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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Broncos Bits

The NFL still has no embed function, but their website isn't bad. It's got highlights, at least.

Dreadful highlights if you're a Bronco fan. But I didn't mind seeing my team get eaten up by the Arizona passing game. Half those guys won't make the team.

I'm so glad we have a coach this year.

Ya Get What Ya Pay For

I've been considering a career change for some time now. The grass is always greener, it's true, but I sit at my desk, staring at a screen, usually on the weekend and probably during some odd hour when I could be spending time with people I know, and think, man...I should have learned a trade.

Gone into welding. Become a plumber. Learned how to operate heavy construction equipment. I don't know, something else.

As weird as it sounds, but I think being a farmer would be glorious. Hard work? I'm not averse to it. The problem, of course, is that we have a system in this country where hard work doesn't pay.

Which is why I have two reactions to stories like this:
Despite high unemployment, one western Colorado farmer says he can't find enough local workers to help pick corn.
Reaction #1: Hell, man, I'll help you pick corn. Will I have to stand out in the hot sun all day? Awesome! Will I break a sweat? Good. Will my hands get dirty? Oh yeah, baby. Where do I sign up?

But then I read this:
Harold told the Montrose Daily News that he's paying the American workers $10.48 an hour and advertised in newspapers in Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
And think, well no wonder you can't find any domestic laborers.

From a purely economic standpoint, nearly any domestic worker would be better served spending the picking season looking for better-paying work, which at these rates could be had...almost anywhere. There are very few weirdos like me who would be willing to trade a nice comfy desk job for a hard-as-hell field job, but there's none of us willing to do it for half the pay.

With that said, I'm losing patience with assertions such as this:
"You have to understand there is a work ethic of migrant laborers that is just not found with local labor," Harold said.
I have no doubt that migrant laborers have a sterling work ethic, but, Harold, dude, it's not the work ethic you like so much. It's the fact that you're getting it at a steep discount.

It's not as if corporate America -she of the 60 hour workweeks, 24/7 availability with e-mail and cellphones, and the constant hustle, hustle, hustle to meet the bottom line-- is full of slackers. It only seems like it because if you slow down even to catch a breath, you're slacking.

Fact is, Harold wants the work ethic, but he wants it at artificially deflated prices. He shouldn't be surprised that's not exactly working out...

Of course, my solution would be to loosen up our immigration system even more. To me, a lack of open borders and ever-more-stringent enforcement efforts are making this problem worse. Right now, if a farmer isn't legally under-paying guest workers (thanks to various visa restrictions which prevent workers from seeking better employment elsewhere) they're illegally under-paying undocumented workers, knowing full well there will be plenty of eyes willing to look the other way. Either way, the workers are underpaid.

And, sorry, farmers, I'm sure it's a tough job, but if you can't figure out how to make a profit without unconscionably underpaying your workers --which is the same thing as stealing in my book-- then do us all a favor and just go out of business, sell the farm to a guy who can.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stuff

It took me almost as long to get OFF the highway as it did to travel DOWN the highway. I'm getting off at 6th. Colfax is a joke.

Here's another one. Crestone residents say wrong bear killed. The falsely accused bear leaves behind two cubs.

But you'll never seen a headline that says "Bear authorities say wrong human eaten." Because bears don't care. They'll kill the mama and the cubs.

And these people letting bears live in a tree on their ranch? I don't think I'd do that...

One of the dreaded Koch Brothers bought an old west town that's been living down by the Royal Gorge, which is fine I guess, but he's shutting it down and moving it to his ranch. That's just bizarre. That's something Michael Jackson would have done if he liked the old west instead of carnivals.

The Huff Post headlined this video "Dangerous, Stupid Train Stunt The Reason Ridiculous Train Warnings Exist" but I don't know. I kept expecting something bad to happen but it didn't. This guy probably rides this train every day, maybe even a couple times a day. It's not the first time he's done this, and more than that, he's intimately familiar with all the obstacles. There aren't any armed cops to shoot or tase him into submission. He's having fun.

This isn't the reason ridiculous train warnings exist. This is freedom.

When is a Ponzi Scheme NOT a Ponzi Scheme?

I don't mind if you're philosophically against Social Security. I hope you have good reasons, and will assume you do...until you start talking about Ponzi schemes.

Fact is, Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, no matter how many times you stick your fingers in your hear and go "LALALALALALA."

Jonathan Bernstein explains:
...a Ponzi scheme is a deliberate fraud. Saying that Social Security is financed like a Ponzi scheme is factually wrong, but saying that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme or is like a Ponzi scheme is basically a false accusation of fraud against the US government and the politicians who have supported Social Security over the years.
Also, check out this Venn diagram that explains it:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gimme a Break

I believe that people can decide for themselves who they would like to marry better than the government can.

Rick Perry disagrees.

So fuck Rick Perry.

The Fugitive - Doing it Right

Every time I watch The Fugitive, I want to go to Chicago.

And every time I watch The Fugitive, I'm struck by how good it is. Harrison Ford is awesome as always and Tommy Lee Jones more than deserved the Oscar he got for playing Sam The Big Dog. (Although I can't say he really deserved U.S. Marshalls.)

But aside from the performances and the incredible set pieces (the train, the dam, the St. Paddy's Day parade, etc) the film does a great job of playing with audience's expectations.

For instance, shortly after he escapes, we see Ford's Kimble getting a ride from a woman in the city. Cut to the marshalls who are discussing a lead they got. "She picked him up last night on the way home from work," etc. You think they're talking about Kimble, but nope...it's only later when they raid the house that we realize they were talking about fellow escapee Copeland, not Kimble.

Then later, Kimble's at his rathole apartment when he sees the police pull up. He thinks he's caught...but nope, they're arresting his landlord for drug charges.

These aren't cheap story gimmicks like the black cat who jumps out of nowhere in a horror movie. It's just good story construction.

Don't Be a Sucker

Rick Perry's running around talking about many jobs he's created and how many Obama hasn't.

The problem with that is that politicians don't create jobs. Demand does that. All you create with "business friendly" tax breaks and special favors is create more rent-seeking.

You want a smaller government and real economic growth? Awesome. Stop voting for Republicans.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

If you invalidate the thesis of your op-ed piece in the second to last paragraph, you suck at writing op-ed pieces.

Example:
There are no real political refugees within the United States, and few families move from one state to another to search for more congenial political leadership. Climate, family concerns, and job opportunities are all factors.
This is from a piece titled "The Great Political Migration." It's sub-heading: "Millions of people are, for good reason, abandoning big-government blue states for low-tax red ones."

But then....
There are no real political refugees within the United States, and few families move from one state to another to search for more congenial political leadership.

Shit That Needs to Stop

Making reporters stand out in hurricanes to report the weather. It's unnecessary, stupid, and dangerous.

The Weather Channel has Al Roker and Stephanie Abrams standing outside on some deck. They're both soaking wet. They're both squinting into the spray and wind. They look miserable and I seriously doubt that their weather reporting is made any better because of it.