachers are there to regurgitate a predetermined curriculum in largely a cookie cutter way and are easily replaceable.
  • They say that if we have better teachers, we’ll have more students going off to ivy leagues but really, this isn’t the case.  A student’s attitude towards education is largely determined by cultural and social circumstances in the home.  If a student is destined for an ivy league, he’s destined for it regardless of the teachers he has.  There are exceptions always, of course, but don’t act like spending more money is going to improve outcomes in this way.
  • Nobody is talking about how teachers get long vacations.  Summers, spring breaks, Christmas breaks – employees in the corporate world would kill for such lengths of time off.

Why the “walkout” is nothing

A bunch of kids skipped class, I guess we have to throw away the constitution now…

Obviously I think young people, even high schoolers, are fully entitled to their political beliefs.  Misguided though they are, I will never cease to encourage political activism for the young.  And for those that walked out of class, fully convinced of what they believe in, good job.

However: kids just like skipping class and will find any excuse to do so.  I speak from experience.

Furthermore, it is hardly a meaningful political “rebellion” when nearly every social and political institution, including the schools themselves, also believe in gun control. 

When schools are sanctioning the walkout, it’s not really a walkout.  It’s twenty minutes of skipped classes.  It would be slightly more effective if students got up and walked out en masse over something like teacher pay (which is again, supported by most social and political institutions, but the state government would definitely take notice) or some issue that is simultaneously hotly debated and relevant to the students.

 

 

We’re tired of the gun control argument

I’m only twenty, and already I’ve experienced this debate more times than I care to count.  This debate being, of course, the same tired arguments offered by both sides, both dismissing the other.  I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone older than I am who has experienced this debate even more than I have.  Very tiresome.

We have to be careful though: the fact that we have a constitutional amendment protecting this right seems to mean nothing.   The fact that we have a right wing majority seems to mean nothing.  Republicans are beginning to mix up the gun control Kool-aid, and who knows how long it will be before they start gulping it down – most likely in a pathetic attempt to be considered “hip.”

If we’re going to proceed with this gun control discussion, we have to establish the following points:

A crime is an occurrence in which the rights of others have been violated.  If there is no violation of the rights of others, no crime has been committed.

There is no way that the mere possession or ownership of an inanimate object could possibly be considered a crime.   You cannot criminalize or justify the criminalization of the ownership of automatic weapons based on the possibility of a crime occurring; an infringement on rights must occur.

In no way could my ownership of an automatic or semi-automatic weapon harm anyone.  Moreover, it is entirely my right as a free being to own whatever I care to spend my money on.

This is easy, folks.

I realize that there is no solution here.  I’d like to be able to offer one; but there is none, without infringing on the rights of the innocent.  (Well, had the FBI looked into the warnings, that might have been a solution… but we can’t talk in terms of “what-if’s”)

 

 

Haiti: an ideal vacation destination

The Big Blog of Freedom and Justice is coming out of winter hibernation to offer a few words on the big word – do I need to use it here?  Nah.

First of all, I won’t fully believe that he really said it until I hear a recording.

Supposing he did use the word, a few points:

  • Yeah, sure, maybe a better phrase could be found.  But how many of the liberal elites pouring their crocodile tears out in the news cycle really like going to Haiti?  Are all the young millennials virtue signalling on social media planning a Hatian Honeymoon?
  • Being that this is in the context of immigration, if Haiti is so great, why do so many people want to leave?  Much is made of the contributions Hatian immigrants have made to American society (which is certain) but could they have made those same contributions in their home country?  Likely not.

This isn’t really an article, it’s more of an assembly of rhetorical questions, but one thing is absolutely certain: Trump’s expanding base of support doesn’t care that he made the remarks, or would be inclined to agree.

Will this be the end of DRUMPF?  Nope!

 

Libertarian Candidate’s Forum, Nov. 6, 2017

 

debate 11-6

 

Held on the campus on UCO last night, the candidates for the libertarian governor nomination were able to tell attendees something about themselves and their positions.  Further, this event gives a little more legitimacy to the infant Oklahoma Libertarian Party; approximately fifty people were in attendance, which is not unreasonable given that this event was only announced a few days before.  Sponsored by the American Democracy Project at UCO, the idea of legitimacy is reinforced because a debate of the republican candidates will be hosted by the ADP in a similar manner, on January 31.

There are three candidates: Chris Powell, Rex Lawhorn, and Joe Exotic.  Overall, Chris Powell and Rex Lawhorn differ only when it comes to style, and their positions hold closely to the libertarian platform.  Both of them are long time libertarians with experience and previous political success.  At the moment, deciding between the two would be a very difficult thing, especially at this moment.

These candidates are very strong compared to all the republican contenders: it’s very clear at this moment that the Republican nomination will be more of a popularity contest, rather than an election of substance.  That really shouldn’t be a surprise.  Either way, the Libertarian party is going to nominate a candidate that can offer substance against the likes of Todd Lamb or Construction Cornett.

Then of course, there is the elephant in the room (aptly enough):  Joe Exotic.  His eccentricity is fun to watch and fun to write about, but we must remember that he is a serious candidate for the nomination and ought to be treated as such by the party organization.  One has to wonder, though, if the decision to close the primaries to independent voters was partly based on Mr. Exotic’s campaign.  If the libertarians were to get together and nominate Joe Exotic, well, that’s one thing – but if a sufficient number of independents went and voted for him in the primary as some sort of joke, that could cause serious problems.  Perhaps Mr. Exotic realizes this full well; he expressed to me personally his anger over the shutting out of thousands of independents from the libertarian primary.

