Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The consequences of crying wolf in politics

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to an article claiming that President Trump's election was made possible by "fear of losing white privilege". Here's my response, trying to be respectful in my disagreement:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No Choice 2016

A good friend from church sent me a forwarded email, one of those "Trump is bad but still have to vote against him to stop Hillary" things.

This was the reply I sent back to him:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Voting Guide for November 2016, The Amendments


I'm going to have to do some jumping around here, but I'll make up for summarizing at the end. Items #1 and #3 are each standalone, but each of them has a bunch of story that is not being told on the ballot that has to be shared. #2 and #4 each seem to follow a pattern that I want to explore, to make sure that I can vote with principle and consistency, so that I can decide not just the question of whether this particular proposal is good, but whether this type of proposal is sound.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Voting Guide for November 2016

I'm not going to write about the Presidential race. I'm done with it. Let's go down the ballot.

For United States Senate
  • JOHNNY ISAKSON (Incumbent) Republican
  • JIM BARKSDALE Democrat
    • Typical Democrat party line of being “for the little guy”... With more taxes, regulation, Federal control.
  • ALLEN BUCKLEY Libertarian
    • Seems to be a Libertarian of the “not wacko” sort, really for bringing Washington back to its proper place.
For Public Service Commissioner
  • TIM ECHOLS (Incumbent) Republican
  • ERIC HOSKINS Libertarian
During the primary I voted for Echols’ Republican challenger. Echols’ website bragged on some great causes that in my mind are very worthy for private undertaking but not related at all to the role of Public Service Commissioner. Now, I'd like to give the Libertarians a chance, but Hoskins doesn't even seem to be really campaigning. I even contacted the Georgia Libertarian Party about this, and got a reply that he is running mainly so that the party can keep its ballot access. Ballot access rules stink. The fact that more of the offices on this ballot were settled by primaries than by the actual November election stinks. Solving that problem is beyond the scope of what to do for this particular election, but it's a problem. As for what to do in this race… I expect Echols is likely to win, but I'll vote Hoskins as a private protest against the situation.

For U.S. Representative
  • DREW FERGUSON Republican
    • http://www.apendley4house.com/about
    • Very little info about her personal background, other than “helping people” with “20 years in allied health and as a volunteer”. Don't know what that means.
    • “Angela Pendley follows the democratic platform and is proud to be a democrat, because the Democratic Party is tolerant.” Personally, I dispute the left-wing definition of “tolerance”.
    • “Angela Pendley does not use social media such as Facebook, twitter, or instagram. Angela Pendley communicate with people in person, on the phone, through email, through United States Postal service, and through text messaging.”
In the first round of the primary, Ferguson was one of my “runner up” choices, seemingly a safe second in case my top choice didn't win. When it came to the runoff, he started to disappoint, running some misleading mudslinging campaign ads against Mike Crane. So, I'm not happy about voting for him, but the Democrat contender worries me with her proclaimed view that her party is the tolerant party, so her party can do no wrong. Nothing about why we should vote for her, only that we should vote for her party. Because they are tolerant. Unless you disagree with them, because then you are the intolerant one. Sorry, time to end this rant. Holding my nose and voting for Ferguson.

For Tax Commissioner
  • KRISTIE KING Republican
    • Has worked in Tax Commissioner's office since 2001, has risen in rank over the years to Chief Deputy
    • Has a kid in my daughter's kindergarten class
  • RASHEED "BJ" DAWODU Democrat
    • Management consultant
    • Website has impressive resume in both public and private sectors
    • According to one reporter, it appears that Mr. Dawodu has “exaggerated” his work with tax offices in other counties. In other words, he claimed to have worked for the top brass when it looks like he was a seasonal mailroom worker: http://fayette-news.com/tax-commissioner-candidates-quarrel-over-qualifications

For County Commissioner District 1
  • ERIC MAXWELL Republican
    • http://www.erickmaxwell.com/
    • https://lionsandeagles.blogspot.com/2016/05/my-voting-guide-for-may-2016-part-3.html?m=1
  • PAM REID Democrat
    • http://electpamreid.com/
  • http://thecitizen.com/news-government-county-politics/reid-maxwell-debate-respect-affordable-housing-aging-population

In the primary, I voted for Maxwell because I thought it was important to unseat an incumbent who referred to political opponents as “demoncrats” and made a number of other highly questionable statements. Now we have a clean slate between two non-incumbents.
Eric Maxwell's campaign slogan is “Vision for Fayette”, but so far in looking at his website and Facebook page I can't tell what that vision is. I can tell you that he believes in “vote early and vote Republican”; as disenchanted with both parties as I am, I am not fired up by this rallying cry.

I can tell you that Maxwell is skeptical about “affordable housing”; If affordable housing is defined as government subsidized, as it is all too often, I would agree, but I will also say that I almost couldn't find a home in Fayette County that I could afford when I was house shopping three years ago. I don't want subsidies, but I don't need a luxury mansion either.

When I look at Maxwell's Facebook page, I see all campaign and all party. When I look at Reid’s, I see all community. I am leaning towards Reid in this race.

