Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Trump shouldn't do it, either

In 2014, I decried President Obama's responses to businesses fleeing his unfriendly policies.  Obama's solution, as a proper disciple of Saul Alinsky, was name-calling, because that works so well.  He says they're corporate deserters who want to avoid paying their fair share. For the interested, here's that full post.

Every president comes up with crappy policy or two, and President Trump is no exception.  I get what he's trying to do with tariffs, even though they haven't ever worked in the past.  I think tariffs may cost a tremendous number of Republican seats in Congress, and if they're disastrous enough, they'll probably cost him reelection. 

While presidents have plenty of power to do stupid things, there are things they shouldn't do.  Presidents shouldn't attack businesses or call them names.  President Trump targeted Harley-Davidson for making some tough decisions to deal with tariffs.  Note that Harley-Davidson hasn't been doing tremendously well financially, but overseas markets are helping them.  Or rather, overseas markets were helping them before the tariffs.  Their solution?  Make bikes where they won't be subject to the idiotic tax.  President Trump didn't care for that.  Here's what he had to say:
Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag. I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion. Taxes just a Harley excuse - be patient! #MAGA
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018

Early this year Harley-Davidson said they would move much of their plant operations in Kansas City to Thailand.  That was long before Tariffs were announced. Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse.
Well, except they're not moving production to Thailand to reduce cost.  They're moving some of it to Europe to get around the tariffs.

Harley-Davidson explained:  “Increasing international production to alleviate the EU tariff burden is not the company’s preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles available to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe."

It wasn't okay when President Obama was attacking businesses who made difficult decisions to stay profitable.  It's not okay when President Trump does it.  This isn't a school yard, and even in school yards name calling and attacks don't make things better.

Good policy replacing stupid policy would do far more to remedy the situation.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Why it's okay that The Red Hen Restaurant refused Sarah Huckabee Sanders service

Right now, if you do a web search on Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you'll see a lot of information on a current kerfuffle.  The Red Hen Restaurant refused service to her and her family members (including her extended family members who are politically liberal). 

A lot of conservatives are pretty upset, pointing out that if the political Left believes bakers and florists can't refuse service to anyone, The Red Hen Restaurant should certainly model this demanded level of service.  Note that the baker didn't even refuse service, he was happy to have any couple in his store and sell them any already made product.  He just declined to use his artistic talent to support a cause he didn't support, very much like the Supreme Court has said other artists can do.  For example, you can't force a Jewish custom t-shirt shop to make swastika print t-shirts.  They can decline to provide that service.

A chef can certainly consider her food art and refuse to make it in support of politics with which she disagrees, but there's an even better reason that refusing service shouldn't bother conservatives and doesn't bother libertarians.

The free market works to correct discrimination quite well.  It's hard to stay in business as a restaurant, or really as just about any small business.  It's hard to achieve the financial stability necessary to turn away customers, and it's never profitable to do so.  The free market favors nondiscrimination.

The free market also favors nondiscrimination in employment.  Allowing personal prejudice to shrink the available labor pool means an employer won't get the best candidates for a position.  Worse yet, they may pass on incredible talent that would have made their business more successful.  Instead, that talent will go work for another business and give a competitive edge that will put the prejudiced employer out of business.  One great example is Vivien Thomas, whose skill was so incredible that it forced prejudice out of the way of progress.

The only failing in the free market push toward total nondiscrimination is that it's not very fast and it doesn't have a great defense mechanism against government interference.  In Vivien Thomas's case, it took decades for his tremendous talent to break through the barrier of prejudice.  For an example of government interference, Jim Crow laws in the U.S. South prevented businesses that didn't want to engage in racial segregation from refusing to discriminate.  Had Jim Crow laws simply been struck down, the free market would have eventually done the rest.  Businesses that didn't discriminate would have succeeded over time and racist business owners would have been put out of business by smarter folks.  Laws against discrimination hastened that process, but they weren't actually necessary.

That's why I'm okay with Sarah Huckabee Sanders being refused service.  By everyone's account of the events (even the prejudiced business owner), Sarah Huckabee Sanders was very gracious about being asked to leave, even offering to pay for the food she'd ordered.  She probably understands she can just take her business elsewhere, and she'll help the free market process of putting prejudiced businesses like The Red Hen Restaurant out of business in time.  It's not fast, but it'll work.  Also, no one will spit in her food, which is a bonus.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Conversion of Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist passed away this week.  He was a good man.  The people near him all found him kind, thoughtful and thoroughly decent.  There's been some ideologically-based vitriol against him, people who think it's okay to hate just because one disagrees with another.  Krauthammer showed us a better way.  He was thoughtful, persuasive and didn't hate when he discussed.  He was thoroughly rational in part because he was a fully-trained doctor (completing medical school and residency despite being rendered nearly quadriplegic early in medical school by a diving accident).