It cannot be denied that while his candidacy ought to be taken seriously, it isn’t going to be by most libertarian voters.  This is not only due to his story and style;  some of his positions do not hold so closely to the libertarian platform.  Indeed, the most obvious is his plan to provide free healthcare to Oklahoma citizens, funded by marijuana taxes.

The issues discussed were relatively basic: education, healthcare, and the Oklahoma budget.  Their arguments and positions were reasonable and not unexpected from libertarians, all being a heavy focus on free market solutions, “direct primary care” for insurance, and the necessity for the diversification of the Oklahoma economy, given the inevitability of the continued fall in the price of oil.

For those interested, the full debate can be viewed here:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F1439575176158061%2Fvideos%2F1449716135143965%2F&show_text=0&width=267

Budget: you have an agreement, but no deal

The three stooges – Fallin, Schulz, and McCall – have reached a budget agreement, which would lead us to ask: just what have they been doing for the past month?  It’s just a rehashing of the same thing they’ve been trying to force onto us for the last few years.

It includes that $1.50 cigarette tax, an increase of the gasoline tax, possible new taxes on alcohol, and a $1,000 raise for state employees and $3,000 for teachers, annually.

Personally, I would be okay with a slight tax increase simply to patch the hole, or many a more significant one to patch the hole and crease a more sustainable budgetary basis.  However, this plan is not that: it not only raises taxes, but brings us exorbitant new obligations that we might not be able to meet in the future.

Perhaps we can make them, but in a few years you’ll see another round of demands for teacher raises, because this one will be taken for granted.  Taxpayers (and perhaps the legislators) will forget about the tax increase and we’ll be subject to another round of this.

That is, assuming this passes the legislature unscathed.  I have a feeling it won’t, especially with such a large cigarette tax; it wouldn’t necessarily be enough for smoking voters to jump the aisle, but I don’t know if legislators want to take the risk.  It goes without saying that it would hurt businesses along the border of the state, and that may certainly be a problem politically in those areas.

Tl;dr?  You know you are going to see more expenses in the next year, that you’re not going to be able to pay for.  So you ask for a raise.  You get it, but immediately go on a shopping spree in the mall.  That’s all this is.

Two events – how are they connected?

By one variable: guns.

A tragedy happened in Las Vegas, and predictably the leftists crawled out from under rocks within the hour to start demanding anew the thing they’ve always wanted: increased gun control.  There’s the possibility they might get their way this time, as having a republican congress often proves useless.

Anyway, on the opposite side of the world on the previous day, the Catalan people voted for independence from Spain.  The democratic process was met with forceful violence from the Spanish government, with voters being beaten by armored policeman, hundreds to the point of hospitalization.

Now of course, any government would naturally put up some sort of a fight if a part of the country declares themselves independent.

But instead of repeating the worn arguments in favor of gun rights (they are no less true, however ineffective) I simply offer this example.  Whenever we think we see a negative effect of gun rights, let’s consider that there is a more unfortunate effect of gun control: systematic political oppression.

 

Racism is not Right Wing, it’s fringe…

What happened in Chancellorsville the other day is of course, deplorable.  However: it is also unavoidable.

It is dangerous, but not for the reason everyone thinks it is.  Racist rallies and marches are nothing unusual – it’s not like this is the first one.  The Ku Klux Klan is still an active organization.  300 Nazis is not the “rise of Nazism” in the United States.  It’s 300 Nazis.  Nazis have always existed and have been active in the United States (Remember the “Blues Brothers”?)  Even under the last president – racism existed then, as it does today.

It’s dangerous because it is creating ideological battle lines that are not at all representative of the ideological disagreements of the nation’s population at large.  300 Nazis march in Chancellorsville, and the left attempts to say that it’s a manifestation of the entire right wing.  Patently ridiculous, of course.

The left is now suddenly making a bigger deal out of this in another vain attempt to sabotage Trump.  In doing so, they are simply reinforcing identity politics, the same strategy they used in the last election.  It didn’t work then, and it’s not going to work now.

I’ve said it before: anyone who supported Trump continues to do so.  No minds are being changed.  The only problem that the republicans are bound to have in the midterms is that they haven’t done enough to support Trump’s agenda, and this will put a damper on enthusiastic voting.  Otherwise, the republicans can be assured in their political dominance.

The biggest problem: this business forces us into camps that we would not be caught dead in.  Oppose antifa?  That must automatically make you a Nazi.  Oppose these Nazis?  That automatically puts you in antifa.  Or so goes the logic.  Of course virtually none of us are in either group, and the numbers of those groups are so small that it can hardly affect any political outcome.

 

Human beings are never going to be perfect, and hatred will continue to exist in one form or another.  It’s a worthwhile thing to fight, but also a vain fight – and while we should never accept it, we will have to eventually accept that it’s inevitable.

As a right winger, I condemn all that occurred there, as I hope all of my right-wing colleagues will continue to do.  Racism is not a legitimate part of right-wing thought; as a member of the right I value personal and economic freedom above all things, for everyone.