For County Board of Education District 1

Lohr’s big issues: She opposed closing schools and redistricting, she wants to reduce class size, and she wants to buy more Chromebooks. All well and good, but also expensive. Closing schools and redistricting is never fun, but maybe needed from time to time.
Marchman is standing on his record of pushing for balanced budget, lower taxes, and increased teacher salaries.
Both of them are strong on the issue of local control of the school system over state and federal intervention.
I like Marchman in his current position, and I like Lohr in the PTO raising funds to support the schools.

For County Board of Education District 5
  • BRIAN ANDERSON Republican
    • Eagle Scout, software development MBA
    • Good position on not using emergency funds to balance the budget
    • Support for local school governance
    • Sees value in the goal of having standards, but those should be established at a local level, so Common Core fails. Also, Common Core math is a fail.
  • CHING CHING YAP Democrat
    • Music teacher, education consultant
    • Position on common core is that people at the local level need to understand and be ready for any “curve balls” from the state.

Now, just to wrap up, let's look at all of the no-contest races. I won't waste words, but just notice how many folks have already won, with only a primary race:

State Senator MARTY HARBIN (Incumbent) Republican
State Representative DERRICK L. JACKSON Democrat
District Attorney BEN COKER Republican
Judge of the Probate Court ANN S. JACKSON (Incumbent) Republican
Clerk of Superior Court SHEILA STUDDARD (Incumbent) Republican
Sheriff BARRY H. BABB (Incumbent) Republican
Coroner W. BEE HUDDLESTON Republican
County Commissioner District 1 CHARLES W. ODDO (Incumbent) Republican

Friday, July 22, 2016

An Election Dream

Maybe it's a dream, or a parable, or maybe just the invention of my wild imagination... 

Picture a D&D-type setting, if you will. Two great dragons are preparing to battle for dominion over the land. But rather than fight directly, each is recruiting armies of supporters from the land's population.

One dragon is Neutral Evil. She claims to be Lawful, but her misdeeds are well known, in spite of the fact that bards dare not speak of them and no one has the courage to hold her accountable.

The other dragon challenging her is Chaotic Evil. He has claimed a recent conversion to Good, but this dragon has a reputation for deceit, and everyone knows that a dragon doesn't change their scales easily. Besides, before this contest began, this dragon was best of friends with the other.

I am but a low level Paladin. Lawful and Good. I have friends who have tried to convince me to side with one dragon or the other. Some say that the Chaotic dragon will be less of a danger to the innocent people of the world than the True Evil dragon. Others say, no, the Chaotic dragon is more dangerous.

I know that, in truth, no one can know which is the greater danger. The nature of Chaos is to be unpredictable. And I know that whichever dragon wins, it will be Evil.
So, do I throw in with either dragon? Do I look for another way, knowing that the odds are against me?

Or do I hope against all hope that by staying true to my alignment that my Deity will see me through?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Supply and Demand!

I've had this idea rolling around in my head on the economic effects of health insurance coverage mandates. It started in my mind over contraceptives, but could be applied to just about anything, from prescriptions to doctor visits.

My wife had an economics teacher who told her, "If you don't know about supply and demand, you will fail!" You have to understand supply and demand.

Quick Micro Econ 101 review. Look at the graph over here. If you've taken an econ class, you should have seen variations on this again and again. The blue line shows that as price goes up, the number of people willing to jump in and buy goes down, and vice versa. Red line shows that when price goes up, sellers are more excited about selling. Somewhere in the middle, the quantity of product that buyers want to buy meets up with the quantity that sellers want to sell, and there we have what we call market equilibrium.

That market equilibrium price is what you will pay without insurance in the mix. Using the numbers in the graph, let's say it's a 10 month supply for $30. It's up to you to decide whether you can afford it, or whether you want to look for alternatives. It's that freedom to decide between "that's a bargain, I'll take it!" and "too rich for my blood, I'm going somewhere else" that gives the customer power over prices.

Now, the law comes in, and demands that people should be able to get their three year supply of this product for a $5 copay. What are customers going to start doing? Price goes down, more people will buy.

How do sellers react when the quantity being purchased goes up? They raise the price! Who pays the inflated price? The insurance company! Where do they get the money to cover their increased expenses? They have to raise premiums! And the customer doesn't have the freedom to decide that the increased premium isn't worth it, they have to buy! Now these drug companies get to sell more of their product at an inflated price, all because of a law that was supposed to bring costs down!

In other words, the customer is acting like they are paying a price lower than equilibrium, but in reality they are paying a price which is much higher.

I believe that is what the economists call "unintended consequences".

I'm not saying that insurance is bad. I'm saying that mandates which mess with supply and demand and rob the customer of their power to drive prices down are bad.

Are there any real ways to bring down prices that might use supply and demand, instead of trying to fight them? There are a few. If you want to attack it from the supply side, look for ways of making manufacture less expensive. Maybe figure out if there are some regulations or rules that aren't really helping anyone, that can be taken off the books. Or, see if you can invent a cheaper way of making the same high quality product.

If you want to attack it from the demand side, you could encourage people to be discerning price shoppers. Give them the power to walk away from purchasing decisions. Help them make the distinction between what they are buying because of want and what they really need. This is going to be an individual decision, and "universal" plans and programs are not going to help here.