How did a speechwriter for Vice-President Walter Mondale ever become a conservative, though?  He's given the explanation many places, but I like the explanation he gave on the Armstrong and Getty Show well enough to transcribe it for those who wish to read it.  Note that A&G are great hosts, thoughtful men and fun to listen to.  They aren't like the ranting shows you may have encountered elsewhere and they're worth a listen.

Discussing his book, "Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics," Krauthammer explained his writing on politics:  "...there's a lot on politics because in the end, if you get the politics wrong in this society, you can have all the beautiful, elegant stuff in life but it can get swept away and that's why I devoted my life to politics.  I left medicine to do that."

The question that prompted it came from Jack Armstrong:  "How did you come to your political beliefs?  Or maybe the better question is 'How do most people end up where they are?'"

Charles Krauthammer:  "I think people initially are born into their political tribe.  You get it from your folks, you get it from your environment, you get it from your school.  And then I think around the time of your mid-teens, you start to go to college, you start to form your own ideas.  And for me, I was a Cold War liberal; a Democrat in my 20's.  And then the change that happened to me was very simple; I'm open to empirical evidence.  As you know I was a doctor before became a writer.  And when you're a doctor and it turns out the treatment that you're giving is killing your patients, you stop the treatment.  And I remember when the first empirical, statistical studies from the Great Society, the War on Poverty started to come in, in the 1980's when I was in my 30's, it was clear that not only was the War on Poverty and the Great Society a failure, but it was undermining and destroying the very communities it was trying to help.

"So, I didn't have an overnight epiphany where I woke up in the morning and said, 'I think I'll be a conservative.  The Lord has spoken to me.'  It was absorbing all this social science evidence and realizing that for all their good intentions, liberals were ruining things.  I mean really ruining things.  And I began to examine the alternate way to do it, and that led me to be a kind of small-government conservative."

Hear the full interview here:   https://news.iheart.com/featured/armstrong-and-getty/content/2018-06-22-ags-charles-krauthammer-interview/

This is how many of us come to conservatism.  We want to help others, but we see the evidence that liberalism doesn't do that, and worse yet, big government is dangerous to liberty.  We all feel the urge to lead with our hearts, but the results can be disastrous, and Charles Krauthammer showed us a better way:  leading with reason while being compassionate.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Making gasoline from carbon dioxide

I've posted a lot about energy in the past, but I've seen something that surprised me.  Evidently, this technology has been in use for a while, but I had no idea we could do it.

Scientists say they've found a cheap way to convert CO2 into gasoline

A team of scientists claims to have discovered a cheaper way to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into gasoline or other fuels, which could arm humanity with a new tool in the fight against climate change.

Published in the scientific journal Joule on Thursday, the research demonstrates a new technique that pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and converts it into liquid gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.

Canadian clean energy company Carbon Engineering, in partnership with researchers from Harvard, used little more than limestone, hydrogen and air for the process, which can remove one metric ton of CO2 for as little as $94, the scientists say. It cleans up the environment, and produces eco-friendly liquid fuel at the same time.

"Until now, research suggested it would cost $600 per ton to remove CO2 from the atmosphere using DAC technology, making it too expensive to be a feasible solution to removing legacy carbon at scale," David Keith, Harvard Professor and founder of Carbon Energy said in a statement. "We now have the data and engineering to prove that DAC can achieve costs below $100 per ton."

DAC refers to "direct air capture" technology, or the technique by which Carbon Engineering extracts CO2 from air.
Who would have thought we'd turn gasoline into a renewable resource?  We'll still need lots of nuclear power to make this happen, but I guess hydrogen fuel cells might not be necessary in the future. 

The political ramifications are huge.  If this technology does become sufficiently inexpensive, the Middle East will no longer matter at all. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

It's still the most common position on immigration

“We all agree on the need to better secure the border and punish employers who choose to hire illegal immigrants. We are a generous and welcoming people here in the United States, but those who enter the country illegally and those who employ them disrespect the rule of law and they are showing disregard for those who are following the law.  We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully to become immigrants in this country.” -Senator Barack Obama in 2005.

The best clip of this won't embed traditionally.  I got it to work using HTML, but just in case they ever disallow that here's the link:  https://youtu.be/T7LGoHV3aKs